Down in the dungeons of the school something wreaked of evil. A student could smell it from a hallway away, and when you saw it, it didn't get any prettier. It was the dirty cauldron room where Professor Slughorn had been collecting his students cauldrons all day in preparation of James and Remus's detention.
They were told to report to him after dinner, and they tried to eat as slowly as they could to delay the punishment, but they could feel McGonagall's glare start to burn through the back of their heads and changed their opinions to hurriedly eating dinner just to get it over with.
"I still can't believe Diggory told on us," James scoffed as they walked down to the dungeons.
"You know how those Puffs are. Always needing their lives to be happy with everyone getting along."
The rounded a corner closer to the dungeon and plugged their noses at the smell of the cauldrons.
"You've got to be kidding me!" James groaned.
Inside the room, Professor Slughorn was already waiting for the pair (equipped with a nose plug for himself) and gave them instructions for the night. "Alright, boys. You're to clean each of these cauldrons in a muggle fashion, which means no wands. I left a pair of gloves for each of you on the desk over there, and make sure you wear them unless you want to spend the night in the Hospital Wing getting antidotes shoved down your throat."
"Yes, Professor," the two answered him together.
"I'll be in my office around the corner if you need anything. Stop by when you're finished and you'll be free to go."
With that the man was gone and they were surrounded by cauldrons filled with things that were slimy, oozing, or already starting to mold over.
"This should be fun," Remus said walking over to get the gloves.
"Isn't it always?" James laughed, "Lets give this a shot." James pulled out his wand and with a quick point at a cauldron said, "Scourgify." Instead of disappearing though the orange ooze in the cauldron doubled in thickness. "Awe, man!"
"Ha! That one is yours."
They set to work with sponges and buckets of soap, slowly but surely starting a stack of clean cauldrons, as well as clearing away the stench. As James scrubbed away, the words of Naomi from a few days back stuck in his head. 'They were having a pretty personal conversation... I'm sure she'll tell you about it...'
But she hadn't, and was acting like she never would! With only a cauldron each left to finish, James decided now was a better time than never to bring it up.
"Moony, can I ask you something?"
"As long as my answer can be quick...I hate breathing in these fumes."
"Alright, well, I ran into Naomi the other day, and she mentioned that you and Lily walked down to breakfast together the morning I was sick."
Remus straightened up from the cauldron he was working on so he could face James. "Prongs, I wouldn't take anything she said seriously. She's got this things against Lily, and I think she's gone a little bonkers from not getting the Head Girl position."
"You did walk with her though, didn't you?"
"Yeah, but that was it."
"I haven't even gotten to the question yet. Why are you getting so defensive?"
"I'm not getting defensive, but I know Naomi probably twisted what she really saw into something completely different."
"There was something to see?"
Remus shifted weight from one foot to the other making him look guilty of something to James, but really he was just trying to find a way to word his response so James wouldn't get upset with him over something so innocent.
"Lily was having a problem that day so I was trying to be a good friend and help comfort her."
"Comfort her?" James's eyes narrowed. "All this week I've been noticing that you two are a lot closer than I used to think. She goes to you with her school and personal problems, her friends accepted you long before they started even giving me a chance... I changed a lot for her to like me, but I didn't know it would've been easier if I had just become you."
"What are you talking about? Mate, Lily loves you the way you are! She doesn't want to date someone like me. I've been in the friend circle a long time with all of those girls."
"Then what is it that she can't talk to me about?"
Remus only hesitated for a second before answering, "Snape."
"Yeah! She feels bad for the guy because he didn't get the Head Boy position, but she thinks she can't talk to you about it because 1. She doesn't want to insult you and 2. You freak out over him because you were so jealous of him for so long." By the end of his explanation, James started to finally see how wrong he had been looking at everything. "How could you ever think me and Lily would do something behind your back? She's your girlfriend, and I'm your best friend."
"I kept seeing you guys together looking so happy... Couldn't you have sent her to me for comforting?" he said in a half joking way.
"I had my arm around her shoulders!" Remus exclaimed exasperatedly. "It was a platonic gesture."
"Okay! I'm sorry," James started to regret his words.
"Forget it," Remus turned back to the cauldron, "Lets finish this and leave."
When Remus finished his last cauldron he left without James, who was on his last one. James couldn't believe he let his jealousy get away from him like it did. He never meant to accuse Remus of going behind his back, he just wanted some reassurance and some truth!
Only a few minutes later James finished up and bid Professor Slughorn goodnight. As he walked through the hallways to the Gryffindor Tower he purposefully scuffed his shoes against the ground wondering if Remus would tell the rest of the Marauders about his little outburst. It was never a good thing when friends started second guessing each other...
Walking into the common room he immediately noticed that none of the Marauders were there.
'Probably discussing it in the dorm...' he thought warily.
"James! Good, you're here! I forgot to ask another Prefect to do rounds with me. Lets go!"
"Didn't Remus come back?" James asked.
"Yeah, but he practically sprinted to your room so I figured you would be better to ask."
"Alright, lets go."
This time Lily made sure that they did their rounds properly and walked the castle from the dungeons to the astronomy tower. Despite being nervous to get back to his dorm, James found that it might actually be fun to be the one busting students instead of being the busted.
When James saw a girl sneaking around the corners he got excited and said in an authoritative voice, "Excuse me, what are you doing?"
"I'm lost," she stated simply.
"That's not a fun thing to bust a someone for," James mumbled disappointed to Lily.
"Why were you out here so late in the first place?" Lily asked getting to business.
"I fell asleep studying in the library and I guess no one noticed me. I just want to get back to my common room."
"Which house?" James asked.
"Hufflepuff. I'm a first year, and usually I could get back there easily, but all the hallways look the same in the dark!"
"You were on the right path," Lily smiled, "Come along with us. What's your name?"
"Nice to meet you. My name is Lily and this is James, we're the Head Students."
"I recognize you," Anne nodded.
Anne awkwardly walked beside Lily and James looking up at them every few glances.
"What class were you studying for?" Lily asked.
"Ah, my best subject," James gloated.
"Really? I can't seem to get it... Professor McGonagall doesn't really help either with her eyes. They're so intimidating..."
"You can't let her get to you. Just know that underneath those tight lips of hers exists a smile that's dying to come out. I've seen her start to crack before."
Anne let out a small laugh. "Alright I'll try to remember that."
After two more hallways, Lily was able to point Anne to the Hufflepuff portrait and made sure she had gone through before continuing back up to the Gryffindor Tower.
"How was your first detention of the year?" Lily asked with a small smirk on her lips.
"Pretty disgusting, but nothing we haven't seen before."
"You're lucky you had Remus there with you."
James shifted a little uncomfortably, "Yeah."
The next morning the boys dormitory was a little quieter than usual. Though the usual struggle went on between Peter, Sirius and the shower, neither Remus or James made any commentary. Eventually Peter pushed his way through the doorway leaving Sirius out of breath.
"You win this time Pettigrew!" he panted on his way back to his bed. "You know, he may not be buff, but he sure can push his weight around."
James chuckled, turning shifting his position in his bed. Remus on the other hand only shook his head making Sirius curious.
"What's up, Moony?"
"Nothing," Remus shook his head.
Sirius jumped over his own bed onto Remus's. "Come on now, you can tell us! Did a girl turn you down or something?"
"Leave him alone, Sirius. Maybe he doesn't want to talk about it," James said.
"Maybe I do," Remus challenged.
"Then talk about it," James held up his hands.
"It's not his business."
"Then don't talk about it."
James and Remus stared at each other for an awkward three seconds before Sirius broke in. "What the hell is going on?"
"Nothing," Remus muttered. He grabbed his robes and without looking at either of his friends left the room.
"What happened?" Sirius asked.
James frustratedly ran his hands through his hair and then down to his neck. "I may have gotten a little jealous of him and Lily."
"What?" Sirius laughed, "Why?"
"They were always laughing and talking and then Naomi told me she saw them having a serious talk, but then Lily wouldn't talk to me... It wasn't fair! So then last night I asked him about it and after he was done explaining everything I wasn't mad anymore, but he got really pissed at me."
"Well, yeah. Mate, I think there's a better chance that we would lose the first Quidditch game than Evans or any of the Marauders turning their backs on you."
"I know, I know!" James fell backwards onto his bed, "I feel like such a dick."
"Does Evans know?"
"No way! She'd kill me if she knew."
"You'd better apologize to Moony quick then cause you know if she sees him down in the blue she won't let him rest until he tells her what's going on."
"You're right," James stood now with a purpose. He quickly lifted one of his arms and took a sniff to see how badly he smelled.
"If I can't smell you from here I'm sure you're fine," Sirius reassured him.
James shrugged and after changing into his uniform calmly walked down to the Common Room hoping Lily was still getting ready. When the coast was clear he made his way to the Great Hall, and there was Remus sitting at the end of the table pushing food around on his plate.
When James sat across from him, he neither looked up or said anything. Instead, James had to make the first move, but he was at a loss as to what to say! He had tried to say he was sorry last night, but Remus had disregarded it...
"Moony..." James said, "I said some really stupid stuff last night. I know you would never do anything to purposely hurt me, and neither would Lily. I was a down right git to even let the though pass through my mind."
"Yeah you were," Remus mumbled. He finally looked up at James before saying, "Do you know how that made me feel that even after everything you've done for me that you would think I would go and try to take away everything you have worked hard for, for the past six years?"
"I know, mate! That's what I'm trying to say. I'm sorry, so honest to Merlin sorry."
Remus sighed, and looking back down to his food took a thoughtful bite out of his blueberry pancake. "It's okay. I should've known you would react like that anyway. You had her all to yourself during the summer and now you've got to share her with the whole school." James nodded his head in agreement. "I'm not going to stop being good friends with her though, you know that, right?"
"Yeah," James shrugged, "Could you possibly turn down your awesomeness to help a fellow Marauder out? I've still got a lot of impressing to do with her and her friends."
"I'll try my best," he laughed.
The Great Hall continued to fill up, including a very surprised Lily that James had made it down there before she had.
"Merlin!" she plugged her nose, "Are you planning on smelling like that all day?"
"Sirius said I smelled fine!"
Lily turned to Sirius across the table. "Do you have a stuffy nose or something? Anyone could smell him a mile away!"
"Evans, I have the smell of a dog. He's fine," Sirius rolled his eyes.
"Maybe an old, about to die, dog," Lisa scrunched her nose in agreement. Sirius tightened his eyes in on the snickering Lily and Lisa, and his own laughing mates.
"I am perfectly healthy, thank you very much!" he said indignantly.
"Maybe you should take you to a vet," Peter whispered just loud enough for the guys to hear.
Remus and James laughed heartily at the joke, but Sirius merely sulked to himself. "I have a great nose," he muttered.
The group eventually got up from the table and made their way to their classes. All eight of them had Defense of the Dark Arts that morning and shared it with the Ravenclaws. The combined Houses made an interesting class; the Gryffindors often quickly took to their lessons because of the bravery and confidence it took to use the spells, and the Ravenclaws had a reputation to uphold as being the smartest of the school. Put them together and it turned into a big competition as to who could successfully complete the spell first.
"I heard we're learning how to cast a Patronus today," Peter announced excitedly.
"A person's Patronus is said to reflect their inner self," Lily said as a fun fact.
"I wonder what mine will be," Sirius winked to James, "I have a hunch that James is going to be like a deer or something."
Remus and Peter laughed as James's mouth popped open. "It's not a deer!" he automatically yelled.
"I could imagine mine being an eagle," Danielle threw her arms out, "Fierce and intelligent."
"I think I'd be more of a panther," Lisa smirked.
Then forty minutes later...
"That puff looked like a panther's tail!" Lisa yelled in excitement.
The Ravenclaws on the other side of the room, Naomi more particularly, snickered at Lisa's claim of already doing it before returning to their own attempts.
"Now class, lets try to remember that getting your Patronus to take form will probably take more than ten minutes of trying," their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Staub said looking in Lisa's direction, "In fact, it may take some of you until next class to really get it down."
The Marauders all smirked to each other knowing that if they wanted to they could cast their Patronuses for the whole class to see. Back when they were learning to become Animagi the book they were learning from suggested that they learn how to cast a Patronus first. Knowing their Patronus would help them envision themselves as an animal that closely related to themselves.
"Expecto Patronum," James said not putting much effort into it. A white cloud came out of his wand, and though he could see an antler trying to rise up above the cloud, it disappeared into the air.
"You've got to say it more sternly, James," Lily lectured him, "Expecto Patronum!" she yelled, but only a small whisp came from her wand. James softly smiled at her attempt before going back to his own work.
"Yeah, that's really working for you, isn't it Evans?" Sirius mocked her.
"I'll bet I'll get it sooner than you," Lily challenged him.
A glint came to Sirius's eye at the word of a bet. "Okay, it's on! What do I get if I get it before you?"
"Sirius," Remus said in a warning tone. Sure, the Marauders were smart, but Remus didn't want anyone to realize that maybe the four of them had jumped ahead a few chapters back in their third year.
"It's fine, Moony. There's no way I could beat the almighty Evans, is there? Now what's in this bet?"
Lily thought hard about it for a minute before answering, "If you can cast a Patronus, fully formed, before me then I will..."
"Give me a smooch when Gryffindor wins our first match?"
"No," James said, not missing a beat.
Lily laughed, but continued, "I'll buy you a Butterbeer at every Hogsmeade trip this year."
"Okay," Sirius shrugged.
He immediately raised his wand to say the spell, but Lily interrupted him, "Wait a minute! What do I get if I do it first?"
"I'll give you a smooch-"
"No," James stopped him.
Sirius let out a bark laugh. "If you beat me, I'll buy you a Butterbeer at every Hogsmeade trip."
"Okay," Lily nodded, "Go! Expecto Patronum!" A small cloud floated in the air with two small ears barely taking form before disappearing. "HA! Did you see that?" she jumped around excitedly, "I hope you have your sickels saved up because those Butterbeers are going to start adding up!"
Sirius smirked before raising his own wand, "I think his is how you hold it...." he joked fumbling around with his grip on the wand. He cleared his throat and in a try-hard voice said, "Expecto Patronum!"
A giant silver dog bursted from the end of his wand and happily bounced around the room, making Lily's jaw drop open and the Gryffindors cheer in success while the Ravenclaws politely clapped.
"How did you-?" Lily chocked, "That's impossible! It was your first attempt!"
"Wow, your tip actually worked, Evans! Just had to be stern with it and it worked!" Sirius laughed.
Lily dejectedly sat down in a seat. Even when Sirius' Patronus ran up and to her, she smacked her hand through it making it disappear.
"Now that wasn't very nice to dear old Snuffles," Sirius scolded.
"Snuffles?" Marie giggled.
"Very manly name for you to give him," James smiled.
"It suits, I think," Peter nodded.
"That was very impressive, Mr. Black!" Professor Staub came to their group, "Would you like to show the class how you did it?"
"Sure!" Sirius said over enthusiastically. He proudly marched up to the front of the class and carefully said, "Expecto Patronum." This time though, Sirius didn't put as much effort into the spell and the silvery dog only half formed.
Sirius hung his head slightly, gaining pity from Professor Staub. "Well, you did it exceptionally the first time, and even that was very impressive for so soon! Maybe find a more consistent happy thought and I'm sure you'll have it down in no time!"
"Thanks, Professor. It must've been beginner's luck." He winked at the Marauders on his way back to their table and pretended to sit and think of a "consistently happy thought".
Meanwhile, James was trying to cheer Lily up enough so that she could try to get her Patronus formed. He was dying to see what kind of animal matched with her soul. He had tried to imagine something that could handle her charm, wit, and pride, but something like a lioness didn't quite fit her gentleness, and a cute bunny definitely didn't have anything to do with her personality, but just the adorable image he had of Lily in his head.
"What's the happiest possible thought you have?" James asked.
"I've been thinking of when I got my acceptance letter. It was the greatest day of my life," she smiled, "But then I start thinking about how it was Severus there beside me, but now our friendship is dead, and how Petunia started hating me for coming here..."
James sighed and took heed of Remus' words from the previous night about how he always over reacts when Lily talks about Lily. So he bit his tongue down from saying, 'Who needs him anyway?' and instead said, "Maybe you could use something that happened more recently."
"Are you suggesting yourself?"
James threw his head back in a laugh, "Well, I do tend to have that effect on people, and if that's what it takes for you to get this then yes, but I was thinking more along the lines of when you got your Head Girl letter, or something."
Lily nodded and stood back up to give it another chance. "Expecto Patronum!" The wisp came from the end of her wand, but again didn't fully form.
On the Ravenclaw's side of the room there was a burst of excitement, and looking over Lily saw a fox dancing around Naomi. James mentally winced knowing that that wasn't going to help Lily concentrate.
"No," she hissed. She determinedly began repeating the spell
"Lils, I don't think that'll help."
But she silently lifted her hand to him to leave her alone. "You let me practice my way for a minute, and then I'll go back to normal."
James shrugged and turned back to his own work. He didn't want to upset Lily, but seeing all of these other Patronus' around made him miss his own! He fooled around with the spell, saying it differently a few times, before really thinking of his happy thought and making his stag appear.
"Wow! Sirius was right! Yours is a deer, James!" Danielle said impressed by the accuracy.
"It's not a deer... It's a stag," he said calmly, "Look at his antlers."
Lily turned from her corner and jealously looked at the Patronus. "He looks great," she sighed.
James laughed and took hold of Lily's arms, shaking them like jello. "You need to relax. So a few people got it before you did, who cares? Is this really the kind of example you want younger years to see?"
Lily had to laugh at that comment, and took a deep breath after releasing herself from James's hold. "What do you think of?" she asked.
"Well, I have two that I've been thinking of. The first is when Sirius moved into my house. The second is that first night you came to have dinner with my family."
The stag walked up to Lily and happily galloped a circle around her. Lily giggled and instead of smacking him back into a cloud like she did to Sirius' dog, gently stroked the top of his head with her fingertips.
"Okay," she sighed, "I think I've got it."
DONG the school's bell rang throughout the castle.
"Great work, everyone!" Professor Staub shouted out, "Next class meeting we'll finish up on forming Patronus' and move onto techniques of how to keep your happy thoughts when in the presence of a Dementor."
"Dang it," Lily muttered.
"Maybe we can practice later," James suggested, "Away from all of these distractions."
They packed up all of their belongings and went their separate ways, one group to History of Magic and the others to Divination. After dinner though, James passed the last patrol to the Slytherin Seventh Years and took Lily to the old Head Dorms.
Outside of it was an old statue of a woman who had a tight bun and her hands strictly clasped behind her back. When James and Lily stepped in front of her her body softly became animated with life, her eyes shifting downward to look at them.
"You" she automatically hissed, "You are not allowed in here for the last time!"
James guiltily smiled at Lily who was already rolling her eyes. "Madame Lae, it's a pleasure to see you again," James greeted her.
"Well, I could never say the same about you...you...miscreant! I have more chips on my stone body thanks to you more than any other student in all these years!"
"They were all genuine accidents, honestly!"
"I'm so sure. Like the time when you were experimenting how a jelly leg curse would affect a statue?"
"I was only in second year!"
"Well then how about two years later when-"
"Madame?" Lily interrupted. The statue for the first time took notice of Lily's presence. "I'm sure James has done plenty of things that are cringe worthy."
"You have no idea..."
"I do actually! I've had to deal with him day in and day out for years. But both him and I are Head Students now and we've been given permission from Professor McGonagall to use the old dorm as a study quarters."
"I see," Madame Lae sighed, "I don't know why in the world they would make him the Head Boy... In order to gain entrance I must see your badges."
Both Lily and James held up their badges for her to see, and though she was still weary of James, slid to the side for them to enter.
"And she said I would never be allowed in," James snickered leading Lily into the room.
"I can still hear you!" Madame Lae hissed.
The room they entered was about half the size of the Gryffindor Common Room, but it still had a fire lit on one side with a couch and an arm chair in front of it and two individual study desks across the room. On the far side of the room there was a set of stairs that led up to two doors, which brought a small glint to James's eye.
While Lily immediately began scanning through the books on a shelf, James went to the top of the stairs.
"Really, James?" Lily laughed.
"I just want to see," he shrugged. He reached for the handle, and tried to push it open, but it wouldn't budge. "Alohomora." But still the door felt like it was glued shut. "Damn," he muttered.
"You really thought that after last year they would still have the rooms open for visitors?"
"They did leave the couch..."
"Come back down here so we can get started."
James went back down the stairs and took a seat in front of the fire, which he thought felt even better than the ones in the Gryffindor Common Room.
"Well, I think you're forgetting the most important part about casting a Patronus."
"What's that?" she joined him on the couch.
"Calming yourself down and only thinking of the happiest possible thing. Your memory of getting your letter is good, but you have too many other unhappy memories that go along with it."
"I don't know what else to use though," she slumped.
"You said you thought you has something earlier before class had ended. What was it?"
"It was silly..."
"Tell me what it was!" James urged her.
"When I got the Head Girl badge."
"How's that silly?" he laughed, "You worked hard for the badge for a long time. It's something to be proud of." Lily still seemed hesitant. "Give it a go."
Lily stood from her seat and took a second to enjoy the warmth that the fire emitted. In her mind she focused on that moment when she saw the school owl sitting on the window sill of her bedroom. When she let it in it would have waited patiently for Lily to remove the letter from its leg, but she herself was too impatient and almost ripped it in her hurry. When she felt the unusual weight of the letter she paused only for a second to giggle in excitement before opening its seal and letting the Head Girl badge fall into her palm.
Her parents were at work, and Petunia wouldn't care whether or not she was there so Lily jumped around her bedroom by herself, slightly scaring the school owl, but she didn't care. Her hard work had paid off.
"Expecto Patronum!" she exclaimed. The silvery cloud came from her wand and for only a split second formed as a doe before disappearing into the air again. "Did you see that!" she screamed, "A doe! I'm a doe!"
"That was excellent!" James hugged her.
"But how do I get it to stay around?"
"Just concentrate, I guess. Make your happiness as intense as you can."
"Okay," Lily nodded.
They spent another forty minutes practicing, until finally the doe stayed in her form and galloped around the room. James cast his own Patronus out of curiosity to see how they would react to each other, and to his delight the doe went to the stag's side and nuzzled its neck.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw a blush creep up on Lily's cheeks. "Well, I guess I finally found the right memory..."
"What did you change it to?" he asked throwing his arm around her neck.
"The day on the train...when I told you I love you and you said it back," she smiled.
James leaned down and gently kissed Lily on the lips. "I think this might be my new happy memory," he said before pulling her lips back to his.
It had been a while since they had been given off-Head-duties alone time, and it felt so nice to finally have it.Lily gladly wrapped her arms around James's waist while his hands dug deep into her hair. They moved to the couch for comforts sake, and with each kiss that Lily landed on his lips or his neck James couldn't believe that he had been so stupid to think that Lily would want to belong to anyone else. This wasn't a way of being arrogant, but the two of them obviously had something so special and unique that he knew that for the rest of their lives they would never be able to find another person who could fit each other so well.
"I love you, Lily Evans," he whispered.
"I love you too, James Potter."
Author's Note: awww cheesy endiiiing. hehe! I (yet again) apologize for the long wait you guys :( I promise, I'm trying to get better at finding time to update!
Don't forget to review though, and as always anything thoughts are welcome!! :)
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