The Snitch of Secrets Three

Bad News

The day after the dementor attack, lessons were cancelled. The students were expected to spend the whole day doing homework and private study in the Great Hall whilst the majority of the teachers and the aurors put new, extra protective spells on the school. Dumbledore had been up all night trying to come up with a way of keeping the dementors out of the school without barricading the windows and doors. He had managed to come up with a spell that used the magic of the patronus to create a barrier. They had struggled to make it permanent but had managed it eventually. James was constantly surrounded by girls, all asking for him to re-count his terrible ordeal. James felt ridiculously embarrassed but he put on a wide grin and told the story to everyone who asked. Lily couldn't believe how arrogant he was behaving. She was completely disgusted by his behaviour. He had continuously run a hand through his hair, messing it up. Lily tutted several times, growing more and more agitated as the day went on.

No one in Gryffindor Tower slept that night. They knew that Dumbledore had put up protective spells to keep them safe but for some reason they just couldn't sleep. The idea that a dementor could enter the castle had never occurred to many of the students before and so they were suddenly taken over with fear. The whole house stayed awake in the common room. The third years sat in their favourite spot by the fire. Holly had joined them, sharing a sofa with James. "I'm so glad you are alright," Holly told him.

"I know Hols but I'm fine," James replied softly as he kissed her on the head.

The next morning the whole of Gryffindor were exhausted. They soon noticed that they weren't alone. Both Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff students looked exhausted too. The Slytherins were the only ones who looked like they'd slept at all. Lessons began again but there was a nervous buzz inside the castle. Sirius frowned, "we didn't finish our essay for care of magical creatures."

"Crap," James sighed. "Oh well. Nothing we can do now."

They were sat in defence listening to Professor Salazar. "This semester we will be focusing on the living dead. This week we will start with vampires. Vampires are very similar to humans – although pale and gaunt looking with sharp teeth. They have an aversion to garlic."

"The ministry classifies vampires as beings – meaning that they have sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws. Although not considered wizards they can be magical and are not considered a threat to the wizarding community in general, although there are those who would disagree. Now as to defending oneself against them…"

After class the Gryffindors made their way to dinner, "has anyone seen Peter?" James suddenly asked.

"Nah man," Sirius replied. "Where's Mary?"

"Haven't seen her," Marlene answered.

"Probably together then," Sirius winked.

Peter and Mary were still missing several hours later when they were all sat together in the common room by the fire. "Seriously where are they?" James was beginning to worry.

"They'll be fine," Sirius laughed.

They quickly turned as Peter and Mary walked into the common room, "where have you been?" Sirius suddenly started questioning them.

"It – It doesn't matter," Mary sighed.

Peter was holding a piece of parchment and his face was all red and blotchy. "Pete, what's the matter?" James asked kindly.

"My dad – he died," Peter cried loudly.

"Oh god," Sirius whistled, "bloody hell."

"I'm so sorry Peter," James walked forward and embraced his friend. "I'm sorry."

"It's ok. I just need to go to bed – I've got an early morning tomorrow."

The Gryffindors sat in shock as Peter walked up the stairs to his bed. They'd known his father had been ill but none of them had really expected it to be fatal. "Are you ok Mary?" Alice asked.

"I don't know," she whispered.

"You really like Peter don't you?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah – yeah I do," Mary nodded.

Peter went home the next day to help his mother plan the funeral. The boys had tried to be helpful but had completely failed. He left before breakfast and the boys barely got a chance to say goodbye. James had a terrible feeling all week. A foreboding feeling like something bad was about to happen. Quidditch practice went well and the team had never felt more confident. They were at the top of the league again. They were almost a dead cert for the win but even that didn't remove the lingering feeling that it was all going to go horribly wrong. Peter hadn't written. The marauders wrote to him but they hadn't really known what to say. James tried to distract himself by organising a prank. The remaining three marauders stayed up late one night casting spell after spell until every wall in the castle was covered in magical graffetti. The graffetti was incredible. Each wall told the person who saw it something about the school, the teachers and the students. There was one wall dedicated to the Gryffindor Quidditch team and another to Albus Dumbledore – that wall was James' favourite. There was a life-sized painting of Dumbledore with scrawled writing around him – an extensive list of the headmasters likes and dislikes. Professor McGonagall's wall was another personal favourite. It had every question the marauders had ever wanted to ask her but had been too scared. Have you ever worn your hair down? Was one among many.

The students had loved the walls, especially when they found their own wall. The teachers were less impressed but even they had to admit it was impressive magic. The boys were however given detention to remove it – especially after Mr Filch had read his wall; it was less than complimentary.

The Gryffindors were reading the paper daily to see who had disappeared. Every couple of days at least one new name was added to the list of names. Occassionally a student would recognise a name and would burst into tears. The dementors were no longer in the forest at all. It didn't matter what the time of day, they could be found hovering by the windows, searching for an entrance into the castle.

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