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.
Last chapter for today. :)
Here's chapter Seventy-Nine!
Hope you enjoy it!
The time every seventh year student dreaded was here; N.E.W.T's had arrived. Everybody was studying like crazy, trying to get some last minute revision into their day and pack their brains with as much information as possible for the exams. The wizard who named the exams wasn't lying; they were nastily exhausting. Some people were breaking down from the pressure of them. They had pressure to do well, pressure to remember everything or even just pressure to take the exam, (for you had to take them). Some seventh years just couldn't cope. You could often find them about, ripping pages out of books in annoyance at the words, hyperventilating outside the exam rooms or, as James and Lily discovered on one of their late night patrols for head duties, shaking in a broomstick cupboard mumbling to themselves and asking the door to be closed with a loud bang to match the noises in their head. You could only appease that kind of breakdown by doing what they want before reporting them to Madam Pomfrey. She had prepared for the testing period by whipping up three extra batches of calming draught and the draught of peace. If it wasn't for her forward thinking, half of the seventh year would be holed up in the hospital wing due to stress.
The library was packed with students on a day to day basis. Those who had never set foot in the library throughout their entire Hogwarts lives were now reaping in the advantages at such a vast array of material to choose from. There were stacks upon stacks of books piled in front of the rows upon rows of seventh years trying to study. And at a time like this, house didn't matter. Everyone was sitting anywhere they wanted so each table was littered with a variant of red, green, blue and yellow. What was more, you had Gryffindors and Slytherins sharing textbooks and Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs borrowing quills of each other. It was as if the exam period had cast a spell over the whole of Hogwarts seventh year to quell any squabbles. However, the truth was no one could be bothered to fight over which house was the best anymore. N.E.W.T's were far too important for such petty arguments.
When the library was full, the seventh years would overspill either into the great hall, (if it was free from exams), or empty class rooms. Most of the students refused to work in their common rooms or outside, (where they longed to be in the sun), for it was far too noisy to concentrate on what they were doing. The few that did dare to risk the common rooms were often known to shout at the lower years and cause a bigger disturbance than the one they were yelling about in the first place. Depending on which house they were in and who was their head, these students would either receive a detention or an order to visit Madam Pomfrey or just take a break. A break wasn't something that many of the seventh years afforded themselves. Well, apart from a couple.
James and Sirius did want to do well in their N.E.W.T's but when it came to revising for them, they always found something to distract themselves. Whether it was going to the kitchens and gorging themselves of various amounts of food or, for some unknown reason, trying to learn to juggle, they always found a way to prolong their studies as much as possible. One time they had created a magical musical masterpiece in the library by slamming books, blowing air over ink bottles filled with various degrees of water, scratching quills and chiming the chandeliers, all from their seats at a table by the window. They had received a lot of glares from working students, a threatening hiss from Lily and had been told off by Madam Pince for that one resulting in a detention that evening. They didn't do that again. They had however, taken to jumping off of the astronomy tower, calling their brooms over to them midway down and landing on them just before the hit the ground only to fly back up and do it all over again. When they were caught doing this, (by Professor McGonagall), she had given them detention every Friday evening until they finished Hogwarts. She also sent them down to Professor Dumbledore's office only to have them find he was leaving the school at that very moment and only had time to congratulate James on what a fine job he had been doing the past year as head boy. Suffice to say that was not the punishment that McGonagall had had in mind for them so she gave the boys an extra detention where they would be searching for slugs on the school cabbages. It wasn't how they wanted to spend their time.
After a week, a Herbology Practical exam and an exceedingly hard written N.E.W.T in Charms, which, thanks to Sirius and James' constant disruptions and annoying habits, Remus and Lily were sure they failed, the two decided to take preventative measures and put in place provisions which would ensure that all of them studied and studied well. Seeing as James did actually study when Sirius wasn't around, they split them up. There were protests from the boys, including one where James hid under his invisibility cloak for an hour in the Gryffindor tower, (Remus and Lily new he was there thanks to the map but were unsure of where), and Sirius followed them round looking for James singing the Hogwarts song at the top of his lungs in a badly imitated Scottish accent with a fast tempo, but they finally managed to separate them. At first, James went with Lily and Sirius with Remus, Peter too, but they found that James was much too distracted by Lily without her meaning to do anything at all to distract him. So, in the end, Sirius went with Lily and Remus went with James and Peter in different locations of the school. The latter took the library and the former took the Transfiguration classroom where the weekly prefect meetings were held on Fridays which was perfect, for that was their next test.
'Doing Transfiguration.' Sirius sang under his breath whilst pretending to look at his book, 'Learning all this crap.'
Lily's eyes looked up from her book momentarily to glance at Sirius. When she saw he had stopped singing, she went back to reading about the five principle exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration.
'Reading all the stuff I should have learned this year!' Sirius continued to sing, a little bit louder, 'If only I'd paid attention.'
'Then pay attention now.' Lily muttered to Sirius, taking her quill and scratching a couple of notes into the margins.
Sirius was silent for a few seconds before blasting out, 'EVANS WANT ME TO STUDY THIS STUFF BUT ALL I WANT IS A STEAK!'
'Oh my God, Sirius!' Lily said, rolling her eyes in frustration and looking up at him unimpressed, 'Now I see what Remus was on about.'
Sirius nodded his head with a knowing smile on his face. 'He tell you I was an amazing singer?' Sirius asked, believing that this was what Lily was talking about.
'No.' Lily retorted.
Sirius' face dropped.
'He told me you were a nightmare to study with.' Lily pointed out the obvious, 'That you don't study.' She tried to return to her book.
'Then why you studying with me?' Sirius asked.
'Because,' Lily sighed, looking back up from her book and putting her quill down as it was becoming obviously apparent to her that she wouldn't be able to return to it for at least five minutes, 'You have to pass your N.E.W.T's and to pass your N.E.W.T's you have to study. Seeing as you couldn't focus around Remus and Peter, we thought we'd try it this way.'
'You mean you and Jimmy-boy couldn't focus around each other so we have to do it this way?' Sirius asked rhetorically with a wink.
Lily's cheeks powdered a faint pink but she didn't let it phase her. She knew that Sirius was just trying to wind her up and embarrass her. She wouldn't let him do that. 'Yes ok, that was a factor. He wasn't doing any revision around me-'
'Niether were you.' Sirius cut in insinuatingly.
Lily took a deep breath and tried so hard not to glare daggers at Sirius. 'Me and Remus thought it would just be better if we swapped-'
'Swapped?' Sirius laughed, 'What are we? Chocolate frog cards.'
'I'm starting to wish you were!' Lily said through a tense jaw.
'Me too!' Sirius grinned. It was a little bit of a dream of his to end up on one of those cards. Admittedly he knew it would probably never happen. You had to be famous, make a big contribution to the wizarding world or do something incredible. Unless he got on a chocolate frog card through a competition of who could eat the most chocolate frogs in under a minute, (he had a record of 33), his little dream wouldn't come true.
'Can we just study please?' Lily asked tiredly, deflating a bit as she knew she probably wouldn't be able too.
'Sure.' Sirius replied, not meaning it. He left it a few seconds, just enough time for Lily to doubt whether or not she was right and return to her Transfiguration book, before asking, 'Now when you say swapped-'
'Oh good lord Sirius!' Lily cut in over the top, her irritation clear on her face making Sirius smirk, 'We thought we would swap, and yes, I do mean swap as if you are some sort of coveted card out of a chocolate frog pack, because we thought it would help you and James to study and concentrate a bit more. James and I wouldn't get…distracted, and you would stop picking on poor Peter and annoying Remus to hell and making him wish he could transform right there and then and eat you, just so he could shut you up. We swapped to try and help everyone do their best. It's what friends do.'
There was a pause of silence. Lily returned to her book and poured as quickly as she could over what Gump thought to be the third law of Transfiguration whilst Sirius sat in quiet thought, rocking back onto the back legs of his chair. For a few seconds, the only sound in the room was the slow ticking of the clock and the creaking of Sirius' chair. He changed that.
'That back fired on you a bit didn't it?' Sirius wondered.
'Oh I'm gonna fail.' Lily moaned, putting her elbows on the desk and her face into her palms.
'Cause, you know, Prongs may be able to study properly now, no distractions and what not but me…' Sirius sighed as if it wasn't a choice, just eventuality, 'I just get to annoy you instead. Only difference is Pete and come on, let's face it, you can't help but pick on him sometimes cause he is pretty pathetic. You can't say you've never just wanted to take a beaters bat and just batter him round the head with it, maybe knock some sense into him and a bit of confidence, the weasel. I mean come on. I doubt if he'll ever do something of his own accord, without us, cause that would mean he has the slightest bit of back bone which, you know, I have been wondering about because if he didn't have a spine how would he be able to stand up? And what is the deal-'
'Do you ever stop talking?' Lily asked snappily.
Sirius paused and blinked at her a few times before saying seriously, 'When I sing.'
'I'm starting to think I liked it better when you didn't like me.' Lily muttered under her breath, but not well enough because Sirius heard her.
'Nah you didn't.' Sirius grinned, 'We're like, best friends now. You know you wouldn't give that up for a million years.'
Despite herself, Lily smiled with a small happy laugh escaping her lips. She shook her head slightly. It was odd to thing that Sirius Black was in fact one of her best friends. She had spent so long, so much of her Hogwarts life, absolutely loathing the four boys that now meant so much to her. She was in love with one of them, had a confidante in two, along with a couple of best friends and had an unexplained need to protect the other, as if she felt something bad would happen to him at any given moment. This being said though, they did all individually annoy her to the end of her tether. She did just wish Peter would gain more confidence sometimes and be his own person rather than trailing after the other three. She also wished that Remus wouldn't be so hard on himself. And would just quit calling her out on certain issues as he had been doing for the past couple years, especially ones surrounding James. James she couldn't really fault too much. Not because he was perfect because anyone could tell you he was far from it, but because she loved the imperfections. It was a part of loving him. She did wish he wouldn't be so childish sometimes, like when he disappeared after the last Quidditch match, but she supposed that he wouldn't be James if he didn't act that way sometimes. Sirius, well, everything irritated her about Sirius. He was childish and stupid, irresponsible and mean and just plain annoying. But something about him made her love him like a brother. Yes they fought and got annoyed with each other over silly things but that is what she assumed brothers and sisters did. He was right, he was one of her best friends, all the marauders were, and she wouldn't change that for the world.
Sirius had been quiet for a good five minutes, wondering about something Lily had said: that Remus sometimes just wanted to transform sometimes and eat him. It was an odd thing to wish bit the way he was thinking about it was stranger.
'What do you think it's like to be eaten by a werewolf?' Sirius queried.
Lily frowned. 'Not very nice I'd imagine.' she answered cautiously.
'Yeah I figured as much.' Sirius chuckled. He was quiet for a little bit longer, perhaps around two minutes, still rocking on the back legs of his chair when another question occurred to him. 'What does coveted mean?' he asked Lily, referring to her comment about the chocolate frog cards.
'Err…' Lily asked, unsure of where that question had come from for it was actually within the realm of normalcy, 'It means to want something. If something is coveted it's wanted.'
'Oh.' Sirius said. His tone had turned to a normal but serious conversation. 'Do you covet James then?'
Lily frowned again, but this time it was at the sudden change in conversation and the fact that, for Sirius, it was a rather grown up discussion. One she doubted she would have with him and, if she did ever have it, she'd have thought it would start off with the sentence, 'so what are your intentions with my Jimmy-boy then' or word to that effect. For some reason, when she thought of having that conversation with Sirius she saw him dressed up in a normal black suit but with a fake moustache on as well as a large purple and yellow striped hat. She shook the image from her mind and returned to the room, trying to wrap her head around what Sirius was asking her.
'What do you mean?' she wondered, 'I have James.'
'Yeah. But like…' Sirius thought of his words carefully, 'Do you want to have a future with him?'
'Yes.' Lily answered simply.
'So you like, wanna get married and have kids and stuff then?' Sirius said, 'Move into my mansion?'
'Ok, it's James' family's mansion, not yours-'
'I'm family!' Sirius protested.
'-but I suppose…yeah.' Lily shrugged, taking no notice of him.
'You suppose?' Sirius sighed, obviously a little bit wary with her answer, as if it wasn't the right one. It wasn't the one he wanted. 'You're not going to hurt him are you?' he asked.
For what Lily could say was only about the third time in her life, Lily saw vulnerability in Sirius. He didn't want his friend to be hurt. Lily may look at Sirius like a brother and Sirius may have said that she was a best friend of his but that didn't compare to the relationship he had with James. James was like his right arm. He wouldn't be able to do half the stuff he could do now if James wasn't there having fun and causing chaos with him because he was too upset to do so. It was as if Lily was seeing Sirius' biggest fear; that something would happen to his best friend. And she saw why it would be his biggest fear. After all, James and the Potters were his family now. He had left his, he had told her that and the reasons why earlier this year. She supposed that if anything happened to James, Sirius would feel the same way as Lily would if anything happened to Petunia. They may fight, have arguments and not talk but, ultimately, she would do anything for her, just as, she suspected, Sirius would do for James and vice versa.
'I really hope not.' Lily said earnestly, which seemed to be enough for Sirius at this time.
He nodded his head and lightly landed his chair back onto all four legs. 'Right then!' he said in fake enthusiasm, 'Let's study!'
'You're going to study?' Lily laughed.
'Well you are.' Sirius said, 'I'm going to sing.'
Lily laughed again, 'I guess I can settle for that.'
Severus was in his Ancient Runes exam. It was being held in the classroom in which they had their lessons because, straight after this test was over, there was the Defence Against the Dark Arts practical in the great hall for which Professor Linkedin and a few other professors were preparing for. Severus couldn't wait for the next exam, something which you hardly expect a seventh year student to say about one of his N.E.W.T's. He didn't care if it was an unusual occurrence though because he knew that Defence Against the Dark Arts was his time to shine. Admittedly he was better at the dark arts but knowing the spells that were supposed to be able to defend a witch or wizard against the ones he wanted to be using, and was going to be using, would be very useful for pre-empting what his opponent would throw at him. Still, before he could get to that exam, he had to finish this one and just looking at the test paper was causing him to regret making the decision to take this subject.
There was no denying that he took this wretched subject because he knew, at the start of his sixth year, Lily would be taking it. At that time he had sincerely hoped to win back her friendship and Merlin knows he had tried. He had tried many times and had continued to try long after he should have given up. Now he knew that he should have just accepted her decision when she had first made it. It would have saved him a lot of time, heartache and humiliation. Plus he wouldn't have taken Ancient Runes and wouldn't be sat in this stupid exam which he was sure he was bound to fail. Then again, out of the options he had had for his N.E.W.T's from the subjects he had taken for his O.W.L's, there wasn't much choice.
If he hadn't taken Ancient Runes, then he would have had to have taken Arithmancy, Astronomy or History of Magic. He wasn't very good at any of those subjects, only achieving an E in Astronomy and A's in the other two at O.W.L standard. Astronomy was useless in his opinion, a subject meant only for centaurs and star-gazing morons. Whoever thought that gazing up at a load of little balls of gas in the sky, whether it be for astronomy, astrology or other absurd 'romantic' reasons, was stupid. That subject was a waste of his time. Still, he had received an E in it. So if there was any logical reasoning behind his choosing of his subjects for N.E.W.T's, like which one he would receive the highest grade in, he should have chosen Astronomy. A downside to taking that subject though was having to share yet another class with Peter Pettigrew. Three was far too many as it was. Pettigrew was a useless wizard in Severus' opinion and he desperately wanted to avoid being placed with him for a partner. It was enough to get anyone to drop a subject.
History of Magic was one of the most boring subjects known to man. The only thing that had made that subject bearable was sitting next to Lily. At least that was what had made the classes bearable from third to fifth year. They didn't have History of Magic at the same time during the first two years; the Slytherins sharing the subject with the Hufflepuffs and the Gryffindors with the Ravenclaws. During those first two years, all he could do was imagine Lily in his class or himself in hers, watching her out-wit the Ravenclaws and seeing her stump Professor Binns with a particularly tricky question. He got to see the later daydream when Slytherin and Gryffindor were finally put together in third year but it still didn't change the absolute dullness of the topics Professor Binns was rambling on about.. He dropped that subject like a hot potato as soon as it wasn't compulsory for them to take it. There was nothing on earth, not a hundred million galleons or even the promise that Lily would someday love him, that could persuade him to take that class for N.E.W.T's. And besides, he knew that neither of those options would ever come true anyway.
Arithmancy he saw no point in taking for his N.E.W.T's. He had seen no point in taking the subject after only a week of studying it in his third year. Of course, he never confessed this. Again, it was a subject he had taken for a very specific reason; Lily had wanted too. They were inseparable at this point and, to make sure they stayed inseparable, Severus had decided to take the exact same subjects as she had. He hadn't wanted to risk the chance that, during a time when he had a lesson and she didn't, she would find friendship in the four boys he loathed and despised. Now he saw he was fooling himself with that too. He was deluding himself to think that Lily would never become the marauders friend or even go out with James Potter, do all she had with him. After all, Lily was a sweet, kind and caring girl who was nice to everyone and Potter…well he always got his way. Strategically taking certain subjects would never have made a difference to that.
Now all Severus had to show for what he had done, what he would consider sacrifices he made in his education to try and keep the friend who had never truly been his, was a couple of barely passed O.W.L's and, what he was sure to be, a failed N.E.W.T. He had no idea what he was doing in that exam. Being there in the first place and what he was attempting to write in his paper. The only reason he had achieved a remotely respectable score in his O.W.L was because he had Lily's help. She was the one who could understand this stuff. She had said it had reminded her of the Egyptians hieroglyphics, something she had claimed to have studied in a class project during her primary school years. She had an edge. Severus had nothing. And besides, he couldn't care less what a bunch of messed up symbols meant to a load of stuffy old wizards who believed them to be historic. It didn't matter to him. What mattered now, was his Defence Against the Dark Arts Exam which he would be leaving for in three. Two…one…
'Quills down please.' the examiner who had been sent from the Ministry of Magic announced to the class. He waved his wand once in a fluid wrist action and all the papers flew over to him and landed in a neatly stacked pile on the desk at the front of the classroom.
Severus stood up as quickly as he could, grabbed his quill and ink, patted the left breast pocket of his cloak to ensure that his wand was still safely stowed away there and, for once, thanked the regulations of exams. Thanks to the rules that they had been read from first year up, he had no bag to sort out and carry down to the great hall or books to take back to his common room. He was already fully prepared to take his Defence N.E.W.T. All he had to do know was wait to be told he could leave.
The examiner looked up at the clock which was ticking away slowly on the wall. He waited for the seconds hand to strike the minute of two o'clock and then, and only then, announced that the Ancient Runes class was free to leave the room. As soon as the words left his lips a babble of chatter arose in the room, many thanking Merlin that the exam was over, others proclaiming joyfully that they never had to study another Ancient Rune again and a couple whining that they were sure to have failed.
For a brief second Severus' eyes flitted over to Lily. She was walking towards the door where two heads were peeping around the frame, telling her to get a move on or she would be late. It was Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Obviously they had taken their practical Defence N.E.W.T already and were outside waiting to collect Lily and take her to her own exam. Severus could only assume that the other two marauders were still in line waiting for their test to take place, something which he would also have to do as the practical was taken in alphabetical order. As an S, he would be one of the last to take his exam, just a few people after Potter. Lily would take her test after Severus when all the boys were finished and it was the girls turn to enter the room.
Severus walked over to the door and pushed passed Sirius and Remus, making sure he avoided hitting Lily at all, (after all, he still didn't want to hurt her). His shoulders bumped roughly against both of them as he walked past, eager to get to his exam. He heard mumblings behind him as he walked hurriedly down the corridor.
'Watch where you're going.' he had heard Remus say after him.
'Stupid greasy-haired git.' he had heard Sirius curse.
'Typical.' he had heard Lily mutter.
It was heart-breaking if he thought about it too much; Lily becoming one of them and expecting nothing but cruelness and childish acts of aggression from him. He didn't dwell on it too much though. He couldn't now, he didn't have the time or energy for something which he knew was over.
He raced down to the great hall and joined the dwindling line outside the great hall, thankful he wasn't late. As he got there her heard Professor Linkedin call Peter Pettigrew's name and wish him luck as he walked nervously into the room. He looked to the front of the line and James Potter was stood there beating out a rhythm with his wand and his hand on the top of his thighs in a nervous state. His air of confidence seemed to have vanished and it made Severus smirk to think that Potter was suffering from the stress of N.E.W.T's and he was not. It was a small thing but after all the sour competition and hostility between them, it made him feel better that he had at least one thing on the spoilt and arrogant boy.
He leant against the wall and let his head rest back to touch in, his greasy hair unsteadying him for a second as he did so. He managed to stabilise himself and waited for two minutes before he heard the next name called for the exam, (Poppy Pinter). When the girl went into her exam, accepting what seemed to be a standard 'good luck' from Professor Linkedin, Severus moved up a couple of inches, nearing the doors to the great hall. He glanced over to James Potter who was now fiddling with his wand, showing off as per usual by spinning it around cleverly in his hand. It was a stupid trick but Severus sneered at it, (he couldn't do it), but snickered slightly when James dropped his wand on the floor as his name was called for the exam. His snicker turned into a sneer again when James responded to Professor Linkedin's well wishes with a cocky answer of 'please!'.
It was only another minute or so until Severus was called into his exam. He went in, ignoring the cursory 'good luck' he was wished as he walked through the door. He was directed by a Ministry official over to an available examiner in the far left corner of the great hall which had been completely cleared of its usual décor. He walked over to the assessor, a tall, stern looking woman with straight jet black hair and bedazzling blue eyes which seemed to be focusing on other parts of the room rather than the seventh year boy that was approaching her. Severus followed her gaze and saw her lock eyes with another examiner, a balding man with a strong jaw. He gave her a small smile and an approving nod towards the student he was assessing, one which she returned, obviously seeing the same potential in the boy that her colleague had. Severus didn't need two guesses to see who they were on about.
A flame of anger rose inside of him and he gave a loud cough, demonstrating to his examiner that he was ready to begin. She turned back towards him, took one look at his greasy hair, hooked nose and heavy eyebrows which gave his face a constant state of frowning, and sniffed disapprovingly. Severus huffed a sigh and began his exam at her command, determined to show her and the others in the room, all of which were clearly browsing the room for stand out talent at the same time and holding the N.E.W.T's, that he was just as impressive as Potter.
Peter gave a huge yawn, absolutely worn out from his N.E.W.T's. He was currently in the written exam for Care of Magical Creatures, having just completed the practical that morning, and he could barely concentrate on the paper on the desk in front of him. The words were turning into worms right in front of his eye, wiggling around on the paper so much he was sure they were about to scurry off any second. His eyelids were heavy and his vision blurred, the effects of his lack of sleep were starting to take effect. If only he hadn't had his Astronomy practical last night. Really the person who had scheduled the N.E.W.T's hadn't thought it through all that well…
Peter was roughly woken up by his exam paper flying from underneath his face and to the front of the great hall into the examiners waiting hands. His eyes widened and he looked two seats to the right of him, over to Remus, with worry. He hadn't been able to finish his paper. And he had desperately needed too if he wanted any chance of having a decent career. He really wanted to be an auror with his friends, even though he wouldn't have the necessary N.E.W.T's he would need to get into the training programme, but he was going to apply anyway. Passing all of his N.E.W.T's with respectable grade would be his best chance to convince the auror department to take a chance on him, but he was now positively sure his mark in Care of Magical Creatures wouldn't be that high.
He had very few exams to do well in, to achieve impressive marks in. He had already taken his Herbology, Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy and Care of Magical Creatures Practical exams and now his written Care of Magical Creatures exam. That meant he only had a grand total of four exams left and, now he had made a mess of the test he had just sat, he would have to work twice as hard to gain a good mark in them. His Defence Against the Dark Arts written should be no problem for, surprisingly, that subject seemed to be his forte. However, he also had his Astronomy, Herbology and Charms written exams, any of which could be the end of him, not that that was the outcome he intended.
You see, though none of his friends knew it, Peter had been studying hard that year. He was determined to, for once, match up to them if only through his test scores. If he could get an O in at least one subject, the perhaps he would earn a bit of respect from them and he wouldn't be considered unworthy of being their friend. A useless tag along that they had to protect. He knew that was what they thought of him, some more than others. If he were to get more than one O then maybe even his mum would think him capable of more than just tying his own shoelaces. He felt in himself that he had a lot riding on these exams. He had put a lot of pressure on himself to succeed and he didn't know if he would be able to handle failing. That was why he was so miserable about having fallen asleep during his exam.
He was released from the great hall along with the others and went over to join Remus who was also walking out of the exam, a relieved look on his face. Of course, he may be relieved that the exam was over but there was still no doubt that he would get an amazing mark. He had studied as much as Peter had that year, only Remus had been working that hard through his whole Hogwarts career. Peter only wished he had paid more attention to him when he had told him in past years to pay more attention to his work instead of grovelling at James and Sirius' feet. Actually Peter wished he had Remus' brains, Sirius' looks and James' personality. Then he would be fully accepted as what he viewed as a true marauder. But none of that would ever happen and if it were to happen, he would only be able to complete one of the three things he wished; Remus' brains. And even then it would only be temporary as he would just be taking Baruffio's Brain Elixir to enhance knowledge. It would wear off after a few hours. The problem was it was against the rules to take that potion in Hogwarts and far too expensive to get a hold of anyway.
'How'd it go?' Remus asked Peter quickly, trying to make his way out of the hall as fast as he could.
Peter was struggling to keep up, a bit breathless as he replied with, 'I fell asleep.'
'Oh Peter!' Remus sighed, frowning at his watch as he checked the time.
'I couldn't help it.' Peter whimpered, 'I was tired from my Astronomy exam and-'
'Yeah I know.' Remus said, brushing away Peter's attempts at conversation, 'Listen Pete, I've got to head for the written potions all right? Talk about this later!' he called back over his shoulder as he headed toward a third floor classroom where the test was taking place thanks to the test he had just had in the great hall and the on-going lessons in the dungeons.
'Sure.' Peter responded half-heartedly, staring after the only friend who he thought would have cared, 'Bye.' he sighed, turning around and walking back to the Gryffindor common room on his own. He was always on his own these days.
N.E.W.T's were going faster for the seventh years than anyone thought was possible. They seemed to be bouncing from exam to exam, for quite a lot of them, their Defence Against the Dark Arts and Charms written exams being the most recent. None of them particularly noticed that their time at Hogwarts was coming to an abrupt end, that they would all too soon lose their cocoon of safety and be flung out into the real world; where danger was waiting for them. It was creeping up on them quickly and if they didn't look up from their textbooks once in a while, they were going to miss their last few months of protection. The last few months they had to truly be children. The last few months they had to truly be free.
Remus was one of the ones who knew this all too well. He knew that he would soon be tossed into a world of prejudice and unhappiness. He knew but it didn't stop him from studying. He, unlike others who had realised what the end of their seventh year would mean who had decided to laze outside in the sun, had focused even harder on his studies because the grades he earned in his N.E.W.T's were far more important to him than they were to anyone else. Getting straight O's in his N.E.W.T's was his only chance to get himself into the auror programme or even just a menial job, both of which were slim hopes anyway thanks to the preconception people would have about him because he was a werewolf.
He was also working himself to the bone because he knew that his next transformation would not take place in the shrieking shack. It was his only way to distract himself from the fact that he didn't actually know where he was going to transform during the next full moon. His parents wanted him out of the house as soon as possible, but there was always the possibility that they would let him spend his transformations in the basement as he had done for as long as he could remember. In his mind that was his only viable option. Of course, he had been invited to live with James and Sirius over at the Potter mansion but he wasn't sure that James had even asked his mum, or told her more like (James did what he wanted without hardly ever informing his mum of what he was doing). Plus Remus didn't know if Mrs Potter knew of Remus' lycanthropy. He was sure she would be fine with him and wouldn't treat him any differently but not quite sure on whether she would want him living in and transforming in the Potter mansion and grounds. But if she didn't, then he would have nowhere to go; he had no house, no money and no prospects. But that was nothing to concentrate on at this precise moment.
Remus frowned at the cauldron which was bubbling away in front of him. He was in the midst of his Potions final, attempting to remember the next ingredient in the Volubilis Potion only it seemed to be escaping his mind. It was impossible to remember what he was supposed to do next when all he had for reference were the ingredients and equipment on the table along with what he had in his head. He thought it was mean for this to be the practical exam anyway, far too hard for anyone under the amount of pressure the seventh years were under to handle and besides, if they were to ever make this potion in their lives, this would definitely not be the way they would do it.
The potions N.E.W.T was probably one of the hardest tests a Hogwarts student could take, the practical exam bearing most of their grade and being the cruellest part of the exam. For their potions final, they had to make one of five potions from scratch, with no recipe to follow or outside help. Four weeks ago the potions class were given the list five potions, all with the same preparation and brewing time, to memorise the method for. They were expected to make one of these five potions in the exam and, unfortunately, the Ministry exam board had chosen potions with the hardest methods imaginable. When they entered the exam, all the ingredients and equipment, (for they weren't allowed to use their own as a precaution against those who would dare to cheat), they would need would be set out on a work station. They were given everything they needed, (apart from their wand which was the only thing they could take into the exam with them), to make their potion. Everything, that is, apart from the name of what the potion actually was. All they had to figure that out with, were the things they were presented with. Remus thought this was unnecessarily hard but it wasn't as if he had any authority to complain so he followed the N.E.W.T's protocol. He had memorised the list of potions they were given and had deduced that he was to make a Volubilis Potion.
At the beginning of the exam he had looked around the room to see if anyone else had figured it out only to see that other people had different ingredients to him. Obviously the Ministry had chosen at least three potions for the seventh years to make during the exam, something that was probably just another precaution to stop them from cheating. Not that Remus minded. He knew the method and what potion it was. He had the equipment, the ingredients and the knowledge behind him. He just needed the luck to succeed but luck just didn't seem to be on his side
The next step to completing his potion had occurred to him and he cursed himself for not remembering it sooner. He really hoped that it wouldn't make too much of a difference as he was supposed to have prepared the mint sprigs he now had to add ten minutes ago. And they would take at least two or three minutes to dice up. He desperately hoped that the extra minute or so, (for that was how long it took him to hurriedly dice up his mint sprigs), wouldn't make too much difference to the potion if he turned the heat down a little bit. When he added the mint sprigs he turned it back up and prayed, with his eyes slightly closed for the potion to change colour. Very slowly, it did as he wanted and he was left with a simmering ivy green potion. Thankfully, it seemed that his luck was returning.
He turned the heat up on his potion for three minutes, timed by the small sand hour glass he had found in his equipment, along with the watch he had on to double check the timing, (hour glasses were notoriously unreliable and Remus had no idea why they were to use them during such a complicated and potentially lethal potion making exam). During the three minutes, he stirred the mandrake he had been stewing in a small copper cauldron since the start of the exam. It stood just a bit too close to the pewter cauldron that had his potion in for his liking and he tried to move it away slightly to avoid any splashes of Volubilis potion falling into it. He also diced a few more mint sprigs, a bit more efficiently this time, and thought over the potion method in his mind in case there was something else he had missed. He was pretty sure there wasn't.
The rest of his exam went by n a breeze with no more major mishaps, (he did smash the hour glass but he saw it as no great loss). His potion was turning from blue to red to yellow and, after ten minutes of vigilantly watching the heat on the cauldron, turning it up and down, and medium, and up and down, off the heat, back on the heat, up and down, off the heat, on the heat and medium again, his bright yellow potion released some gold sparks high into the air. He mentally patted himself on the back and turned off the heat for good. He picked up the small baster he was to use to take the potion from the cauldron and put in into two phials with his name on. He put a cork into the top of them and then placed them in the rack that would hold them until they were collected by an examiner. He then quickly cleared up his workstation and put his hand in the air.
He waited for two minutes before a small man, barely three feet with wispy brown hair which came out of his ears and nose but, surprisingly, not his head, walked over to him, a little stool tucked under his arm.
'Finished?' he asked in a unexpected deep voice.
'Err…' Remus began, hearing a muffled chuckle and looking to the right of him where Sirius was trying hard not to laugh at the little wizards shocking voice, 'Yeah.' he answered, doing his upmost to not do the same as his friend.
The little wizard took his wand out of his amber coloured robe and waved it at the small phials of Volubilis potion. They immediately flew to the front of the room and into a little square box that quickly opened and shut again when the phials were safely inside. The little wizard then placed his stool on the ground and stepped onto it to peer into the cauldron that still had the remains of Remus' potions final in it. He waved his wand over the top of it and the yellow liquid disappeared leaving no trace as if it had never even been there in the first place.
'You may go quietly.' the wizard told Remus, who breathed a sigh of relief.
Remus grabbed his wand off of his table and stowed it into his back pocket before rolling up the sleeves to his shirt and saluting to Sirius cockily on his way out. He was thankful that exam was over. He did a tally in his head of how many exams he had left until the week of freedom the seventh years had at the end of the school year before they finished Hogwarts for good. Ten N.E.W.T's down, only two more to go. Time sure was flying fast.
Thank you for reading!
Update on the 31st August