Chapter 3, Propositions

Fortunately the awkward moment passed as James hurriedly changed the subject on to lighter matters, ‘Padfoot and I were wondering what we were going to do this year.’

‘What do you mean?’ Peter asked.

‘Well, First Year we spent figuring out Moony’s “furry little problem”,’ Sirius began.

‘Second, Third and Fourth was Animagi,’ James continued.

Remus could see their logic, ‘And Fifth was taking advantage of that,’ he finished.

‘So…’ James said, with the nonchalant air of someone about to suggest rearing a dragon in their dorm, ‘You remember Wormy’s map, right?’

‘Yeah,’ Remus answered cautiously, wondering where this could be leading.

‘It’s in my trunk, I think…’ Peter added helpfully, creasing his brow in a worried frown.

James was speaking of the map that Peter had drawn in First Year to help him find his way to lessons. Begun as a sketch for Peter to follow, it was now covered in helpful little notes like passwords for secret passageways, Filch’s usual patrol routes and which staircases weren’t available on certain days. Over the years, the Marauders had added to it, marking down disused classrooms, likely hiding spots and secret passageways they stumbled across or discovered. It was now quite a detailed plan of the castle, and one of their most prized secrets and possessions; along with James’ invisibility cloak and their Animagi abilities.

‘Well,’ James said, slightly hesitantly.

Remus’ face immediately fell; James was never, ever hesitant.

‘We thought we could improve it.’

‘What do you think we’ve been doing for the last five years?’ Remus asked with a sigh of relief and slight confusion.

‘We’ve added to it. But Padfoot and I had a couple of ideas in the last few weeks, like; what if it could show people?’

‘We would be virtually untraceable, undetectable and we wouldn’t have to waste time on stupid detentions.’ Sirius erupted with gleeful anticipation.

‘We also wanted a password put on it,’ James added.

‘We’ve already got a password.’

‘We want one that can’t be broken.’

‘That’s impossible.’

‘No, it’s not. We had a few ideas about that too.’

‘Oh, Merlin! I thought we might have a quiet year…’

‘Why?’ Sirius asked, looking mortified.

Remus bit his bottom lip, his would never be a quiet life it seemed, no matter how hard he tried, ‘Ok, then, how do you intend going about this?’

Sirius’ eyes lit up; Remus was going to accept the plan and James had just got that determined look in his eye. Peter, typically, looked a little apprehensive.

‘Right,’ James started, before launching into an explanation, ‘you remember back in Fourth Year, when we trying to find the entrance to that room at the top of the South-west Tower? The one with the glass walls? Yeah? Well, while we were looking up stuff about it, me and Padfoot came across some ancient relic about the castle wards…

Deadly boring stuff, but there was some interesting bits on ward theory and what had been placed around the castle. If we can find out enough about the wards, I reckon we could either set up our own, or somehow link the map into the existing ones, since they basically monitor who’s in the castle.’

‘That sounds pretty far out, Prongs,’ Remus replied sceptically.

‘Course it does,’ Sirius replied with a grin, ‘that’s because we’re doing it. If it was anyone else, it would be impossible,’ his grin broadened, ‘for us; it’s merely difficult. Besides, it could just be a matter of tapping into the old wards.’

‘Some of those wards are almost a thousand years old, Padfoot,’ Remus said, ‘They were put down by the Founders themselves! You can’t just “tap into them”!’

‘Why not? And if we can get one up on old Sleazyzar Slytherin, then even better!’ Sirius replied and Peter chuckled.

If anyone passing the compartment managed to break through the enchantments the four boys regularly cast to keep their conversations private, they would have been excused for the thinking them mad. First of all; what kind of sixteen year-old boys could claim to be Animagi, and secondly; who thought they could possibly alter the ancient, powerful wards surrounding the castle they called a school. The boys though, had, in fact, already done the former and were now seriously thinking of applying themselves to the latter.

They were deep in discussion when Remus suddenly clapped a hand to his forehead, saying, ‘Oh Merlin, I completely forgot about the Prefect’s Meeting!’

With that, he stood and hurried out the door towards the front of the train. Sirius watched him go with parently concern then said with an emotional sniff, ‘I don’t where we went wrong with him, I had such high hopes for the boy… and now…. His manners, not even a goodbye kiss,’ he wiped an invisible tear from his eye.

Remus, on the other hand, was rushing down the train corridor, avoiding discarded trunks and pushing past groups of chattering lower years. He reached the compartment at the very front of the train and slipped inside, murmuring apologies to the Head Boy and Girl as he took the set beside his fellow Gryffindor Prefect. The pretty, red-headed girl raised an inquiring eyebrow. Remus had however, already formed an expression of polite interest and was listening intently to the Heads’ words as if he had been there all along.

The two sat through an unnecessary and long-winded explanation of their duties, which had already been explained to them in a letter from the school over the holidays. They had also been Prefects the year before, but no one seemed to be taking any no notice of that, apparently irrelevant, fact.

Eventually, just as the limits of even Remus’ patience were beginning to fray, they were dismissed, but to Remus’ annoyance he was put on corridor duty first, with the girl he had sat next to, Lily Evans. He gave a heavy sigh and rose to his feet, but instead of heading out into the corridor he went to chat to the other Prefects in his year. He was, after all, a Marauder and wasn’t about to spend any more time on duty than was strictly necessary.

Caradoc Dearborn and Marlene McKinnon were Ravenclaws; Stanley Broadmore and Francis Treaton were both Hufflepuffs. Few of the Slytherins talked to other houses, but Remus received a nod and respectful, ‘Lupin,’ from Evan Rosier as he sloped out. All too soon though, Lily Evans was tugging him away from the crowd and out into the corridor to start patrol. Remus always thought that she took school a bit too seriously; of course, it was important but things like patrolling the train corridors were more of an extra rather than a necessary duty. They were to patrol for the next hour together, so Remus matched Lily’s pace and they proceeded slowly down the corridor.

‘How was your holiday, Remus?’ she asked as they passed compartments, eyeing the occupants suspiciously. Or rather, Lily eyed them suspiciously while Remus barely allowed them a glance. Even in his rush to reach the Prefect’s Meeting, he had noted where the likely troublemakers might be; the prime suspects were holed up in the compartment he had left half an hour before.

‘It was really good actually!’ he replied with a smile, ‘We stayed at my house for most of it; relaxed on the beach and stuff,’ he pretended not to notice the slight pursing of lips when he said “we” and carried on, ‘How about you?’

‘Oh, the usual,’ she replied breezily, ‘stayed at home mostly, it was nice not to have holiday work for a change! Met up with Alice and Dorcas a few times, and stayed with Laura for a week or so.’

‘Sounds good,’ Remus nodded, motioning for the girl his best friend admired so much to keep talking.

‘And my sister got engaged…’

‘Congratulations!’ Remus said brightly.

‘Hardly,’ Lily replied with uncharacteristic bad grace.

‘Oh, yeah; you don’t really get on with her, do you?’

It was hardly a worthwhile question. Last year, Fifth Year, he and Lily had been made Prefects to James and Sirius’ infinite delight.

‘Who in their right mind would make you a Prefect?’ James had laughed as Sirius choked on a piece of cake stolen from Mrs Potter’s kitchen.

‘That’s brilliant!’ Sirius crowed as he finally swallowed, spraying crumbs everywhere, ‘We’ll never have to do detention again!’

As a result they had spent many hours on duty together, patrolling the castle; of which James had been very jealous. Now though, Remus probably knew her better than any other boy at Hogwarts; Lily had never really had boyfriends, odd things seemed to happen to them. Remus had at one time suspected James of taking his obsession with her too far, but James had proved his innocence and claimed that it was fate.

Consequently, they knew each other quite well and enjoyed each other’s company, or so Lily thought. Certainly, they both enjoyed the time they spent together, but if someone had asked Lily about Remus Lupin, she would have been hard pressed to come up with an answer. She knew he lived in Cornwall, he was a half-blood, he went home once a month to see his sick mother and that he had some kind of pet at home, probably a kneazle or a crup, that Black and Potter always made out to be quiet mischievous. Other than that, he hung out with ‘The Marauders’ at school, spent a fair amount of time in the library and actively supported the Gryffindor Quidditch team, which Black and Potter were on.

If she were ever to really think about it, she would have realised that he was a master at deflecting questions away from himself. As Sirius once said, “You could give my Father a run for his money when the Ministry asks him each year about his taxes.” James just said that he’d make a great politician one day.

So, as they wandered down the train, stepping between carriages, Lily found herself telling him all about her sister’s fiancée and how large, dull and generally unappealing he was. Vernon Dursley worked as an under-secretary for a large company called ‘Grunnings’, who made drills.

‘-and that,’ Lily concluded,’ is pretty much the story of his life.’

‘He sounds fascinating,’ Remus replied ambiguously.

Lily looked up at him, trying to discern whether she had heard sarcasm or just expected it. She had never been able to tell if he was an incredibly nice person or simply didn’t use the English language in the same way as other people. So to keep the conversation going she just asked, ‘How’s your Mum, by the way?’ with genuine concern.

Remus hated lying, but for years it had been just another part of his life and the words came naturally, ‘Not any worse, not any better. But when did you say your sister was getting married?’

‘Next August; they’ve already started planning the wedding.’

‘And you’ll be a bridesmaid?’

‘No, actually. Mum was quite upset; but you know what I’ve told you about Petunia… if she had her way she’d be telling her friends I was a distant cousin and I wouldn’t even be going to the wedding,’ replied with an odd sort of sigh, ‘Still, at least I don’t have to worry about stupid dress fittings and all that.’

Remus would have been forgiven for thinking that Lily wasn’t a very ‘girly’ girl from what he had just heard. But he had been at school with her for five years; heard her complain about muddy Herbology lessons, rain making her hair frizzy and seen her spend hours looking at shoes in Hogsmeade. He put her lack of enthusiasm down to it being her sister’s wedding.

Lily, though, was making light of what had been an awful couple of months for her at home. There had been arguments, tears and tantrums almost every day since Petunia announced she was engaged. Mr and Mrs Evans had been surprised, but that was nothing to what they were when their daughter then said that she didn’t want Lily there at the wedding. The family had almost fallen apart. Mrs Evans almost had a fit at Petunia’s selfishness and threatened to try and cancel the whole occasion. Thankfully, Lily’s father had tactfully stepped in, sat his women down and, with huge amounts of patience, forced a compromise.

Still, it had not been an easy summer; whereas before, the sisters would tolerate each other even with Petunia’s snide remarks, now they couldn’t be in the same room without an argument that would leave one in tears. Mealtimes had become incredibly tense affairs and more than once Mrs Evans had burst into tears at the table, over the rift between her two daughters.

Lily had gone to stay at her Gryffindor friends’ houses for the remainder of the summer. Now she was happy to be heading back to school, asking Remus what subjects he was taking for N.E.W.Ts and admitting that she had managed to get four O’s in her results.

Just as they were approaching the end of their allotted hour they passed the compartment the Marauders were ensconced in, despite Remus’ best efforts to delay their approach; the Marauders represented a lot of things that Lily despised. Oddly, though, to Lily’s ears, it was silent as they approached. Then she remembered the ‘Muffliato’ charm that had become so popular at the end of last year and discovered the mysterious buzzing in her ears to prove that her guess was correct.

As they passed the door she saw the three discussing and gesticulating over a grubby sheet of parchment; they were obviously planning another of their ridiculous pranks. Lily decided immediately to put a stop to it.

She opened the door and stepped inside as Black stuffed the parchment out of sight; she had been right, they were up to something.

‘Give it here, please, Black,’ she said, holding out her hand.

‘Give what?’ he answered with an air of polite confusion.

‘That piece of parchment you so obviously just stashed away,’ she replied, narrowing her eyes and trying to quell the sudden irritation that flared up whenever she came across Black or Potter.

‘I don’t see a Prefect’s badge, Evans. How do we know you haven’t been given the sack over the summer?’ He continued with the same air of infuriating politeness, as if he actually believed what he had just said.

Lily looked down and almost swore; she hadn’t changed into her school robes yet, ‘That’s ridiculous, Black, and you know it! So stop being so stupidly arrogant and hand it over.’

Black just looked at her, his expression becoming slightly harder after the insult, ‘Look who’s being arrogant now, Evans. We know Moony’s a Prefect, ask him to confiscate it. Or rather don’t; he knows what it is and hasn’t nicked it, so why should you? Don’t you trust dear Remus?’

“Dear Remus” did not look happy at suddenly being dragged into the argument and glared at Sirius from the doorway. But Lily was fed up of his games, ‘Fine,’ she spat, ‘I’ll trust Remus’ opinion,’ and with a harsh look at Remus, pushed past him.

She tried to storm off, but someone caught her arm and spun her round.

Potter had been oddly quiet throughout the whole exchange, staying in his seat and staring out the window. Now though, he was on his feet, beside her in the corridor, uncomfortably close even and she hadn’t even seen him move.

‘What do you want, Potter?’ she asked in as disgusted a voice as she could muster.

‘One thing, Evans, one thing,’ he said, brushing against her arm as he raised a finger.

‘NO!’ she shouted up at his smiling face, ‘I won’t bloody well go out with you, Potter!’

‘Fine,’ he said with a shrug, ‘Your loss Evans.’

‘My loss? How is it my loss?’ she tried to shout back, but he was gone and the compartment door was already sliding shut. She almost wrenched it open again to go in and point out the finer facts of life to him and his stupid friends, but with barely contained rage she spun on her heel and walked away.

Remus looked after her, then checked his watch and muttered, ‘Guess duty’s over anyway,’ then he followed James back into their compartment.

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