Disclaimer; I don't own the wizarding world of Harry Potter or any of the characters in it. I wish I did. But I don't.
Here's chapter Twenty-Six!
Hope you enjoy it!
February had come and gone and Hogwarts was now descending into spring. March had arrived and with it a crisp spring air and blossoming trees. Out on the Quidditch pitch, James was taking full advantage of the change in season by working his Quidditch team to the bone with extensive practices for the upcoming match on the 19th of the month. It was only two weeks away and he was feeling the pressure to get the Gryffindor team whipped back into shape so that they could beat Slytherin in the match and win the Quidditch cup. Today, for example, he had called an all-day practice. Nobody was allowed to go into Hogsmeade anymore, so at the start of the session, the team was pleased that they had something to do on a Saturday again. Their pleasure however, was short-lived, and an hour into the practice people were complaining.
'I'm bored Prongs!' Sirius complained, 'Does this have to be an all-day thing?' he carried on, an annoying whine present in his voice which just made James want to shake him until he passed out and was unable to annoy him further.
James sighed to calm himself down from Sirius' complaints which had been non-stop for the last couple of minutes. 'You don't have to be here you know?' James said, not looking at Sirius but rather watching his team in the air above him, 'You're not even on the team anymore, remember?'
'I'm here to support you though buddy!' Sirius said brightly, clapping James on the back happily.
'Are you sure you're not just here to annoy me?' James exasperated, finally looking at Sirius for the first time. His face was weary and tired.
'No.' Sirius tutted, shaking his head, 'Definitely support.'
'Well can you go and support me from over there then?' James asked, gesturing to the stands which were half full with rowdy spectators who had nothing to do with their Saturdays since the Hogsmeade visits had been cancelled.
Sirius looked at the stand and back at James. He pulled out his best puppy dog face which caused James to roll his eyes, dig about in his pockets, pull out a chocolate frog and toss it to Sirius. As Sirius' face lit up with glee and he trotted off towards the stands, James shook his head, mounted his broom and flew up to join the rest of his team in the air.
He stopped his broom at the same level as everybody else and was about to speak when four fourth years from Hufflepuff raced past him on a couple of Cleansweep fives. James watched them go past with a frown. He wasn't expecting anyone but his team to be on the pitch today. He had asked around to make sure no other team wanted to use it today and he had seemed to be in the clear. He never minded spectators at Quidditch practice but it was another story altogether when they decided to join in the game without an invitation. Still, James took a deep breath and carried on with his practice session, attempting to ignore the fourth years flying around behind him.
'Alright guys!' James started, taking both hands of his broom clapping them together, sitting back and balancing perfectly; a useless skill which not many people could accomplish, 'Today I thought we could play three aside for a bit of fun first. If I umpire it, we have one beater on each team, one chaser and a keeper forwards slash seeker I think we'll do-'
'Excuse me mate!' one of the fourth year Hufflepuff's yelled at James, interrupting him mid-sentence.
James exhaled loudly, his lips disappearing in frustration and he turned slowly to face the boys. 'Yes?' he said through gritted teeth, a forced smile on his face.
'Can we use your Quaffle?' the boy asked, attempting to copy James with no hands on his broom but losing his balance and placing one hand back onto his broom.
'What?' James asked in disbelief.
'Can we use your Quaffle?' the boy repeated, his friend now gathering around him, looking towards James and waiting for an answer, 'We wanna play two aside Quidditch but we don't have a Quaffle. Can we use yours?'
'Has it really escaped your attention of what I'm trying to do here?' James questioned, motioning with one hand at the rest of his team who were also looking at the Hufflepuff boys as if they'd gone mad.
'Well you're just sitting in the air, you're not using you Quaffle.' spoke another boy from next to his friend.
'We're about too!' James said with exasperation. They were worse than Sirius and that was something that James didn't think very often.
The four boys looked at James as if he was being outrageously unfair. They didn't move though. They just sat on their brooms, in the air, and stared at James as if they believed that they could change his mind by the simple act of looking at him.
'Go away! We're trying to practice!' Hestia shouted at the four boys. She raised her eyebrows at them and gave them the same stare that James had been receiving. They however, were obviously lot less stubborn than James was as they flew away after a few dozen seconds.
James turned to thank Hestia who just shook her head at him and flew further into the air to assume her starting position for the three on three game. The rest of the team did the same as James flew back down to the ground. He landed smoothly on the ground, receiving an enthusiastic thumbs up from Sirius and walked over to the Quidditch gear box to release the balls for the game. He reached the case and flicked the lid open, only to find that the snitch had been taken. James looked around in hopes of finding it and, luck serving him well, he saw a small group of third year Gryffindor's trying to catch it.
James walked over to the small group of students, getting steadily more annoyed that his Quidditch practice was being constantly interrupted. He arrived in front of the third years and took a deep breath. They didn't notice him straight away but soon realised his presence when he lifted up his hand and allowed the snitch to fly easily into his hand. The third years turned around to see who had taken their new toy away from them and shrunk back slightly from the authority that James seemed to exude at that moment.
James took his hand down from above his head, looked at the snitch in his hand, let it go a couple of feet away from him and recaptured it fluently. The group of third years started to stutter an apology when James held up his hand to silence them.
'Firstly, why are you on the pitch? And secondly,' James said, holding the struggling snitch between his thumb and his forefinger, 'This is my snitch. I've become very attached to it and have even named it Steve. Touch it again and you'll lose an arm. Capiche?'
The third years nodded, scared, and scampered from the pitch. James shook his head. He turned around to return to the case containing the Quaffle and the Bludgers when he saw Lily in the stands looking up at Hestia and having a silent conversation through expression and gestures. His chest deflated at the sight of her. Apart from the necessary, 'please pass the lacewing flies' in potions, he and Lily hadn't spoken to each other since Valentines. James had tried to talk to her in a couple of lessons, charms and transfiguration, but any time he opened his mouth to speak, Hestia gave him a dirty look to warn him off, scared that he might accidentally let it slip that he knew. When Remus noticed these looks that Hestia was giving James, James realised it would only be a matter of time before Lily would notice them too, and rather than let it come out in a way that would ruin Lily and Hestia friendship, James decided that it would be better for everyone if he kept his distance. It wasn't easy as every time he saw her, he wanted to go and tell her that he liked her too.
'Potter.' Hestia said, landing next to James and snapping him out of his Lily based trance, 'We can't go on like this.' she continued, motioning around her at the ever-growing population of Hogwarts students who were swarming on the pitch, 'They just keep coming. It's the first good weather day in ages and people can't go to Hogsmeade. We're not gonna get anything done.'
James sighed and looked at Hestia, frustrated. 'We have two weeks until the game-'
'And we're prepared.' Hestia said convincingly.
James looked at her undecided for a few seconds. He then shrugged, 'Fine.' he said, throwing his arm up in defeat, the snitch still clutched in his hand, 'Go tell everyone that the practice is over then.'
'Thank you!' Hestia said, mounting her broom and flying up to her team mates to tell them to go.
James watched her fly, took one last look at Lily and then returned to the box full of Quidditch gear. He shut the lid on the box but pocketed the snitch. It would be another one he could add to his collection. Plus it was useless for any real game now thanks to the third years who weren't wearing gloves when they picked it up. The snitches flesh memory was now rendered moot because they hadn't worn gloves like James made the whole of his team wear during practice in case they accidentally touched the snitch.
He locked the case when Sirius walked over to him. 'What's going on?' he asked.
'We're calling practice off.' James said in annoyance, 'Too many people.' he ended, jerking his head to the growing crowd which was forming on the Quidditch pitch.
'Too bad.' Sirius replied, grabbing one of the handles on the trunk and lifting it with James.
Together, they walked off of the Quidditch pitch and into the changing room on the left to put the box back. They placed it under one of the benches against the wall and exited the changing room onto the Hogwarts grounds and began the walk back to the castle.
'What do you wanna do then?' Sirius asked James, bouncing around and exuberating enthusiasm.
'How about we go see Moony in the Library?' James suggested as they trudged up to the castle.
Sirius stopped and looked at James blankly. 'Hogwarts has a library?' he said with his head cocked to the side like a puppy.
'Obviously.' James said, putting his hands in his pockets, 'We put it on the map.'
Sirius clicked his fingers and pointed at James in sudden realisation. He nodded his head with an idea, 'The map!' he smiled, 'That's how we'll find the library!'
James chuckled and shook his head. He got out the marauders map and unfolded it. Sirius tapped the middle of the large parchment with his wand and whispered, 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good', causing the parchment to erupt in ink and form a map of Hogwarts. The two boys, who had been at Hogwarts for nearly six years, used the map they had created to navigate their way to the library even though they had been in it numerous times to mess about. Students moved out of their way as they didn't look up once as they climbed staircases, walked through arches which had decided to be walls and turned corners. Even though they weren't looking up and walking the way they usually did on their way to the library, the students they passed in the hall parted like the red sea as they walked by.
Sirius and James arrived at the library and spotted Remus sitting at one of the tables with Peter, completing a care of magical creatures essay they had due in on the upcoming Wednesday. They'd only been given it the day before and Remus, unlike Sirius and James who would have left it until last minute, was getting it done and out of the way, forcing Peter to do the same.
They walked over to Remus and slouched onto a couple of chairs. James, on a mere whim, which probably occurred because of his location and the atmosphere in the room, whipped out his Transfiguration and got started on the essay they'd been set on Thursday. Of course, if it was any other subject he probably wouldn't have bothered until the night before it was due in, but it was transfiguration and, besides the fact that it was his favourite subject, Professor McGonagall kind of scared him. Sirius, not following James' example, took out a pack of Bertie Bott's every flavour beans, leant back in his chair, and started throwing sweets in the air, catching them in his mouth.
For half an hour, James, Remus and Peter worked solidly and Sirius caught every sweet in his mouth. However, in the space of time it had taken James to write half of his essay, the library had filled up. There were students who were actually working but the majority of people in the supposedly quiet room were just bored and had nowhere else to go. They were chatting and laughing loudly in the cushy armchairs that were set aside for reading at leisure, slamming books down on the tables and building towers out of them and then there were the students who were just trying to distract the people who were trying to work.
It didn't bother the marauders until a group of girls came and sat on their table and began to flirt with them incessantly. No matter how many time James or Remus tried to tell the girls to leave them alone, (Peter wasn't being flirted with and Sirius was enjoying the flirting too much), they didn't budge. It was like a ringing in your ear that you could only get rid of if you banged our head against the wall and knocked yourself out. James was able to cope with this flirting for fifteen minutes before he stopped trying to ask the girls to leave politely and became too impatient for the niceties.
'Leave us alone now!' he said with a controlled frustration, 'We're trying to work.'
'Speak for yourself!' Sirius muttered under his breath, the comment receiving shrill giggles from the irritating girls from Hufflepuff.
James threw Sirius a dark look before turning to the girls and imploring and answer to their presence. 'Why are you in the library if you're not going to work?'
'Because we can't go anywhere else. The common rooms are full, the classrooms are closed, the great hall is closed, we can't go to Hogsmeade and the grounds are crowded.' said one of the girls, leaning into James and invading his personal space.
James leant away from her. She smelt like cabbage and it was pungent. James, still frustrated and becoming increasingly annoyed, could finally take no more. Something had to be done about this and he was pretty sure nobody else was going to take the initiative to find a solution. He scraped back his chair and walked out of the library.
'Where's he going?' one of the girls asked, disappointment coming through clearly in her voice.
'Don't worry about him!' Sirius said, leaning into the girl as she had to James and immediately withdrawing slightly due to the pungent aroma surrounding her, 'You still have me!' he said seductively, leaning towards another girl who didn't smell too bad. The girl giggled.
Remus rolled his eyes and said cheekily, 'Why torture the poor girl?'
Looking around the corner, Severus Snape looked out for Filch. He saw the coast was clear and beckoned to Bellatrix Lestrange who, giving him a sniff of disgust as she approached him, followed him to Filches office. Bellatrix tried the door handle. The office had been locked so, without any hesitation or thought for invasion of privacy, Bellatrix took out her wand and muttered the spell to open his door. The pair walked in to the cupboard of an office. Straight away, Severus walked over to the shelves which had rags and a magical cleaning solution upon them. Bellatrix however, strolled into the room casually and started to snoop around Filches office, picking up his possessions and throwing them back down with disdain.
'Will you stop snooping around and help me!' Severus snapped angrily at Bellatrix. He took the magical cleaning solution and unscrewed the lid. He sniffed it and recoiled in disgust at the strong pepper smell that emitted from the now open bottle.
Bellatrix turned to Severus with a sneer on her face. She hated the boy. He was greasy and she swore that he sympathised with mudbloods. She believed his loyalty to Voldemort was false and that angered her more than a Hippogriff who hadn't been allowed the first move. 'Like you're doing us a lot of use!' she spat at him, a haughty look written across her face.
Severus gave Bellatrix an evil look. He opened the window in the tiny office and tipped the cleaning product out of it. He threw the bottle after its contents, not bothering to look if he had hit someone. 'I'm doing more bloody use than you are!' Severus hissed, 'Now help me get rid of these damn things before that old squib comes back and we miss the Dark Lord's meeting.'
'Fine.' Bellatrix sneered. She walked forwards to the shelf where all the cleaning supplies that Filch had were kept. She grabbed the floor brush off of it and, with her wand, turned it into a crow, letting it fly out of the window.
Together, Severus and Bellatrix hurriedly disposed of Filches stock of cleaning supplies. They turned buckets into books and slipped them in their bags, rags into scarves, (or something along those lines), and bottles full of cleaning solution into pumpkin juice which would most likely be fateful if you were to drink it. Once they had emptied the shelves they went through all of Filches draws in case he had some spare cleaning equipment, such as rags or brushes, tucked away somewhere. Upon finding that they had successfully removed all of the cleaning supplies from his office, Bellatrix and Severus left the box room, each pocketing a little prize that they had found in Filches draw marked; confiscated.
The pair, wearing rag transformed scarves loosely around their necks, hurried down the corridor in case Filch came back before they had predicted from the distraction that Avery, Wilkes and Rosier had created. They were meant to start a duel in the middle of a corridor, nothing too serious that would get them into trouble, but something that would allow a bit of blood splatter from a broken nose or shallow cut from an arm to set itself on the wall or floors. All the Slytherin's, showing how disturbed their psych actually was, didn't mind being harmed to pave the way for them being able to attend the mandatory meeting that Voldemort was holding today.
They waited behind the corner of the corridor, watching for Filch's return for five minutes. It was then they saw him come hobbling quickly around the corner, muttering under his breath about 'bloody kids'. He marched lopsidedly into his office, holding his left leg stiff. The day before he had tripped over his cat, Mrs Norris and had severely bruised his leg. He didn't go and tell Madame Pomfrey to spare himself the humiliation, thinking nobody had seen him fall. In actuality, a group of second year Slytherin's and seventh year Ravenclaw's had seen his tumble and, of course, had told their friends. The story spread like wildfire.
Severus and Bellatrix, upon seeing Filch enter his office, waited with anticipation for his exit. When he did eventually emerge, still muttering under his breath, he looked as if he was in a fouler mood than before. He took his keys out of his pocket, ready to unlock the front gate where he was heading to now, (His office was just off of the entrance hall so he would be able to hurry down there). Bellatrix and Severus, as agreed with the rest of their little death eater group, sent some green sparks out of the corridor window which they were stood next too.
Upon receiving the signal Mulciber, the last Slytherin in their group who was attend the meeting, cast a disillusionment charm upon himself. He followed Filch whom he had just spotted leaving the entrance hall, down to the front gate and only entrance and exit to Hogwarts, (that they knew about). He watched Filch unlock the gate with the keys which were impossible to get. They were charmed with something similar to a flesh memory meaning only the caretaker could handle them. The only other way to exit Hogwarts was if you, like all the teachers in Hogwarts, had been given a charm Dumbledore had made up to allow them to open the gate. Therefore, the Slytherin's plan was the only way they could think of to leave the school unnoticed and without getting caught.
As Filch unlocked the gate and slipped out. Mulciber placed himself where the gate should shut, effectively keeping it open when Filch slammed it to close it. Mulciber held his breath. Their whole planned hinged on the next moment. If Filch turned around and saw the gate wasn't completely shut, their plan will have failed and they wouldn't make it to Voldemort's meeting. If their plan failed, they didn't know what might happen to them. Mulciber watched Filch's retreating and limping figure with bated breath. He left without turning back and Mulciber exhaled loudly.
Severus, Bellatrix, Avery, Wilkes and Rosier arrived at the gate. Severus and Bellatrix looked composed and smart, ready for the meeting. In contrast, Avery, Wilkes and Rosier looked dishevelled. Avery's sleeve on his robes were ripped and his white collar was dotted with blood. By deduction, the blood on Avery's collar came from Wilkes who was sporting a messy nose bleed and a cut near his eyebrow. Rosier didn't have any injuries but did have crinkled robes. By the looks of things, the events that had transpired were along the lines of Avery and Rosier attacking Wilkes.
Mulciber opened the gate and allowed the other Slytherin's through it. Without having a plan of how to get back into the school, the five boys and Bellatrix headed down to Hogsmeade, and up to the caves above the village where they were to be met by three death eaters to take them to the meeting as none of them had passed their apparation test as of yet.
They soon arrived in the cave off of the boundaries of Hogsmeade where the three older death eaters were ready to take them to the meeting. All of the death eaters wore long black billowing robes and masks which covered the entirety of their faces. They looked foreboding and yet intriguing all at the same time to the six aspiring death eaters. One of the cloaked figures was short and stout whilst the other two were taller and lean.
'Are you ready?' the shorter death eater asked the Slytherin group.
Severus said that they were whilst the rest nodded. The three death eater's took two young Slytherin's each and grabbed their arms. With a slight turn, all nine people in the cave had disapparated and disappeared and were on their way, with tangent anticipation, to Voldemort's meeting.
'Cauldron cakes. Acid pops. Oh come on Merlin!' James yelled at the gargoyle statue which guarded Dumbledore's office. He was becoming increasingly frustrated at his way being blocked. He tried again. 'Liquorice wand. Ice mice. Pixie puffs-'
'You might try, marshmallows.' came a voice from behind him.
James turned slightly, knowing who he'd see. He sighed, when he saw Dumbledore. He looked serene in his purple robe. His beard was tucked into his belt and his startling blue eyes shone kindly at James through his half-moon glasses.
Dumbledore walked forwards. 'Marshmallows.' Dumbledore said with a slight smile, 'Not my favourite muggle sweet. They're a bit too…how shall I put this…foamy, for my tastes.'
James smiled. Dumbledore had stopped beside him and was waiting for James to open his office. James turned towards the gargoyle once more. 'Marshmallows.' he said confidently. Straight away, the stone gargoyle of master craftsmanship sprang to life. It moved to the side whilst a winding, spiral staircase twisted itself round from the floor to a door floating around three spirals up.
Dumbledore held a hand out, signalling James to go first. James climbed up the staircase, Dumbledore right behind him, and made his way up to his headmasters' office. He opened the door and walked over to Dumbledore's desk, taking a seat in front of it as Dumbledore sat behind it in his throne like chair.
'You again!' came a voice from the wall. It was the portrait of Phineas Nigellus, the most hated headmaster in Hogwarts history who just happened to be Sirius Black's ancestor. 'What have you done now!' Phineas grumbled down at James with a sneer.
'Now, now Phineas!' Dilys Derwent said to Phineas sternly. She had always had a soft spot for James through his visits. Her fondness for him only strengthened with the frequent conversations that she had had with his mother at St Mungo's where her other portrait resided.
James smiled at Dilys who beamed down at him. He didn't, however, make an effort to continue any semblance of a conversation for he had other topics on his mind which he thought needed to be addressed.
'I want the Hogsmeade visits to be reinstated.' James said, without hesitation or stutter. His tone was assertive and definite and brought a tangible hush of silence to the portraits around the room.
Dumbledore, with no reaction, keeping his calm and serene composure, leaned forwards. He clasped his hands together and leant his forearms on his desk. 'And why exactly do you want that?' Dumbledore asked James, a kindness still present in his voice.
'Well,' James started, 'It's not all exactly for me. I mean, I'm not gonna lie and say that I don't want them back or having the trips back won't benefit me greatly because I do and it will, but I think that the rest of the students in the school would appreciate them being reinstated too.' James finished, looking at Dumbledore, now a little nervous that Dumbledore still hadn't particularly reacted to James' request.
Dumbledore breathed deeply, looking at James over the top of his half-moon spectacles. 'Please elaborate.' he said simply to James, leaving him to take the bulk of the conversation into the direction he pleased.
'Ok…' James said. When he was walking down to Dumbledore's office and had been thinking of reasons that he should reinstate Hogsmeade visits, he hadn't really been able to arrange his thoughts into a coherent sentence. Now, he guessed, he just had to give it a go. He had one shot at this and he was either about to do the school a favour or blow it for everyone.
'Basically, when we were trying to, err, study earlier, me and Remus…and Peter…' he started, realising that his first sentence wasn't going as well as he had planned. Still, he powered through, 'When we were trying to study we were being interrupted by all the kids that had nothing to do because the Hogsmeade visits have been cancelled. Most of the people trying to study are N.E.W.T or O.W.L students and we're not getting anything done because a load of kids have nowhere else to go and nothing better to do the weekend anymore.'
'When the Hogsmeade visits were on they weren't every week.' Dumbledore stated.
'I realise that but the trips that we did have sustained everyone until the next trip.' James said imploringly, 'Apart from interrupting the years that have important wizarding exams coming up, I think that the Hogsmeade trips allow us to let of a bit of steam and such. I mean, Hogwarts is great but, you think about it, we're cooped up in a castle for months on end without seeing any part of the outside world. I think the students of this school need the Hogsmeade visits to stop ourselves going insane and to feel some connection to the world we're going into.'
Dumbledore carried on staring at James with no trace of emotion entering or leaving his face. He looked at James thoughtfully, giving no hints as to what he as thinking until he eventually said, 'I do see your point.'
James smiled in relief, 'So they'll be reinstated?' he asked hopefully.
'No.' Dumbledore replied with a sad smile, 'After what happened in Hogsmeade last time, I don't feel comfortable sending the future of magic into the village on their own.'
'Then give us supervision!' James begged, 'Anything. Have us be led by a couple professors! Have set times of when any student who has permission to go to Hogsmeade can leave and have a set time and place where they all have to meet up and be lead back to Hogwarts. It's not like any of the professors wouldn't like an extra opportunity to go into Hogsmeade. And if that's not enough protection then cast some more protective enchantments around Hogsmeade whilst we're in the village! I know you've already got some in place. Just make them stronger.'
Dumbledore still showed no sign of change in emotion. His face was still serene and calm. Extremely composed. 'Is there anything else you wish to discuss whilst you're here?' Dumbledore asked.
James stared at Dumbledore, realising that his fight for the Hogsmeade trips was over. He thought for a moment and did come up with something that he did want and that would benefit all of the houses within Hogwarts. 'Quidditch practice.' he began, 'We we're trying to practice ready for the match in a couple of weeks but a load of other students from different houses were interrupting us and when we arrived at the pitch we didn't know if it'd be free or not.'
'And what do you suggest I do about this?' Dumbledore asked as he offered James a pepper imp. When James refused one, he took a few for himself and placed the bowl of sweets back in its usual spot on his desk.
James continued, undeterred. 'Well I'd say reinstate Hogsmeade visits but that won't fix the whole problem.'
Dumbledore chuckled at James' persistence on the matter but didn't say anything further about it.
James smiled a little. He went on about what he wanted, 'I think it would be…useful, to have a booking system for the Quidditch pitch. At the minute, if you want to practice you have to get up at the crack of dawn and claim the pitch, or go and find the other team captains and try to arrange some pitch time that way and it can't always be done. Firstly because the Slytherin team captain doesn't want to cooperate and, to be perfectly honest, none of the other Quidditch captains wants to talk to him anyway.' James finished with a shrug of his shoulders.
'And what is that supposed to mean!' Phineas snapped from his place on the wall. He was scowling down at James who just smirked up at him. 'My house is a perfectly nice house-'
'Oh please, Phineas!' Basil Fronsac, another one of Hogwarts' past headmasters said from his portrait from the wall, 'Slytherin is not a particularly nice house. Yes there are exceptions but they are very rare!'
'I do wish all the houses would get along.' said Phyllida Spore wistfully. She was a reasonably neutral headmistress and was also the author of one thousand magical herbs and fungi.
Dumbledore remained calm during the portraits conversation. He said nothing to them, not revealing how he felt about the strong house rivalry, but rather just motioning James to continue.
'Secondly,' James carried on, as if he hadn't been interrupted at all, 'because as the Quidditch captains are usually O.W.L or N.E.W.T students, we don't always have time to hunt each other down to see if the pitch is free. If there was some kind of rota, timetable or booking form then I think it would be easier to practice and we wouldn't have to get there before the sun rises. We wouldn't have to kick other students who aren't on the Quidditch teams off the pitch either because we'd have booked it for a couple hours and they'd know when it was free to play on and when it was being used for team practice. Does that make sense?' James finished, a bit worried that his purpose hadn't gotten across during his ramblings.
Dumbledore, being the brilliant, clever man he was, understood what James was saying perfectly and put a good deal of thought into both topics. He didn't reveal anything about the decisions he had made about either subject though. Instead, he thanked James for his opinions and ideas and told him he was free to leave at that moment.
James stood up and thanked Dumbledore for his time and exited his office, hoping that he had made some sort of contribution towards a change at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He doubted it though.
Lily and Hestia entered the main hall for the evening meal. The whole school was there this evening because Dumbledore had some sort of announcement to make to the school. Everyone was buzzing, wondering what it was. They spotted Alice and Emmeline sitting in the middle of the Gryffindor table. Alice beckoned the pair over to them and they hurried over to the two spots that had been saved for them.
They sat down opposite their dorm mates, Lily beside Mary McDonald, the other girl in their dormitory. Mary leaned into Lily and whispered, 'I found your book in the common room earlier. You left it there.' She took out a used and battered book and handed it to Lily.
Lily took the book graciously. It had a crinkled front cover which was worn and slightly worse for wear. She read the title of the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She thanked Mary, who nodded in return, and hugged the book to her chest.
'What is with you and that book?' Hestia asked, not understanding Lily's attachment to her favourite childhood book.
'It's a good book ok!' Lily said defensively, 'I've had it since I was five years old.'
'Exactly!' Hestia said, concerned for her friends current obsession to a book which was, by all extent and purposes, a childhood book.
'Her attachment to that book comes from what has happened in her life recently.' Emmeline said serenely, her head tipped slightly to the side. She was stirring her tea with a thin spoon. She always did this before she analysed a situation. 'Recently, her friendship with a boy she really liked had failed so she turned to the one thing which she could reach which had never failed her before. In this example, that book.'
Hestia, Alice and Lily looked at Emmeline with blank looks. Lily slowly put the book down, cover face down. 'You'd have made a good psychiatrist.' she said to Emmeline, realising her analysis of Lily's childhood book could, in some ways, be true.
Now it was Lily's turn to be given three blank looks. Coming from the wizarding world, none of her friends new what a psychiatrist was. Lily didn't want to go into the detail of explaining it so she just pushed her favourite book a little further away from her and turned to the front of the hall where Dumbledore was now stood up, ready to make a speech.
'Thank you all for coming tonight.' he began, his arms open wide in welcome, 'I realise that it is not a holiday or a special occasion and we don't usually dine together when these scenarios are not present, however, I do have a couple of announcements to make.'
The hall rippled with whispers. Nobody knew what he was going to say or what it was concerning. All they knew was that it must be important and would affect all the students in the school. If it didn't, he would have just called upon a certain year group. This must be a significant announcement and the school knew it. Their excitement was tangible in the air of the great hall.
Dumbledore waited for the noise in the hall to die down before he continued. 'First of all, for the benefit of the whole school and each houses Quidditch team, the Quidditch pitch is now available for booking in practices. A timetable will be posted on each houses notice board and if anybody wishes to book the pitch, all they need do is write on the timetable and the other houses will be notified on theirs.'
For all the fans of Quidditch and, as this was a wizarding school and Quidditch was the only sport worth mentioning, that was everybody, this was big news. For the first time in Hogwarts history, a student would be able to book a part of the school, in this case the school grounds, specifically the Quidditch pitch, for their own personal use. Team captains would be able to hold a Quidditch practice without being disturbed. It was big and exciting news which the whole school, even the Slytherin's, were happy about.
The hall, which had been talking for five minutes, only silenced themselves when Dumbledore calmly held up a long slender hand to get them to stop talking. He prepared himself to talk again. 'Before I say what I have to say next, I must explain to you all that we are living dark and harrowing times. Do not take what I'm going to say next lightly. It is a great trust which I put in you all and it is with great responsibility on your part, which I bring back your scheduled Hogsmeade visits.'
The hall took a couple of moments to respond but when they did, the noise in the room was deafening. Every student in the hall, even the children who didn't have permission to visit the village, was happy about it. There were students who jumped on the benches they had been sat on. Others had gotten out of their seats altogether and were celebrating by bouncing around in the spaces between the tables. This time, their excitement was uncontrollable and it took the headmaster and the heads of each house, Professor McGonagall, Professor Sprout, Professor Slughorn and Professor Flitwick twenty minutes to calm the students down.
'This is a great privilege, to have these trips to Hogsmeade brought back and I ask you all to please, not waste them or take them for granted.' Dumbledore said seriously, trying to get the student of the school to focus on the serious aspect of the reinstating of the Hogsmeade visits, 'There are conditions which you must all adhere to for these visits to be able to continue. Every student who wishes to go to Hogsmeade will sign out with Mr Filch.' he stated, gesturing to Filch who was sat in the corner of the great hall in a small wooden chair with Mrs Norris sitting underneath it, 'There will be three set times in which you can walk down to Hogsmeade, led by one or two of the Professors for protection. The same rules will apply for when you wish to return to the school. The set times for leaving the school will be eleven o'clock, eleven thirty and twelve o'clock. The times you will be able to be escorted back to the school will be two o'clock, three o'clock and four o'clock. From eleven o'clock to four o'clock, temporary protective enchantments will be cast over the village of Hogsmeade meaning no wizard or witch will be able to apparate or disapparate into the village. This has been done for your protection. If you have any questions or do not fully understand the arrangements, you are free to ask your head of house any questions you wish.' Dumbledore paused for a second before continuing with a serious message, 'I do warn you. If anybody abuses this privilege, or in any way disrespects the precautions which have been set up for your protection, then these Hogsmeade visits will be stopped, not just for the individual, but for the entire school.'
The hall was silent at this message. Every student in the hall felt the great burden which had just been put on their shoulders. Everyone was responsible for everybody else's happiness effectively.
Dumbledore had one more thing to say. 'You must thank one among you for these privileges to be instated. Enjoy your meal.'
The hall looked confused as the food appeared on the tables. Nobody understood what he had said last. It was lost on everybody except Emmeline who, being her unique self, understood Dumbledore last words.
'What did he mean?' Alice asked leaning into her friends as she grabbed the carrots from the middle of the table and dished them out onto her plate.
'I'm not really sure.' Lily said, looking at the food which had just appeared in front of their eyes. She took the carrots that Alice had just handed to her and spooned them out onto hers and Hestia's plates. At the same time, Hestia was scooping out the mashed potatoes onto their plates. It was something they always did at dinner, helped each other prepare their meal. They found it quicker that way.
'Maybe it was a riddle?' Hestia said with a questioning lilt in her voice.
'No.' Emmeline said. She hadn't dished out any food of her own but instead, sat where she was and continued to stir her tea, 'He meant that one student in this hall asked for the Hogsmeade trips to be reinstated and gave good reason for them to be.' she said dreamily, not looking at her friends but instead into the distance at the candles floating on the enchanted ceiling.
Lily tilted her head to the side in thought. It made sense, what Emmeline had said, but to Lily, there was only one person who would have been brave enough to approach the headmaster and ask for this huge favour for the school. She looked around the table and saw him, celebrating exuberantly with his friends. He had done it. James Potter had brought back Hogsmeade to Hogwarts.
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