The Road To Hogsmeade
The weekend before Christmas was a Hogsmeade weekend but it had almost been cancelled because of the dementors in the forest. Dumbledore had arranged for the students to travel to and from Hogsmeade in the school coaches. Charlus Potter had arranged for a team of aurors to be stationed at staggered places along the Hogsmeade road. They were pretty sure that the dementors would not do anything. James decided to spend the day with the other Gryffindors. They went shopping for Christmas presents and had a lovely lunch together in the Three Broomsticks. Madam Rosmerta was shocked by how many of them they wanted to get around one table but had quickly pulled tables together for them. The ten friends sat together drinking butterbeer and eating Christmas dinner. James had even managed to buy several lovely gifts for his parents. He had gotten his father a new quill – made from a phoenix feather and he had gotten his mother the prettiest necklace he had ever seen. It had a beautiful black stone in the pendant. He knew she would love it. By the time the Gryffindor third years were ready to leave the village it was almost dusk and James' auror escorts were getting slightly apprehensive, "Sorry Potter – but I think you should be getting back to the castle now."
James nodded in agreement, "Ok – guys we should get back. Dinner will be ready soon."
"Potter you can't be hungry!" Lily laughed.
"No not hungry – just aware that it's going to be getting dark soon."
"Oh ok," Lily looked up, he's right.
They made their way over to the last three carriages. Alice, Frank, Peter and Mary took the first carriage. James' eyes went up at the sight of Peter and Mary, they'd make a cute couple, he thought to himself.
Sirius, Remus, Marlene and Kate took the second carriage. There was enough room for Lily but she saw a pleading look on James' face and decided to join him in the last carriage with his two aurors. It was a really awkward journey. No one said anything. James whispered to Lily, "thanks for coming with me."
"Any time," Lily smiled.
"They're just so dull," he complained.
Her eyes lit up, "they don't say much."
"No they really don't. They are so serious all the time – that's why Holly was so awesome. She was cool."
Lily smiled sadly, "yeah she was. In first year, she was my favourite teacher by far."
"I always thought Slughorn was your favourite," James laughed.
"Appearances can be deceptive," Lily smiled.
Suddenly they stopped for no apparent reason. "Stay here," one of the aurors told James and Lily, whilst they went out to see what was going on. James looked at Lily before disobeying the auror. He wanted to know what had happened.
He saw a carriage somewhat up the road had upturned. There were flashes of light as several witches and wizards duelled. James wanted to go join the fight but Lily held him back, "you need to keep yourself safe."
"But…" his eyes had that pleading look again.
"If you are there, the aurors will struggle to do their job. They'll be worried about you," she told him kindly.
"But it might be our friends," he replied.
For a second he thought she would agree and that they'd run out into the battle together but she didn't get a chance to answer him because within seconds of him saying about their friends, the carriage door had opened and in had walked none other than Bellatrix Black.
"Well well," Bellatrix smirked cruelly, "If it isn't my favourite mudblood and her precious knight in shining armour."
"Bellatrix," James acknowledged her, "what do you want?" There was a coldness in his voice that Lily had never heard before. It scared her slightly.
"I don't think you can give me what I want but I'll settle for killing you," her eyes were dark with insanity.
"Really? I'm getting bored of this Bellatrix," James sighed, "you guys need to stop trying to kill me. It clearly isn't working…"
"Insolent fool – you are such a fool – you could join us you know Potter!"
"Really? You know I've always fancied killing people and performing dark magic… oh wait that was a lie… I don't think it's for me thanks."
"What about you mudblood? Fancy joining the club?"
"No thank you," Lily replied through clenched teeth.
"Too bad – you're a pretty good witch for a mudblood," Bellatrix commented.
James tried to disarm the crazy witch, "don't call her that."
"Ah… protector Potter… did I hit a nerve?" She laughed.
James cast the knockback curse and Bellatrix fell back out of the carriage. James followed her out of the carriage and aimed hex after hex at her. She sent several cutting curses at him. One of them rebounded and hit Lily across the face. The aurors had noticed the new duell between Bellatrix and James and had started running towards them. Bellatrix briefly turned to look at them before returning her gaze to James and Lily, "This isn't the end of this. I will get you… both." She disapperated just before the aurors reached them. James sighed and turned to check that Lily was ok, "she got you with the cutting curse," he ran a finger along a large cut that was currently bleeding on her cheek.
"She got you too," she replied touching an identical one on his cheek. James laughed gently.
"Are you two ok?" the aurors asked.
"Just dandy," Lily laughed.
After that Hogsmeade weekend the atmosphere at Hogwarts changed abruptly. It had the potential to become fearful and scared – Death Eaters had attacked again – but instead everyone just became more and more excited about the upcoming Christmas holiday. Lily was looking forward to going home to visit her parents. She was even looking forward to seeing Petunia. Everyone started counting down the days until they found themselves on the Hogwarts Express on their way home. The Gryffindors shared a compartment. They hadn't allowed the Hogsmeade attack to ruin their festive cheer. If anything it had made them more persistent that they would enjoy the holiday.