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 Thirty-Four!
Hope you enjoy it!
Lily was sat in the library revising for the upcoming exams. They were nearing the end of April in just a few days which meant that there was only one and a bit months until their end of year exams were upon them. For Lily, this meant only one thing; study, study, study! She had set up camp in the library with all of her text books, an endless supply of quills, parchment and ink, along with all of the notes she had taken in class over the past year and a snack box hidden under the table. (You weren't technically allowed to eat in the library) Everything was neatly organised across one desk which she was hogging to herself. She would have been well away and ready to knuckle down and study if she had not seen a rather odd sight a few tables away.
She attempted to ignore it and carry on studying. She opened her ancient runes text book and began to summarise chapter seven. In the study of ancient runes, numbers one to nine are commonly represented by animals or magical creatures, she wrote neatly across a fresh piece of parchment before she needed to top up the ink in her quill. It was the one of the things she didn't particularly care for in the wizarding world. Their quills ran out of ink so quickly unlike muggle pens which could keep writing for ages, (as long you bought the right one of course). Unfortunately though, Lily didn't have a pen from the muggle world and so she had to make do with refilling her ink after every sentence.
She was able to continue with her studies for five minutes more, (suspecting that she could have continued for longer if she'd had a muggle pen), before she became distracted again. She tried to resist but couldn't help but keep glancing over to the odd sight a few tables away in the library. She shook her head and put her head in her hands trying to fight the temptation. She sat in this position for only a few seconds before she could take it no more. Her curiosity had once again gotten the better of her again and she just had to find out what was going on.
Standing up, Lily walked over to the odd sight, three tables away from her and confronted it, saying, 'You have holes in your socks.'
James looked up to see Lily standing over him with raised eyebrows. He looked at his feet. 'So I do.' he said, not particularly caring.
Lily sighed. What was he doing? He was in the library for goodness sakes and, sitting upside down on one of the chairs with his feet in the air, wasn't really acceptable behaviour. It was distracting her from her studies. She had no idea if it was distracting anyone else but it was bothering her. Especially as he had holes in his socks. 'What exactly are you doing?' she asked his feet as he hadn't bothered to turn the right way up yet.
'Thinking.' James said simply, wriggling his toes.
Lily had no idea how the way he was sitting, (if you could call it that), wasn't hurting him by now. It looked most uncomfortable. His head was lolling off of the chair along with part of his back so that it was arched over the edge. Strangely, his face hadn't gone red from the blood that was sure to be rushing to his head. He was then at a ninety degree angle with his back and legs. Lily was sure that the wooden chair should have started to hurt him by now.
'Why are you thinking upside down?' Lily asked him with a quizzical expression.
'Isn't that kind of obvious?' James replied with an odd upside down shrug.
Lily looked around the library to see if anybody else was as confused by James location and position. Some of the girls in the library were curious but, as Lily was there didn't dare go to investigate. Instead they stared wistfully at James' feet whilst glaring intensely at Lily for talking to them. Lily shook her head in confusion at this and blinked. 'No.' she said to James' feet.
'Well,' James began with a sigh at having to explain his situation, 'by thinking upside down, all my thoughts end up in my head.'
'As appose to your kneecaps?' Lily asked sarcastically at a bit of a loss, a smile spreading across her face.
James turned his head to look at Lily with a look of exasperation written across his face. 'Mock all you like, it works.' he said.
'I'm sure it does.' Lily said indulgently, patting James on his feet. She sat down on the seat next to him, still curious about what James was doing. Her studying wasn't going to move forwards until she found out. 'So what exactly are you thinking about?' she asked him, using the term thinking loosely as she wasn't sure that anyone who decided to think upside down so their thoughts would end up in their head, was all quite there. She tried to ignore the glares she was receiving.
'What to do.' James said succinctly, humming wonderingly and taking his hand up to his chin, stroking it in thought.
'Here's an idea; study.' Lily said as if it was obvious and to her it was. Plus, if he started to study it would leave her curiosity satisfied and she would no longer be distracted by what he was doing. Or what he wasn't doing.
James looked at Lily and blinked once before laughing out loud as if her idea was too hilarious to bear. 'Don't be silly.' he smiled, his laughing causing him to be shushed by Madam Pince.
Lily smiled and laughed breathlessly, being infected by James' laughter. She shook her head and licked her lips with wide eyes and raised eyebrows. She should have known better really. James didn't study. It was kind of annoying really. In past years, when she had despised and loathed him, this was one particular aspect of him that really bothered her. Now they were friends, it still really bothered her. Whereas she kept on top of her studies, homework and always turned up to class and did the work they were set, James did not and he still reached levels that could rival hers. It wasn't like she desperately needed to study she just wanted to give herself the best possible chance of succeeding in the wizarding world. It was hard enough being muggleborn, she didn't want to leave employers any margin to reject her. Technically, she could do the same thing as James and not bother with her revision, but Lily took pride in her school work and didn't want to leave any room for error. James on the other hand, didn't care.
'So,' Lily began, thinking that if she could solve James' boredom problem she could probably get back to work without being distracted, 'do you know what you want to do.'
James thought for a moment before saying, 'Quidditch.'
Lily nodded her head. She saw a simple solution here. 'Then go play Quidditch.' she said.
'It's not that simple.' James replied, finally turning the right way up with ease and sitting properly to face Lily like a normal person, placing his arm around the back of her chair, 'I can't play Quidditch on my own. The smallest game I could possibly play would be two-aside and as Remus doesn't play Quidditch, that only leaves me and Sirius.'
Lily thought for a moment. 'Well, what about Pettigrew?' she suggested.
James just laughed again in response as he had done for her suggestion to study.
Lily waited for him to finish, drawing circles on the desk with her finger as she did. 'Ok.' she said eventually as a way to shut him up. It was clear that he wasn't going to stop laughing by himself anytime soon. 'Well I'm sure Hestia would play with you.' Lily shrugged, going for one last contribution and hoping that it wouldn't receive the laughing response she had previously gotten.
'That's an idea.' James said with a slight smile and a nod. 'We just need a fourth.' he continued as he looked around the library for anyone who might be interested.
Lily followed his gaze as he stopped on several people. Some of them she thought were real contenders. He had hand-picked them for the recently victorious Gryffindor Quidditch team so Lily believed that he wouldn't mind playing with them. However, he simply looked at them thoughtfully and moved on, passing them over quickly. Lily sat for five minutes in silence whilst following James' selection process. She began to think that he was never going to choose someone and return to his upside down thinking pose when she saw him nod his head. She looked up with a smile believing that she would now be able to continue with her studies. Then she saw who he was nodding at, who he had chosen; Gwenog Jones. Her smile dropped.
Now Lily had no real problem with Gwenog Jones. She was a nice girl a year above them whom she knew was going to pursue a career in professional Quidditch. In that respect, she was the perfect choice for this two-aside game that James wanted to play to cure his boredom, but, as soon as James' gaze landed on her, alarm bells went off in Lily's head. A small green monster started to growl in her stomach and her memory flashed back to that one Quidditch match, before she had even realised that she liked James, and he and Gwenog Jones had shared what Lily had dubbed a long 'smiling session'. From this, Lily suspected that Gwenog quite liked James in the same way that she did and as long as she was to pursue a career in Quidditch, she was sure that James wouldn't be too opposed to her either. They had more in common than she did with him.
Through her thoughts, she hadn't noticed James stand up and begin to make his way over to Gwenog, the only person she considered to pose a threat to any future relationship she and James might possibly have, no matter how slim of a chance that may be. As soon as she had realised he had left, she got to her feet and rushed in in front of him to try and convince him otherwise. When she stopped him, she put her hands on his chest but upon him looking down at them with raised eyebrows, she removed them slowly not noticing that he had smiled as she did so.
'What, err, what are you doing?' she asked him, attempting to be casual but failing miserably as she folded her arms, her hand tingling.
'Isn't that kind of obvious?' James said, 'I'm asking Gwenog to come and play with us. She's good at Quidditch and I'm sure Jones, your Jones, not that Jones, wouldn't mind playing with her.' he finished as he side stepped around Lily and continued on his way towards Gwenog.
Lily looked down, once again not realising he had gone and said, 'That's true, she would.' She then looked up to see that he had left and looked around in desperation realising that her chances of stopping James asking Gwenog to play were disappearing until they weren't even minimal anymore. Sighing Lily turned around and followed him. She knew it was crazy to be so paranoid. At least if she was there with him she would know what was said and wouldn't make herself crazy wondering.
When she approached them, they were already in mid conversation. Gwenog was brushing her cheek with the quill she'd been using for her studies and James was leaning on her table saying, '…just a friendly game. You and Jones, the other Jones, not you Jones but Jones from my team, against me and Sirius. What do you say?'
Lily watched Gwenog's face for a reaction. She was pondering it for a long time, all the while still brushing her cheek with her quill. Lily was sure that as Gwenog and James looked into each other's eyes that she was trying to flirt silently. It made the little green monster in Lily's stomach very annoyed and impatient. Just answer! Lily shouted in her head, hoping in some small corner of her mind that Gwenog Jones would say no. She didn't.
'Ok.' Gwenog shrugged, standing up and gathering her things together, 'I think I can take twenty minutes out of my schedule to beat you at Quidditch one more time.'
'Err…I think you'll find I beat you last time!' James smiled standing up straight and looking at Gwenog with an extremely cocky expression, similar to the one of his previous years.
'All right then. Ten minutes.' Gwenog replied placing a hand on James' shoulder, 'Then we'll correct that.' she whispered into his ear, patting his shoulder twice and walking away.
There was a moment of silence as Lily and James looked at each other. James smiled and raised his eyebrows once. Lily didn't smile. Lily was thinking fast and before James could say anything to her she said, 'Better go get Hestia. See you in ten minutes!' and ran out of the library being sternly told of by Madam Pince on her way for running.
She had left behind her all of her meticulously organised study materials. Her books, notes, quills, spare pieces of parchment and her hidden snack box had all been left in the library along with an extremely flummoxed James. But at the minute she wasn't particularly thinking about any of these things. She just needed to get to Hestia. She sped down the corridors at breakneck speed and whipped up a couple of staircases, not even considering that they could possibly move, (luckily for her they didn't), and up to the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. After shouting the password to a disgruntled Fat Lady, she dashed into the main room, saw Hestia wasn't there and hurried up to their dormitory to find Hestia painting her nails.
'Hestia!' she said, stating the obvious upon seeing her friend, panting as she had just run the length of about three floors and a couple of staircases on her journey up to the Gryffindor tower.
'Yeees?' Hestia asked, not looking up or even taking notice of Lily's breathlessness.
'I need you to do me a favour.' she said, walking further into the room and flopping down next to Hestia on her bed.
'Anything.' Hestia replied.
'Go play Quidditch with James and Black.' Lily said.
'Anything but that.' she answered, not looking up at her best friend or even messing up her nail polish as Lily sat on her bed. She was a pro at painting her nails.
'What?' Lily sighed at a loss, 'But you love Quidditch.'
'But I hate Black.' Hestia retaliated, finally glancing at Lily for the first time since she entered the room. 'Why do you want me to play Quidditch with them?' she asked curiously, putting the lid on her nail varnish and putting it on her bedside table. She then began to blow across her nails to dry them.
'Well because I was in the library and that's a really nice colour.' Lily said, deterring from what she was originally going to say upon noticing Hestia's freshly painted nails. She took a long hard look at the nail varnish with confusion written over her face. Any nail polish that Hestia owned, Lily had bought her from the muggle world. Now Lily's memory was fantastic but she couldn't for the life of her remember buying Hestia this one. 'Did I get you that?' Lily asked, pointing a finger at the bottle on the table.
'Technically yes but I changed the colour.' Hestia answered, beginning to blow across the nails on her other hand. 'You were saying?' she reminded Lily, wanting to know what had gotten her so worked up. Lily was weird when she was worked up. She often went off on tangents and tended to ramble. She tended to ramble a lot.
'Right yeah!' Lily said, shaking her head slightly as she tried to remember what she was saying. She spoke very fast without taking a breath. 'So I was in the library and James was upside down so I asked him, 'why are you upside down?' and he said because he was thinking and his thoughts were in his head and he had holes in his socks and-'
'Point Lily?' Hestia asked as Lily began to ramble, making no sense at all.
'Right. Point.' Lily nodded, looking at her watch and realising that they had only five minutes to get to the Quidditch pitch. 'Well, he was bored and I suggested that he go and play Quidditch with Black and you, but he still needed a fourth, so he spotted Gwenog Jones and asked her, and I swear that she likes him and now I need you to go and play Quidditch with them to make sure that nothing happens.'
'So,' Hestia said, sitting up carefully to make sure that her freshly painted nails weren't ruined, 'I'll be playing with Gwenog Jones? On her team? Wow Lily, you should have led with that.'
Lily deflated a bit, a sad expression creeping slowly across her face. 'Is that what you're taking from this.' she whined to Hestia with a puppy dog pout.
'No of course not.' Hestia said, standing up off her bed and grabbing her broom from the wall next to her bedside table. 'You are worried that Gwenog Jones likes Potter and Potter might return her affections and you want me to spy on them. None of that's true however. Gwenog Jones doesn't like Potter and Potter obviously likes you and you…well you're just a little bit paranoid. But, if it will calm your jealousy, I'll spy on them for you.' Hestia said nonchalantly as she gathered together her Quidditch gear, finally leaving the room after her last sentence.
Lily sat on Hestia bed for a couple of seconds. 'I am not jealous!' she said, standing up as well and following Hestia out of the room, 'I'm possibly paranoid, but I'm not jealous!'
Severus was sat at one of the many dark, heavy tables in the Slytherin common room. He was reading his potions book and adding his own annotations. They were mostly little tips and tricks which would speed up the process of the brewing. He had written things such as 'stir anti-clockwise every seven stirs' or 'crush instead of cut the bean'. Apart from that, he scribbled down spells that he had invented himself in the margins. There were a few that he had invented in previous years such as levicorpus which he created in his fourth year. He kind of regretted that one because as soon as it became publically known its most common use was against him. But at the minute, he was recording his most recent creation; sectumsempra.
It was the spell he used a few months back on Avery during their potions class. However, when he had first cast it, it was a non-verbal mess. He had been working on it ever since, trying to replicate the damage he had done. He had been testing out different combinations of what he believed was his original wording, (he couldn't be certain as he could hardly remember), and had constantly come up blank. Nothing was happening to the pumpkins he had been using as test subjects. He had been hiding them a little ways into the forbidden forest for safe keeping. Unfortunately he hadn't counted on crows finding them and so, he had to move on to new test subjects. As the crows were already there, he decided to use them.
For weeks he had tried to curse the poor little black birds without causing so much as a scratch of damage on their wings. Then a couple of days ago, he had made a giant leap forwards. Yes, originally, it had been a non-verbal spell but it had also been a spur of the moment mess of words. However, when he tried the spell out loud it was twice as effective and the crow in front of him was soon covered in deep cuts, bleeding to death. He had finally perfected the spell he had accidentally made and was now so proud of. He believed that it would come in handy over the summer.
He didn't want to spend another year waiting to become a fully-fledged death eater with the brand upon his arm. He wanted to have it all now. He hated waiting. It was the worst part, so the sooner he got it over and done with, (and by it he meant disposing of someone with either impure magical blood or plain muggle blood), the sooner his dark dreams would be possible. He had decided to use his own spell, untraceable by the ministry and, best of all, not unforgivably illegal. He planned to dispose of a muggle. With the wounds that his spell caused, it wouldn't be obvious that it was linked to magic. They could all be reasonably linked to a muggle attack. Plus, as he lived in a muggle area, it would be easy to locate a vulnerable target. He was going to do it as soon as he arrived home for the summer. That was his plan in its entirety and, sickeningly, he couldn't wait.
He had just finished scrawling his new spell, proudly in the margins of his book when Avery, Mulciber and Wilkes came to sit near him, bearing the Daily Prophet proudly in their hands.
'Have you seen?' Avery whispered excitedly as soon as he and his three fellow Slytherin's reached Severus at the large table he was sat at. He shoved the paper in font of Severus' nose, pointing to the article on page four.
Severus skimmed over the title and the words below. He threw it forwards on to the table after he had read it, unimpressed. 'And?' he asked.
'Don't you get it?' Avery said, sitting down in the open chair next to Severus. He leant forwards onto the table. Wilkes and Mulciber followed his lead.
'What?' Severus said through tight lips, closing his book so none of his fellow Slytherin's could see the secrets he had scribbled down. He looked at them impatiently for an answer, no expression that suggested that he was even remotely pleased to see them even though they were the only thing he had which could be put under the heading of 'friend'.
'This means he's stopped recruiting.' Wilkes said, pulling the paper towards him in a bored fashion.
Severus wondered if Wilkes even wanted to be a death eater. He took everything so casually and never seemed enthralled with the idea. 'How does this,' Severus began, snatching the paper off of him and pointing to the article in question, 'show that the Dark Lord has stopped recruiting?'
'Well,' Mulciber said, now putting his two cents in to ensure that he wasn't left out of this conversation, 'before, any attacks that happened were all for the purpose of finding people who supported his cause and wanted play their part. The Hogsmeade attack, he wanted the shop owners and possibly other students. The St Mungo's attack, he was trying to reach the ward where the werewolves are kept and some of the healers. He's been out finding giants and vampires and any other magical beings that wanted to help the cause. But now,' Mulciber paused, an evil smile spreading across his face, 'now we start getting down to the real business.'
'Exactly!' Avery exclaimed in a hushed tone, a malicious smile on his face, the mirror image of Mulciber on his right.
'So now,' Severus started, gulping before he said his next sentence, 'now we start disposing of dirty blood. The mudbloods?'
'Precisely.' Mulciber smiled.
'Of course,' Wilkes said, adding his own part to the conversation in his uninterested manner that the group of Slytherin's he hung around with had become so used too, 'he won't stop recruiting. He'll still be gathering up those who want to help. Those who he believes have potential or are too valuable to kill. It just won't be his main priority now. Now he'll try and instate what should be in the law already. Thin the herd as it were. Lessen the crowd. Minimise the-'
'I get it!' Severus snapped, cutting Wilkes' monotone off. He was bugging him now.
'Fine.' Wilkes retorted, still no expression seeping through his voice.
'The point is things are happening.' Avery said maliciously, a smile creeping across his evil face, his eyes darkening 'For real.'
Later that evening, James and Lily were down in the dungeons finally finishing the Felix Felicis Potion that they had been set to make earlier that year. They were sat in silence as they made it, Lily making no attempt to create a conversation and James too unsure as to why Lily looked mad to create one either. So, for the first time since they had started their regular potion making sessions, they were only doing the work they were set instead of talking.
James looked at Lily curiously. She was carefully grating a unicorn horn and was frowning as she did so. Technically, she was the only one making any real contribution to the potion at this precise moment in time. James was just sat watching her. He couldn't actually tell if Lily was mad at him or at something else. Usually, in past years when she was mad at him, she'd call him names and glare at him a lot. She was doing nothing of the sort now, but as their relationship had advanced from Lily tolerating James and James annoying Lily to her wits end, to an actual state of friendship, James wondered whether her tactics had changed too. Maybe now, instead of making it obvious she was mad at him, she had decided to take a less direct approach and just ignore him. James didn't know which was worse. Knowing or wondering what he had done to upset her.
Leaning forwards in his chair, James thought through the day and all of his interactions with Lily to see if he could remember doing anything to annoy her. Nothing sprang to mind. They had been fine this morning in the library. James could think of nothing he had done then which would have upset her. After that he went off to play Quidditch with Sirius, Hestia and Gwenog Jones, not seeing Lily until they both arrived in the dungeons fifteen minutes ago. There wasn't really a lot of room there to irritate someone, not that it wasn't possible for James. He tried to assess the situation reasoning that the only possible way to know for sure would be to start talking to her and see if anything cropped up. He waited until Lily finished grating the unicorn horn before attempting any means of communication.
Lily put down the small hand held grater and scooped up the shavings, placing them in her brass scales to measure out half an ounce. She then took the little measuring tray full of the shavings and dropped them into the potion which was bubbling away at a steady two-hundred degrees. The moment the tiny little particles of dust hit the surface, the potion bubbled and steamed the liquid inside turning a nice, sparkling gold. In fifteen minutes, after it had finished brewing, their potion would finally be complete, meaning that they could pack up and leave which Lily would have done all too gladly if James hadn't started talking.
'Did you get a lot of studying done today then?' he said, staring at Lily with an intense and unwavering gaze.
Lily took a deep breath, her mouth partly open in a dumbfounded state. She'd have expected him to ask why she hadn't spoken to him since they arrived in the dungeons. She hadn't predicted that he would start a perfectly normal conversation. 'A bit.' she nodded, trying with all her might to stop asking him her next question as she knew it would lead on to what Hestia called her 'jealousy' coming out. It didn't work. 'I heard you enjoyed your Quidditch game?' she questioned, picking up the large potions book they had been using from the restricted section in the library, cursing herself internally for not being able to control herself bringing the subject up.
'Yeah it was awesome.' James said, relieved that they had returned to their usual selves. Obviously Lily wasn't mad at him. He had no idea what she was mad about or if she was even mad at all he was just glad it wasn't at him so he continued on as normal. 'I mean, me and Sirius lost but that's to be expected. Gwenog's an amazing player and Jones is good too. I mean, that is why I put her on the Quidditch team every year. She isn't half bad.'
'Well,' Lily began sarcastically, 'I'm sure that Hestia will be thrilled to know that you think she isn't 'half bad'.'
'I'm sorry?' James asked. Maybe he was wrong. Perhaps she was mad at him. He couldn't tell anymore. He was confused.
'Doesn't matter.' Lily replied, still cursing herself for pursuing this feeling. Nothing good could possibly result from this conversation but she just couldn't help herself. She had to know if there was anything more to what Hestia had witnessed at the end of their 'friendly' Quidditch game.
'Okay…' James said unsure now and thinking it might be a wise idea to leave it. If she wanted to tell him, she would. He hoped.
'So who are you going to play Quidditch with when Gwenog Jones leaves?' Lily questioned bluntly, giving up completely on packing all her stuff away and focusing all her attention on James instead.
'Well…err…anyone who wants to play really...' James said, speaking slowly, taken aback by Lily's directness. If he wasn't confused before he definitely was now. Maybe he should just ask if she was ok. 'Are you ok?' he asked.
'Fine, fine.' Lily said in a higher pitched voice than usual, obviously not fine as she was about to move forwards to her main point. The thing that had been bugging her since Hestia told her that afternoon. 'So,' she began with a deep breath, 'I hear you got rather cosy with Gwenog Jones at your little match earlier.'
'Well I gave her a hug at the end of the match and…' James shrugged and then pausing. Something had just occurred to him that he hadn't thought of before. His confused frown suddenly relaxed into realisation. He leant forwards a bit more and thought for a moment about whether this was a wise idea before asking Lily, 'Are you jealous?'
Lily's heart began to beat faster. She didn't answer but instead pursed her lip. Maybe she was jealous. She had believed that it was paranoia but, James was the second person to say she that was jealous. Perhaps that was true. She looked down and closed her eyes, wishing that she had never started this conversation. She felt humiliated. She was about to tell James to forget everything she had said, to discard it all like rubbish, when she felt his hand take hers on the table. If her heart was racing before it was nothing compared to the loud beating it doing now. She opened her eyes and saw James gazing directly into them, a smile on his face.
'You don't have to be jealous you know.' he said, squeezing her hand slightly, 'I don't like Gwenog that way. But I do like you. Very much.'
Lily's breathing became slightly erratic as James leaned in closer to her. She knew exactly what was happening but couldn't bring herself to believe it. She froze. She was scared. She didn't move closer to him. If anything she withdrew slightly. But, credit to him, he didn't stop. He hesitated but carried on forwards, placing his hand on her cheek to hold her where she was. She took a breath and the intoxicating smell of James, beech wood, made her stomach flip. She felt the warmth emanating from him he was so close now. Lily closed her eyes in waiting. She felt his warm breath mingle with hers. Their lips almost touched when…
'Dear me, things are getting bad.'
James and Lily sprang apart like shrapnel at the sound of their potions professor's voice coming from the door which had squeaked open.
'Ah Miss Evans, Mr Potter.' Slughorn said as he saw the two teenagers who were now sat quite far apart, both with shocked and extremely uncomfortable expressions written across their faces at what had almost happened, 'I see that you're working on that Felix Felicis potion I set you!' he continued happily, not realising that he had interrupted what could have been the turning point in his students relationship, 'Let's have a look see!' he said, walking over to them and peering into the cauldron at the potion they were brewing, 'Ah yes. Looks as if you're finished. Well done. Plus it seems to have calmed you down Mr Potter.'
'I'm sorry?' James asked, the first to speak from him and Lily whom he didn't look at through embarrassment.
'No more little pranks on your teachers.' Slughorn mumbled as he busied himself opening his paper to continue reading his article, 'At least not half as many.'
'No sir.' James smiled, indulging in what Slughorn obviously thought was his own achievement. Really, Remus had been nagging Sirius and James to stop messing around so often, (not all the time as Remus did enjoy a good prank himself), so that he could focus on his studies for the end of year exams that were fast approaching. James and Sirius wouldn't stop joking for just anyone.
'Anyway.' Slughorn continued, 'If you'd like to leave it here I'll put it in a couple of phials for you.'
'Err, Professor?' Lily said, not looking at James the same way he hadn't looked at her and all for the same reason; embarrassment. 'What things are getting bad?' she continued, knowing the answer but needing to hear it to believe it.
'The attacks.' Slughorn said grievously, 'Of course the ministry is trying to cover things up somewhat now. Don't want the wizarding world to go off on a tizzy now do they. But I know someone at the Daily Prophet see. Recommended him for the job myself and he always keeps me informed. It seems that they are no longer just attacking wizards. Says here a muggle street in Darwen, Lancashire was attacked. All it says here actually. But I've been told that three muggles are dead, twelve seriously injured along with one witch. Only witch in the area apparently. Of course, she's been reported but not those poor muggles...' Slughorn read, shaking his head despairingly.
'What street?' James asked, his eyes wide in alert.
'Yes says here, 'seriously injured witch, identity not yet known due to serious cuts and lacerations to the face'.' Slughorn muttered to himself mostly, ignoring James' question completely and continuing to read his article, 'They should know who she is soon though, after the potions take effect. Being treated by a Healer…Helbert Spleen. I used to teach him you know! Never thought he'd be a Healer though. Always believed he'd make a good advice columnist. Tried to put him in touch with the chap from the Daily Prophet on more than one occasion but he's just not interested is Helbert. Still, gives me good advice should I need it along with free treatment.'
'Doesn't Madam Pomfrey supply that facility?' Lily asked with a timid shrug.
'Oh yes, yes!' Slughorn answered in an absentminded reply to one of his favourite student's questions.
James sighed with impatience. Sure, Professor Slughorn would answer Lily's question but not his. It was probably because James never accepted any of Slughorn's 'Slug Club' invitations and Lily did. He always wondered when that little fact would return to bite him in the butt. And Professor Slughorn really had chosen the most inappropriate time to take his revenge. He just assumed that at some point Slughorn would get the message and stop inviting him. Evidently not and now Slughorn was doing all he could to avoid answering James' question. However, James was probably just being melodramatic through his sudden nervous state. Really, all of James' assumptions could all just be put down to the worry that had been building up inside of him since he heard the attacked town was Darwen, Lancashire. To confirm his suspicions though, he needed the street name. Now.
'What street?' he asked again, this time through extremely impatient gritted teeth, hoping against all hope that he was wrong.
'Mmm, let's see.' Slughorn pondered as he read through the article again trying to find the streets name. 'Ah here it is!' he exclaimed, 'Dorset Avenue.'
No sooner had Professor Slughorn said the streets name had James sprang out of his chair and dashed out of the room. Lily watched him go. What had happened? Who did he know on that street? Was it his mother? Lily knew that is father had died which would mean that his mother would be alone in the house. That would fit with the article. 'Only witch in the area'. Everything was whirring around her mind and there was so much that she wanted to talk to him about now. Does he know the witch in the article? Was it his mother? Were they going to talk about the fact that he almost kissed her? It didn't look like she would know the answers to any of these questions now. James had gone.
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