The moonlight shone through the window. It was past midnight and four boys were huddled on a bed towards the deep end of the hospital ward.

“This book says there are thirty two steps to becoming Animagus,” announced James in a loud whisper.

“Thirty Two?” squeaked Peter, peeking into the large open book. “Some of these are weird. Look, step nine says you have to gargle your mouth with Barnacle juice every hour for two days.”

“Better than step twenty-seven,” said Sirius darkly. “Go without food for twenty-four hours.” He shook his head in horror.

“Well, that takes you out of the running, doesn’t it?” smirked Remus.

“I’m certainly having second thoughts now,” replied Sirius, shifting his position. Remus winced as the movement caused Peter’s sleeve to graze against his fresh wounds.

“Sorry,” muttered Peter guiltily.

Remus glanced at the top of James’ head which was bent over the book earnestly.

“Listen, a majority of these steps are incantations and charms we need to perform on ourselves,” informed James, lifting his head.

“Piece of cake,” said Sirius carelessly.

“No it’s not,” argued Remus. “These incantations look tricky. And you will need to get them exactly right. Look at this illustration of a person who failed to say the right syllable, and ended up with webbed feet, webbed hands and a beak for life.”

James, Sirius and Peter roared with laughter. Remus, who had thought he was making a convincing argument, was initially affronted but reluctantly gave in to the humor of the picture.

“Shhh,” he cautioned, casting a nervous look at Madam Pomfrey’s closed door. “She could wake up!”

That sobered the others up. James picked up the book and turned the page, holding his face close to it under the dim lighting. He was looking at it for a long time. Remus was surprised that James was not even distracted when Peter wore his Invisibility Cloak and walked around with just his hands outstretched, trying to pinch Sirius’ cheeks.  He finally straightened up. The others turned to look at him. Peter’s cloak slipped down to his neck so that only his head was visible suspended midair.

“Transfiguration is more about the mind than about the incantation or wand work. You need to picture it happening. Every cell in your brain needs to want your spell to work. These spells are no different.”

“What about all the side effects listed? What if something goes wrong?” insisted Remus.

“It won’t,” said James firmly. “It’s all about understanding the ‘why’. The theory talks about preparing every single cell in your body to morph into another species altogether. All these charms and processes, they are to target and condition something in our body they keep referring to as - Er - deena - no - erm - it’s spelt D-N-A. Anyway, it is to get the cells ready for the final transformation. It is pretty simple when you look at it that way.”

Silence followed his explanation. Peter seemed to be struggling to process it while Remus continued to look doubtful. But it was Sirius who James looked directly at.

“I think we can do this. What do you say?” he asked. Remus knew that the implementation of the plan depended solely on Sirius’ validation. He knew the outcome even before Sirius opened his mouth to reply.

“I say, tell me what’s step one.” Sirius shrugged, smirking.

James grinned widely, turning to look at Peter questioningly. His floating head seemed to have a slightly dazed expression, looking nervously between James and Sirius. He then broke into a toothy smile and tilted his head as if to say yes. Remus sighed.

“If you must,” he resigned, “but don’t expect me to sympathize with you when you-” he peeked sideways into the book, “Er - erupt painful boils all over your privates,” he quoted with a grimace.

As he listened to James and Sirius launch into a discussion, he couldn’t help feeling a surge of excitement himself. Their confidence seemed to rub off on him, and he allowed himself to think, for a moment, that they might really succeed.

“Hogsmeade!” squealed Marlene.

Lily’s face reflected Marlene’s excitement as she walked down the High Street with the girls. She had heard so much about Hogsmeade, and couldn’t wait to see for herself. It was better than she had imagined it to be.

What she hadn’t bargained for, however, was an afternoon spent in the company of James Potter and Sirius Black. Marlene had dragged her to them, halfway through their visit, ignoring her protests. Adhara, Dorcas and Mary were nowhere to be seen. Marlene and James had launched into one of their usual Quidditch chats. She looked around the Three Broomsticks, sighing. Maybe she would catch sight of Severus somewhere. He had said they would run into each other.

“It’s tough to get James to stop talking when he starts about Quidditch,” said Remus, looking at her. She snapped her attention to him.

“I’d have thought it was tough to get him to stop talking, in general,” she replied.

Remus grinned at her. “You seem to know him well.”

“Doesn’t everyone? He isn’t exactly a quiet personality,” she pointed out laughing. Remus joined in.

“I can see you’re bored. You don’t like Quidditch much, do you?” he asked.

“Oh no! I’m fascinated by it. I would love to play someday. I just don’t know much about it,” she said sadly.

“Which position would you fancy playing?” joined in Sirius, taking a long swig of his butterbeer.

She considered this for a moment. “I’d like to play seeker,” she decided.

“Seeker?” said Sirius, surprised.

“Yes, seeker. It’s quite exciting. The one player who has the power to change the ending.”

“That is so unfair!” James turned indignantly, “we Chasers do all the work, sweat it out, dodge bludgers and score goals. Why do seekers get all the credit?”

“Finding a small golden ball under the bright sunlight is much more difficult that flying with a huge ball under your arm,” she pointed out.

“Well it’s a good thing you’re not our seeker then,” replied James, clearly ruffled. “Seekers have to be discreet. But you would hardly be able to do that with the top of your head looking like a giant tomato.”

Lily sat up furiously. “Your hair smells like a rat died in it!” she shot back. “I’m going to join the others in Honeydukes. You stay here if you want,” she said to Marlene, vacating her chair and walking ahead.

“Hey Evans!” James called.

She turned around half expecting him to apologize, or maybe call her back.

“Next time bring a hat. Your hair almost blinded me!” He guffawed with Sirius and Peter sniggering. Remus wasn’t laughing but definitely seemed to be fighting back a smile.

“It’s a pity it didn’t finish the job,” she retorted coldly, fuming out.

“Why do you have to do that?” asked Remus reproachfully as Marlene excused herself from their company as well.

“Hey, it’s not my fault she doesn’t have a sense of humor,” protested James. “What’s life without a few laughs?”

Sirius agreed with James, claiming that Evans shouldn’t be taking life too seriously. After spending a happy hour in Zonkos, the four of them emerged with their pockets bulging and carrying a bag of supplies. They made their way up the castle, debating seriously whether their new Defense against the Dark Arts professor was a part vampire or not.

“...when Fawcett pulled out that garlic clove inadvertently. He went so pale, and vomited,” said Peter.

“I think that had more to do with the stench of rotten garlic than anything else,” argued Sirius.

“Remus, what do you think?” asked James, “Your dad deals with dark creatures right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call vampires as creatures,” considered Remus fairly, “I mean aren’t they as human as werewolves?” He raised his eyebrows.

“Only you would stick up for vampires, Moony,” smirked Sirius.

“Can we stop it with the Moony?” Remus asked frowning irately.

“Nope! Moony!” said James laughing.

“James Potter?” a first year came running up to them, addressing James tentatively. Sirius recognized him as a Hufflepuff midget. “Professor McGonagall wants to see you and Mr. Pettigrew right away,” he panted.

“Why?” asked James, bewildered.

“I don’t know.” The first year looked nervous and seemed to shrink when James glowered at him. “She mentioned something about whistling teacups,” he admitted. “But she asked me not to tell you,” he added worriedly, hurrying away before James could pry anything more out of him.

“Oh no!” James groaned, “We never took the charm off. Come on, Peter,” he sighed. “I’ll meet you both back at the common room.”

Sirius and Remus made their way together to the common room, debating what kind of punishment McGonagall would set the other two. As they crossed the third floor, they heard a loud bang. They jumped, looking around in confusion when a scream followed close after. Sirius and Remus whipped out their wands in reflex and moved quickly towards the sound. There was another bang, and a squeal, which led them to a seemingly empty classroom. Remus burst open the door. The sight that greeted them was not pleasant.

Rigel Swleyn was standing with his wand outstretched, a maniacal glint in his eyes. He was pointing his wand at a girl, who was doubled up clutching her arms to her stomach, her long hair hiding her face. Sirius recognized with a jolt that it was Adhara.

Protego,” Remus screamed, causing a shield to erupt between Rigel and Adhara. Rigel turned his wand to Remus.

“Get out,” he snarled.

“What did you do to her?” demanded Remus. Sirius saw that Adhara was gasping in pain.

“This is a family issue. It doesn’t concern you,” said Rigel. He was breathing hard. “Leave now, if you know what is good for you,” he said menacingly.

“Oh, I think we’ll take our chances with that,” replied Sirius casually, “What say Moony?”

Rigel moved his wand hand to hurl a curse at them, but Sirius and Remus hit him with two different curses at the same time. The effect seemed to hurtle him back into the stone wall, where he crashed and slid to the floor unconscious, with blood trickling down the side of his forehead.

Remus was the first one to rush to Adhara’s side. Sirius joined him second later after a contemptuous look at Rigel. Adhara was on her knees, clutching her hands close to her stomach, and rocking forward. Her long, black, wavy hair was in disarray.

“What did he do?” asked Remus gently.

She looked up at him, Sirius saw that her eyes were red and tears had streaked her face. She had spots of dirt on her neck. He saw that she had not been clutching her stomach, but her wand hand. She held it close to her chest. Remus gently tugged at her hand. Her reluctance seemed to ebb away at Remus’ concerned tone. She extended her hand to him. Sirius’ eyes widened at the sight. There was a long deep gash on her forearm. The front of her robes was stained with blood. The blood around the wound had clotted to a deep black, and the flesh seemed to be emitting wisps of red and black smoke. She winced as Remus carefully took a closer look, almost with a critical eye. Sirius didn’t think as he instinctively placed his arm around her shoulders, drawing her into a hug. At that action, she burst into tears, sobbing into his chest.

Sirius looked at Remus bewildered. “What do I do?” he mouthed.

Remus looked just as confused. He indicated Sirius to pat her head. Sirius tried to reach her head but his hand got tangled in her hair. He settled for awkwardly patting her ear instead. Remus smirked at his discomfort. Sirius glared at him. Her sobs subsided after a while.

“Let’s get Madam Pomfrey to take a look at that,” suggested Remus gently. She winced again, and Sirius gripped her shoulders to support her. Remus retrieved her wand which had rolled under a desk. Sirius grinned approvingly when Remus aimed an angry kick at the unconscious Rigel as the passed.

She seemed to steady herself as they walked, but Sirius didn’t remove his arm. He glanced uncomfortably at the smoking wound and saw Adhara’s lips trembling from the pain. He felt a surge of anger towards Rigel, as his fingers tightened protectively around her shoulders.

“What did she say?” asked Dorcas anxiously as Remus Lupin walked into the common room.

They had had no information since Sirius Black and Lupin had admitted Adhara in the Hospital Wing. Professor McGonagall had taken Lupin and Black in for questioning, and they had come out an hour later, looking weary but without information. They had been turned out at least fifteen times by Madam Pomfrey.
Professor McGonagall had refused to divulge any information, and threatened them with detention if they bothered her again.

Resigning to ignorance, the eight of them had been huddled together in the common room, speculating and worrying incessantly when much to everyone’s surprise, Lupin had claimed to have some clout with Madam Pomfrey. The last twenty minutes of Lupin’s absence had been filled by Black’s retelling of the incident, which they had all heard thrice already, but nevertheless provided for some conversation. Everyone stopped talking and looked at Lupin expectantly when he joined them. Louis, Clarence and Jake who had been occasionally glancing over at the group leaned in as well.

“It's not looking good,” said Lupin gravely. “I wasn't allowed to see her, but Madam Pomfrey was talking to someone about bringing in Healers from St. Mungos. She said the wound shows clear signs of dark magic.”

“What does that mean?” asked Lily, fearfully.

“It means, the wound may never heal, she may never be able to use her hand again. It means the curse could spread…”

“Stop!” cried Mary, looking distraught. Marlene stopped mid-sentence, averting her eyes. Mary had started sobbing silently into her hands. Lily looked aghast. Dorcas’ heart sank a little. She hardly knew Adhara, but the thought of her own brother using dark magic on her was revolting. Dorcas was not able to tell what the boys were thinking. Sirius Black’s face was unreadable. Lupin and Pettigrew looked sympathetic. Potter just seemed highly uncomfortable.

“Why aren’t they transporting her to Mungo’s instead? Wouldn’t that be easier,” asked Marlene. Dorcas looked at Remus for clarification.  It did seem a very valid point.

“I… don’t know,” he resigned. “All I heard was bits of a hushed conversation. From what I gathered, somebody didn’t want her moved out of Hogwarts.”

“Surely Dumbledore would want her to receive top medical care,” said Lily frowning.

“Maybe he doesn’t want word to get out that a Hogwarts student performed Dark Magic,” suggested James with raised eyebrows.

“Not Dumbledore,” spoke up Dorcas. All eyes turned to her. She should have guessed earlier. Her father had been an Auror. She knew the drill like the back of her hand. “The Ministry doesn’t want it getting out.”

“The Ministry?” said Lily, surprised. “But I thought they were against Dark Magic?”

“They care more about what the public sees than what they actually do. If word got out that an underage wizard performed Dark Magic under Dumbledore’s nose, the public would lose faith in them. They would have to launch an official inquiry and this would be blown up. The Ministry would rather sweep it under the carpet,” she said scornfully.

“At the risk of Adhara’s life?” Lily burst out furiously. “I’m going to talk to Professor McGonagall and ask them what they’re playing at!” Lily actually got up.

“Sit down,” said Marlene, pulling her down.

“Why?” Lily looked quite upset. “Why should we keep quiet?” Her voice was trembling as if she was about to cry. But, to Dorcas’ surprise, tears weren’t what came next. “The Ministry is keeping quiet. Dumbledore is keeping QUIET. Pomfrey is keeping QUIET.”

“I’m sure Dumbledore won’t let anything happen to-” Lupin started reassuringly.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW?” Lily shrieked, rounding on him. She looked quite unstable. “He let her get attacked IN THIS CASTLE! By her own brother! And now… Now they’re refusing proper treatment in the interest of… of … THE GREATER GOOD?”

Lupin looked uncomfortable as she glowered at him, her reddish-orange hair gave the impression of emitting sparks from her head.

“Lily…” Dorcas started slowly, hoping she could get her to stop shouting.

“YOU are all a bunch of HYPOCRITES!” she shouted, turning on her heel and stormed out of the Portrait hole.

The common room was suddenly silent. The other students were staring at them. Louis looked mildly interested, Clarence and Jake looked surprised at Lily’s outburst. Dorcas couldn’t blame them, and exchanged a bewildered look with Marlene herself. She didn’t know Lily all that well, but she had never seen her lose her cool this way. She was hoping Marlene would be able to handle whatever this was. Then James Potter took everyone by surprise by getting up and swiftly walking after her.

“All right now,” said Remus sardonically to the common room at large, “The curtain’s down, nothing more to see here!”

Conversations resumed with lowered mutterings, as there was a general scuffle of people getting back to their work. Dorcas suddenly felt weary. If this was so stressful, she could only imagine what her father must have gone through as an Auror.

“Evans! Hey!” James called out, striding to catch up with her.

“WHAT?” she rounded on him. He took a couple of steps so he was directly in front of her.

“Careful there Evans, you’re breathing fire,” he said lightly chuckling.

She looked at him with contempt and turned around.

“Evans!” he called out again.

“DON’T!” she growled, spinning around to face him. “This isn’t one of your JOKES, Potter! This is ADHARA!” she shouted.

“I know-” started James hotly.

“You DON’T KNOW!” she yelled. “None of you KNOW.” Tears were streaming down her face but she didn’t seem to notice. “To you and everyone in there, magic is just there. Always has been there. None of you KNOW what magic really means. I was chosen. I KNOW the other side. I thought Magic had the answer to everything. Magic could save anything, change anything, heal anything. And now, Adhara is just lying there, without even being given a CHANCE. Like hundreds out there are suffering and dying when we could have the answers. Don’t tell me YOU KNOW, POTTER. Because, YOU REALLY, REALLY DON’T!”

She was breathing hard when she finished, raising a shaky hand to rub the tears off her cheeks. James thought she was being really naive.

“Magic doesn’t have all the answers,” he said, shaking his head. “We can’t save everything. Maybe what we can see. And even that, there are no guarantees,” he said.

“Are you telling-” Lily began furiously.

“I’m not saying something will happen to Adhara,” he cut in, raising his voice above hers. “I’m saying, you need to be realistic here. People say there’s a Dark Wizard. There are riots, and murders. We can’t save them all. If there’s injustice in our way, we can fight it. But we can’t afford to go out of our way. We can’t save the world.” He raised his eyebrows.

“I’m not talking about the world, Potter,” said Lily, narrowing her eyes at him. “But if it comes to that, I won’t go down without a fight.”

“It’s not worth fighting a losing battle,” he said, shrugging.

She looked at him in contempt. “It’s because of people like you that battles are lost, in the first place,” she replied coldly.

This time when she walked away from him, James didn’t want to call her back. He didn’t even know what had possessed him to go after her in the first place. There was something about her expression that had automatically called out to him. Now, he thought she was being foolish. Acting like she knew what it was to live in the magic world. She hardly even understood half the things. He had heard of people dying in battle, suffering. And all for what? There would always be another Dark Wizard who would come right along. His grandfather had lived in the times of Grindelwald. Now, his grandfather was gone, Grindelwald was gone, but there was another.

But watching her retreat, something inexplicable snapped inside him. Giving in to his impulse yet again, he called out -

“Hey Evans!” he jogged up to her. She stopped and turned her eyes on him. “Where are you going?”

“Why do you care? I thought I was fighting a losing battle,” she said sarcastically.

“Well, If you’re going down, might as well have company, right?” he grinned. He saw the corners of her mouth twitch. But she turned away and kept walking without an answer.

A few steps ahead, she stopped and looked back at him. For the first time, James noticed a twinkle in her green eyes. “Coming, Potter?”

“Where did you go?” demanded Dorcas as Lily and James clambered back into the common room an hour later. “Lupin and I came out to search for you but couldn’t find you anywhere.” Her glasses slid down slightly as she frowned at the two of them.

“To talk with McGonagall,” said Lily triumphantly. Everyone sat up a little straighter.

“And?” asked Marlene impatiently.

“Adhara is conscious but in a lot of pain. None of Madam Pomfrey’s remedies seem to be working. An Advanced Healer is being sent for as we speak. They will assess her wounds and shift her to St. Mungo’s if needed,” she informed the attentive audience.

“How did you get her to tell you all this?” asked Mary, impressed.

“It was actually Potter who got it out of her,” admitted Lily fairly. “She was still being elusive when I asked, but Potter talked it out of her. She seemed quite upset about the ordeal.”

“What about Rigel?” Sirius spoke up for the first time since he had left the Hospital Wing earlier that evening.

“Rigel Selwyn is facing suspension as of now, pending inquiry,” replied James.

“Well,” started Dorcas briskly after a couple of moment’s silence. “There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do now. I suggest we all go to bed.”

There was a murmur of assent, following which one by one the group trooped up their dormitories. Remus and Peter had gone ahead with Sirius trudging behind them closely accompanied by the Dorm B blokes.

“Goodnight James,” called Marlene brightly.

He turned around to respond in kind but she had already gone up the stairs. His eyes fell on Lily, who, like him, was the last to depart.

“For someone who thought it was a losing battle, you sure as hell fought pretty hard back there,” said Lily, smirking at him.

“I was just trying to avoid another detention. I‘m still not done with my previous set of detentions with McGonagall,” he replied, shrugging.

She raised her eyebrows slightly and then suddenly smiled at him. The warmth in her eyes drew a soft smile across his lips.

“Goodnight, Potter,” she said.

“Goodnight, Evans,” he said, raising his chin. They headed opposite ways up to their dorms. He stopped at the first step and turned around, just in time to see a swish of red hair disappear around the curve of the girls’ staircase.

For the third time that day, James had given in to his inexplicable impulse.

Adhara was lying on her side, staring unfocused and unblinking at the empty bed next to her. She guessed by the shade of the bluish light sprawling across the white sheets that it could be well past midnight. The goblet of sleeping draught she had been instructed to take lay untouched on her bedside. She heard the door creak and quickly squeezed her eyes shut, pretending to be asleep. She didn’t want to deal with Madam Pomfrey right then.


Her eyes flew open.

“Sirius!” she whispered in surprise, rolling onto her back and trying to sit up. Sirius reached out and straightened her pillow, helping her into a sitting position. He then sat next to her on the bed, leaning back and supporting himself on his hands.

“What’s going to happen to Rigel?” he asked, looking sideways at her.

“They told me father took him home today,” she replied bitterly.

He raised his eyebrows slightly. She shrugged and looked away, willing herself not to succumb to the surge of emotions that had risen when the words escaped her mouth.

“Your friends tried to come over a number of times today,” he said, seeing right through her like he always did. “Evans almost wanted to take out James’ eye just for an excuse to get inside here.”

She met his grin with a grateful smile.

“Well, did she?”

“I don’t think McKinnon would have let her,” he said with a knowing grin.

“Is it that obvious?” laughed Adhara.

“Not to James, it isn’t,” replied Sirius. “To the rest of us, however, it couldn’t have been plainer if she had walked around with a sign pinned to her forehead!”

Adhara felt some of her pain ebb away as they laughed together.

“What are doing here?” she asked him softly.

“Well, I was in the neighborhood and just thought I’d drop by,” replied Sirius carelessly.

“Right, because you just usually wander around the castle in the dead of the night,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“I am not going to deny that,” he said with a wink. He glanced at her heavily bandaged arm. “How’s that?” he asked.

“Painful,” she admitted with a grimace. The careless grin had left Sirius’ face and he continued to look at her arm.

“Why did he do it?” he asked, after a moment’s silence had passed.

She shrugged.

“You remember what we did to him at that dinner party when we were nine?” he asked suddenly, smiling broadly.

“Remember? It was the most fun I had ever had at one of those insanely boring events!” she said, smiling reminiscently. “You talked me into stealing my mother’s wand to set fire to Rigel’s pants!”

“In all fairness, he had been mean to me,” defended Sirius, grinning proudly.

“All he said was ‘get out of my way, midget’,” she reminded him, chuckling.

“Well, that was mean,” Sirius pointed out. “And untrue. I have always been tall for my age,” he said haughtily.

“My, my Black! I swear I almost saw your mother in you just now,” she joked.

He instantly scowled. “I didn’t come here risking detention to be insulted, you know,” he replied huffily. She laughed further thinking he was just playing with her, but when he continued to frown, she started to wonder if she really had offended him.

“Sirius! Git! You know I didn’t mean that,” she said earnestly.

“Yeah okay,” he replied moodily.

She tried to get his mood back to normal a few more times but he just continued to sulk. She sighed regretfully and the next few moments passed in uncomfortable silence. It suddenly felt like someone had opened the window and let the drought in. The pain in her arm seemed to be back. She massaged her shoulder absently, trying to relieve the referred pain at the very least.

“You haven’t taken your Sleeping Draught,” he observed. His voice wasn’t hard anymore but it was still distant.

“Yeah, I forgot,” she said unconvincingly.

He raised his eyebrows. She looked at him defiantly, but knew he had seen through her. He reached out and picked up the goblet. “Nobody is going to hurt you in here,” he said, offering it to her. She took it from him but kept it between the clasps of her hands.

“I don’t want to go home,” she whispered. The minute those words left her mouth she felt tears pricking her eyes. She looked down at her hands and blinked them away rapidly.

“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” he said, smiling reassuringly at her.

He nudged her hand and she raised the goblet to her lips, taking a sip. A warm feeling spread from the tip of her tongue to every part the liquid touched. She emptied the goblet in the second sip. Sirius got up and took a step closer and for a second Adhara thought he was going to hug her again. She could have used one right about then. He reached out but simply straightened the pillow against which she was leaning.

“Take care, Adhara,” he said with a brisk nod and walked away, leaving Adhara feeling much lighter that she was feeling before he had come along.

“I’m really worried about Adhara,” said Lily, looking stricken. Snape looked up from his parchment across the library table.

“What did they say?” he asked.

“The healers came this morning. They still haven’t finished assessing her.” Lily looked quite distressed. Her hand lying on top of the table clenched slightly. He felt a sudden impulse to reach out and clasp it with his own.

“She’ll be alright,” he replied shrugging, tearing his eyes away from her delicate, pale fingers.

“Yes, but what if she isn’t?” Lily turned her big, worried eyes on him. “Marlene says that Dark Curses are unpredictable.”

He shifted in his seat slightly. “They are,” he replied, “But they also depend enormously on the castor, his emotions at the time and his skill. If it is the first time Selwyn used that curse, I highly doubt that the full extent of intended damage would been done.” He spoke with an air of indifference.

Full extent? Sev, that sounds horrible!” she exclaimed in horror. He immediately regretted his words. He saw her fingers tighten and tremble slightly. He wanted to place his own above theirs. His hand twitched slightly as if wanting to act on its own accord. He clasped them together tightly and looked into her face.

“Let’s not assume anything before we have all the information,” he said practically.

“But Sev-” She looked thoroughly distraught.

“Lily, you’re just wearing yourself out with all this worry,” he cut in gently. She sighed and continued to look anxious. He wanted to say something to ease her pain. He wasn’t able to think of anything reassuring. Back when they were kids he was always able to cheer her up with magic. He suddenly had an idea. He tapped his wand on her quill, muttering a spell. The quill shrunk and transformed into a miniature white lily flower, that opened and closed every five seconds. He saw her eyes widen, the worry replaced by wonder. He saw the sides of her mouth upturn and felt a warmth of satisfaction spread through his chest. He would be able to make her smile as long as he could do magic like that.

“Where did you learn to do that?” she asked, regarding him with awe.

He shrugged, feeling his ears heat up. “I read it somewhere,” he replied.

“This is really advanced magic, Sev,” she said holding it in her palm and watching it wide eyed.

“There’s a spell you can use so that it never wilts,” he supplied, pleased at her reaction. “Here-” He tapped the flower with his wand once more, and gold sparks emitted from the tip and was swallowed by the lily.

“Thank you, Sev,” she said, her startling green eyes meeting his eager black ones in gratitude. Her other hand lay on the table, just inches away from his. He reached out, but in the last second his fingers closed around a parchment instead.

For the third time that day, Severus had refrained from giving in to his impulse.


Hello folks! This is an important chapter to me as it starts to show the difference between James and Snape... to provide a little more insight into why Lily chose James. I know there are Snily fans out there - but Jily forever!

Do let me know what you think!

Thank you to my lovely readers, reviewers and my wonderful beta Felpata Lupin!

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