Chapter 13, Watchers

Lily lay restlessly in bed; the Marauder’s had conjured a kettle earlier and somehow Sirius had got hold of a cafetier and ground coffee beans. They had stuck the kettle in the fireplace and made fresh coffee for any sixth and seventh years who wanted it.

Lily rolled over and tried to find a cold bit of pillow; three mugs of coffee had helped her finish her Charms essay, but it wasn’t helping her get to sleep.

‘Bloody Black and Potter,’ she mumbled quietly to herself, ‘Damn them and their stupid ideas.’

She rolled over again, this time on to her back and folded the duvet aside, twisting her legs out to cool down. She was regretting wearing her flannel pyjama bottoms so early in the year, she liked the gingham check, but they were just too thick. She couldn’t be bothered to change them though so she rolled them up around her knees and opened the window side of her bed curtains to let some air in.

After a few more minutes of pondering and wondering if she would ever go to sleep, she decided she might as well get up, so she looked at her little wind-up clock that sat beside her bed. She never wore a watch; she had once had one when she was little but it got broken and she had never worn another. Who needed a watch in a school anyway; bells were always ringing to end classes and everyone else had one, so she could just ask them.

Lily swung her legs over the side of her bed and searched with her feet until she found her slippers. She tied her hair back in a ponytail, grabbed whichever textbook was at the top of the pile and used the faint moonlight to find her way to the door. She found her favourite armchair near the remaining embers of the fire and curled up, lighting a nearby lamp so she could read; it was her Herbology textbook and she was happy she could get ahead on her Flesh-eating Shrub toxin research. Professor Tumble had hinted that they would be getting an essay on it soon, and Lily wanted to go over what they had started so she could make a plan for her essay later.

Something moved outside the pool of light cast by the lamp and Lily almost screamed.

‘Who’s there?’ she asked, grabbing her wand.

No one said anything, but she became aware of a slow, rhythmic noise; someone was breathing nearby. She listened to where it was coming from and raised her wand a little higher, ‘Lumos,’ she said and the tip glowed.

Remus Lupin was revealed, stretched across a sofa, head tipped back over the arm with a book on the floor beside him. Lily sighed as she realised what had given her such a fright. But at that moment, Remus suddenly snorted and his eyes snapped open. Lily jumped and nearly screamed again as he gave an odd kind of growl as his unfocused eyes met hers.

They focused and he suddenly realised where he was, ‘Bloody hell, Lily! Hasn’t anyone told you not to creep up on people while their sleeping?’

Lily tried to calm her racing heart, and took a step back, ‘I… err, sorry.’

Remus blinked, holding up a hand to ward off her wand light until she extinguished it, letting the softer glow of the lamp replace it, ‘What are you doing down here? It’s three o’clock in the morning!’ Lily asked him.

‘Oh, me? I was reading… must have fallen asleep. What are you doing? It’s a little late for work isn’t it?’

Lily blushed as Remus eyed the Herbology textbook in her hand, ‘I couldn’t sleep… too much coffee earlier.’

‘Coffee? I didn’t see any at supper…’ Remus muttered, as though he had wanted some.

‘Black and Potter had it, where were you earlier, by the way? I haven’t seen you all week!’

‘Oh, I’ve been busy; loads of homework and stuff,’ he waved his hand vaguely and blinked at the softer light. Lily frowned; he did exactly the same subjects as she did, and they hadn’t exactly been snowed under. She wondered if it was to do with the argument Frank had heard at the start of the week.

‘Anyway, I’m going to go to bed,’ he said yawning, ‘Catch you later, Lily.’

‘Ok then,’ she said softly, ‘Goodnight.’

Remus suddenly turned back and said, ‘Lily?’

She looked up, ‘Yeah?’

‘I… J… oh, never mind, it’s not important. G’night.’

She watched him wander across the room and disappear up the stairs; she wondered what sort of argument could have ended with Remus avoiding his dorm mates. She stared at the fire for a few minutes, wondering what it was the Marauders actually did the whole time. She had watched Dorcas shouting at Potter earlier; he’d made one of the Fifth Years carry on with the try-outs even after the boy had broken his ankle. She watched him make a rather spectacular catch, tumble to the ground and it soon became obvious he was hurt, but Potter had just gone over had a few words and physically put him back on his broom. It just showed how little Potter cared for other people; Quidditch and himself came before everything.

She huffed at the thought of him before she opened her book again and read:

The Sylvestris improba is one of the most common of the magical flesh-eating shrubs, standing at four feet tall, yet it is powerful enough to capture small mammals and is often mistaken for…’

Remus cursed himself; one little act could have avoided this whole situation, could have ended and solved every problem they currently had. Only he was too much of a coward to do anything, to say anything.

Of course he had gone to Quidditch try-outs; James relied on him to be there and spot anything he missed. He had hoped James might come over and say something, but apparently he hadn’t even noticed him.

Now he didn’t even go into his dorm unless it was for something necessary; Sirius accusatory looks and Peter’s hopeful glances were too wearing. James just seemed to ignore him. He wondered if this was what it was like to be someone outside of the Marauders; they just seemed so unapproachable.

In the morning he thought he would go to the library early and see if there was anything about his condition that might be affecting his mood. They had done huge amounts of research in Second year, but Remus had forgotten most of it; it was bad enough being a werewolf with the constant two sides of your mind battling each other for control, and now he wondered if it was beginning to affect him.

James was up early on Sunday morning; he was up early every morning, but today he wanted to go down, check the Quidditch pitch and start drawing up all of his Quidditch notes into real strategies and plans. He had his team; now he just needed to sculpt the ideas he had to suit them.

He pulled on some jeans and a t-shirt, taking his Nimbus 1001 from its case under his bed; he never left it in the school broom shed where the Slytherins could mess about with it. The Nimbus was good for chasers who need to move quickly, but the turning capacity on it wasn’t great, it was also a harder broom to balance on and had a tendency to roll. Sirius used a Cleansweep Five for playing Beater; it had greater manoeuvrability and was as steady as a rock, but Cleansweeps just didn’t have the speed of the Nimbus series.

He reached the Common Room and spotted a figure near the fire, which was already burning brightly. It was Lily; she had obviously fallen asleep at some point, and James noticed a textbook open where it had fallen on the floor nearby. He walked over quietly and picked it up, smoothing out the pages where they had crumpled, before marking where she had been reading with a bookmark that was on the table beside her, then he left the book on the table for her.

He made it all the way to the Portrait Hole before he looked back at her; she looked beautiful, relaxed and comfortable. James’ resolve to go and plan out Quidditch strategies weakened; all he wanted to do was go and curl up beside this wonderful girl who could laugh and smile and enjoy herself with anyone but him. She had a t-shirt and some pyjama bottoms on, her hair was pulled back in a ponytail and it revealed a wonderfully pale neck; James ached to go and kiss her smooth skin.

He shook his head sorrowfully; he needed to sort out Remus first, but he had no idea what to say to him. They would sort it out eventually, he decided and stepped out into the corridor; he had a Quidditch team to manage.

Lily woke up stiff and sore in the pale morning light, she rubbed her eyes and realised she was still in the armchair from the night before. She groaned and looked for where she had dropped her book; she had a vague memory of it sliding out of her hands.

Strangely though it was on the table beside her, the pages had been smoothed out and there was a bookmark in it. She frowned and she realised that the Common Room had been cleaned and the fire rekindled; a house-elf had probably been round and tidied up. She had never seen one in over five years at Hogwarts, but apparently that was a good thing; she privately thanked whichever little creature had saved her book for her and made her way upstairs to go to bed properly. Sleeping in an armchair definitely wasn’t good for your back.

Severus Snape was in the library; it was a Sunday but he was following that Lupin boy, he had always known there was something odd about him and he didn’t like the way Lily was hanging about with him. The tall, brown-haired boy hung out with Black and Potter a lot, but he never seemed to get involved; in anything.

Severus had been watching him since he had noticed Lily with the Marauders. Had she finally given in to Potter’s constant demands for attention? He couldn’t bear the thought of Lily being with that… that arrogant, selfish, idiotic berk. So what if he played Quidditch? Severus had seen plenty of better people; that Ravenclaw, Quigley for one. He was good at Transfiguration; but that was just one subject. Some people thought he was funny; Severus hated his guts.

It had started years ago, on the train ride he and Lily had been looking forward to for ages. He had lost Lily on the platform and found her on the train with some boys in a carriage; Potter and Black had been two of the boys, and they had formed an instant and mutual dislike. Potter was obviously going to be one of those brawny idiots who thought everything could be solved with brute force and Black, who he thought would be better than that, had actually agreed.

Within the first few weeks Black had got into a fight with Avery and Potter had joined the fray so Severus had decided to help his housemate; he needed a boost in house where his half-blood status was looked down on. Then Potter and Black had made a point of hexing Severus every time they saw him and calling him stupid names, like Snivellus; every time he heard that he wanted to kill one of them.

Now though, he was writing a Potions essay for Slughorn on the properties and uses of Ferineal Philtres, but he was also watching Lupin who was acting a bit oddly. The last few days Severus hadn’t seen him anywhere near Black and Potter; what would Lupin be doing on his own in the library at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning. He was apparently looking at Werewolf books too. Severus frowned to himself; they had done werewolves last year and weren’t due to cover them any further until Seventh Year. Why would Lupin be looking at books like that now? Maybe it was something to do with some idiotic prank the Marauders were going to pull.

That would be just the kind of thing they would be funny; set a werewolf loose in the castle, or something insane.

Sirius woke up late, showered and got dressed. His shoulders were a bit stiff after yesterday and he wondered where James was; he pulled a small handheld mirror out of his bedside table drawer and said clearly, ‘Prongs.’

The mirror surface rippled and after a few seconds his reflection was replaced by that of James, ‘Alright mate? Where are you?’

‘Quidditch Pitch; do you think you and Hannah would be able to pull off a Rompton Rocket?’ James asked without any preamble; he was obviously looking at Quidditch moves.

Sirius frowned; it required a good amount of force and courage, to pull of something like that. Two Beaters from the same team would hit the bludgers at each other from close range and then ricochet them towards opposing players; usually a Keeper. You could almost double the speed of the bludgers on the ricochet and the Keeper would be forced to leave the hoops undefended or be likely hospitalised.

The likelihood of the Beaters simply hitting each other was quite high though if they didn’t get the timing exactly right. Or, if they didn’t get the ricochet spot on, then the chasers would be left completely open.

‘With a decent amount of practise, yeah.’ Sirius replied.

‘Great!’ James’ face lit up, ‘I’m going to see if we get the Reverse Pass working this season.’

‘Alright, what time do you want us down there?’

‘Oh, I’m going to come back and grab breakfast; get everyone down for eleven?’

‘Sounds good, I’ll grab everyone; see you in the Great Hall.’

‘Have you read this trash?’ Laura said, throwing the Sunday Prophet down on the table in disgust.

‘What?’ Alice asked in concern.

‘This! It’s ridiculous!’ She was pointing at an editorial she had been reading, ‘It’s going on about how this Voldemort guy and his views on Purebloods getting privileges over Muggle-borns; it’s actually implying he might be right!’

‘You know there’s rumours that Sagax; the Minister for Magic, is considering giving him a place on the Wizengamot.' Frank Longbottom said, leaning over from beside Alice.

‘No!’ Laura gasped, ‘That’s just stupid! They can’t let extremists like him on the Wizengamot!’

‘There’s plenty of other people like him already on it.’ Frank replied.

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