The Snitch of Secrets Three

The Stag And The Doe

The half term break went quickly. The first few days had been incredible. The weather had been superb but by the end of the first weekend the rain had returned and the Gryffindors had had to migrate back into the castle from the grounds; no longer able to laze by the lake in the sun, they had had to sit in front of the fire playing wizarding chess and exploding snap. Before they knew it they had returned to classes and the break was over. Most of their lessons had become something of a monotonous bore. James had finally won the flobberworm competition as Lily's flobberworm had died after a particularly cold night. Professor Kettleburn had introduced his third year care of magical creatures class to a new creature; the fairy about half way through November. Kettleburn was stood at the front of the classroom with a large cage. Inside the cage were several five inch tall fairies. "Fairies appear quite like humans – other than the fact they have these beautiful wings," Kettleburn was telling the class. "Can anyone tell me where you would find a fairy? Where is it's preferred habitat?" Evans hand went up, "Miss Evans?"

"They mainly live in woodlands and glades," Lily replied.

"Know it all," James whispered under his breath bitterly.

"Very good Miss Evans. Right who here has ever had a fairy on there Christmas tree?"

Most of the students put their hands up. "Can anyone explain why?"

James laughed, "they are vain – they love being used as decorations."

"Very true Mr Potter," Kettleburn laughed, "They have magic of their own. Although it is very weak, it allows them to evade their predators. Who can give me an example of a fairy predator?"

Lily's hand shot up, "Miss Evans of course."

"The Augurey – you taught us about them before the holiday Sir," Lily reminded him.

"Indeed I did. Now fairies cannot speak like we can. Instead they make high pitched buzzing noises to communicate… Now fairies lay eggs – potentially up to fifty eggs in one go – they lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. The eggs hatch into brightly coloured larvae and spin themselves into a cocoon, emerging a month later as adult fairies. Fairy eggs make up a large part of the diet of several magical creatures – can anyone give me an example?"

"The Bowtruckle sir – a very difficult creature to spot. It is a tree dweller somewhat resembling a stickman."

"Very good Miss Evans," Kettleburn smiled. "Muggles have a great opinion of fairies – one it is questionable that they deserve. Their wings are incredibly useful in the art of potions making. Now we will spend the next week working with fairies before moving onto the Doxy, then the Imp, the Leprechaun and finally the Pixie – to ensure that we cover the entire fairy family."

James sighed; fairies were not exactly the most exciting creatures. Lily's eyes lit up. Being muggle-born she had grown up imagining, hoping, scarcely believing that fairies existed and here they were right in front of her. "I have collected several plants from the Forbidden Forest. You will work in pairs." Kettleburn pointed his wand at the plants and they hovered over to the students desks. "You will be looking after the fairies that hatch from the eggs on the leaves on your plants. Your first task is to determine how many eggs are on the underside of the leaves on your plant. There will be points given to the pair of students who have the highest percentage of fairies surviving at the end of the week. Get to work!"

James and Sirius laughed briefly, "We better win."

"Right I'll count the eggs. You write it down," James smiled. "One… two… three… seven… There are ten on the first leaf… Only two on this one…"

The lesson went on for ages as the students counted the eggs. James and Sirius' plant had a total of fifty five eggs. "Bloody hell – how are we going to be able to look after fifty five fairies?"

"Right class – times up sadly. Put your names on the plant pot and place them back on the side table," Kettleburn told the class happily.

Divination had become James' least favourite lesson. He really didn't believe they were learning anything but he did enjoy the temporary truce between himself and Lily that seemed to arise when they were in that classroom. He didn't understand it but they never argued in that room. Sadly that didn't make up for Professor Lifflilee's oddities. She was a very bizarre woman and James was finding her more and more creepy the more time he spent in her classroom. She had an air of knowingness. It was like she knew more than she let on. It was very similar to Dumbledore's twinkling eyes that seemed to see through a person, except Lifflilee just seemed to have a persona that suggested she wasn't telling you everything. James doubted that the teacher was actually a real seer but he had to admit there was something weird and creepy about her.

James was still top of the class in Transfiguration much to Lily's disgust. She watched him in class, trying to work out how he was doing it. She was adamant that he was cheating. She just needed proof. However, she never got any. She watched him as he lazily cast each new spell with ease. Professor McGonagall had been incredibly pleased with him and he had gained so many house points during her lessons that everyone had been surprised. Everyone knew McGonagall wasn't a big point giver.

Potions was James' least favourite class. Lily was still working with Snape. James tried his hardest to focus on his potion and ignore the two friends. Snape would regularly turn his head and smirk at James but James had chosen to ignore him leaving Snape disgruntled.

Defence Against the Dark Arts had proven interesting. Professor Salazar smiled excitably at the class, "we are deviating slightly from the syllabus. Professor Dumbledore has requested that I try and teach all of my students patronus charms. I recognise that it is very difficult magic – it is beyond your capabilities and normally you wouldn't be expected to learn it until N.E.W.T. level. However, it has recently been discovered that there is an infestation of dementors in the Forbidden Forest and as such Professor Dumbledore has asked that as a preventative measure you all learn the charm so that you are able to defend yourselves if the need arises."

"But Professor…" Emmilene began.

"Yes Miss Vance?"

"Aren't the dementors at Azkaban?"

"Sadly no. Over the summer the dementors left their posts at Azkaban. They have joined the dark wizards known as the Death Eaters."

"Death Eaters?" Several people asked.

"You will of course be aware of the Knights of Walpurgis?" Professor Salazar asked.

The class nodded, "well there is another group – who could potentially be working with the Knights – who have been attacking muggles and muggle-borns across the country. You will have heard about the attacks I am sure."

The class nodded, "Ok… well. The Dementors have joined this group of pure-bloods. The Death Eaters are far worse than the Knights. Although there are those who believe that the Knights are merely a cover for the Death Eaters."

"How do you mean Professor?" Dorcas Meadowes asked.

"Well they are let's say the voice. They are the ones making the demands whilst the Death Eaters are the ones who are committing the heinous crimes. However, they may well be the same group just using an alias. Of course there is no proof of that…"

There was a murmur of nervous excitement around the room. "So back to the lesson… Dementors. Dementors are amongst the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They are awful, disgusting things. They feed off human happiness and as such cause depression and despair to anyone near them. The longer they inhabit our forest the more likely it is that they will affect your moods. I do not want to teach you too much about the dementors. I will only teach you how to defend yourselves. No one has ever demonstrated the ability to kill a Dementor but we can drive them away with a Patronus Charm. Now this charm is very complicated and most of you will probably not accomplish it today but we can try, can we not. The Patronus charm evokes a partially-tangible positive energy force – a Patronus. To cast the spell, you will need to think of a happy memory – the happiest thing you can remember – focus on the memory, allow it to fill you up and consume your thoughts. The happier the memory, the more powerful your patronus will be. Do you all have your memories?" Salazar asked.

The class nodded expectantly, "then incant, 'Expecto Patronum."

The class began to attempt casting the spell. The marauders had been able to do the charm since their first year when Charlus had insisted on teaching James it, in case he needed to send an urgent message to him. Charlus had even taught him how to send messages with his patronus, something Dumbledore had taught Charlus. James' stag galloped around the room happily accompanied by a dog, wolf and rat. The four Patronuses stopped abruptly before disappearing. Several girls gasped excitably. "Wow, that was…" Louise Kwan began, "did you see that stag, Em?"

Emmeline smiled, "yeah it was so amazing."

"Well done boys. I am very impressed. Ten points each," Professor Salazar nodded approvingly.

Lily pulled a face, trust Potter to show off.

"Right class keep trying."

By the end of the lesson several students had managed to get incorporeal Patronuses but no one had managed to produce a corporeal one. Professor Salazar stopped them just before the bell rang, "well done. Well done. You have all done exceptionally well. To be able to cast any patronus; corporeal or not, is amazing considering your age. I wish I was having anywhere near as much joy with my fourth year class. Keep practising in your spare time. You are excused."

That night, Lily went to bed early. Her friends were still sat in the common room as had become the routine. She changed quickly into her pyjamas and cleaned her teeth. Harry was sat on the window sill when she returned from the bathroom. She sat down on her bed and picked up her wand from her bedside table. She pointed it directly in front of herself and said calmly; "Expecto Patronum!"

A silver-white mist erupted from her wand's tip. The mist quickly transformed into a beautiful silver-white doe. The doe seemed to smile at her, tilting its head slightly to the side. It stayed there for what felt like ages. Lily slowly stretched out her hand as if to touch it but it vanished before her eyes. She sighed, replacing her wand on her bedside table, she lay back and closed her eyes, "I'll never tell him – I'd never hear the end of it."

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