The Snitch of Secrets Three

One Of Their Number Missing

The following day left the Gryffindor third years without one of their own. Alice had returned home to be with her mother. The Gryffindors didn't expect to hear much from her as they imagined that she would be very busy planning her father's funeral. The weekend was spent enjoying the weather in the grounds. The Gryffindors even went swimming in the lake. Lily joined them for several hours by the side of the lake. Mary and Peter were barely speaking but the other Gryffindors noticed them giving each other pointed glances as they tried to work each other out. They both seemed completely confused. As Monday approached, Remus was called home to visit his aunt who had come to visit from Australia, or at least that is what he told the other Gryffindors. According to Remus, he hadn't seen his Aunt Coralline since he was nine years old. The marauders of course knew better. Whilst Remus spent his time in the shrieking shack over the next few days the marauders found a new resolve to become Animagi. They began spending what time had been previously devoted to Quidditch practice learning the different wandless magic spells that were needed. It was much harder than any of the other magic they had ever had to perform and if it wasn't for their friend Remus' dire situation there was no doubt in the marauders' minds that they would never achieve it. They refused to give up however, while ever Remus needed their help.

The Gryffindor girls wrote to Alice often, filling her in on all the things she was missing, especially the different pranks the marauders had pulled on the other students. They were surprised when James received a letter from Alice at breakfast on Thursday morning. Both Lily and Frank looked slightly annoyed and perhaps slightly jealous although Frank's expression soon relaxed into a face of pained concern as James read her letter aloud.

Dear James (and everyone else… especially you Frank dear),

I'm writing to you James because I'm very busy and don't have time to write to everyone but I wanted to tell you about what we discussed in the classroom. You know what I mean…You were right. He was involved in what you think he was involved in – you'll have to explain to the group. I can't in the letter, it's not safe. I'm not sure what he was doing for them but I overheard mother talking to your mother about it. Apparently they are all involved… I'm going to try and find out more. I'll let you know as soon as I do. It was Voldemort… no death eaters…

I love you all. Say thanks to the girls for their letters.

Alice. X

James sighed. "What does she mean?" Lily asked.

"Her dad…" James looked around. "Right everyone – boys' dorm in ten minutes. We can't talk here. The walls have ears."

The Gryffindors ate quickly before making their way back to Gryffindor Tower. When they were all in the third year boys' dorm room and a silencing charm was put in place, James began to explain; "it's a long story… I don't know if any of you remember about the Order of the Phoenix?"

"Yeah… Dumbledore's group against Voldemort…"

"Indeed – well my parents, Alice's parents, Frank's mother, Marlene's parents and grandmother… they are all involved in some way… I don't know much about them but I know they are secretly working to bring Voldemort down."

"That's why he died?" Marlene asked.

"Ignatius was working for the Order when he was murdered, yes. I don't know what he was doing exactly – neither does Alice."

"Bloody hell – it's real isn't it," Sirius frowned as if he had only just realised that war was at their doorstep.

"Yes Sirius – very very real."

The rest of June went in a daze. Classes were becoming tedious as the weather was so amazing that all the students struggled to stay indoors. Even Lily was avoiding the stale heat of the library, choosing to study by her favourite waterfall with Snape. They had tried to avoid talking about the dementor attack but Lily knew that they couldn't avoid it forever. Eventually however, it was Snape that raised the conversation, "I've been so foolish. I'm so sorry Lils. I promise I'm going to stay out of all of it from now on. I was just scared they wouldn't like me if I didn't join in."

"They wouldn't be real friends if that were the case," Lily replied.

"I know but they…"

"I know – they are your friends… you don't want to ruin your friendships. I get it…"

"I'm sorry Lils."

"I understand."

"It won't happen again. I'm going to focus on my exams and forget all about it…"

Lily nodded, hoping that her best friend wouldn't break his promise this time. "Should we go to Slughorn's classroom and practice our shrinking solutions?"

"I'd like that," Severus smiled.

Only Lily was paying attention in charms on Thursday afternoon. The rest of the Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs were unable to concentrate in the heat of the charms classroom. "Carpe Retractum is a fantastic charm. It creates a retractable magical rope. The rope can then be used to pull objects or even if the object is affixed to something then it can pull the caster towards the object… Now the hand movement is very interesting… for those of you who know anything of muggle fishing… you will recognise the hand movement." Professor Flitwick demonstrated the hand movement before continuing, "the incantation is Carpe Retractum… now interestingly when you use this charm on an object it produces purple light whilst if you use it on creatures the light is orange. Pair up please… first I want you to practice on your textbooks… once you manage that successfully I want you to try it on your partner…"

James and Sirius began practising but neither one of them were working particularly hard. Lily had managed to achieve the charm within fifteen minutes much to James and Sirius' irritation. Remus wasn't far behind her. At the end of the lesson, Professor Flitwick told them to research the Glacius freezing charm as they would be learning it next week.

James at least managed to focus in defence. Merely because of the subject matter however. Professor Salazar had began to teach them about Inferi. "We aren't going to be studying them in detail… you will learn more about them later… in your seventh year."

"An inferius is a dead body, reanimated by a Dark Wizard, similar to a zombie. They have no free will, and cannot think for themselves; their purpose is merely to serve as the puppets of the Dark Wizard who reanimated them. In your seventh year you will learn more about the Dark Art of Necromancy. As to defending oneself against an inferius… because Inferi are creatures of the dark, they dislike light and heat. The most effective spell against them is a fire-summoning spell, such as Firestorm. It depends upon the number of Inferi. They cannot feel pain and are therefore unaffected by most defensive spells. We are unable to practise the Firestorm spell within a classroom. Instead, for homework I want you to write a two scroll essay on the spell."

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