Where Life Leads


Story Summary:
James Potter and Lily Evans have never gotten along despite their many similarities. But when they are chosen as Head Boy and Girl they are forced to work together. As a war begins in the Wizarding World James and Lily overcome their differences and discover the most important things in life.

Chapter 14 - Chapter Fourteen

Author's Note:
I apologize for taking so long with this chapter. I hope it's worth the wait. Many thanks to my beta, Colon, for sticking with me! I know you want to read, so I will save the rest of the notes for the end. Happy reading and please review!

Chapter Fourteen

It was a shock when Dumbledore stood up to make an announcement at breakfast the next morning. Lily couldn't remember a time when he had done this before. Usually any announcements were made at dinner when every student was pretty much guaranteed to be present.

"I have some rather unfortunate news to inform you of this morning," he said once he had got everyone's attention. "Late last night a small Muggle town a fair distance from Hogsmeade was attacked by Death Eaters. No-" he held up a hand as there was a scramble to search the papers- "there will not be any mention in today's news. The Ministry is keeping it under wraps so as not to worry the community. However, from this time forward, no student is allowed to be outside of the castle after the evening meal unless they are in the presence of a teacher and have a legitimate reason.

"On that note, will all of the seventh year Potions students please follow Professor Slughorn to the antechamber to discuss your current project."

Dumbledore sat back down as Lily exchanged looks with James. The students were going to be livid about the outside curfew being so much sooner, but at least since it was getting darker earlier most students would have been inside anyway. The hugest impact would be on Quidditch as most practices were held in the evenings.

Slughorn stood up from his seat and walked over to stand in the doorway to the antechamber, waiting patiently for his seventh year students to join him.

Sirius stretched his hands above his head and stood up. "Well, let's go see what ol' Sluggy needs, shall we?"

A few minutes later their Potions class was gathered in front of Professor Slughorn in the antechamber. Lily glanced around the room, noticing one of the portraits contained the Fat Lady's friend Violet, who was watching (and no doubt listening) with rapt attention.

"The new curfew puts a bit of a damper on our current project," Slughorn huffed. "But Dumbledore said that I can have two students accompany me to gather the fluxweed Thursday night. Those two will need to get enough for everyone in the class to use. I leave it to you to choose who they will be."

The class exchanged glances. Sirius rolled his eyes at Lily. "He makes it seem like such a hard thing," he whispered to her before speaking up loudly. "The two with the highest marks should be the ones to go with you, sir."

Lily glared at Sirius as Slughorn looked around the room where the other students were nodding in agreement. "Need to make sure I won't be around as you set up a prank, do you?" she accused. Linda and Janice laughed appreciatively.

Sirius let out a faint snort and raised his eyebrows at her. "We have other ways of getting around. Besides, it's not likely you would trust anyone else to gather the fluxweed is it?"

Lily glared at him again, but conceded the point, knowing he was right.

"Very well," Slughorn was saying, "since you're all in agreement. Miss Evans and Mr. Snape – if you would kindly meet me in the Entrance Hall Thursday evening at nine, we will gather enough fluxweed for the entire class."

There were murmurs throughout the room. It was well known that even though Lily and Snape didn't get on at all nowadays, at one time they could have been considered friends. During Potions when the students had not been allowed to choose their own partners, Snape and Lily had often worked together. Slughorn recognized that they both had a knack for brewing, though clearly it was Lily who was his favorite – even though Snape was in his House – and the never-ending jealously had been caused a rift between them.

Lily glanced over to where Snape was standing sullenly with his back against the wall, arms crossed and glaring hatefully at her. She held back a sigh and smiled dutifully as Lizzie came over and started listing several reasons why it was brilliant that she was one of the students to go.

Nodding her agreement half-heartedly, Lily followed James and Sirius back to the Gryffindor table to finish breakfast, which now Lily could only pick at.

When the others had finished eating, they all made their way back to the common room since they had a free period before Defence. But on the fourth floor, Lily stopped suddenly, saying that she was going to go to the Library instead.

James looked over at her questioningly. "Do you want company?"

"No," Lily replied shaking her head. "I'm fine. I just want to re-check some facts in my Defence essay since it's due today.

"Alright, see you in class then," he said before, surprisingly, bending down to kiss her quickly, ignoring the whistle from Sirius.

Lily said a hasty, "Good-bye," to the others and hurried off down the hall. A smile tugged at her lips – for no apparent reason she was feeling more upbeat than she had been a minute ago. Suddenly, she wasn't feeling as much foreboding towards Thursday's fluxweed gathering. After all, it wasn't as though Snape was stupid enough to do or say anything with Slughorn around. As cruel as he could be (a memory flashed across her eyes and "Mudblood" sounded harshly in her ears) when it came to her, he kept his nastiness to himself in front of the teachers.

She pushed open Library doors and Madam Pince looked up from stamping books as she entered. The table overlooking the grounds was free and Lily headed back towards it. She set down her bag and pulled out her completed Defence essay. After reading over it once and not finding anything worth fixing she turned her gaze out the window.

A group of third years was making their way down to Hagrid's hut through a misty fog. A glace at the sky show heavy pale grey clouds, a sure sign that it would be snowing before the day was through.

By the time she had to leave for Defence, flurries were already falling from the sky, coating the castle grounds lightly. Her classmates were chattering excitedly about the snow when Lily arrived and James immediately bounded over to her.

"Did you see?" he asked her. "It's already starting to stick."

"Yeah," Lily replied taking a seat next to Sirius. "It's amazing what a difference one day makes. I mean, yesterday it wasn't too cold out and now today we're getting snow."

"And did you hear?" Marlene turned around in her seat, resting her arms on the back of her chair. "Professor Lowbard changed the schedule around. What with the attack on the Muggle village so close to here, all of the teachers are getting worried. Dumbledore wants us to learn the charm earlier than we would have."

"What charm?" Lily questioned.

"The Patronus," Remus answered from behind her, leaning forward slightly to better speak to her. "To ward off the Dementors."

"Really?" Lily's eyes lit up in fascination and she turned in her chair to look at him. "We're not supposed to cover it until after Christmas."

"I know. But I guess Dumbledore thinks sooner is better than later. And even though most adults can't manage to produce one, Professor Loward said it would be a good idea to know the charm anyway. Even if we can only produce a bit of mist, it would be better than nothing. But it would be brilliant if someone manages to create a corporeal one," he added, a brilliant smile crossing his face. "It might be you, Lily. Charms have always been your thing."

"I don't know. I mean, it's supposed to be really difficult. We hardly even know the-"

"Alright, class! Settle down!" Professor Lowbard had entered the room. The class quickly quieted down – everyone was looking forward to the lesson, even the Slytherins, dispite all the disparaging looks they were giving the Professor.

"You'll probably have heard by now that due to recent events, the schedule has been revised. So, instead of working on dueling today, you are going to be learning the highly powerful and difficult Patronus Charm. You should have learned the theory already, but let's refresh your memory. Who can tell me what a Patronus is, exactly?"

Sirius lazily raised his hand and answered, "When a Patronus is cast correctly, will take the form of a creature that will protect you from Dementors and allegedly Lethifolds."

"Mr. Black," Lowbard said crossly, "please refrain from answering until you have been called upon – even if you do have the correct answer."

Sirius turned at that and rolled his eyes at Lily, who fought to hold back a smile, while the professor continued.

"The Protonus is conjured with the incantation 'Expecto Patronum'. Before you say the incantation you need to concentrate on a happy memory – the happiest one that you can think of. If you are not focusing properly, or not focusing enough, you will not be able to produce a corporeal Patronus and will only succeed, if you are lucky, in producing a faint silvery mist." He paused for a moment and looked around the room. "Does everyone understand?"

"Yes, sir," the class murmured in response.

"Good. Now, take out your wands and stand up." The class did as he directed and with a wave of his wand, Lowbard sent the desks to the sides of the classroom so that there was space to practice in.

"Alright, spread out and then give me your attention. Make sure you have enough room to practice in. Mr. Black, it really isn't necessary for you to swing your arms around like tha- No! Miss Dobbs, please refrain from elbowing your br- Mr. Dobbs! There was no need to hex her, for goodness sakes. Miss Simmons, if you would kindly – Mr. Black!"

It took some time for Professor Lowbard to get the class under control. Lily, who had seized a practice area near the windows, hopped up onto one of the nearby desks and talked to Marlene. They both knew better than to assist their professor, who was more likely to tell them to, "shut your mouths and quit rabbiting," than to thank then for helping. A minute later, James sauntered over and leaned back next to Lily, lazily shooting a spell at Snape that made him flail about wildly and cause their professor to rush over to cancel it. Lily sent James a look that clearly said 'You're not helping', but James just smiled innocently back at her and shrugged nonchalantly.

Lily sighed and turned back to Marlene. She couldn't really blame him. Lowbard was a bit of a bore and she couldn't really blame her classmates for wanting to let loose a little. The atmosphere in the school had been tense since Dumbledore had made his announcement that morning.

When the class had finally settled down, a flustered Lowbard went back up to the front of the room and called for everyone's attention. This time around, they gave it without any trouble.

"Now, pay close attention. Watch my wand movement carefully. Remember, the trick is to focus on your happiest memory – it won't work correctly if you don't – and... Expecto Patronum!" This last was shouted forcefully and there was a rush of wind before a silvery something erupted from Lowbard's wand and ran about the room.

The class watched with large eyes, everyone was fascinated. It was one thing to read about a Patronus, and it was quite another to see one with their own eyes. Lily developed a new respect for Lowbard – many adult wizards could not even hope to produce a corporeal Patronus – and that Lowbard was able to, showed that he must have something going for him.

Even if his Patronus was a goose.

A goose that was, Lily realised now that she wasn't as dazzled, more... waddling around the room than running.

With another wave of his wand, Lowbard vanished the Patronus, looking very pleased with himself as the class began to applaud.

"Yes, alright!" he said, trying to gain their attention once more. "Thank you, but now it's your turn to try. Think of your happiest memory and then say the incantation. I'll be very surprised if any of you manage to get more than mist today, but please try your best."

The class spread out once again and Lily watched as most of them closed their eyes to presumably try to come up with a memory. After a moment she followed their lead, tuning out her classmates as they shouted the spell. She thought back to when she was younger and everything seemed perfect. Back to before she got her Hogwarts letter, before Petunia stopped (for the most part) speaking to her, to when she had done her fist bit of magic – even though she hadn't know what it was at the time.

When that sunny day was clear in her mind Lily opened her eyes. "Expecto Patronum!"

At first nothing happened. But then, so faint that it was hard to see, a silvery mist started to pour from her wand. It didn't last for long, but before it vanished it began to form into a four-legged something. Lily watched it with a brilliant smile on her face before looking around the room to see if anyone had been able to do the same.

Marlene's face was scrunched up in concentration as she said the incantation over and over again. She, too, had been able to produce a misty shape. Remus, Olivia Bradshaw, Janice and Sirius had as well.

Something large ran past her before disappearing almost instantly and she turned to her right to see who had produced it.

"Well done, Mr. Potter! Well done!" Professor Lowbard was hustling over to James, who was grinning broadly. "Ten points to Gryffindor! That's the best one yet. Not quite a corporeal form, but very close. It was almost distinct enough to make out what it will be. Give it another try."

He stood off to one side to give James some room to cast the spell. The whole class was watching unabashedly now (although the Slytherins were sneering), and James flicked his eyes over the room, for once in his life he seemed nervous. His eyes landed on Lily and she gave him a small smile, which he returned.

He closed his eyes briefly before opening them again and shouting, "Expecto Patronum!"

This time the creature that burst out from his wand was only blurry at the edges and it was perfectly obvious what the four-legged animal was. It galloped once around the room before returning to James, who had a look of amazement on his face, and vanishing.

"Excellent, Mr. Potter. Take another ten points for Gryffindor."

Sirius grinned and patted James on his back, saying laughingly, "Good one. Prongs to the rescue and all that."

"What happy memory did you choose," Lowbard wanted to know. "Perhaps your classmates can benefit from your accomplishment."

"Erm..." To Lily's shock James blushed faintly and glanced away. "Just...friends. You know," he added with a shrug. Remus turned his laugh into a cough and Sirius eyed James knowingly.

Professor Lowbard nodded and then turned to address the rest of the class on why choosing the perfect happy memory could be so difficult and that James had been lucky to find one that worked so quickly.

"So which memory did you use, Prongs?" Peter was pestering his friend for more information. "I was using the one when I first managed to – oomph!"

Lily cocked her head at the sound, curious about what Peter had been about to say that the others obviously didn't want him to mention.

"Honestly, Wormtail," Sirius hissed. "Have you no discretion? Other people can hear you as well, you know."

"Sorry," Peter said, rubbing his chest where Sirius had elbowed him. "But did you use one like that, James?"

"No, Peter. I was thinking of something a bit different than that."

"I think Prongs, here was thinking of a particular friend," Sirius teased. "A certain... red-headed flower friend, perhaps?"

"Oh, bugger off, Padfoot." James shoved him lightly. "Besides-" he brought up a hand to wipe away the smile that had appeared on his face. "-it worked, didn't it?"

He glanced over at Lily, who looked away and pretended that she hadn't been listening.

The rest of the day passed quickly. Although no one else managed to produce a corporeal patronus as James had done, just about everyone got the silvery mist. Professor Lowbard was extremely pleased with their performance and when they told Professor McGonagall about the lesson during Transfiguration that afternoon she congratulated them on their success.

James was teased mercilessly about his chosen memory in the common room later that evening. His refusal to tell anyone only made them more curious. When they started threatening to tie him up and force Veritaserum on him, Lily knew she had to intervene.

"Oh, let him be," she said, looking up at the persistent group from the table she was studying at.

"Lily, your no fun!" Marlene whined. "We have an inkling of what it was," she elaborated, "all we need is for him to confirm it."

"Yes, but he's made it perfectly clear he doesn't want to tell you. Although," she paused thoughtfully, "I almost want him to use that hex on Sirius. I didn't even think that kind of thing was possible."

"You know, Evans-" Sirius sat backwards in the chair next to hers and snatched her quill from her hand- "there was a time when you would be threatening Jamsie here with unmentionable things if he wouldn't tell you about a spell he managed to get before you."

"That was in first year, Sirius! Not to mention, I would have been able to get the spell if he hadn't jinxed the rock in the first place!"

"Details, details." Sirius stuck her quill in his hair and stood up.

"Are you forgetting something?" she asked him pointedly.

He fingered her quill and flashed an innocent grin at her. "Nope. Later, Evans."

As Sirius disappeared up the stairs, with Peter and Remus following close behind, Lily dug around in her back for another quill. James came over and sat in the chair Sirius had been in.

"I thought it would never stop. I owe you one."

"Of course," Lily agreed.

"I wanted to ask you..." his voice was quiet. "This morning... your alright with collecting the fluxweed Thursday? With Snape, I mean?"

Lily looked at him curiously. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well, you're going to be going into the Forest with him. He might try something."

"Worried, are you?" When James just glowered at her, Lily realized that he was actually serious. "James, I doubt he's going to do anything – not that he would!" she added quickly at his dark look. "Professor Slughorn is going to be with us. Besides, Snape didn't look any happier than I did at being paired together."

"I should go with you."

"It's a full moon. You should be with your friends."

James sighed and ran a hand through his hair, sitting back in his chair. "That's what worries me."

Lily's eyes prodded him to continue, but James didn't say anything more. Finally, Lily turned back to her homework and a few minutes later James stood up and followed his friends' footsteps up to their dorm.


"Come on, Prongs! Don't be such a wet blanket!"

James looked over at Sirius balefully.

"Alright, alright." Sirius backed off, hands raised placatingly. "Worry away," he added sarcastically. "It's not like she can't handle herself."

"He has every right to worry," Remus said from where he was stretched out on his bed reading. His face was pale and beginning to take on a waxy look. "It'll be a full moon."

"The Shack is perfectly secure!" Sirius argued. Peter stopped fiddling with the Map and looked back and forth between them nervously.

"Only if we don't leave it," Remus countered calmly.

"We're not that stupid. If we know people will be out we'll stay there. Evans will be fine."

"It's not Lily I'm worried about. You've been known to hold a grudge."

Sirius scoffed. "Yeah, and look where that got me. Booted off the Quidditch team and detention every Saturday for the rest of my time at Hogwarts."

"And you deserve every bit of it!" James got up furiously. "You're lucky you weren't expelled! And if Dumbledore didn't believe so much in second chances, you likely would have been!" He strode into the bathroom and slammed the door behind him.

Sirius clenched his jaw and made to go after him, but Peter grabbed his robes. "Let him be, Padfoot. You know he's just worried. He doesn't like Snape anymore than you do."

"He can't think that I'd risk Lily, though." Sirius sunk to the floor and looked at him pleadingly. "It's Lily! His Lily!"

"We know," Remus said quietly. "Which is why he's so worried. He'd go mad if anything happened to her. Especially now that she's finally giving him a chance. You remember how he was when she first kissed him. He didn't want to make a move because he wanted to know that she wanted it. He let her decide and when she choose him..."

Sirius groaned. "I know, I know. He forgave me because it was Snape. But he'd never forgive me for Lily – and I know that!" He sighed. "Maybe we should just stay here. Not go out at all."

"No." James stood in the doorway, his arms crossed. "Moony does better when we're there with him." He walked over and sat next to Sirius. "We'll just take extra precautions."

Peter nodded his agreement. "We'll stay in the Shack and barricade the doors and windows. We won't let him get out. We'll keep a hole small enough for me, so that I can keep watch and warn you if anyone is nearby." He looked at Remus.

"Sounds fine," he replied nodding.

James added his consent as well. "Brilliant," he told Peter, who looked down bashfully, pleased with the compliment. James turned to Sirius. "Sorry I yelled at you."

"'S alright. I get it."

The four of them got ready for bed, discussing their classes, Lily, what to do on the weekend, Lily, the upcoming Quidditch match, and Lily. James admitted that his memory for the Patronus had been about her, but he refused to elaborate more than that, forcing them to draw their own conclusions.

On the other side of Gryffindor Tower, in the seventh year girls' dormitory, Lily's friends were also talking about that day's Defence lesson. Lily sat on floor so that Janice could brush her hair from where she was lying on her bed.

"Are you sure he didn't say anything to you?" Marlene was asking.

"For the thousandth time, no. He didn't mention anything to me."

"I can't believe he wouldn't say anything," Marlene continued as if Lily hadn't spoken. "It really could have helped the rest of us out."

"You mean it would have helped make it easier for us to tease him," Linda put in. "We all know that he was thinking of Lily."

"Yeah, but not what he was thinking of her doing. I mean, for all we know he was picturing her wearing nothing by his Gryffindor tie – Lily!" Marlene exclaimed, because Lily had turned bright red. "You haven't!"

"Of course not!"

"Well," Janice spoke up, "he was most definitely thinking of kissing her-"

"Or something," Linda added laughing.

"Can we please talk about something else?" Lily pleaded. "Are you worried about brewing the potion on Friday?"

"Oh, speaking of," Linda said turning the subject change to her advantage, "did you see James' face when Slughorn said that it would be Lily and Snape who would go get the fluxweed. I thought James was going to rip him apart right there."

"Him who? Slughorn?" Marlene asked confused.

Marlene rolled her eyes. "No, Snape, you tool."

"Oh, right."

"Yeah, James did look really unhappy about it." Janice paused thoughtfully. "Although, come to think of it, he seemed upset the moment Sirius suggested the two with the highest marks should be the ones to go."

"He was probably just worried that he would be one of them," Lily said standing up and putting her hairbrush away.

"Lily, everyone knows that you have the highest marks."

"But no one was sure who had the second highest. Sirius probably thought that it was James when he made the suggestion."

Linda threw up her hands. "Enough already. All I know is that James isn't happy that your going to collect the fluxweed."

"He seemed perfectly fine when I was talking to him earlier," Lily protested. "Well, except that he seemed worried that it would be a full moon, but I don't see – oh...wait..."

Three pairs of eyes turned on her. "What do you mean he seemed worried about the full moon?" Marlene asked.

Lily looked at them apologetically. "I really can't say."

"But you admit that he was acting a bit odd." This was from Janice.

"Yes, but I think I understand why now. It's late and we have class tomorrow," she said ending the conversation. She climbed onto her bed and got under the covers and the others followed suit. A flick of her wand turned the lights off and soon the sound of her friends sleeping filled her ears. But it was a long while before she drifted off herself.

The next day passed uneventfully and at dinner James happily told Lily that no one had said anything to him about his Patronus before he turned back to discussing something under his breath with his roommates.

Towards the end of the meal, Lizzie came over from the Ravenclaw table to ask is Lily wanted to study in the Library with her. Lily readily agreed and soon the two girls had their books spread out over their favorite table in the back of the room. The window next to them overlooked the lake and every so often Lily saw one of the Giant Squid's tentacles pierce the surface.

Lily frowned as she reread her Transfiguration essay realizing that she still needed another source in order to meet all of the requirements. She stood up and went to the Transfiguration section in the Library. Someone was already there browsing through the books. He turned as she approached.

"Evans," Snape's nose wrinkled in disgust.

Lily nodded her greeting and then tried to walk past him, but he moved to the center of the aisle, blocking her way. She looked at him fearlessly. "Excuse me, I need to get by."

He met her gaze at her for several seconds, black onyx staring into brilliant green, before sweeping his cloak to the side and moving slightly so there was just enough space for her to get by. She glances back over she shoulder curiously to find him looking intently after her.

Lily looked forward again and after turning the corner let out a breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. She shook out her shoulders and forced her self to relax. Something made her feel as though she had just passed some sort of test and she quickly collected the book she wanted before walking back to the table, making sure to take a different route this time so she wouldn't cross paths with him again.

"Are you alright?" Lizzie asked as Lily sat down.

"Just ran into Snape, is all," Lily answered breezily.

"Oh, he's been in a snit ever since Slughorn said the two of you would be the once to collect the fluxweed."

"I gathered that. Although I don't see what the big deal is. James wasn't too thrilled with the idea either, but I don't think the had much to do with Snape." When Lizzie quizzed her eyebrows at her, Lily elaborated. "Well, he knows Slughorn will be there and that I can take care of myself even if Snape would be stupid enough to try something. So it must be another reason."

They each turned back to their homework and it was several minutes before either of them spoke again.

"He watches you sometimes, you know, when he thinks so one else looking," Lizzie said quietly, tapping her quill against her chin thoughtfully.

"Who?" Lily asked distractedly

"James. Although, it's more like he's studying you, then watching. Like he's trying to memorize every detail of you as if you're going to disappear."

"Why do you think that is?" Lily kept her head down, now just pretending to be engrossed in her essay.

"Probably because he's in love with you."

"What?" Lily exclaimed, earning a warning glace from Madame Pince. She put her quill down, giving up all pretenses. "You can't be serious," she whispered.

Lizzie rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Lily. You can't be that naïve. He makes it so obvious. He's be chasing after you for years and now that you're giving him the time of day he over the moon. When you're peeved at him, he's grouchy. When you smile at him or touch his arm, he stops anything that he's doing and gives you his undivided attention. This morning in Muggle Studies, Richard mentioned that he was thinking about getting back together with you and I swear James growled at him!"

Lily's head was swimming. All she could do is stare open mouthed at Lizzie as she continued explaining her reasoning like a true Ravenclaw. Eventually Lily managed to pull herself together. "Lizzie!"


"I think you've made your point."

"Oh... well, alright then." She glanced curiously at Lily, who had steadfastly returned to her homework.

A short time after the sun had set, the two friends parted ways, each heading back to their respective common rooms. Lily was still turning their earlier conversation over and over in her mind. Trying to figure out the truth of it.

She arrived in front of the Fat Lady and spoke the password. Happy conversations were drifting through the room from various corners. A loud shout directed her attention to where four Marauders were crowded around a table studying something at the center of the table intensely.

Lily walked over to see what had captured their attention so thoroughly and then drew back in revulsion when they saw the clear-ish, brown blob that had what looked to be banana slices stuck inside of it.

"Hi Lily," Sirius greeted them, before turning back to his friends. "I really think you should let Remus have a go next, James."

James shook his head adamantly. "I've only given it three tries and I think I've almost got it!"

"And it's been looking worse each time, mate. Seriously, let Remus have a shot."

"No! I think I know what to do." James jabbed his wand at the brown blob, but only succeeded in giving it black spots. He sat back in his chair with a frustrated sigh and waved a hand at Remus. "Fine," he said sulkily. "See if you can do any better."

"What exactly are you trying to do?" Lily asked with raised eyebrows, before Remus had a chance to lift his wand.

"Trying to make Jelly," James answered her. "You know, the Muggle desert that comes in all those bright colours. We learned about it in Muggle Studies today and it sounded like it would be good."

Lily, with a disgusted look on her face, poked the blob with her finger. "I know what jelly is and that is definitely not it."

"It wiggles!" James exclaimed defensively and Lily burst out laughing. "Just because it's brown...." He looked at Lily pleadingly. "You can make it, can't you?"

Lily rolled her eyes at him. "Yes, but you need the ingredients, which we don't have here. And it's not that hard to make, I'm sure even you could manage with proper instruction."

"Then why isn't it working?" he complained.

"Because there isn't a spell to make it with, you prat! And we have rounds to do tonight, or did you forget?"

"No, I remembered." He glanced at his watch. "We still have twenty minutes before we have to leave though." He patted the empty chair next to him. "Sit down for a bit."

But Lily didn't sit. Instead she decided to test Lizzie's theory. She rested her hand on James' arm and when he looked up at her she smiled. "Rounds?"

He stared at her, looking a bit dazed for a moment before standing up saying goodbye to his friends, who were watching him with amusement. Lily was shocked that it had worked. And for the first time considered the fact that Lizzie might actually be right. Something she didn't quite know how to feel about just yet.

"Hey," James said brightly as they climbed out through the portrait hole, "I wonder if the house elves know what Jelly is? They could make it for sure if they do."

Lily fought a losing battle not to roll her eyes at him. "Come on," she said grabbing his arm and dragging him down the corridor. "We can check to see if there are any students in the Kitchens."

He smiled gleefully at her and bounded off down the hall calling over his shoulder, "Hurry up, Lily! If the students there leave by the time we get there we won't be able to take points from them!"


The Entrance Hall was lit with the usual torches when Lily arrived there just after curfew Thursday night. Professor Slughorn was already there, inspecting his pocket watch, with a canvas bag set near his feet.

"Good evening, Professor," Lily greeted him.

"Ah, Lily! Right on time I see. I trust your day has been well?"

"Yes, sir," Lily agreed, although truthfully it had been quite difficult. She hadn't been able to get the conversation she had had with Lizzie the night before out of her mind. Especially, now that every time she was in a room with James she couldn't help but notice him watching her every so often. Just like Lizzie had said he did. It was a unnerving, but also a bit exciting, each time she felt the heat of his gaze.

"Good, good," Slughorn was saying. "Now all we need is Severus – ah, here he is now."

Sure enough, Snape was striding across the Entrance Hall towards them. Once he had reached them Slughorn spoke again.

"Now that you've arrived, Severus, we can begin. We'll be going to where the Forest meets the lake. Professor Sprout has cultivated a nice patch of fluxweed there. Of course, the two of you will need to collect enough for the entire class. I suggest you keep your wands ready, just in case. Professor Dumbledore was extremely hesitant to let any students out with me tonight, but I insisted."

It was pitch black and cold outside and the clouds hung low and heavy with the promise of snow. Searching the sky for snowflakes, Lily vaguely recalled that tomorrow Professor McGonagall would be coming around with the sign up sheet for those who were staying at the school during the Christmas Holiday. All of a sudden it seemed so close, a mere two and a half weeks away. As she followed Slughorn to the forest, with Snape grudgingly walking next to her, she began having mixed feelings about the upcoming holiday. Because James would be coming home with her.

And he would be meeting her parents. She had never brought any guys home before and especially not a boyfriend. Not that James was her boyfriend, because he wasn't or at least not technically. It was a bit confusing, really, because while they hadn't officially said anything he did hold her hand in the hallways and kiss her for no reason. And once he had blushingly told her that she was the first thing he thought about when he woke up in the morning. But that didn't mean anything.

"...he's in love with you."

Lizzie's words echoed in her head, and she shook it fiercely to rid herself of them but it didn't do any good. She turned her eyes skyward, gazing fiercely at the stars as if they somehow held the answers she was searching for.

A chilling wind blew over them causing Lily to shiver and pull her cloak more snugly around her. In the distance a wolf howled and Snape stopped suddenly, pointing his wand in all directions and causing her to run into him. She glared at him and pushed his arm out of her way.

"Problem, Severus?" Slughorn inquired, glancing behind him at them.

"No, sir," Snape replied sullenly, lowering his wand.

"Let's continue on then, we still have several minutes until we get there."

It was noticeably warmer once they had reached their destination even though it was late November and they were on the very outskirts of the Forest. The trees and grassy land gave way to the sandy soiled shores of the lake and a large patch of tall, fuzzy leafed weeds covered the ground in front of them. Slughorn handed the canvas bag to Lily and instructed them to begin gathering the fluxweed.

The plant was easy to pick, but it took longer than it should have to fill the bag since Snape twitched and pulled out his wand at any unusual sound. While they slowly filled the bag, Professor Sluhorn explained how Professor Sprout used magic to keep the fluxweed alive in the winter. It was a highly delicate plant and very picky about its environment – which is why it wasn't in the greenhouses with the other potions ingredients.

Another howl sounded and Snape dropped the fluxweed in his hand as he waved his wand about.

"Really, Severus," Slughorn huffed. "I understand your paranoia, but it is beginning to get ridiculous. You and Miss Evans are perfectly safe."

"It was closer that time, Professor. I swear it!"

Slughorn huffed again, noticeably annoyed with his student, and took the canvas bag from Lily. He used his wand to put the fluxweed Snape had dropped inside before tying it closed.

"Well, we may as well return to the school. You seem to have gathered enough."

Snape didn't need to be told twice. He took off towards the school, with Lily and Slughorn following at a more sedated pace.

Snape's nervousness must have been contagious because the noises from the forest did seem to be getting closer and louder. The wind, which had been quite still, began to pick up, causing the trees to sway and producing a whistling noise. A dull thumping noise sounded from a distance and, what must have been small animals, scrambled off into the forest.

Slughorn seemed oblivious to it all, even though Snape was practically hyperventilating and waving his wand in all directions. Lily nervously pulled her cloak tighter, making sure that she could still reach her wand easily.

When the arrived back at the school a good six minutes later, and the doors were shut and secured behind them, Snape noticeably relaxed. Slughorn, however, was bristling.

He bid a pleasant good night to Lily as the three of them split ways – Lily up to the Heads' Room and Slughorn and Snape to the dungeons – but once Lily had reached the stairs she heard him lecturing Snape on his behavior.

A half-finished essay waited for Lily on her desk, but she pushed it aside since it wasn't due until Monday. The fire snapped and crackled in the fireplace as Lily sat down and pulled the Most Potent Potions book she had taken out from the Library towards her, stifling a yawn. The page blurred before her, but she forced herself concentrate, knowing she should make certain she knew all there was to know about brewing the Polyjuice Potion for tomorrow's class.


Lily was startled awake so violently she nearly fell off of her chair. She ran a hand though her hair and turned to look at the clock through bleary eyes. It was past midnight and she realized that she must have fallen asleep in the middle of reviewing.

The pounding noise that had awoken her sounded again followed by a voice shouting her name. She shot up from her desk and rushed over to open the door. "Sirius, what earth..."

He looked up at her through sweat-dampened hair, panting heavily as though he had run a great distance. His face had several long scratches on it and his clothing was covered with blood. "Lily!" his voice and eyes were desperate. "Lily, you have to come quick!"

Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me this far!! Again, I'm so sorry it took so long to get this chapter out! I hope it was worth the wait. The last part hasn't been fully beta read, so if there are any errors, they are entirely my own. On a happy note, the next chapter is about a third of the way finished and I have a month off from school...so hopefully it won't take as long to get it written and posted. If any of you are willing to nag me about updates feel free (my email is on my profile page) just give me a least a week from now to start. :) Don't forget to review!!