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CHAPTER FIVE -- THE CLANDESTINUS SCROLL After the feast, the Gryffindors lined up behind the Heads of House and prefects. They were given instructions on how to get to Gryffindor tower, and the first of the passwords was issued. (Bogglewogg.) The Gryffindor common room had been decorated to the hilt in red and gold, with a very large banner draped overtop of the fireplace. Someone had managed to confiscate a table full of candies and kegs of pumpkin juice from the kitchens. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time, talking and laughing and carrying on. Everyone, that is, but Colonel McFitz. Lily spotted him sprawled out on a far windowsill. "Lily, dear," he said weakly. He looked very ill. "Charlotte told me your house after you were sorted. I came up with-" He hiccupped. "-the bags." He settled himself against the window, looking more miserable than ever. "Are you sick?" Lily asked. "Should I get someone?" "No, dear. No. But I will take this time to pass on a bit of advice to you. Never, ever accept a drink from a witch who offers it in a flask." He hiccupped again. Lily rejoined the party after she had taken the Colonel to bed. She spotted Remus Lupin talking to some other first years and made her way to their end of the room. "This is Lily," he said as he introduced her to Susannah Owens, a short, stout, blonde-haired girl. "And this is Sirius and James." Lily shook hands with them both, and the five talked vividly until Lily excused herself to refill her mug of pumpkin juice, which was no longer iced, but more like room temperature. There were two older girls, around Charlotte's age, Lily guessed, talking near the almost-empty table. "I mean, the Forbidden Forest! Has it ever been off limits before?" Lily recognized the voice. "Yes, Winda!" said the other girl as she giggled into her mug. "That's why it's forbidden!" Winda laughed along, and then continued. "You know," she said seriously. "I'll bet it has something to do with that girl. The one that left last term. You know, the Ravenclaw girl." "Yes, I remember. Genevieve . . . Er, something. Right?" Winda nodded. Genevieve, thought Lily. That was the name of the girl the Frivolus sisters had mentioned, wasn't it? She leaned close to the keg of pumpkin juice, trying to listen in on their conversation, but it was no use. They had moved on and were now gossiping about Mahogany Maple, who apparently tried to shrink her nose during summer months and inadvertently caused it to fall off completely. "She had to wear a mask for a month," giggled Winda as Lily walked back to the group. Susannah had joined her sister on a long, padded couch, leaving Lily with Remus, Sirius, and James. They were talking about Quidditch. Again. "Who is Genevieve Grendol?" Lily asked. The three stopped talking immediately, and gave Lily the same looks Charlotte and her friends had earlier that day. Now she knew something was up. James looked to Sirius as Sirius searched Remus' face for answers. No one knew what to say, especially Lily, who, apparently, had already said more than enough. "Er . . ." said James, but his words left him. "Grendolyn," said a voice behind them. It was Nadine Pratt, one of the fourth years Lily had met after the sorting in the Great Hall. "Genevieve Grendolyn. She was in Ravenclaw." She motioned for them to follow her to a table near the back, dimly lit with a small lantern. "What happened to her?" asked Lily. Nadine sighed heavily. "No one knows," she said. "It happened last year. We were in the same Potions class. One day she was there, the next she . . . wasn't." Lily felt the hairs on her arms stand tall. A prickly, tingling sensation flowed throughout her bones. By the looks on the boys' faces, she knew they were just as uneasy. "Rumors started flying around school after that, but there was never any real worry. Dorsal Finius, our old Headmaster, said the matter was under control. We all thought, after a while, that she had just gone home." She paused. "But no one's heard from her or her family since." "What does this have to do with Briney Parker?" asked Remus. Lily remembered that one of the Frivolus sisters had mentioned that name when they were on the train. Nadine rolled her eyes. "Briney Parker was a snooty ol' cad who ran his mouth more than he should've. He was a Slytherin through-and-through, you know; would've been made prefect this year if his parents hadn't yanked him out of Hogwarts. "He had it out for poor Ginny. Had this crazy idea of her not being a real witch because she wasn't 'pureblood'." Lily felt her face burn red-hot. "One time, he even had the nerve to call her-" Remus shot her a warning glance. Nadine looked once at Lily. "Er . . . Never mind. "He'll be happy at Durmstrang, though. I hear they give points if you curse another student." A twisted smile crossed her face. Secretly, she was reveling in the thought of the ex-Slytherin getting cursed every time he crossed another student's path. "Why did he care if she was pureblood or not?" Lily asked quietly into her empty mug. "I mean, she wouldn't have gotten into Hogwarts if she hadn't . . ." Nadine shook her head before Lily finished. "I don't know," she said. "Some people have ideas . . . Ideas about how things should be in our world. There are those who think that the only true wizards are those that come from wizarding families - Families that haven't been 'tainted' by Muggle blood." Lily gulped. "Mind you, not everyone feels that way. Dameisele, Briney's own Mother, was nearly a squib herself, and her husband wasn't much of an improvement. And let me tell you, Genevieve Grendolyn could shoot sparks around most people in her year, even Briney Parker, if she'd ever taken a notion to." Their conversation was cut short by Professor McGonagall, who reprimanded the Head Boy and Girl for letting their celebration last way past midnight. At once, she ordered everyone to their chambers. "Mr. Lupin," she said as Remus was climbing the stairs. He stopped, mid-step. "Professor Dumbledore would like to have a word with you." Lily watched as Remus nervously followed Professor McGonagall. Lily didn't sleep much that night. She kept thinking about Genevieve Gwendolyn and whatever had happened to her. It didn't help that Colonel McFitz insisted in having most of the bed to himself, and snored so loudly that both Sunshine Sansbury and Emily Renaldo had to make use of their Sleep-EZ Magical Soundproof Earwigs. The morning met Lily with both excitement and exhaustion as she met Remus for Breakfast in the Great Hall before the start of their classes. Lily found her first class, Defense Against the Dark Arts, to be particularly interesting. She quickly learned that things were not always as they appeared. Professor Figg, despite her apparent feebleness and old age, blasted away, demonstrating the correct ways to counteract curses, and what to do when attacked by a wild Willywasp. She even took a hand at banishing Peeves the Poltergeist, one of the Hogwarts ghosts, who stopped in to taunt the unsuspecting first years "Don't worry," she said as Peeves disappeared in a poof of sparkles and smoke. "He'll be back. That wasn't nearly powerful enough to banish him." After Defense of the Dark Arts came Transfiguration with the Hufflepuffs. Professor McGonagall hardly broke a smile when she called the class to attention. "Mr. Potter," she inquired with a smirk. Sirius nudged him in the ribs so he would pay attention. "I might ask you," she said, "how your wand this morning?" James gulped and looked down at his wand. Much to his relief, it was still wand-shaped and didn't have the slightest appearance of a rubber snake. Lily somehow thought that it would again by the end of the class. Unlike Defense Against the Dark Arts, where Professor Figg merely demonstrated methods of magic, Professor McGonagall seemed eager to have the students join in on the first lesson. "I assume all of you are, by now, familiar with pages one through thirty-three of your text." A few students looked at each other worriedly. "I'll take your silence to mean that I am correct in my assumption," Professor McGonagall continued. "Transfiguration is a very delicate and dangerous aspect of magic to master. I expect you all to take it seriously. Any funny business in this classroom will not be tolerated." She glanced at James and Sirius out of the corner of her eye. "There are," she said, turning back toward her desk, "two small, white feathers on each of your desks. Enough for each of you. When I give word, you will transfigure them into quills using the information you were given in the first thirty-three pages of your text." With a flash of her wand, Professor McGonagall had changed the small, white feather on her desk into a long, rainbow-colored quill with a sharp, golden tip. Professor McGonagall gave the word, and Lily watched as other students timidly began experimenting with their feathers. No one seemed to be having very much luck at all, especially a round, blonde-haired boy whose feather, instead of turning into a quill, turned into two feathers. "Penicillus scrapian!" Lily shouted as she pointed her wand at the feather. But nothing happened. She tried again: "Penicillus scrapian!" Still no luck. "Concentrate, concentrate. My goodness!" There was a loud blast, and then a thin smoke filled the air. Everyone turned to look at the round blonde-haired boy who was now covered head to toe in feathers. Professor McGonagall quickly rushed over. "Ecdysis!" With the tap of her wand, the boy was feather-free once again. "Concentrate!" she demanded once again. "I can't have you all turning into pigeons or what-not. And you, Mr. Pettigrew," she said to the boy. "Please watch where you point that thing." Professor McGonagall held them back at the sound of the bell, forewarning that they would be tested on their transfiguration lessons on the following Thursday. Their assignment was to explain, in their own words, the concept of transfiguration - found, once again, on pages one through thirty-three of their text - complete with references and examples. (Peter Pettigrew's assignment called for an extra five-hundred words on the precautions to be taken when dealing with active magical items.) "Lily!" Lily turned to see Desdemona hurrying to catch her up. By the time she reached to top of the stairs leading to Gryffindor Tower, she was panting heavily. "Charlotte wanted me to give this to you." She passed Lily a small golden parchment, rolled up at both ends. "Make sure you keep it with you," she said, and before Lily could ask any questions, she had bolted down the stairs. Remus and James greeted her in the Gryffindor Common Room. They both were working on their transfiguration assignments, which seemed to be shaping up nicely. Both of their feathers had elongated slightly, with the appearance of a narrower, though still rounded, tip. "Your cat was looking for you. Revertere!" James' quill turned back into a feather again. "Said something about going to the kitchens. He'll be back." Lily watched as he turned the feather again into a pseudo-quill, yet he still looked displeased with the results. "I've had enough," he said. "You try." Remus moved the quill closer to his side of the table. "Penicillus scrapian!" Sparks blasted from his wand, encircling the feather. They watched closely with anticipation. The feather grew longer and more pointed at first, but then reverted back to the same, bent, rounded half-quill as before. "Almost," he said with a shrug. "Lily?" Lily moved the feather in front of her. Though she could recite the text word-for-word, she hadn't had much luck with her transfiguration exercises. "Penicillus scrapian!" The feather didn't change one bit. "Um . . . Try again," James offered. "Maybe it didn't hear you." Lily nodded and tried again, but nothing happened. She sat back defeated. "My dear," said Colonel McFitz as he jumped onto the table carrying half of a blueberry scone. "You're never going to get anywhere if you don't learn to focus!" He pushed the feather to her again. "One more time," he said. "And this time, concentrate!" Lily closed her eyes and pictured the feather. Every time she felt something else seeping into her mind, causing her to lose her concentration, she focused even harder. What did she want the quill to look like? Brown, she decided. With a long neck and a slim, sharp point. She envisioned herself holding it, writing with it, making curvy letters in gold ink. She was so fully enveloped in her thoughts that even when she opened her eyes again, she could still see the image in her mind. "Penicillus scrapian!" she shouted again. This time, however, a small golden-purple mist escaped the tip of her wand. It swirled quickly around the feather leaving behind a tattered brown quill, with a long, uneven neck and a dull point. "Wow." "Hey, how'd you do that?" Lily was as shocked as anyone. "I don't know," she said, testing out the quill on a scrap piece of parchment. It was a little unsturdy, but worked well enough. "It's all in how you visualize," said Colonel McFitz. "You must be able to see the results if you wish to achieve them. You were being too vague! Since a feather was all you were seeing, a feather is all you could achieve. Once you started thinking about the outcome, well . . ." Without warning, the quill turned back into the feather it was made from, causing Lily to knock over a nearly-full bottle of ink. "Yes," said the Colonel as the three students tried to wipe up the ink before it managed to reach their books. "Of course, the effects don't last very long at your level, but that will come, in time." Sirius joined them before too long, and the four of them (along with Colonel McFitz) practiced their transfiguration exercises well into the night. Across the room sat Peter Pettigrew, who was also working hard on his transfiguration lessons, though without so much luck as the others were having. Every now and then, small sparks would blast from his wand, igniting whatever was nearest. Lily frowned. She felt sorry for Peter. Professor had given him a hard time in their first two transfiguration classes, and it was doubtful that she was going to back down as time went by. "Maybe we should help him," she said. Sirius laughed as his quill (black, with a slightly rounded silverish tip) changed back into a feather. With a sudden blast, Peter's wand shot off again, this time igniting the skirt of a nearby fourth year. "Maybe not." As she was leaving, James held up the golden scroll Icicle had given her on her way to Gryffindor tower. "I think you dropped this." "Huh?" Lily turned. "Oh. Thanks." James looked at the scroll closely. "Wow," he said. "Who gave this to you?" "My cousin, Charlotte." She paused for a moment. "What is it?" she asked, turning slightly pink. "Are you serious?" he asked. James looked at her in mild surprise and offered her a seat beside him. "It's a Clandestinus Scroll," he said. "Here, try it out." "How do I-" "Just write something. Write 'hello'." Lily dipped her quill in the ink and wrote on the parchment. The words faded away, then reappeared on the top of the parchment in silver: LILY: Hello. "What in the . . . What is this thing?" "Just wait," he said just as a message in gold appeared below it: CHARLOTTE: Lily! How are you? "Hey!" "What did she say?" James asked. Lily looked at him. "You can't read it?" James shook his head. "No, I can only see what you're writing on the page until it disappears. That's why it's so great - the only two people who can see what's being written are the ones writing in the first place. "I'd be careful with that, if I were you," he continued. "I'll bet you that's high on the List of Forbidden Magical Items; wouldn't want Professor McGonagall spotting it in class." Lily turned to the scroll once more. There was another message from Charlotte. CHARLOTTE: I have to go now, Lily. Meet me in the Great Hall before breakfast in the morning, okay? LILY: I'll see you there. Lily watched as their words faded away into a blank parchment once more. And as the prefects shooed them to their chambers, she wondered if there would ever come a time when this new world ceased to amaze her. Deep down, she hoped it wouldn't. She'd taken quite a liking to the surprises.

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