Alchemy, Ancient Art and Science
"So, how many did you manage to convert?" Lisa asked, barely keeping her eyes open.
"About five, including myself," Dorcas replied, her mood sinking measurably.
The two girls were walking down the length of the second floor, taking the time to duck into every girl's bathroom and secret passageway they came across. It was their very first patrol for the Defenders, but unfortunately it was on a Tuesday. Days witch included a Transfiguration class tended to drain Lisa more than chasing after a niffler for a few hours.
"It's harder for us," the Slytherin continued. "Voldemort's been recruiting in Slytherin since he himself was a student here. A lot are too afraid to do something against him, with Snape's little gang glaring at them in the Common Room every day."
"Don't they glare at you?"
"They do," Dorcas waved dismissively. "But who cares? I can take the whole lot of them by myself, and they know it."
Lisa snickered, and wondered at her friend's endless confidence. Dorcas came to an abrupt stop and extended a hand in front of her. They listened carefully and heard a faint whimpering behind the tapestry further down the hall. The girls exchanged glances and pulled out their wands.
"Of course we'd run into trouble on our first time. Otherwise, the Universe might give us the impression it doesn't hate us," Dorcas whispered, and Lisa tried to suppress a laugh.
They crept towards the tapestry and on Dorcas' nod, Lisa whipped it to the side. But instead of coming face to face with Death Eaters torturing a muggle-born, the two girls found Alice Prewett and Frank Longbottom, wrapped around each other like snakes.
"Alice?" the Gryffindor's jaw dropped and she stared at the snogging couple. "Is that what you were busy doing last Saturday?"
"Nice catch, Longbottom." Dorcas smirked. "Looks like some bloodlines will stay pure," she added towards her friend.
"As long as we're not any closer with the Blacks, I'll live it down," Lisa said. "So that's why you've been hanging around us so much in the Common Room lately. And here I thought you were looking out for your cousin."
"I look at you more than enough at home," Frank quipped. Alice blushed like crazy.
"Come on. Let's let the love birds get back to... their previous activities," Dorcas said, letting the tapestry fall back into place.
Suddenly, they heard someone yelp then fall silent further down the corridor. Frank and Alice came out from behind the tapestry, their wands drawn. The four of them exchanged glances and quickly moved in the direction of the sound, slowing down as they reached the corner. Frank made the girls a sign to stop and slowly crept forward. As he tried to peek around, a stream of red light hit him right in the face and he collapsed in a heap to the ground. Alice tried to shriek, but Dorcas put a hand on her mouth. Lisa quickly pulled both of them into a nearby broom cupboard.
"Next time, put a few silencing charms," the unmistakably slimy voice of Severus Snape drawled.
"It's just one Gryffindor," Mulciber whined. "Saves us the trouble of having to hunt for one of them later."
"Yes, but you stunned him. That makes him kind of hard to interrogate, don't you think?"
"What are we waiting for?" Alice whispered eagerly.
"To see how many there are," Dorcas replied quietly and pressed her ear to the door.
"So wake him up," she heard Avery snicker.
"We're not done with that one," the voice of Wilkes threw in.
"Not that there's any point," Avery added. "You heard that mudblood. The Gryffindors have a guardian at the entrance."
"But he might know something about what we're looking for," Snape noted. "So some interrogation would be appropriate, now that we have him."
"That's Longbottom," Avery recognized him. "He's a pureblood. What should we do to him?"
"I have an idea. I've been... developing some spells of my own invention... We could multitask, Severus. You take that heap on the floor, and I'll play with Longbottom," Mulciber drawled menacingly.
Alice's eyes were as round as plates. 'On three' Lisa mouthed.
"Sure, whatever. Just don't forget the silencing charm-" Snape started, but the girls spilled from the cupboard and blasted spells in every direction.
The usually nice and sweet Alice took down more than half the Slytherins before the other two could even think of appropriate hexes. When they were all down, she rushed next to Frank and revived him. 'Wow', Dorcas mouthed and eyed Alice, impressed. Lisa went to check on the other victim. It was Seth Tenley, a seventh year Hufflepuff.
"You okay there?" she asked, helping him sit up and dispelling the magical ropes holding him.
"I... yes, I think so..." he replied shakily and stood up, leaning on the wall with one hand.
"What did they want from you?"
"They... I have no idea. They jumped me as I was doing my prefect rounds and tied me up. Then that one," he pointed to Snape, who Dorcas was roping together with the other Death Eaters, bounding them to an ugly-looking statue of some old wizard. "He looked straight into my head and... he..." Seth gulped, sweat appearing on his brow.
"It's alright." Lisa rubbed his back soothingly. "They performed Legilimency on you. Any idea what they were hoping to find in your head?" He shook it negatively. "Alright then. Want me to walk you to your Common Room?"
He looked at her, taken aback by her proposal.
"Shouldn't I be walking you?" he asked, a ghost of a smile forming on his lips.
"Last time I checked, you were the one shaking," she noted dryly. He gave out a weak laugh and nodded. "You guys okay to clean up here?"
Alice nodded, helping a groaning Frank up to his feet. Dorcas gave her a mischievous wink and Lisa rolled her eyes.
"So what're you doing on the second floor so late? Isn't the prefect of your house a redhead?" Seth asked, making small talk as they went along.
"I'm not a prefect," Lisa said, starting to feel tired again. The adrenaline that the short brawl pumped into her system was giving way to her previous exhaustion.
"Why did you help me then?"
He must've been unconscious for the most part of the 'rescue'. She wasn't sure she should tell him about the Defenders yet, so she just made it up as she went along.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do."
"But there were five of them! And you were only three!"
"It wouldn't have mattered if there were twenty of them!" she stated boldly, but if there were that many they'd probably reconsider. He stared at her, impressed.
"You Gryffindors really are reckless."
"You should see us on a Hogsmeade weekend. We have this dare, if you can finish a drink in the Hog's Head, there's a forty galleon prize. It takes guts to even try, but no one's won yet."
He looked at her in bewilderment for a moment, wondering if she was serious. Then he suddenly broke into a loud laughter, which bounced off the walls of the Entrance Hall. She shushed him and he tried to cover his mouth with his hands.
Lisa wasn't sure where exactly his Common Room was, so she walked him to the Hufflepuff Basement and wished him good night, barely making it up to the seventh floor and practically collapsing in her bed. She was so tired, she didn't even bother taking off her clothes.
Lisa looked around the Library after class on Wednesday, searching for the Marauders. She found James, Peter and Sirius scribbling on their parchments in the corner, occasionally stopping to stifle a laugh, but Remus was nowhere in sight.
"The Death Eaters are looking for something," Lisa said grimly, sitting down on their table.
"We know," said Sirius in a hushed voice. "Frank told us. And they're trying to get into all of the Common Rooms. If they don't know how already."
"Do you think they'll... you know, try something?" she asked, concerned.
"They might," James said. "But until they do, we won't know what."
"So... we just wait?"
"If you have a better plan, I'd love to hear it," he said tiredly, getting up and swinging his school bag over his shoulder. "Come on Sirius, we'll be late for detention."
His friend shrugged indifferently, winked at Lisa and followed him out. She glanced at the remaining Marauder and gave him a smile.
"Moony's looking for a book in the Transfiguration Section," Peter said quickly.
"Um... okay?" she said. "I wasn't asking for him."
"Oh..." He returned to his parchment.
"What're you working on?" Lisa asked curiously, trying to peek over his arm. He looked up and stared at her in surprise. "What?"
"Well... it's just that... you don't really talk to me," he admitted timidly.
"Huh?! Yes, I do!"
"Not really... not when I'm alone, anyway. That's okay, I know I'm not very interesting..."
"Rubbish!" She pulled out her own homework and quill, but the bit of truth in his words stung a little. "You wanna do our Charms essay together?"
A smile stretched over the short boy's face and he nodded. After a bit of small talk, he admitted to her he tried asking Sharon Beldin to go with him to the Slug Club Christmas party (she was a member), but she laughed in his face. Lisa felt an overwhelming wave of sympathy for Peter, while simultaneously wanting to hex Sharon for not letting him down more gently.
"Forget her, Pete. You can go to the party with me," she offered, practically feeling Dorcas roll her eyes and sigh.
"R-Really?!" Peter's face lit up. Then his eyes slid over to the empty chair next to him and the bag placed on it. "Actually... I can't make it to the party. I, um... I wanna get a head start on all my holiday homework..."
"Okay..." Lisa said slowly. If that was true, Peter was a lot more studious than she'd thought. At that moment, Remus walked around the corner, carrying a few books.
"Oh, hey Lisa," he said.
"Alchemy, Ancient Art and Science! I love that book, it's so detailed!" Lisa exclaimed, recognizing one of the titles Remus was holding.
"It's fascinating, isn't it?" he said excitedly, sitting down. "How different cultures think of magic differently? The Egyptians have their own Centre for Alchemical studies, did you know?"
"Of course I did! Did you see their whacky recipes? Only they would think of using Flesh-Eating Beetle powder!" she answered with equal enthusiasm.
"Maybe, but it's brilliant! Just think of-"
"I think I'll head up to the common room," Peter stood up, seeing he was out of his depth here. "See ya later."
"Oh no," Lisa said guiltily after he was gone. "Did we scare him away?"
"We might have," Remus admitted sheepishly. "I just got a bit carried away. My friends don't care much for Alchemy..."
"It doesn't have much purpose if you're rich and don't want to live forever, I suppose. But it's just so damn interesting."
They both tried to suppress laughter, seeing Madam Pince, the Librarian, giving them the evil eye.
"I really wished there were enough people for an Alchemy class," he whispered, moving his chair closer.
"Me too! I would've been the first to sign up! Transmuting metals, breaking them down to their basic components... how can you resist knowing what things are made of?" she continued excitedly in a hushed voice.
"And looking for a universal solvent? Can you imagine the broad application in magic?"
"What about creation of Panacea? Or are you not interested in curing all disease? That is the most important goal of alchemy, I think."
"Agreed. Though I'm having my doubts about the recipe from 1557."
"You mean the one with Vinegar, Salt and Urine?"
He shushed her for being too loud and the two had to muffle their laughter again. She glanced at him and the fireworks flared up in her stomach as she noticed their knees were brushing under the table, and he was looking at her with a playful flame in his eyes.
"Too bad no one cares about those things nowadays." Lisa looked away in embarrassment.
"They're just preoccupied with the war," he whispered
"I'm not sure that's true," she murmured back. "None of my friends care for it either. You're the only person so far I can talk intelligently about this with. Even if there was a class, no one I know would go."
"Then it would've been another class we could've partnered up in," he said quietly, making her blush.
"Hey, um speaking of that... are you free next Monday?"
He eyed her suspiciously. "... Why?"
"Slughorn's having this party and... and we can bring a date."
He was quiet for a while. "Can't Sirius make it?"
"Are you crazy?" she asked, stunned. Why on Earth would she ask Sirius to go? The last thing she needed there were his sleazy jokes. "You want me to die of embarrassment?"
Remus looked forward at his pile of books. "Lisa--"
"Just as friends," she shot impulsively, sensing a 'no' coming.
He turned to look at her. "I'm not sure--"
"Come on, please? You wouldn't let me go alone, would you?"
No, he knew he wouldn't. Some of the Death Eaters might try to retaliate. He sighed and nodded slowly. Despite herself, Lisa felt a huge smile spill across her face. She gave him a quick hug, told him the time and ran out of the Library, happier than she'd felt in weeks.
"There you are!" Dorcas said, sitting down next to Lisa in Potions on Friday. "Seth Tenley was asking for you."
"What?" the blonde girl asked distractedly, stuffing the magazine she was holding in her bag.
"What's that?" the Slytherin asked with a grin and swiped it. "A dress catalogue?"
Lisa shushed her, face burning red, and took it back.
"I asked Remus to the Christmas party," she whispered. Dorcas' jaw dropped, but she recovered quickly and gave her friend a playful shove.
"Well, well, you finally took my advice, huh? I told you all you have to do is go out there and ask him out already. Seth is not gonna like that."
"Seth? Seth who?"
"Seth Tenley. He's been asking about you. Didn't you hear a word I said?"
"Oh." Lisa strained her memory. "Who was he again?"
"That Hufflepuff Snape and his gang were torturing on the second floor two nights ago? You walked him to his Common Room, remember?"
"Vaguely. It was a Tuesday; I could barely keep my eyes open. Transfiguration always sucks it out of me," she admitted.
"Well, he remembers. You seem to have left quite an impression on him. Ever since then, he hasn't been able to shut up about you. Although Alice and I saved him just as much as you did. He's kinda cute, too. Talk about unfair..."
"I can't even recall what he looks like! If you want him, feel free to go after him."
Their conversation was interrupted by Slughorn entering the dungeon.
"I wish I could go to one of those parties," Dorcas continued in a low voice, as the Potions Professor was going on about producing an Elixir to Induce Euphoria. "Dahlia won't shut up about how sophisticated and glamorous they are."
"Trust me, you're not missing much," Lisa whispered back. "We're just sitting in a circle around him as he stuffs his face with crystallized pineapple most times. It's like we're his little pets."
"Pets that get to go to fancy parties and meet celebrities," the Slytherin grumbled.
"If it'll make you feel better, I promise I'll take you with me next year."
"And now, Miss Fawley will tell us what it is," Slughorn's voice boomed, suddenly right behind them, making them jump.
"Er..." Lisa stared at him blankly.
"The main ingredient in an Elixir to Induce Euphoria, Miss Fawley. Since you seem to be conversing about something important with Miss Meadowes, I thought you were explaining to her the potion we are discussing." Even though he was scolding her, his eyes were sparkling with good humor. Suddenly, he spotted the rolled up magazine under the table.
"Oh, what's this?" He reached out and took it, casually flipping through. "I see... Well, it's good to know you plan on attending this time, Lisa. You have been avoiding my little parties as of late," he said jovially. Lisa gave him a sheepish smile, but her poor attendance wasn't an accident. "Well, just make sure you prepare for it properly, I have a few people who really want to meet you." He gave the magazine back and continued with his lecture, moving away from their table.
"Getting away with murder!" Dorcas hissed in her ear.
Lisa rolled her eyes, but silently thanked the Universe Remus was sick again and missed this particular exchange between her and Slughorn.