The Sugar Quill
Author: Hallie (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: From This Day Forth  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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Yay!  At last I have a completely edited MWPP trilogy up.  And I have to say, this one is probably my favourite of them all.  What can I say?  This one is dedicated to Arabella, who willingly makes my Americans sound American (hah – bet you didn’t see that coming!)  And no, there are no Mary-Sues and no exchange students, so sit back and enjoy.

Chapter 1 - Plans

A tall man with unruly, blue black hair and bespectacled sapphire blue eyes sat at a desk chewing his pencil. If there was one thing James Potter hated about his work it was all the beaureaucratic nonsense that had to be filled in. He crumpled up yet another piece of paper and was staring at a blank wall, looking for inspiration, when the door to his flat opened to admit a stunningly lovely girl.

"Are you still at it?" she asked. Lily Evans knew of her fiancé's hate for planning. He was all for spontaneity, but in their situation, planning could mean the difference between life and death.

"I thought they paid people like Ellie to do all of this stuff," he complained.

"I'll let Ellie know you said that when I next see her," Lily replied amused. Eleanor Silver was one of her best friends, and was renowned for her tactical prowess. "Besides, she just plans the overall strategy. It's up to us to improvise."

"Well if I don't get this finished soon, that's exactly what we're going to be doing!" James growled.

"If you let me help..." Lily left her statement open. As James' partner, it was actually part of her job to be in on the planning. But their immediate superior, Horace Thump, was rather chauvinistic in his attitude. Were it not for orders from the Ministry of Magic, Lily suspected that she would be consigned to what amounted to pencil pushing.

"I suppose what Thump doesn't know won't hurt him." James grinned at her. Long red hair was twisted off of her face in an untidy ponytail, and emerald green eyes were full of energy. She bounded over, and thudded down on his lap, examining the mission statement in front of him.

"'Rescue Paul, leading tactician, from Voldemort's Welsh lair,'" she read. "It's a bit sketchy on details. Where exactly is this lair?"

"That, Lily my lamb, is a wrop in mystery." James informed her.

"Since when was I your lamb?" she asked.

"Minor slip of the tongue," the words were an apology, but the tone was not. "Any ideas, oh Great High Genius."

"James?"

"What?"

"Shut up."  Lily sat, her brow wrinkled in concentration. "Have they located this lair?" she asked.

"Yes. But we aren't getting any information on its whereabouts until we come up with a plan."

"Right," Lily nodded briefly. "I reckon the best solution would be to waltz in, get Mr Militaris, and waltz out."

"I don't think that's quite what Thump had in mind. Try something serious."

"That was serious."

"Lil, do you want to die?" James asked her. "That has got to be the most stupid idea I've ever heard in my life."

"James, think about it. It's so obviously not going to happen. No one in their right mind would do it-"

"Exactly."

"-so no one would be expecting it," Lily continued blithely, ignoring him.

"In a weird, twisted way that actually makes sense." James said, slowly. "Can you honestly see Thump going for it?"

"We can but try," was the honest reply.

"Right, so we go to wherever this place is, Apparate in, find Militaris, and Apparate out, hoping for the best."

"Spot on. Only we go disguised as Death Eaters, otherwise we're a tad too obvious."

"I gathered that," James told her wryly. "Thanks, hon."

"Now you see, if Thump actually gets it into his thick skull that I am vaguely approaching good at what I do, we'd be all right. Sadly, he has this strange misconception that the only reason they let me in was because Dumbledore can't resist a woman who flutters her eyelashes, so he gave me a good reference. The cheek of it! I've never fluttered my eyelashes in my life!" Lily was incensed.

"It's more Cee or Flick's route. You're too much of a prig to do it."

"You take that back, James Potter, or I'll make you!"

"Oooh, I'm scared!" was his sarcastic reply.

"You should be," Lily countered.

"Lil, if you can't take the truth..." James told her.

"It is not the truth."

"It is." James said.

"Isn't!" Lily disagreed.

"Is."

"Isn't."

"Isn't."

"Is."

"There, see. You admitted it."

"That's not fair!" Lily complained.

"I don't believe you fell for that. It's got to be the oldest trick in the book!" James crowed.

"Get on with your paperwork." Lily told him.

"Lily?"

"What?"

"I hate paperwork!"

Chapter 2 - The Marauders

Eleanor Silver sat on the window seat in her pretty bedroom. The room was elegantly decorated with white and pastel green, and had a marvellous marble fireplace for a centrepiece. But Ellie wasn't interested in the decor. She was intent on the path.

The old marauders were meeting up today for dinner. Ellie wasn't sure quite what 'dinner' would entail, but she'd willingly volunteered to host the event. Lily, Felicity and Cecelia weren't in a position to host rowdy parties, all living with small children or old age pensioners, and no one in their right mind would ask the boys to organise anything of that calibre. Suddenly, a tall girl with exceedingly long, wavy black hair and an English rose complexion appeared on the path. The figure hurried to the door, as Ellie hurried down the stairs.

"Cee!" she exclaimed as she threw the door open. Cecelia Hall was Eleanor's best friend. But the Cee in front of her was a far cry from the Cecelia of their schooldays. In three years Cee had grown up considerably, and had gained a chic that made her unrecognisable to those who did not see her regularly.

"How're you doing, Ellie? Am I the first here? Why am I not surprised? I spoke to Lil and Flick earlier, and they said they'd probably be late - apparently they're meeting James and Sirius first, and then coming here, and Flick said not to put too much hope on the boys actually remaining sane for a whole evening," Cee had a Muggle father, and Lily was Muggle-born, so both girls had access to a telephone. As Flick lived with Lily, the three girls often used the rather useful Muggle accessory to communicate with each other. "When are you expecting Remus and Peter?"

"Remus - dead on seven. You know what he's like - side-tracked isn't a word in his vocabulary. Peter - when I see him." At that point the door bell chimed. In the doorway was Remus Lupin, light brown hair neat as always. His eyes flashed and he greeted Ellie and Cee.

"Hello! Am I late?"

"No. I was early. You're on time. The others aren't here, and therefore, they're late."

"Right. Thanks," Remus said, dubiously. Sometimes understanding Cee was harder than it seemed. Once again the bell rang, and Remus opened it to a group of four people, laughing and chatting merrily.

"The hoards are here," he announced, doing a passable impression of a butler.

"Stop it!" Ellie exclaimed. "You've spent way too much time with those two clowns!"

"You mean Lily and Flick?" Sirius said wickedly. Sirius Black was tall, dark haired and had deep set eyes of darkest brown.

"There he goes again!" Felicity Howell hit him. The two of them were a couple, and their relationship was explosive to say the least. Well what would you expect of a relationship that began with Flick slapping Sirius?  Lily had once said to James, when he’d remarked on it.

"Don't mind me asking," James said, in a serious tone, "but do we have to spend all evening in the hallway with our coats on?"

At that, they shrugged off their outdoor gear and moved into the sitting room of the grand house.

Lily, comfortably ensconced in an armchair with James at her feet, began the conversation.

"Flick and I met Marge Dursley yesterday," she began, with a wicked grin on her lips.

"Petunia's sister-in-law?" Cee was immediately interested. All of them knew of the animosity between Lily and her elder sister. It was quite hard to miss. "What was she like?"

"Well," Flick began, "all I can say is I'm glad we're not related." Lily glared at her.

"Sadly, I am. She's awful."

"I'll say!" Flick agreed. "She's hopeless. No sense of conversation, and she actually had the audacity to say that she could tell Kat wasn't any relation to Petunia. Apparently Petunia's got more class. She then went on to say, and this was to Lil's face remember, that every family had a bad egg, and it wasn't Petunia's fault that Lil had turned out the way she did. She knows absolutely nothing about her."

"Actually, ‘Tunia told her that I was hopeless, and unemployed, which is why I still live with mum and dad at my age, and all I was good for was bringing in waifs and strays for Mum and Dad to look after."

"Your sister really doesn't like you, does she?" Remus said wryly.

"You have to ask that question?" Flick countered.

The evening continued pleasantly. Peter arrived just in time for the meal, and after dinner they had a rowdy game of charades - boys against girls. By the end of the evening, all of the girls had laughed till they cried at the boys' antics. All in all, it was a qualified success.

Chapter 3 - Amy

Several doctors worked on the paediatrics ward at St Samuel's Hospital for Supernatural Illness. And all of them were good at what they did. But ask any of their patients who their favourite doctor was, and there was only one answer - Dr Howell.

Felicity Howell was the youngest doctor working in the hospital, the best of its kind in Britain. Her vivacity and flair for life were infectious, and her ready smile brightened her small patients' day. The first thing on her daily plan was to visit Amy Militaris, a five-year-old, who was critically ill. The little girl had been an inmate of the hospital for six months, and she had a particularly deep-rooted affection for her young doctor.

"Hi Amy! Where's your mum?" Flick asked. The child in the bed would have been very nondescript were it not for the gaunt face and sunken hazel eyes.

"Mummy went to get a drink," the voice was surprisingly strong and sweet.

"I 'spect I'll see her later," Flick told the child. "What about your Daddy?"

"Daddy's gone away." Amy said, sorrowfully. "He went out on Monday and didn't come back. Mummy's upset, I can tell. He will come back though, won't he?" she asked, pleading for reassurance.

"I don't know sweetheart. I hope so." Flick, as always was brutally honest. At that moment a woman entered the room.

"Hello Debbie," the hospital favoured an informal approach, and Mrs Miltaris and Flick had become good friends. "If you'd like to, then we can go to my office, and talk about Amy's treatment," she saw Amy frown, and continued hurriedly, "once I've talked to you, I can let her know what's going on."

"Okay," Mrs Militaris was resigned, and followed Flick to the small office that the young doctor inhabited.

"Amy said your husband had gone missing. If he isn't coming back, then I think you need to tell her." Even though getting involved in patients' private lives wasn't advisable, Flick took an interest when she felt it affected her patients’ welfare.

"He'll be back." Debbie was firm. "I just don't know when. He's a tactician at the Ministry. I got an owl, apparently he's been kidnapped."

"No!" Flick was shocked. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"I didn't know counselling distraught parents was part of your job," Debbie said. "Besides, I couldn't say. It's top secret, I don't want to jeopardise him."

"Look, Debbie, if this has something to do with the Anti-Voldemort faction, you can trust me. My sister and I are orphans thanks to him. She was eleven months old when he murdered my father and stepmother. Believe me, there's no one out there that could possibly hate him more than I do."

"So why aren't you an Auror? You must be intelligent enough, if you're a doctor," Debbie's point was valid.

"I couldn't go into something that risky. I'm all Kat's got, and I didn't want to risk her being left alone. And I was more suited to medicine than being a heroine."

"I'm going to trust you, simply because I have to tell someone. Paul, my husband, he's been taken prisoner by You-Know-Who and I'm petrified that Amy and I will never see him again. The Ministry assures me that he'll be fine. A couple of Aurors are already on the case, but I've seen their profiles. They're awfully young. Apparently, they were both doing Auror work when they were still at school, and Evans - at least, I think that's his name - is particularly good at getting out of sticky situation with Potter's aid."

At the mention of an Evans and Potter, Flick had caught her breath. Surely there couldn't be any other Evans and Potter combinations in the Ministry. But Debbie Militaris had said that Evans was male.

"I don't suppose you know their Christian names?" Flick asked.

"No. Why?"

"My friends, James and Lily work together at the Ministry, and the description fits them."

"Perhaps it is them. Are they good?"

"The best," she picked up a photo from her desk. "That's them."

"They look to be a bit more than partners to me," Debbie Militaris commented.

"They're engaged," Flick explained. "But don't worry. It won't affect their work. Now, on to-" before she could finish her sentence, Sirius Black entered the room.

"Sirius! What are you doing here? More to the point, who let you in?"

"A few nifty tricks Jimmy boy taught me. Muggle stuff apparently."

"Look, I'm in the middle of talking. Can you wait?"

"Not really. I'm looking for someone by the name of Militaris. Amy Militaris. I was told you know where she is."

"Perhaps I can help," Debbie entered the conversation. "I'm Deborah Militaris, Amy's my daughter."

"Sirius Black. I'm here on orders from the Ministry," he turned to Flick. "How much do you know?"

"She knows everything. Right down to who got the case."

"Marvellous. In that case, I don't have to worry about details. Flick, Lily said our mate Voldie would probably go after Amy. Apparently she's a valuable bargaining chip. So our illustrious leader-"

"Lil or James?"

"James, apparently, but I reckon it's more likely to have come from Lily. Anyway, I've been told that I'm now an official bodyguard. All right?"

"Debbie?"

"Fine by me."

"Room 9. Oh, and Sirius?"

"What?"

"Don't wreck the joint." Sirius grinned at her, and then left.

"Right, now, Debbie..."

Chapter 4 - Rescue

"Shhhh!"

"What?!" James hissed at Lily.

"I thought I heard something,” she informed him.

"Lil, we're in the middle of a Welsh moor, of course you heard something. But that something is almost definitely not human." Sometimes Lily's air of caution got on James' nerves. Not that she cared. There was a thud.

"Get down!" she hissed, and silently the two of them dropped on to their stomachs. A tall man came into view, and then disappeared.

"Crivis Nod. At least we know we've got the right place,” Lily commented. "Are you ready?"

"As I'll ever be - Are you sure this'll work?" James wasn't one hundred percent sure of Lily's plan.

"Nope,” she replied, happily. "But it's our best shot." and with that they Apparated away.

Lily and James were on their mission. Rescue Paul Militaris from Voldemort, and get out as fast as possible. It was risky; the worst case scenario was a long and painful death. But James and Lily weren’t where they were in the Ministry for nothing. The group of Aurors they were part of consisted of the best Aurors in the business. And Lily and James had turned stealth, subtlety and deception in to art forms.

* * * * *

Earlier that day, Sirius had been with Felicity and Amy at the hospital. And one thing the patients had been quick to notice was the young man’s gift at creating bedlam.

"I think you've got a rival," Debbie Militaris had said to Flick one day.

"What do you mean?"

"Amy's rather taken with your young man. At least, I'm guessing he's yours."

"Sirius? Just about. Not that I know why. Do you know, he was one of the best students in our year. You don't think he cursed me or something?"

"Why?"

"Because no one in their right mind would want to spend time with him. Sirius' idea of romance is infesting the house with spiders."

"We all have crosses to bear," Debbie had laughed. But Flick could see how the little girl appreciated his company. He made her laugh, and Flick was the first to admit that her brand of medicine worked much better if taken with a large dose of laughter.

"What're you two up to?" she asked.

"Sirius is going to turn Nurse Sesses' hair green," Amy giggled.

"Good for Sirius." Flick replied, without thinking. Geraldine Sesses was possibly the most annoying person Flick had ever met. "You can't do that!" she exclaimed a moment later, realising what Amy had just said.

"Why not?" Sirius asked. "You did it to Snape loads of times!" Amy looked at her doctor questioningly.

"Who's Snape?" she asked.

"It doesn't matter-" Flick began, but Sirius cut her off.

"Our mortal enemy," he told her, grinning wickedly. "Felicity's a bit more fiery than she lets on. She was always doing things to him."

"Cheek!" Flick exclaimed. "You were worse!"

"That, my dear, is because I was the master, and you were the apprentice."

After hitting him, Flick turned to Amy.

"Don't let him contaminate your mind," she told the child. "He used to have detention every night of every term. It got to the point where we didn't plan anything for the evening because either he or James or Remus or Peter - some of my other friends - would be in detention."

"Cool!" Amy exclaimed.

* * * * *

Lily and James had made it as far as the prison wing of the lair. Lily was proficient at Charms, and before long, she had them blending in with everyone else. Getting keys for the cells, on the other hand, would be a bit harder.

"We'll have to snatch them," James told her. It's the only way."

"That's all well and good," she informed him, "but what if they've got some kind of security system we don't know about?"

"We don't stick around and ask questions. We leg it," James said, brusquely. "You ready?" The two of them had done this before. She'd create a diversion while he got the keys.

"Does it matter?"

"Nope."

Ten minutes later and they had keys.

"You took your time." Lily said, cuttingly.

"Had to find the right bloke, and get them off of him. And when they're on his belt, it's not as easy as it seems." He nodded at her. In silence they began looking into the cells. It broke Lily's heart to see the state of some of the prisoners, and if she were in charge, then they'd all be free. But she wasn't in charge, and so Paul Militaris would be the only one to escape the torture that Voldemort's supporters inflicted on decent people.

"Over here." James called softly. Lily peered into the cell he was gesturing to, and saw a middle aged man, desolate and alone. James unlocked the door.

"Paul Militaris." he said.

"Not again!" the man exclaimed. "How many times do I have to tell you! I don't know!! And even if I did, I wouldn't let you in on the big secret."

"We're so glad of that." Lily said gently. "Luckily for you, we are in on the big secret, and I'm betting we know. Are you ready to go? I'm Lily, this is James, and we're leaving this joint about now. I'm guessing you want to see your daughter again."

Once they were out of the cell they could Apparate away to the lodgings that James and Lily were using for their Welsh stay. When they were in the cottage, nursing cups of tea, Lily explained everything.

"I expect Sirius'll be keen to meet you." she concluded. "From what I hear, he and Amy get on exceptionally well. We'll stay here tonight, and go back to the Ministry tomorrow. You can go to the hospital from there."

The lights were smothered, and three very weary souls took to their beds.

Chapter 5 – Kidnapped!

Even though Paul Militaris was now safely back at work, Amy was under constant guard. Voldemort did not take kindly to defeat, and those at the Ministry felt that it was in her best interest to protect her. Hospital staff had grown used to seeing Sirius Black in Amy's room, the two of them laughing at some private joke that inevitably resulted in mischief of one form or another.

Two weeks after Sirius had turned up, Flick approached Amy’s room, and was surprised to hear another familiar voice reading.

"'On the bottom shelf?' repeated Mrs May, her own needle flicking steadily in the firelight. 'Near the floor?' 'Yes' said Kate, 'but I looked on the floor. Under the rug. Everywhere. The wool was still there though. Just where I left it.'"

"Lily?" Flick exclaimed in astonishment. For there, in a comfortable chair by the bed, sat her red headed friend, huge book in her hand. Which was about as different as could be from Sirius, who sat on the bed and taught Amy all sorts of 'useful' things to get her into trouble.

"Hi Flick! Sirius and James went off on an assignment. Remus has some time off," Remus was Sirius' partner, "and I took pity on you and Amy and suggested that the two of them take this together. Which means that when I get back, they'll have blown up the entire building, but never mind. I'm here for a week, then Remus and I are off to do something, and Peter will stay with Amy. We were just reading The Borrowers weren't we Amy?"

"Lily says it's a Muggle book." Amy explained. "She read it when she was little."

"I expect she was a bit bigger than you, though. Is your mum coming today?"

"She said she'd come and see me this evening with Daddy, but she's working today." Amy explained calmly.

"Great. Well, I'll do my professional bit, and then I'll leave the two of you to it. Only, I might pop back at lunchtime to have a gossip with Lily. Is that all right Amy?"

"Yep." the child agreed readily. She was enjoying the company of her young doctor's friends. Sirius had made her cry with laughter, and Lily had introduced herself and her book that morning. Amy, a bookworm, thanks to her time in bed, was gleeful at this chance to extend her literary knowledge.

So, for a week, Amy came to know Lily Evans. And during that week she found out that her doctor lived with the pretty young woman who was fast becoming her friend. And one day, Flick brought Amy a surprise.

"Kat!" Lily exclaimed, hugging the small child with the strawberry blonde curls and cobalt blue eyes. Katherine Howell was four years old, and as full of mischief as her sister had been at that age. And she was curious about the girl that Flick said Lily had been spending so much time with.

"Hello Lily!" she turned to Amy. "You must be Amy. Flick says you're really nice, and we'll get on really well."

"Well, I'll leave the three of you to it." Flick said, reluctantly. "I've got an appointment with Geraldine Sesses."

"Poor you." Lily said, sympathetically. She'd heard of Sirius and Amy's prank, and how Nurse Sesses now rated Flick Howell as her number one enemy.

Kat and Amy were soon the best of friends, but to their dismay, Lily had to leave all too soon.

"Couldn't you stay, and this Peter man do your job?" Amy pleaded.

"You're nicer than Peter." Kat added. She disliked Peter Pettigrew. He was too weak for her liking. Sirius she adored, Lily she idolised, she'd happily giggle with Cee and Ellie for hours, and James came high on her list of favourite people, but Peter she couldn't stand.

"Kat, Amy, you know I'd love to say, but I promised Remus I'd do this with him. And Sirius will be back soon."

Reluctantly, the girls let her go, and Peter took her place. But disaster struck before she could return. The morning she arrived back at the Ministry after a strenuous assignment with Remus, James gave her some unwelcome news. As was usual, she entered his flat, and saw him studying paperwork.

"Is that our next assignment?" she asked. "What is it?" James stood up and walked over to her.

"One I'd rather had never arose." he told her. "You might want to sit down." Lily did as she was told, and he joined her on the couch.

"It's another rescue mission." he explained. "But we need specialist help for this one. You, me, Sirius and Remus. And Felicity."

"Flick! Why?"

"Peter got sick a couple of days after he started guarding Amy. Some other guy took his place. Unfortunately, he was a Voldemort supporter. Kat and Amy are in Voldemort's hands."

"Right." Lily said, looking at him, eyes large. "Why Kat?" It was the last question he was expecting.

"Flick says the two of them had been playing with each other every day. Kat was there when he took Amy, so he took her too."

Lily looked at James, looked at the ceiling, and then rested her chin in her palms. Because, she knew that it was bad. Very bad. And for once in her career, she wasn't sure exactly what she was going to do about it.

Chapter 6 - Conference of War

Lily, Sirius, Remus and James were trying to plan a rescue. Which wasn't easy given that Felicity was pacing the floor in front of them, and Lily had given in to the nervous habit of twiddling with her quill..

"Flick! Sit down!" Sirius exclaimed, exasperated. Felicity obediently sat on the seat next to him, and he turned to Lily, but James beat him to it, and tweaked the quill from her hand.

"Right," said James, "now we've got rid of all distractions we can actually work. Flick, how will Amy be if she doesn't get her medicine?"

"For a week, she should be fine. After that...look at it this way, if she isn't out of there in a fortnight, she'll be dead. And I'm not going to let that happen!"

"Neither are we." Lily soothed her. "Guys, do we know where they are?"

"I can tell you one place they won't be," Sirius began, "and that's Wales."

"I agree." Remus added his opinion.

"Where's Ellie when you need her?" Lily groaned. Ellie was an excellent tactician, a gift that she put to good use when fighting Voldemort.

"Here," came Eleanor's clear voice. The others looked at her, astonished. "Well, you didn't think I was going to stay away when Kat was involved did you? Anyway, the Ministry asked me." She sounded quite proud of that fact.

"Well, now you're here, you can lend us your pearls of wisdom." Sirius told her. "Beyond knowing that Kat and Amy are gone, we know nothing, but we're guessing that they won't be a Voldemort's Welsh joint."

"Under usual circs., no." Ellie was pensive, her grey eyes showing the thread of steel that made her a formidable opponent. "But in this instance I think that it might just be the case. He's starting to think in the same way Lily thinks. No one chooses the most obvious course of action, therefore you use it. Whatever else you can say about Voldie, he's certainly good at learning form his enemies."

"Are you sure about this?" Lily asked. "Amy's seriously ill. We don't have any time to waste locating them."

"I don't have any concrete proof, if that's what you mean." Ellie admitted. "But I'm prepared to bet that that's where they are. It's a hunch."

"Your hunches are usually good to follow." Flick said. "What do you think guys?"

"I'm going to suggest something. And please don't shoot me down if you disagree. We don't know where Kat and Amy are, but we do know where Voldemort's main bases are. I'd guess that the girls would be held in one of those. There are six of us, and four British bases. We split into groups of two, and take the mainland bases, the English, Scottish and Welsh lairs. If none of those are fruitful, then we move on to Ireland, and then the minor bases. But we need to be methodical."

"For once, I actually agree with James." Lily concurred. "It makes sense. One night, and we get three bases covered. If we find the girls, we call the others in, rescue them, and off we go."

"That works." Remus agreed. Sirius nodded his assent, and Ellie was happy with the plan. Which left Felicity.

"This won't be a trap, will it?" she said doubtfully. "Because that's the reason I wasn't an Auror first time round."

"Flick," Lily began, softly, "in this job, there are no guarantees. For all we know we could be dead tomorrow. There's always a risk that someone, somewhere along the line will sell us out. It's not something you like to think about, but it's something you have to accept. You trust other people to keep you safe. Because that's what being an Auror is about. Trust."

"Well, it's all right for you. James is your partner, and he's hardly likely to kill you, is he!" Flick exclaimed.

"I don't know." James smirked. "The idea seems appealing occasionally." Lily thumped him before replying to Felicity.

"Flick, do you really have anything to lose? If we don't do this Kat dies." Flick gasped. "She's expendable eventually. It's a harsh reality. For us, there is no win, it's the degree of losing that we worry about. Every time Voldemort kills someone, we lose a little bit more. But that doesn't mean we give up. So, do you want to be a temporary Auror?"

"I don't really have much choice. If I don't come, Kat might die, Amy will die, and you guys will probably do something stupid."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Sirius said, wryly. "Now, who goes with who?"

"We've got four Aurors and two temps." Ellie began. "Logically Flick and I both go with one of you guys. The question is which partnership do we break up?"

"I'm going to be completely radical, and say this." Lily told her. "James goes with Sirius, I go with Flick, and you go with Remus." She got nods of assent from everyone. "Right guys, there's no time to lose. Flick and I'll take Wales, Remus and Ellie go to Scotland, and James and Sirius can take England. We report back at 16 hours tomorrow. Okay?"

"I'm marrying a sergeant major." James muttered on his way out.

"Never mind." Sirius told him. "Maybe she'll let you be commander- in-chief."

"Chance'd be a fine thing." James replied.

 

Chapter 7 - On the Move

Kat and Amy, meanwhile, were locked in a cold dungeon cell. Amy wasn't doing too well, and Kat didn't feel so great either.

"I'm cold." Amy complained. Kat may only have four years to her credit, but she wasn't a doctor's sister for nothing. She knew that whatever it might cost her, Amy must be kept warm. So she shrugged off her coat and spread it over her friend.

"It'll be all right Amy. Someone will rescue us just like they rescued your daddy. Maybe even Lily and James. You'll like James. He's nice. He's marrying Lily, did I tell you? Only they haven't set a date yet. Flick and me think they should get married really soon though. They've been engaged for three whole years you see. That's like forever." To Kat it was forever. She couldn't remember the days when Lily and James were just friends. "Maybe you can come to the wedding. You might even get to be bridesmaid with me and Flick. Lily said we would, and she promised that there'd be no pink. Well, Flick and me don't like pink." She was trying to hide her fear. Kat knew exactly what was going on. She'd heard her sister and Lily talk about Voldemort, and she knew that he had killed her parents. She didn't like to think about what would happen to them. Rather she clung with childish tenacity to the idea of a rescue by Felicity's friends.

* * * * *

That night Sirius and James began on their journey into Voldemort's English hideaway. They had arrived in the vicinity in mid afternoon, but had waited until darkness fell before making a move. It was a well-known fact that Voldemort and his supporters were most active at night, so they would be less conspicuous in the twilight hours. Getting into the underground zone was an easy task for the two men who, in their younger days, had been behind some of the most elusive escapades Hogwarts had ever witnessed.

By the time they reached the prison zone, James was concerned. It had been too easy by far. Still, single-mindedness prevailed, and he wasn't going to ask for trouble. James stood guard while Sirius rifled through the paperwork on the desk to see if Kat and Amy were imprisoned in the compound.

"Cell 28." he hissed. "We've got to-"

"I don't think you'll be doing anything." a malicious voice informed him. Sirius looked around, startled, to see his friend held at knifepoint in front of him. Sirius could have escaped, but he wasn't going to leave James alone with these people. For one thing, Lily would probably kill him, and for another, his friend needed serious help. "You can drop the wand." a tall greasy haired man with sinister green eyes told him. "One false move and your friend here dies." He made a slicing gesture across his neck.

James and Sirius were moved along to a cell, dark, dingy, and cold, and the door was locked behind them. As the door slammed, they heard a scream. James was the first to spot them.

"Kat?"

"James!! You've come. Can we go home now?" Kat was almost hysterical. Sirius had moved over to her side the instant she had spoken, and he took one small hand in his. It was like a block of ice.

"Not going to happen, Kat." James told her. He could have mentioned that they would be out within a day, but there was no guarantee that no one else could hear them, and he wasn't going to jeopardise any rescue effort. He did wink at her, however.

"I don't think Amy's very well." Kat confided. In three strides, James had reached the other child, who lay sprawled across the floor, in the midst of a feverish sleep.

"Why don't you go to sleep Kat?" Sirius asked her. It was obvious from the circles beneath her eyes that the girl needed rest.

"It's too cold." she explained. Sirius sighed, and took her on his lap.

"You'll be all right now." he said soothingly, and within minutes she was asleep, exhausted from her vigil by her friends side.

"She's right." James muttered, turning to Sirius after looking at Amy. "Poor kid's frozen, feverish, and probably petrified.”

"So what're we going to do?" Sirius muttered back.

"You're the one with a doctor for a girlfriend, you tell me." James responded.

"Keep her warm?" Sirius suggested.

"I think that was Kat's idea." James said. "She's given up her coat."

"No wonder she's freezing." Sirius said, angrily. "I knew it was bad, but I never thought they'd stoop to using innocent and sick children to make a point." He was disgusted. James used his cloak to cover Amy, and then sat anxious watch. Neither he nor Sirius dared to make too much noise, not wanting to wake the children or arouse suspicion. And so they began one of the longest nights of their lives.

 

Chapter 8 - Waiting

The next morning Sirius woke up feeling groggy. He had drifted in and out of slumber ever since they had arrived in the dingy little cell that they were currently incarcerated in. He looked over towards James. His friend was sitting on the floor, cradling Amy's head in his lap, fast asleep.

"Prongs!" Sirius hissed. "James! Wake up!" James woke with a start.

"Wha'? Where am I? Actually no, I don't want to know!" He rubbed sleep from his eyes.

"How's Amy?" Sirius asked anxiously. His predominant memory of the previous night was of a child who was rather worse for wear. Even Kat, as hardy and robust as they came, didn't seem to be as well as she should have been. Perhaps there was more truth in the words laughter is the best medicine than he thought. One thing was certain, no one laughed in this place.

"Better." James told him. "Well, she's warmed up, and Flick said that she'd be all right for this week any way."

"This place is freezing!" Sirius commented.

"You're telling me!" James exclaimed. "Probably some psychological thing to weaken resistance. Even so, you'd think they might manage to leave children somewhere that was at least warm.”

"We're talking about Voldemort, James, I don't think he makes concessions for anyone." Sirius said bitterly. "He kills innocent people, what makes you think he'd be sympathetic to a critically ill little girl? To him illness is weakness. And if there's one thing he won't tolerate, it's weakness."

"Sirius, you're in the wrong profession. You should be a psychologist." James said sarcastically. "Right now psychoanalysis isn't going to get us anywhere."

"Whatever we do it isn’t going to get us anywhere." Sirius informed him. "We're locked up in a stronghold of our worst enemy, do you think they'd just leave the door open and let us walk out?"

"No. And I see your point. I think I'm beginning to appreciate why Lily's worst fear is capture."

"It is? I didn't know that." Sirius was interested. "Why?"

"Do you remember when we were training we did an exercise so that we could deal with interrogation?" James asked.

"Yeah. As I remember she came top of the class for that. Why?"

"Well, when they did all the interrogation stuff it was fine. But then they left you in a cell for a couple of days before trying again. And she hated it. She was practically up the walls. Fortunately there was no furniture, because if there was, Lil would have broken it all. As it was she kept punching the walls. She hates knowing that she's helpless."

"I don't blame her." Sirius said thoughtfully. "In two years she was subjected to more doses of the Unforgivables than most people face in a lifetime. I'm only surprised that she actually decided to be an Auror. You'd have thought that with her experience she'd want a comfortable desk job."

"Can you really see Lily in a desk job?" James asked. "She'd blow up at everybody in a week. She's too intelligent to spend the rest of her life surrounded by Ministry beaureaucracy." Before Sirius could answer, Kat woke up.

"Hello," she said, warily. "I thought you were supposed to get us out of places like this."

"Morning Kat." Sirius said cheerfully. "We are, but it didn't exactly go to plan."

"Where're Lily and Remus?" Kat asked.

"Don't know." James replied. "Probably somewhere worrying about us."

"But don't you do your work with them." Kat liked to know exactly what was going on.

"Usually yes. But sometimes a change is as good as a holiday." James told her.

"Don't you like each other any more?" Kat was confused. In her world, if you were friends with someone you did as much as you could with them before they had to go home. It didn't dawn on her that neither Lily nor James or Remus or Sirius had to worry about going home. As far as she was concerned, doing something without your partner meant that you didn't like them anymore.

"Of course we like each other." Sirius assured her. "But they had other things to do."

"But you didn't do the last thing together either, 'cos Lily looked after Amy and me, and then she did stuff with Remus."

"Don't worry about it too much Kat." Sirius smiled. "I'm sure someone will get us out of here soon."

"Okay. Do you think p'raps it'll be Lily or Remus?"

"Could be anyone Kat. There are millions of Aurors at the Ministry." James told her.

"Yeah, but it would be best if Lily or Remus came." Kat informed him.

"What about Peter?" Sirius asked

"No. I'd rather stay here than go with him." Kat said. Sirius raised his eyebrows at her. "What?" She asked. "It's his fault we're here anyway. He couldn't even read us a good story or play any jokes, he just sat there. You and Lily were more fun."

"Lily was fun?" Sirius said in mock horror.

"It was a different kind of fun to you." Kat explained. "You were loud and fun. Lily was interesting and fun."

"Are you saying I'm not interesting?" Sirius asked, feigning hurt.

"No. But you're different to Lily. Lily's sensible."

"I don't think you're going to come out above Lily in this opinion poll." James told his friend wryly.

"That's what concerns me." Sirius informed him

Both men were aware that they were making small talk. It wasn't something most people did when they were being held hostage, but they were trying to keep their small companions’ minds off of their current situation. And it seemed to be working. When Amy woke up, she joined the conversation, and the two girls were a lot more optimistic when they lay down to sleep at the end of the day.

 

Chapter 9 - Undercover Agents

Lily and Felicity were the first back to base. They looked slightly dishevelled, and a bit downhearted, but they were safe, and that was all that mattered. Ellie and Remus joined them soon after. But when, by 7 o'clock that evening there was no sign of James or Sirius they began to worry.

"They should have been back first." Lily worried. "They were closest to here."

"Well," Remus said, cautiously, "none of us found Kat and Amy, and they aren't back..."

"So it's fair to assume that Kat, Amy, James and Sirius are all in the English Lair." Lily finished his sentence for him. "Next time we do something like this, I'm going with James. Then maybe he'll stay out of trouble."

"Next time!" Flick shrieked. "There won't be a next time. After this I'm getting round the clock guards in! The stress is killing me!"

"Okay Flick, don't get hysterical!" Lily said hurriedly.

"Hysterical! Your not the one whose little sister is in that hell hole!" Flick yelled at Lily.

"No, just the man I'm going to marry, but that's not important is it? No."

"Stop it! Both of you!" Ellie commanded in a firm tone.

"Sorry." Lily said, softly. "I'm worried about Kat too you know." she told Felicity. "She's my little sister as well, as near as makes no matter."

"I'm sorry too." Felicity said, slowly. "I think I overreacted slightly. But I also think we need to start our rescue mission. Now."

"I'm not going to argue. And Ellie," Eleanor looked at her. "Voldemort's not as intelligent as you thought." Lily smiled. Remus and Ellie nodded, and the four of them got down to some serious planning.

Later that day, three girls arrived in the town closest to Voldemort's lair. To an onlooker they were no different to any other people of their age - laughing and joking. All three had brown hair, the tallest had eyes of brown, the shortest bright green, and their companion's eyes were clear and grey. They looked enough alike that they could be sisters.

"It's amazing what one simple charm can do." Lily murmured to Ellie. They had used the Siblingus Charm to distort their features so that they were similar to Felicity's. Lily had to admit that it felt strange to be devoid of her usual ruddy masses, and Ellie realised that as a brunette she was a lot less conspicuous.

"Do you think Robert is ready?" Ellie asked her friend loudly. For the purpose of the mission, all had adopted a new identity. 'Robert' was Remus. Felicity, Ellie and Lily alter egos were Victoria, Alexandra and Elizabeth respectively, on Lily's suggestion. They were named after three queens. Ellie said that Lily had themes on the brain because her parents had named both her and her sister after flowers. But as Felicity agreed with Lily, purely because Vicky sounded near enough to Flick that she'd remember to answer it. So Ellie was out voted.

"Probably." Lily replied. "Hey Vic!" Flick turned to look at her 'sister'. "Do you think Robbie will be ready yet?"

"I don't know Lizzie." Flick admitted. "We'd best stay out though. We don't want to ruin the surprise."

"This is going to be the best birthday ever!" Lily exclaimed happily. Ellie and Flick looked at her. They'd never realised their friend was such a good actress. Then again, it stood to reason. Her whole career was based on pretending to be someone else. Protecting your identity was all part of the undercover experience, and Lily was clearly a master of the arts.

They finished their afternoon on the town, and returned to the hotel they were staying in. Remus was there waiting for them

"Robbie!" Lily exclaimed. "It's lovely!" Anyone who was spying on them would see the balloons in the room, and assume that it was a birthday party. That was the plan, anyway. In reality, the balloons were the only thing that was festive about the atmosphere. Once the door was closed, Lily reverted back to her usual self.

"I preferred it when you looked like individuals." Remus said, dryly.

"So did I." Lily admitted. "And the first thing I'm going to do once we're out of here is go back to being me. All this 'darling how lovely' stuff is doing my head in!"

"Have you got it figured out?" Ellie asked Remus anxiously. He had been in charge of establishing the whereabouts of the entrance to the lair.

"Yep. The moor's about 10 minutes from here, and the entrance is marked by a clump of deadly nightshade. Okay?"

"Marvellous." Lily said. "We can get on with it."

 

Chapter 10 - Freedom

Lily and Felicity entered Voldemort's English stronghold with outward confidence, and inward wariness. They were joined quickly by Eleanor and Remus.

"I knew there was a reason why I became a tactician." Ellie said, softly.

"Shhh!" Lily hissed.

"There are times when a floor plan would be most handy." Flick said wryly. "You know, the ones that say 'you are here' and have a little red spot showing where you are."

"I wasn't aware that Voldemort ran a shopping complex." Lily murmured. "Just follow Remus and I. We know where we're going."

Flick turned to Ellie, smiling wryly.

"You'd never guess they'd done this before." She said.

"I'd view it as a good thing." Ellie said. "I'm glad they know what we're doing, because I certainly don't."

"I think this is one of those improvisation exercises that Lil's so keen on." Flick informed her.

The four intruders hurried through the maze of corridors and passages, Ellie and Flick getting more and more dizzy as they followed Lily and Remus through twists and turns, over underwater streams and through tunnels designed to hide even the most conspicuous of occupants from view. Their was a tension in the air, all four of them knowing that what they were doing was incredibly risky. If James and Sirius had already been captured then their enemies would have been alerted. Survival instincts told Felicity that what they were doing was incredibly stupid, and the chances of getting out now that they were in were minimal.

Eventually, after what seemed like hours of foot slogging, Remus halted, Lily stopping just behind him. Ellie and Flick, who weren't expecting the sudden halt ploughed into her.

"Careful." She cautioned. "This is the brig. If there's one thing we don't want to happen, it's being caught here."

"Lil, I don't want to get caught anywhere!" Flick exclaimed.

"Who does?" Remus asked. "Just watch your back. Somewhere like this, nothing is as it seems."

"Well, that was comforting to know." Came Felicity's sarcastic tones.

"Why don't we just get on with it." Ellie suggested patiently.

"Best idea I've heard in a long time." Lily agreed. "Come on Remus, move it!"

Study of a chart in the corner told Remus that they were looking for cell 28. He was about to inform them of this when Ellie hissed that someone was coming. Which was when Lily produced James' Invisibility Cloak. The four of them squashed under its folds, silently, although Remus, Felicity and Eleanor were dying to know how she had come to have James' cloak. That could wait until the threat of discovery was over.

"Are you sure you heard something?" They heard a harsh voice ask.

"I'm telling you I heard something." A high pitched squeal answered.

"You're a nervous minded fool." The first speaker hissed. "Our master will hear of your cowardice."

There was the sound of footsteps, which gradually died away, and then Lily pulled the cloak off of them, folded it and placed it in her bag.

"Later." She said. She looked at Remus questioningly, and he nodded. He took the lead, and they followed him to a nondescript wooded door, with a single marker telling them it was their destination. A wrought iron 28. Remus muttered a simple spell, and the door unlocked.

Sirius and James looked up when four people rushed into their cell. When they saw who the intruders were they scrambled to their feet, broad grins on their faces. Felicity snatched Kat, and Lily grabbed Amy. They were about to Apparate away when James stopped them.

"What about my cloak and our wands?" He asked. "They took them when they got us."

"I've got them." Lily told him. "Now let's get out of this joint before something bad happens." She didn't need to say it twice. In a split second they disappeared, leaving no trace of their brief period of victory.

 

Chapter 11 - Romance

When everyone arrived back at Lily’s flat, there were several minutes of emotional reunion, mostly between Felicity, Kat and Sirius. But when Felicity finally finished her show of emotion, she turned business like.

“Amy, you’ve got to get back to the hospital,” she told the child.

“Couldn’t I just stay here?” Amy asked, reluctant to leave the cosy sitting room. Unlike James, Lily had taken time to make her flat into a home from home, and consequently it was decorated to suit her tastes.

“I’d love to have you stay, Amy,” Lily began, “but you must be tired, and you need to get your medicine. But I tell you what,”

“What?” Amy asked eagerly.

“When Flick says that you’re well enough to leave the hospital for the weekend, I’ll arrange for you and Kat to come here for a visit. Okay?”

“More than okay!” Kat said, happily. “That’s great! Will we be able to see the animals at the zoo, and go to the museum, and swim again?” Kat had stayed with Lily before.

“It depends whether Amy wants to or not.” Lily said. “But I’ll send both of you an owl, and you can both tell me what you want to do, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”

Whether it was the promise of mail, or the prospect of staying with Lily for the weekend, Amy was satisfied, and she and Felicity left for the hospital. Kat climbed on to Lily’s lap and drowsed, sleepily.

“When Flick gets back we’ll send you off home to Mum and Dad.” Lily said, brushing some stray curls out of Kat’s eyes.

“Will Aunt Evie and Uncle Hugo be mad at me?” she asked, worriedly.

“Of course not, precious. They’ve been really worried about you, and they’ll be so happy about seeing you that they wouldn’t dream of telling you off.”

“It wasn’t my fault.” the little girl yawned. “That man took us, and I told him he couldn’t that it would upset Flick, but he wouldn’t listen.” she nodded her head violently, blue eyes flashing with indignation.

“I know it wasn’t your fault darling.” Lily soothed. “And Flick will be back soon, and then you can go home.” And when Flick arrived that was exactly what happened. After hugging Lily and smiling at James, Sirius and Remus, Flick and Kat disappeared from sight, Flick Disapparating them back to the house of Lily’s parents. Before much time passed, Remus and Sirius also left, pleading fatigue, and James and Lily were left alone.

“And Thump thinks that you’re the brains behind the outfit!” Lily scolded James as soon as their friends had left. “Really clever you are. So intelligent that you managed to get yourself a night in a cell.” She paced the room, hands on hips, green eyes darkened in anger. But the anger wasn’t directed at James, and he knew it. It was aimed at those that had left him, and Sirius, Kat and Amy in a freezing cold box for a night. So when she passed him, he caught her hand, and pulled her onto the sofa, next to him. Lily’s eyes softened when he looked at her for a split second, before she glared at him tiredly.

“Look Lil,” he began, ignoring the look she was giving him. “While we were waiting for you, I was thinking.”

“You thought?” she said, astonished. “Where’s my diary. I need to write this down. James Potter thought! The only thing you ever think about is playing jokes.” but he knew she was teasing, and anything was better than a glare, even a joke at his expense.

“I’m serious Lily!” he exclaimed.

“Now I’m really scared!” she laughed. “Who are you and what have you done with the real James?”

“Well if you don’t want to know...” He was offended.

“Of course I want to know. Unless it involves Dungbombs. Then I’d rather not, unless someone is aiming at me, and if they are, I may never speak to you again!”

“Have you ever thought about getting married?” he asked earnestly.

“I thought you’d already proposed!” she said, waving her engagement ring under his nose.

“I’m not talking about that,” he explained. “I’m talking about the actual marriage part. You know, the bit where you walk down the aisle looking like a meringue, and everyone tells you how lovely you look, but they’re lying, because really you look like the fairy from the top of the Christmas tree. That sort of married.”

“James, when I agreed to marry you it did cross my mind that I might be expected to wear a meringue for the day, so I have to say that yes, I’ve thought of getting married.”

“When?” His next question stumped her.

“I don’t know,” she admitted.

“Look, Lily. It’s like this,” he explained. “The only people who aren’t tearing their hair out because we haven’t set a date are us. Even Sirius keeps going on at me about finalising some details.”

“Bless!” Lily smiled. “It’s the softer side of Sirius that no one gets to see. I didn’t know he had it in him.”

“Well he does. So I wanted to know what you thought.”

“James, I’m perfectly happy to marry you tomorrow, if that’s what you want. But the point is this. We do what we want, not what other people want us to do. So if you want to discuss a date, then fine, we’ll discuss it. Otherwise, don’t bother. I don’t care when or where. I’m only bothered about one thing, and that’s that it’s you that I marry rather than some poor guy from the street.” James realised then that she wasn’t going to make it easy for him. It was his decision.

“Why don’t we think about a date? At least then we’ve got something settled.” he hesitated, and then continued. “When we were caught, one of Voldie’s guys held me at knife point. Dying doesn’t bother me. But I didn’t want to go before you and I were legally together.”

“I was hoping that you’d stick around for a while after that.” Lily smiled. “Can I make a suggestion?”

“Go ahead.”

“I’ve always wanted a May wedding.” she began. “And it’s October now, so that gives us seven months to get things sorted. If I pick the month, then you can pick the date. Okay?”

“Fine. How about the last Saturday in May? That means that it’ll be closer to eight months.”

“You’ve got yourself a deal.” Lily offered him her hand, but James had other ideas. He seized it, and then kissed her. She smiled at him.

“I suggest you may want to sleep. Go home, rest, and come back in the morning....or afternoon. Okay?” he nodded, and made from the door. But before he left Lily had one last thing to say.

“Oh, and James?” he looked at her inquisitively.

“I don’t plan on wearing a meringue.”

Chapter 12 – Espionage

Meg, the next couple of chapters are set in the USA, and I’ve never been there.  I have studied American politics, however, and have done my best to change any British organisations into the equivalent American organisation, but I’m not sure that I’ve spotted them all, so obviously that’s your call J.  And as I don’t know the American equivalent of a British Ministry, I went the whole hog, and gave the US a Senate of Sorcery – it works from where I’m sitting!  Basically, it is parallel to the US Muggle Senate, with the Supreme Court of Sorcerors being the equivalent of the Supreme Court.  While I’m vaguely approaching familiar with American politics (I never knew History would come in handy when writing HP stories!) I’m pretty clueless when it comes to the American education system.  I would like for there to be a clear difference between the School of Sorcery in the USA, and Hogwarts in Britain, but I’m not sure what the equivalent grades would be.  Later on I mention that Flick left the American School of Sorcery and I’d love to know what would the American equivalent of the fifth year be (Flick would be 15 when she left America, the same age as I am now, and I’m in my fifth year of school).  I know fifth grade isn’t right, but I don’t know the equivalent, although I think it may be Freshman.  Thanks for the help.

Hallie

James was used to receiving unconventional mission statements, but this one was particularly so. He and Lily were required to take a trip to America, where they had jobs at the Department of International Relations. While holding down these jobs, they were required to spy on the Senator of Sorcery, who was suspected of having an allegiance to Voldemort.

“Espionage?” Lily looked at him, startled. “I thought we were supposed to go off and rescue people from a fate worse than death, not travel around the world spying on people!”

“Obviously they got the job description wrong,” James told her.

“But I don’t want to spy on people!” Lily exclaimed. “It’s rude!”

“True,” James agreed. “But it’s even more rude to forcibly remove someone from their home and kill them. And that’s basically what being a Death Eater is. And if we’ve got this mission, then I find it highly unlikely that the Senator for Sorcery isn’t a Death Eater. So we basically have no choice.”

“But-” Lily began, but James interrupted her.

“I know. We can refuse the mission. But do we really want to? He’s a bad man, and we need to collect evidence to stop him helping ‘his Royal Highness’ to world domination.”

“I see your point,” Lily was resigned. “Okay, I’ll do it. But I’m not happy.”

“A fact that I’ll report to Thump,” James said, solemnly, blue eyes twinkling.

“Don’t you dare!” Lily exclaimed. “If you tell him, he’ll think I’m scared, and I’ll end up behind a desk in an unheard of department!”

They left for America the next day, and were quick to arrive at their accommodation, a house in rural Washington. The house was whitewashed and well furnished, and both James and Lily had to admit that it had a homey feel.

The next day they began their work. Lily sat down at the desk she had been assigned, and then did a double take. Sitting opposite to her was a girl of her own age with nut-brown hair and grey eyes.

“Emily Samuelson! It can’t be!”

“Lily? What on earth are you doing here?”

“It’s the Department of International Relations. I’m relating to you on behalf of the Brits!”

“But this is fantastic! How’re you? It’s been what, four years?”

“You said it,” Lily smiled. “You haven’t aged though. Still the same Em. Flick’s going to be so jealous!”

“How is Felicity?”

“She’s fine. She’s a doctor now. She lives with us - her dad and step mum were murdered by Voldemort just after we finished our NEWT’s. And Kat’s all grown up, and such a cutie. How about you?”

“Dad was voted out of office a couple of years ago,” Emily began, “since then, I’ve been dabbling in this and that. I’ve been working here for six months. Where’s James?”

“How did you - Never mind. Do you want to meet up later?”

“Sure. Where do you live?” Lily gave Emily their address, and then set to work, smiling. Emily Samuelson had visited Hogwarts when she was in her final year. The daughter of the American Senator for Sorcery, her father had been in England on a business trip, and Emily had been a Hogwarts student for a term. She had known Felicity from the days when they both attended the School of Sorcery in America before Felicity had moved back to Great Britain. And unless Lily was mistaken, Emily was no more a member of the Department of International Relations than she herself was. Emily Samuelson was the contact that she and James had been told they’d meet.

The bell to the house rang at 7:30 that night, and James opened the door.

“Emily! Good to see you! Come on in!” Emily smiled at him, and entered the house.

“Well I wasn’t expecting to see you guys!” she said happily. “Perhaps you Brits aren’t as snotty as you’re made out to be!” she was joking, and Lily and James knew it.

“Well, to put matters in a nutshell, the vote against my father was fixed. Dad was running ahead of Richard Gordon in all the opinion polls, and I don’t see how there could possibly be a reason other than corruption for the sudden change of heart.” Emily’s grey gaze hardened. “Well, I joined the American Auror Association as soon as I had finished school, so by the time Dad was ousted, I was fully trained. I’m one of the few people that they haven’t traced. Incidentally Lil, don’t call me Emily when we’re at work - there my name’s Emma Johnson. They’d never let me near the Senate if they knew who I really was. Too scared that I’d figure out what they really are, I bet. Anyway, I’m part of the Auror Underground. Those of us who know about the vote fixing want to stop it, so we applied to London for help. We figured we’d get it; they don’t want him to be in charge any more than we do. I’ll take you to meet the others tomorrow. Today, I’m supposed to give you your mission brief. What are your aliases?”

“Too numerous by far,” James told her, grinning, glasses slipping down his nose. “For this particular outing? I’m John Pitley and Lily is Geraldine Jones.” Lily pulled a face.

“I thought Lily was a bad name until I started working as an Auror, then they started giving me all sorts of wacky names, and I realised that mum and dad hadn’t done so badly after all. Geraldine! Yuk – reminds me of Felicity’s new enemy, Geraldine Sesses!  What’s wrong with a normal name, like Jen, or something?”

“I don’t know, Geri!” Emily smirked at her old friend. “Now, the basic plan is this. We need hard-core evidence that Richard Gordon is a Voldie supporter. The only way we’re going to get this is to get him to confess. Which is where you two come in. You need to get in touch with the American Death Eaters, and join them. Then you’ll meet Gordon; that’s a cert. From what we know, he basically runs the movement over here. When you meet him, it’s a simple case of recording what he says. Okay?”

“Simple,” James said sarcastically. “One very small problem. Neither of us particularly wants to join the Death Eaters. We’ve seen what they do, and believe me, it’s not pretty. I don’t think either Lily or I are particularly keen on the idea of participating in that kind of jaunt.”

“And,” Lily added, “you still have the death penalty over here. If we’re caught doing said acts of corruption and violence, what’s the chance of us making it back to England. Minimal. And I would like to make it to my wedding.”

“You’re getting married? Who to? When?”

“Me,” James told her. “In May.”

“Ah! How sweet!” Emily gushed. Then she turned to business once more. “Point number one. You don’t go on the violent rampages, and you’ll be fine. Get Lily to pretend to be pregnant or something.” Lily looked at her in shock. “What?” she asked, mildly. “And if you’re caught, then we’ll get you back to England somehow - as long as I’m invited to the wedding!”

“You’ve got yourself a deal.”

Chapter 13 - The Auror Underground

After work the next day, Emily met Lily and James, and the three of them set off on the journey to the Auror Underground.

“Hi Geri, John!” Emily said, grinning wickedly. “Have you had a nice day?”

“Marvellous, thank you Emma,” Lily replied, sarcastically. “Does any one here actually listen to what you have to say?”

“It’s bureaucracy honey, that’s how it works. You wait months for a hearing, and then you wait for ages more until a decision is made.”

They turned a corner, and Emily grabbed Lily and James, Apparating the three of them away from Washington. After a dizzying flight, the three of them arrived on a grassy plain.

“Where are we?” James asked curiously.

“Good old California,” Emily replied. They came to a tree stump, and lazily she pointed her wand at it. The stump moved, and an opening was revealed. The three of them entered it.

“It’s actually quite nice down here,” Emily admitted. “You know,” she continued in wonder, “it’s amazing what a little magic can do. This place is better than the official Auror residence by far. Anyway, I’m taking you to meet Harold first. He’s the chief here.”

They entered a door, labelled with a brass number one, and came face to face with a man of about seventy.

“Harold, these our friends from Britain.”

“Thanks Emily. Lovely hair you’ve got there dear,” he said to Lily, making her blush. “My Joyce used to have hair just like that...before they got her. Well, when they did, I vowed that I’d work against them, and no one can say I haven’t stuck to my vow. How old are you?”

“Twenty-one, sir,” Lily replied.

“Young. You all start so young nowadays. Why you’d want to be an Auror, I don’t know.”

“Personal reasons,” James said tightly. Lily nodded in agreement.

“He got your family?” Both shook their heads. They had been lucky. “So why fight him?”

“Because he’s evil, sir,” James said. “And I’m not going to sit by while some arrogant prat tries to rule the world. He kills without need, innocent people, he doesn’t seem to care whether they leave orphans, or bereaved parents. It’s all one huge game for him. Him and his Death Eaters. They kill for sport. And I can’t condone that.”

Harold looked startled, and then he smiled and clapped.

“Nicely said Mr Potter. You’re a lot like your mother. Idealistic, some might say, but full of goodness. Don’t gape at me! I’m the one who organises all this stuff. Of course I know your names. Yours and Miss Evans’. And I’m guessing that the fate of Felicity Howell’s parents influenced your decision to join the industry.”

“Actually sir,” Lily began, “it was more a case of knowing what it’s like to be helpless than anything else.”

“Of course. You would be the Lily Evans that testified at Endommager’s trial. Pity about that. I knew his parents. They were good people. I don’t like to think about what they would do, knowing that their son was in Azkaban. But I’m digressing. I have it on good authority that you two are among the brightest of Britain’s stars. Not from Horace Thump, I hasten to add. I don’t know how he ended up as a higher up. He’s a barmy old codger if ever there was one. Oh, you may laugh, Miss Evans,” Lily had covered her mouth with her hand, to hide her giggles, “but it’s true. He’s never done any practical work. Anyway, I do have a mission for you two, and I have no doubt young Emily has informed you of it. I appreciate its risky work, but you have my word that neither of you will come to any harm. And if you feel you’re in jeopardy, come here. We’re more prepared than anyone knows, and you’ll be safe. No one with any evil intent can get here. I developed the Rebounding spell myself, and I have to say, it’s incredibly effective.”

“Thank you sir,” James said, respectfully, although he couldn’t help but smile. This man reminded him of Albus Dumbledore, only Harold seemed to be slightly more serious-minded. Not that Dumbledore wasn’t serious minded, he just hid his inner thoughts well.

“I’ll call Emily, and she’ll take you to see everyone,” Harold told them, and within seconds Emily had appeared. She grinned at them as they left the room.

“What do you think then? He’s a dear, bless him, but terribly eccentric. He knows my dad, they’re school chums. I suppose that’s why he let me join the Auror Underground.”

“He reminded me of Dumbledore, only younger,” Lily admitted. James nodded agreement. “But I can see where you’re coming from. He does seem to be rather a love.”

“We turn left here,” Emily explained, as they came to a junction, “and then I’ll introduce you to some of the others. We have all sorts, and I’m the youngest of the regulars. Only Lily’s younger than me, so she’s temporarily the baby of the group. Here we are!” she opened another non-descript door, and James surveyed the scene before him. The people in the room ranged in age from slightly older than him, to ancient, and they were relaxing, some indulging in conversation, others in chess.

“Guys, these are Lily Evans and James Potter. They’re over from Britain.” A man with eyes of a green that could rival Lily’s own smiled at her.

“Seems all those stories we hear about how much better looking our chicks are is wrong!” he said. “Daniel Adams.” He extended his hand. Lily took it, and smiled back.

“How long have you been working here, Daniel?”

“Couple of years,” he shrugged. “Don’t like Richard Gordon, he’s a two faced- well, let’s just say I don’t think highly of him. So, when he was voted in, I joined the underground. Since then I’ve been trying to get him out of office.”

Lily sat down at a table and conversed with Daniel while James went with Emily to meet some of the others.

“Hi!” a girl with dark hair and olive skin said to him happily. “I’m Kimberly Russell. Most people call me Kim. I work on the Law Enforcement Team. We make sure that innocent people aren’t hurt when Gordon’s goons go on the rampage,” her eyes darkened, so that they were almost black. “Sometimes we’re too late.”

“I know the feeling,” James sympathised. “Lil’s best friend’s an orphan. Voldemort murdered her parents. Now it’s just Flick and Kat left.”

“You remember Flick Howell, don’t you Kim?” Emily asked. “Brunette, pretty, practical joker. She left after Sophomore year for Hogwarts,” Emily turned to James. “Kim was Head Girl. Flick used to drive her nuts.”

“That Flick! I pity you if you were at school with her,” Kim said, in heartfelt tones. “I feel sorry for her though. Wasn’t her father going out with Margaret Jones?”

“They got married,” James explained. “And Flick’s sister, Katherine was born. She was only eleven months old when Voldemort got them.”

“Poor kid,” Kim said, brown eyes filling with tears. “I know what it’s like growing up without parents.” James was about to reply, but the sound of a resounding slap cut of his words. There was sudden silence when everyone turned to see what had happened. Lily was standing nursing a red cheek, while a girl with platinum blonde hair and a face caked with make up pouted at her.

“Don’t think you can get away with it you stupid fool. He’s my boyfriend. I’ve seen you making moves on him. No one crosses me. I’m warning you.”

“Poor man if he’s going out with someone like you,” James winced on hearing his girlfriend’s icy tones. Lily was an incredibly warm person, but when roused she could become an ice queen. He knew it was only years of practice that prevented her from attacking her attacker. “And for your information, I have a perfectly good boyfriend of my own, I don’t need your cast-offs.” And with that she turned her back on the girl and returned to her conversation with Daniel.

“That’s Cynthia Rutherford. She’d be a good Auror if she weren’t so tarty, and didn’t go after all the male Aurors we have. Poor Daniel is no more enamoured with her than he is with his mother, but she’s decided they’re an item, and nothing he can say will stop her,” Emily told James.

The evening that followed was uneventful, save for the evil looks that Cynthia shot at Lily. Lily ignored them, and when she and James left later, both agreed that the Auror Underground was all right, if a bit insane.

 

Chapter 14 – Result

“Why do I think this is a really stupid idea?” Lily asked James as she concealed the invisible flashless camera in her black robes, and propped a mask on her forehead. “More to the point, why do they insist on wearing this ridiculous face-mask? It’s not like we don’t know who they are. Is it just to intimidate people, because if it is, they really need to get out more.”

“Lil, they need to get out more, full stop. They support Voldemort and have nothing better to do than terrorise unsuspecting targets.”

After a month in America, Lily and James were ready to act. They had infiltrated the Death Eater Movement. It was difficult not to interfere, but they weren’t there to arrest the American Death Eaters – that was the American Auror’s job. They just needed enough evidence to incriminate Richard Gordon. And it wasn’t going to be hard to get it. The man was keen to attend the next meeting, and Lily’s job was to get photographs of him with the Death Eaters. James, being the more ambitious, had gone for the more recording him admitting that he supported the Death Eaters. Although, as Lily pointed out, it wasn’t like Gordon was making a big secret of it.

“Come on James!” Lily exclaimed, looking at her watch, “we’ll be late!”

“And that would be tragic,” James intoned, tongue in cheek.

“Absolutely devastating,” Lily agreed in the same tone, then grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the house. Old habits die hard and it was ten minutes into the journey when James said;

“Why don’t we just Disapparate?”

“Because that’s too simple, and I forgot,” Lily told him sweetly. “But since you mention it, we could give it a go.” So the two of them disappeared, and ended up in a rather dark and dreary room nursing glasses of champagne.

“Great decorations,” Lily said to the Death Eater on her right.

“Wilsak spent all afternoon doing them,” he informed her.

“Lucky old Wilsak,” James murmured in Lily’s ear. She promptly choked in an effort to disguise her giggles.

Before either of them could speak again, the Senator for Sorcery appeared, and silence fell on the room. He began to speak,

“My fellow Death Eaters,” he began, and Lily zoomed in of him using the invisible flashless camera, “we are here to help our Lord and Master to achieve his goal of world domination. We have the power to make that goal realistic. Please, raise your glasses to Lord Voldemort.” Lily looked at James in shock as Voldemort appeared. James moved his head slightly, nodding towards the door. As Voldemort spoke, the two of them edged their way to the edge of the crowd of Death Eaters in the hope of escaping before they were compromised.

“…Even as I speak there are people who wish to undermine me,” Voldemort’s harsh voice intoned, “but we will succeed. I am the Heir of Slytherin, the most powerful of the Hogwarts four. The most powerful wizard ever to grace the earth. Fools like Albus Dumbledore and Joseph Samuelson don’t stand a chance. We will fight and we shall win. Use whatever force you feel is necessary, and if you face death, remember it is for your cause…” Lily and James didn’t wait to hear more. They Disapparated.

The news threw those at the Auror underground. Voldemort’s presence had not been anticipated.

“Have you got any photos Lil?” Emily asked, worried.

“A whole film,” Lily informed her. “Richard Gordon is going to be just another Death Eater when the public gets hold of these.”

“What about you, James. Have you got any audio?”

“The whole thing. You lot were all going on about how dangerous it would be! It was easy. Press record when he started, and let the tape run. Which means we probably have what Lil and I heard of Voldemort's speech on tape to. But never mind.”

“That, James, my dear,” Emily said to him, “makes the evidence so much more incriminating. Get your media to Michelle in room 14, and she’ll sort it into a report. Then, then we wait.”

And wait they did. By the end of the week, the news was circulating the wizarding world. In hushed tones the magical community of America discussed how they had no idea that Richard Gordon was a back-stabber. And in high places there were demands for impeachment. Demands that the Supreme Court of Sorcery were only too happy to grant. By the time Lily and James had to leave the USA, Joseph Samuelson was back in charge. Their mission achieved, it was time to go home.

 

Chapter 15 - Proposal

Lily and James arrived back in England to find their friends in good health, and their in-trays overflowing.

One day in early February Sirius and Felicity were out in the English countryside together. Considering that neither of them were given to soppiness, as a couple they had their incredibly romantic moments. Their relationship was full of fireworks. One day they were best friends, the next neither of them could do anything right.

Flick was leaning against Sirius contentedly, surveying the scene in front of her.

“Most people wait for summer before going on picnics,” she commented.

“Most people aren’t us,” Sirius replied. “Does it really matter what the weather’s like when someone invented a perfectly good charm to keep you warm and dry?”

“Don't you ever worry about using magic too much?” Felicity asked. “I mean, people like Lil’s mum and dad manage fine without it. And Lily still does things the Muggle way.”

“It probably has something to do with habit. For instance Lily actually cooks, while some witches just mutter spells. Lily cooks ‘properly’ as she puts it, because that’s the way she was taught to. How about you?”

“I wasn’t taught to,” Flick laughed. “I sort of picked up tips along the way. Aunt Evie taught me to bake though. So I suppose I bake the Muggle way, and cook out of a magic cookbook.”

“Right,” Sirius looked confused. Then he brightened. “Flick. Will you marry me?”

“Sorry, I must have drifted off then,” Flick apologised. “I thought I heard you propose.”

“I did.”

“You did what?”

“I asked you to be my wife?”

“You’re not particularly romantic are you?” Flick said.

“It depends,” Sirius informed her. “Why?”

“I’ll tell you what,” Felicity smiled. “I’ll marry you if you propose properly.”

“How properly do you mean?”

“I don’t believe this,” Flick raised her eyes to the heavens. “First of all, I stand up, and you get down on one knee.” Sirius did as he was bidden.

“Right. Now you say something along the lines of Felicity Elizabeth Howell, would you do me the honour of being my wife.’”

“Felicity Elizabeth Howell, would you do me the honour of being my wife?” Sirius repeated.

“I’d be delighted,” Flick said, happily. “Not exactly a conventional proposal, but then we’re not conventional, are we?”

“Not exactly,” They kissed, before Flick began to talk, worriedly.

“You do realise that if you get me, you get Kat too, don’t you?”
“I think I can cope with that.” Sirius smiled at her. “She’ll be the best mischief maker Hogwarts has ever seen, with the exceptions of moi et mon partner in crime, James!” He spoke the last with a French accent.

“Heaven help us all! If you corrupt my sister, I’ll have to divorce you!” Flick laughed.

“You’re planning a divorce!” Sirius exclaimed. “We’re not even married yet!”

“I’m not planning anything just yet,” Flick informed him.

“I love you,” Sirius said, suddenly. Flick looked at him, and smiled. Those three words from Sirius meant much more to her than she’d ever admit.

“I love you too,” she replied. “And we’re going to have the best wedding!”

“Don’t let Lily hear you say that,” Sirius smirked. “Or she might never speak to you again.”

“Hers will be equally great, but in a different way. Lil’s got different taste.”

“Well I wasn’t planning on anything identical.”

“I’m so glad, because if you were James, I might change my mind, and Lily may kill you for marrying the wrong woman. And I don’t think James would be too impressed if I were Lily.”

“I doubt it highly,” Sirius said.

The two of them sat on their rug, in silence, contemplating the future they had just agreed on.

“Do you like children?” Flick asked, suddenly, breaking the calm.

“Do I like children?” Sirius echoed. “As long as they go home at the end of the day, they’re great,” he said. Flick looked at him searchingly, and then she was silent. “Why?”

“I just wondered if you wanted any.”

“Dozens,” Sirius teased. “One for each month of the year. Then I can call them January and February and March and April and-”

“I get the picture,” Felicity said, wryly. She smiled, and then went back to her daydream. The idea of spending the rest of her life with Sirius definitely appealed to her.

Chapter 16 – Introductions

          Lily, James, Sirius and Remus had been instructed by Horace Thump, their immediate superior, to report to the Royal College of Aurors for a training course in the first week of March.

  "Why do we have to go on a course?  We spent a year training, and they were supposed to teach us everything we needed to know then," James complained.

  "Stop whining," Lily told him, "they taught us all we needed to know then.  In the interim there have been advances.  New spells, new technology, new strategy, hey, probably even new leaders, I really don't know.  Muggles go on courses all the time."

  "Good for the Muggles," James grumbled.  "Are you sure we have to go?"

  "Positive."

  "Thrills," James sarcasm was both droll and cutting, but in reality he didn't mind learning more any more than Lily did.  Well, at the end of the day, what they learnt could mean the difference between life and death for them.

          On the Monday at the beginning of the week they all turned up at the college.  Looking at them, Lily smiled.

  "You do realise you all look exactly the same as you did when we joined the Royal College of Aurors first time round, don't you?" she asked them.

  "Right down to the jeans and baggy sweatshirts, yeah, we know," Sirius informed her.

  "And, my dear Miss Evans we're to report to Mr Kithley.  Why do I have a feeling of déjà vu?" Remus smiled at her.

  "Come on guys, there's no time to gossip.  What are you waiting for?"  Lily led the group towards the office of the head of the Royal College of Aurors, William Kithley.  Tentatively, she knocked on the door.

  "Come in!" They entered.  At the desk sat a man whose grey hair was fast turning white, and whose clear eyes were as sharp as they had been in his youth.

  "Miss Evans, Mr Potter, Mr Black and Mr Lupin.  Shouldn't you be in classes?"

  "Um, we don't actually know where we're going," Lily informed him.  "You're supposed to tell us.  Thump said so."  Kithley saw her nose wrinkle at the mention of Horace Thump and he smiled.  Lily Evans had been one of the brightest and best of her year, and had never allowed anyone to discriminate against her purely because she was female.  Kithley knew of Thump's attitude towards female Aurors, and he was almost certain that his chauvinism had earnt him an enemy.

  "Ah yes, Mr Thump," Kithley's eyes twinkled.  "Not a graduate from here, Miss Evans, so stop scowling."  Lily blushed.  "Now, you're here for training.  Professor Seranad will be taking you.  She's new here, but has ample experience.  You're in block 12.  Good luck."

          The four of them Disapparated to block 12.  When they appeared a young woman greeted them.  The block was crowded.  Clearly all the regional offices had sent some Aurors to the course, as well as the central office.

  "Hi.  I'm Roberta Gillymedows but you can call me Bobbie.  Most people do."

  "I'm Lily Evans," Lily offered her hand.  "These are James Potter, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.  We were at school together."

  "I went to school in Italy.  Mum's Italian you see, but I came back here four years ago to train as an auror.  I'm twenty-three."

  "We all went to Hogwarts.  James, Remus and I are twenty-one but Sirius is twenty-two, just."

  "Why are you on the course?" Bobbie asked, curiously.

  "Thump sent us," Lily said, grouching.

  "Who's Thump?"

  "Our superior," James explained.  "Lil thinks he's a M.C.P."

  "M.C.P.?"

  "Male Chauvinistic Pig," Lily enlightened her.  "What exact-" she broke off as another girl of her age flung herself upon her.

  "Lily!  Guess you weren't expecting to see me again so soon!  How're you and lover boy doing?"

  "Emily!  Why aren't you in the States?"

  "Daddy sent me over here.  Said this course'd be useful.  Who'm I to disagree?  I'm not gonna complain anyway.  Guess I'll be around for your wedding.  Hey Sirius, Remus, how're you?"

  "Fine, Em.  Lil and Prongs said you were back with the big wigs now.  Where're you staying?"

  "In a hotel," Emily replied promptly.  "Horrible little place, but it's not like I've got anywhere better to go."

  "You could come and stay with me," Lily suggested.  "Oh, and Em, this is Roberta Gillymedows.  We just met her.  Bobbie, this is Emily Samuelson.  She's a friend of ours from America."

  "Any relation to Joseph Samuelson?"

  "He's my dad." Emily explained.

  "Cool!"

  "Bobbie, where're you staying?"

  "In a hotel.  I suppose I could Apparate from home, but I figured I make the most of the opportunity and take a look around London."

  "You can stay with me to if you like.  I've got enough room for three."

  "Where're you situated?" Bobbie asked.

  "BSA HQ digs." Lily replied.

  "Pardon?" Bobbie said, slowly.

  "Digs for the British Society of Aurors.  It's not as bad as it sounds," Lily noticed Roberta wrinkling her nose.  "I've decorated it and everything.  I've been living there for three years.  It's my home away from home."

  "Cool," Bobbie replied.  "Well, if you're sure."

"I get the feeling we're going to get on.  Plus, we're up against James, Sirius and Remus.  Believe me, I need all the help I can get." Lily informed her.  Emily and Bobbie smiled at each other, and then the two of them turned towards the boys who had somehow managed to attack someone already.

 

Chapter 17 – Training

          Lily was seated between Bobbie and James, and facing Emily.  She was chewing her quill thoughtfully as she studied the board that Seranad had been conducting the lesson from.

  "I reckon that the best thing to do would be to go through that gate there, and then James, you could levitate the boulder while I used the counter charm for that hex- that wouldn't work.  There is no counter charm for the hex.  Bobbie, any ideas?" she turned to Roberta, and saw only a mass of chestnut hair.  Bobbie, it seemed, like to work with her nose on the table.  Then she heard snores.  "Bob?  Bobbie?  Roberta Gillymedows wake up!"

  "What?" Roberta raised her head and blinked sleepily.

  "Bobbie, we're supposed to be using our new-found skills to figure out how to get through this joint, not use the morning to catch up on sleep!"  Emily chastised her.  "Sirius!  What are you doing?"  She raised an eyebrow at Sirius who was seated to her left, and muttering a spell.

  "Turning Hilanius' hair green?" he replied hopefully.

  "Go for it," James told him, grinning.  Sirius raised his wand once more, but was interrupted by Lily.

  "Okay, so the guy’s almost as bad a Snape.  We all agree that, but I don't think you should curse him.  You never know, you may have met your match."

  "Spoil sport!" Sirius poked his tongue out at Lily, but he could see her point.  Eutychius Hillianus had made his presence known to them two days before, and he had taken an instant disliking to Sirius, probably because of Sirius' cocky attitude.  Anyway, the result was a sort of cold war between the two of them.

  "Right, guys, I think I've got it," James said, triumphantly.

  "Okay, someone make a note of this.  James actually worked in a lesson!" Lily teased.

  "You two are made for each other," Bobbie said.  "Why aren't you together?"  At that the whole table burst into gales of laughter.  "What?  What's so funny?"  Emily managed to stop choking for long enough to explain.

  "They've been together since they were 16 years old," She informed their new friend.  "They're getting married in May."

  "Oh," Bobbie looked sheepish.  "Well no one told me."

  "Sorry Bob," Remus apologised.  "We're sort of used to it.  It's not something we think to tell people."  James cleared his throat, and everyone turned to look at him.

  "Oh, yeah, the solution," Bobbie shot him a stunning smile, and raised her eyebrows.

  "Yes.  We've all been looking at this the wrong way," James began.  "We've been trying the let's not get caught approach, and that's how the traps are bugging us.  If we go along here," he traced a corridor with his finger, "then we get to this door here.  Now, apparently, you need the key to open the door, but one of the things we've learnt is how to transfigure something to fit a lock, so it'll be dead simple.  So we're past the first obstacle.  Then, if we go along here, we come to a secret passage.  But we need the password.  Simple.  Use the Entrio spell, and the portrait will tell it to you.  So then, you've got a direct route to where you want to go."

  "Yeah, but James, while you're doing all this, anyone could see you.  And I doubt that they'd agree you were a Death Eater," Lily told him.

  "So you use the Invisibility Cloak," James informed her.  Bobbie opened her mouth, but he beat her to it.  "Yeah, I know you don't have one.  Try the Disintigria Charm.  That should work."

  "Exactly Mr Potter.  Well done.  You've cracked it."  The six of them looked up to see Professor Seranad.  "I think you've picked up the basic theory of the course.  So, between the six of you, you've managed to solve the puzzle.  Admittedly, Mr Potter did the final part, but I've been observing, and it took Miss Evans, Mr Black and Mr Lupin's input to get into the building in the first place, and then it was Miss Gillymedows and Miss Samuelson who found the way past the enchanted door.  I think you're ready for some practical testing.”

  "Jolly!" Roberta said happily. 

  "Bobbie?"  Lily began.

  "What?" Bobbie asked.

  "Do you mind telling me what's jolly about practical testing?"

  "Hey, if it's practical, I don't think I'll be sleeping," Bobbie explained.  "Besides working things out on paper is one thing.  Actually carrying them off is a completely different kettle of fish."

  "Thanks for that observation," James said, dryly.  "Anyone would think that we're doomed."

  "I doubt it," Emily said.  "Hey, you two pretended to be Death Eaters and got out of it alive."

  "They did?" Bobbie said.  "When?"

  "When Emily's pal's in the United States of America required our help," James told her.  "And we saw Voldemort."

  "Weren't you scared?" Bobbie asked.  "And why don't you call him 'You-Know-Who' or 'He Who Must Not Be Named'?  Every time I say Voldemort at the office they practically kill me."

  "Were we scared?" Lily asked.  "Um, yes.  Why Voldemort?  Because that's his name.  And using someone's name gives you power.  Hence you use it to your advantage.  Plus it scares his henchmen."

  "Do you reckon I could join you guys if I applied for a transfer?" Bobbie asked.  "I mean, considering I'm older than you lot, you all seem to have loads more fun than me."

  "Bobbie, I don't call listening to Voldemort rambling on about how great he is fun, but never mind that.  You could always apply.  You never know."

 

Chapter 18 – Practical Testing

            "Right, so, what's the scenario?" Bobbie asked.  They were at the beginning of the practical test, and Bobbie, being Bobbie, had been late, and missed the briefing.

  "Well, we're rescuing a woman, Eleonora Sweets, from this castle," Lily gestured towards the castle.

  "And?"

  "And that's it," Lily replied.  "Seranad gave us a map, the rest is up to us.  James, Sirius, Remus and Emily are poring over it as we speak.  It might be a good idea to join them."

          So, six people, three male, three female, had a conference of war at a makeshift table hidden in a leafy glade in the forest close to the castle.  After half an hour, Bobbie began to get restless.

  "How long do we have to do this?" she asked.

  "Three days maximum.  We're hoping to make it one, because I really don't want to spend the night in there," Lily told her, shivering.

  "Why not?"  Bobbie asked.  "It could be cool."

  "Bobbie, how many times have you been on the receiving end of a full blown Unforgivable?"

  "In training," Bobbie replied.

  "Okay, it wasn't full blown then.  Well, I've been subjected to them more often than I'd like to admit, and both times the castle looked a lot like this.  The sooner we're out of there, the better.  Someone'll give you the full scoop when we've finished."

          After 45 minutes, they finally figured out how they were going to get into and out of the castle.  They couldn't Apparate or Disapparate because there were wards around the castle that prevented this.  However, they could get in.

  "We have to swim to the entrance," James informed them.

  "Swim?" Lily asked.  "What's wrong with walking?"

  "Nothing, but can you walk on water Lily?"

  "Okay, I see your point.  Come on then, let’s get this over with."

          So, they slowly and stealthily made their way to the castle, and eventually made it to the river.  Then, the six of them swam to the entrance, a good 50 metres.

  "It's just as well all of us can swim," A soaking Lily muttered when they were all at the entrance.  "I don't think this is the best place to practise that kind of lifesaving."

  "Lil, instead of moaning, try drying yourself off," Emily told her.  "Unless you actually want pneumonia."  So Lily used the drying charm to rid herself of excess water.  Then they entered via the smuggling corridor.

  "Okay guys, we're getting to the tricky bit," Remus, the map-reader, informed them all.  "The enchanted door.  This one goes with riddles, so I hope you're good at them."

  "Marvellous," Sirius told him.  "Come on Moony, get a move on."

          The door, when they reached it, was huge and made of oak.  When they stopped in front of it, a face appeared.

  "Halt.  Before you may pass you must answer a riddle.  You have five minutes to complete it.  Are you sure you want to continue?"

  "Yes," Remus replied, firmly.

  "What flies, has arms and legs, and can cast spells?"

  "A bird?" James looked at Lily, willing her to know the answer.

  "James, how many birds do you know with arms and legs, that can cast spells."

  "Okay, if it can cast spells then it's magical.  And if it's got arms and legs, the chances are it's humanoid," Bobbie said.  "But it flies.  That counts pixies out."

  "Pixies!" Emily said, the light dawning."

  "No Emily, it can't be pixies, they can't fly."

  "No, but Pixies are fairy folk.  And fairies can fly.  They have two arms, two legs, fly and cast spells, albeit pathetic measly spells to prevent capture.  The answer is fairies."

  "Is that your answer?" the door asked.

  "Yes," Emily replied.  The door creaked open.  "Oh hallelujah.  We were right.  Come on chaps, onwards and upwards," Emily gestured towards the stairs.

  "Um, Emily, we have one small problem.  We don't know what stairs do what,” Lily said, slowly.

  "Yeah, but there are six of us.  I'll go first, and you guys can come behind me.  That way, if I'm falling, one of you can catch me," she climbed the fist step tentatively.  Nothing happened.  She was about to go on, but Lily suddenly had a brainwave. 

  "Em, mark the stairs that are safe," she handed her friend a piece of chalk.  "That way the last person to come up will be safe."

  "You carry chalk around with you?" Emily looked at her, startled.

  "Hey, you never know what might come in handy," Lily replied, with mock hurt.  Emily bent down and drew a star on the first stair.  They worked their way up, the only serious problem occurring when Emily nearly fell through one of the stairs.  Luckily, James, who was behind her, grabbed a flailing hand, and with Sirius' help, hauled her up to safety.  Eventually, they all reached the top in one piece.  Sirius pushed the door at the top of the stairs open, and they came to a gallery.

  "Right," James said.  "One of these pictures is the entrance we're looking for."

  "No, you don't say!" Emily said, sarcastically.  "The question, smarty, is which one?"

  "No idea," James said cheerfully.  "Anyone?"

  "My guess is that one,"  Lily said, pointing to a picture showing a bird's eye view of the castle.

  "Any particular reason why?" Sirius asked, curiously.

  "Nope.  Just a hunch," Lily replied, cheerfully.  "But this, she held up a ribbon, just in front of the portrait, "suggests that I'm right."  The others agreed.

  "Entrio!" Lily aimed her wand at the picture.  In black letters, the words Jiminy Cricket showed up.  "Jiminy Cricket." Lily said, as the words faded.  The portrait opened to yet another fight of stairs.  The six of them repeated their earlier performance, and five hours after the start of the mission, they reached what was, according to the map, their final destination.  James pushed the door open.  Inside the room was a girl of about eighteen years.

  "Eleonora Sweets?" Lily asked.

  "That’s me," She said, tearfully.  "What do you want now?"

  "To take you home," Bobbie told the girl.

  "Um, Bobbie," Emily said, tentatively.  "How're we getting out of here?"

  "Transfiguration," Bobbie replied.  She used some kind of Fracturing Spell and broke the chair into four pieces, and then muttered a spell to produce four odd looking brooms.  James and Sirius looked at each other and then butted in.

  "Bob, that is hopeless!" Sirius told her.  He muttered a spell, and four normal brooms materialised.  "Much better," he said, satisfied.  He, James and Remus each mounted a broom.  Emily shrugged and took the first.  James smiled at Lily, who jumped up behind him.  Bobbie joined Remus, and Sirius took Eleonora.  They arrived back at the College seven hours after arriving at the castle, exhausted but cheerful.

  "Well done!” Professor Seranad greeted them.  "I was expecting you to take longer figuring it out.  You've just set a new record.  Are you okay Eleonora?"

  "Fine," The girl replied.  "And I won't miss classes tomorrow.  Thanks you lot.  Can I go now?" she asked Seranad.

  "Off you go.  Thanks El.  Well, you lot, you've finished the course, which means you have two days to do what you like in.  I'll let your superiors know you've passed with flying colours.  Ta ra."

 

Chapter 19 – Emily

          Emily Samuelson liked her work as an auror.  But she had felt that she wasn't working to her full potential once her father had been reinstated as America's Senator for Sorcery.  Her job lacked the excitement that it had once had.  She suspected that it had something to do with her meeting Lily Evans and James Potter again after several years.  They were an extrovert pair, and somehow, wherever they were, action followed.  Not that Emily envied them.  Far from it.  She knew that every time they embarked on a mission they put their lives on the line, but to her that was what being an auror was about.  And as the Senator for Sorcery's daughter, she felt the American Association of Aurors mollycoddled her.  Sighing, she waited for her father's head to appear in the grate of Lily's fire.  She didn't wait long. 

  "Emily?" Joseph Samuelson regarded his only daughter and eldest child critically.  Emily had two younger brothers, twelve year old Gareth and eight year old Nathaniel.

  "Hi Daddy!"

  "How're you, sweetheart?"

  "Fine.  You know the course I went on?  Well, Lily, James, Sirius and Remus were there too.  And we met this other girl, Roberta Gillymedows, and now she wants to join the BSA's central office."

  "That's nice honey.  So you're enjoying yourself then?"

  "Yeah.  And that's what I wanted to talk to you about.  Daddy, I want to stay in Britain."

  "For how long?"

  "I don't know.  A year, two years, forever?  All I know is that here I feel like I'm helping.  Back home, well, to be honest, Daddy, they're so scared of what you'd do to them if I did something dangerous, that I honestly feel I'm in the way."

  "Emily, it's your life.  Your mother and I will always support you, whatever you chose to do.  Even if you choose to do something that takes you halfway around the world.  We can respect that.  Are you sure this is what you want to do?"

  "Positive," Emily replied earnestly.

  "Then I'm proud of you sweetie.  Good luck.  Em, I've got to go now.  Duty calls."

  "Okay, Daddy, I'll see you later.  Write soon.  Love to Mom.  And Dad, Thanks."

  "For what?  See you Em."

  "Bye Dad."

          Once her father had disappeared, Emily did a victory dance around the room.  Then, she found herself a piece of parchment and began a letter to Bobbie.

‘Dear Bobbie,

                    How're you doing?  Are you still looking for a partner to join the BSA central office with you?  If so, look no more.  Seriously, Bob, I'm staying in Britain.  I've cleared it with my father, and he's behind me all the way.  What do you think chum?  Shall we make the alliance of the century, and knock them dead with our daredevil stunts?  Obviously, we need to find somewhere to stay, but Lily's moving out of her flat when she marries James.  Actually, James is moving out of his too, but Lily's is nicer.  They're getting a house.  Write back soon.

Love

Emily’

          Emily went to the nearest Owl Office, and sent the letter with an owl to Bobbie's current residence.  Within two hours, she had her reply.

‘Emily!

       Long time no see!  How are you?  Em, I love you!  No one here wants to transfer, and I really think I should.  And to be your partner!  That'd be fantastic.  Good on you for doing what you want to.  Sure, we can stay at Lily's place, once she leaves it.  It really is fabulous that you're staying here.  We'll apply in writing, and see what happens.  Good Luck!

Bobbie’

          While Emily was reading this missive, she heard the door slam shut.

  "Lily?  Did you have a nice time?"

  "I don't know about Lily, came a gruff male voice, "but I plan on having a good time, yes."

  "What the-!  Who the heck are you?" Emily asked, brusquely.

  "You don't need no names little lady.  Let's just say I'm a friend.  And you'll be coming with me!"  Emily moved her hand towards her wand.

  "I wouldn't advise doing that.  I might get nasty."

          When Lily arrived home half an hour later, her flat, normally spic and span, was a mass of broken furniture and blood.  Lying on the floor was a lifeless form.  Emily.

  "James!" Lily screeched, loud enough to get the attention of the entire block of Aurors.  Fortunately for her, James was close enough to her home to hear her.

  "Lil?  Lily!" he entered the room to see Lily cradling Emily in her arms, attempting to stop the bleeding.  "What happened Lil?"

  "I don't know!" Lily told him.  "I've only just got in."

  "Um Lil, I don't think that's working.”

  “No you don’t say!” Lily replied sarcastically.  “Try phoning 999.”

  “Lily, you don’t have a phone.  Why don’t we Apparate to St. Samuels?”

  “Because that’s sensible,” Lily replied.  Then, holding tightly to her battered friend, she Disapparated.  Satisfied that they were gone.  James Disapparated as well.

 

Chapter 20 - At St Samuels

          The Accident and Emergency department of the hospital was always busy, but when Lily turned up, all eyes were fixed on the limp burden she had stumbled to the floor with.  Emily, though slight, was both taller and heavier than Lily, and while Lily was strong, she didn’t have the muscular capacity to carry her friend wherever she needed to go.  Fortunately for her, James Potter was close behind.

  “Lil?  Let me take her.”  He stooped, and gently took Emily into his arms as though she weighed no more than a rag doll.  Lily stood up, and the two of them made their way to the triage nurse.  Seeing the bundle in James’ arms, she gasped.

  “I’ll get someone onto it straight away.  Room 4.  First on the left.”

          They had been waiting for five minutes, when a rather dishevelled looking Felicity turned up.

  “Flick!  I thought you worked on paediatrics.” Lily exclaimed.

  “I do, but all the A&E doctors are busy, and I’m the most qualified person to relieve them.  What are you two doing here?”

  “It’s Emily,” James explained, sombrely.  “Lil found her like this.  We went out this evening, and Em wanted to stay in to speak to her dad.  So we left her.  Well, this is what we found when we got back.”

          Felicity made a brisk examination, and began to mutter simple spells to heal the body in front of her.  After half an hour, she looked at her friends calmly.

  “Right, I’ve stopped all life threatening bleeds, and done my best to patch her up, now I’m going to try and get a bed in intensive care.  She’s not out of the woods, but if we’re lucky she’ll make it.  You two might want to go home and get changed.   Oh, and Lil, perhaps you could get hold of Mr and Mrs Samuelson?  I’m sure they’ll want to know.”

  “Okay.  Flick; tell Mum that I’ll be around tomorrow indefinitely.  I want to sit with Em until her parents show up,” Lily told her friend.  Then she and James Apparated back to her flat.

          Looking at the scene of desecration in front of him, James wrinkled his brow.  Once clean and shiny, it was now little more than rubble.  He turned to a suspiciously red-eyed Lily.

  “Lil, you can’t stay here.  For one thing, it’s not exactly habitable, and for another, whoever attacked Emily could easily get to you.  Come and stay with me tonight.”

  “What about clothes?” Lily asked.

  “You can borrow some of mine.”

  “I’ll need turn ups of about six inches!”  Lily complained.  “Thanks James.  I really didn’t relish the thought of staying here.”

  “It’s all right.”

          From James’ flat, Lily owled Emily’s parents.  The reply came swiftly.  Mr and Mrs Samuelson were coming as soon as they could find someone to look after Nathaniel. 

          The next day, Lily arrived at the hospital wearing James’ jeans and a sweatshirt.  Both items of clothing drowned her, but the alternatives were to wear nothing, or to wear yesterday’s blood stained clothes.  Her first stop was the paediatrics ward, where Flick was working as normal.  The brunette raised her eyebrows at her friends’ attire.

  “What’s wrong with your wardrobe?” she asked her friend.

  “It’s non-existent,” Lily replied.  “How’s Emily?”

  “She’s doing okay,” Flick told her.  “She’s stabilised since last night, and we’re pretty sure she’ll make it.  But the first 24 hours are critical.”

  “I’m going to see her,” Lily said.

  “I suggest you take yourself home to Aunt Evie and Uncle Hugo, and change into your clothes before taking residence at Emily’s bedside,” Flick told her.

  “Nope.  Em’s mum and dad will be here soon.   They said they’d be here as soon as they could when I owled them last night.  James has gone to the airport to meet them.  It’s too far to Apparate from the US.  Anyway, I don’t want Em to be alone for any longer than she has to be.”

          Lily made her way to the Intensive Care Unit, and found her friend.  Emily, long and lanky, was gaunt and white against the bedspread.

  “Hey Em!  How’re you doing?” Lily asked, softly.  “Your mum and dad’ll be here soon.  You’ve got to get better as fast as possible; otherwise you might miss the wedding.  Not that it’s that big a deal, but I thought you might like to come.  I was going to invite Bobbie too.  She’s a nice girl.  My mum would approve.  I’m staying at home until you wake up, to give your parents moral support and everything,” she sighed gustily.  Lily hated hospitals with a passion, but she wasn’t going to leave Emily alone in this one.  She thought back.  The last time she’d been here was to visit Amy Militaris, and the little girl had long since been released.  She and Kat were still best friends, and saw each other at least once a week.  Lily smiled.  Kat was dead set on Amy being one of Lily’s bridesmaids, but Lily cautiously declined from saying anything before speaking to Deborah and Paul Militaris about it.  Then she came back to the present, and Emily.  She realised that she was going to meet her friend’s parents, and only wished that it were in better circumstances.  For hours she sat there, talking to her friend, willing her to be strong.  She was in the middle of telling Emily every detail of her wedding plans when a strong hand fell on her shoulder.

  “You must be Miss Evans?” Joseph Samuelson regarded the petite redhead with interest.  “I’m Joseph Samuelson.  Emily’s father.  Thank you for waiting with her.”

  “It was nothing,” Lily informed him.  “I mean, if it was me, I’d hate to be by myself.”

  “My wife’s coming later, she’s taking care of the hotel and writing to Gary’s school about Emily’s condition – they’ll break it to him gently.  Nathan – my brother, was inconsolable when we told him why we had to come.”

  “She is getting better,” Lily told him, “and everyone agrees that she’s a fighter.”

  “She wants to stay here you know,” Joseph told her.  “I spoke to her about it last night.  She feels her place is here, with you.  Now look at her.  Lying in a hospital bed.  If she’d just come home, she’d have been safe.”

  “We’re already investigating,” Lily soothed him.  “James, my fiancé, he met you at the airport, anyway, he and Sirius and Remus are analysing at the moment.  As soon as Emily is well enough to talk, we’ll have enough information to lock whoever it was up for good.”

  “Bless you,” Joseph took one of Lily’s hands.  “You’re a good girl.  My Emily thought the world of you and your friends.  The English gang, she called you.  She was ever so excited at the thought of seeing you again.”

  “Em’s the best,” Lily agreed.

          Emily grew steadily better in the week that followed Joseph Samuelson’s arrival, but she did not regain consciousness.  Then, exactly nine days after she was admitted, her mother and father were with her.

  “Come on Em.  Wake up honey, Mom and Dad are here for you!”  Fiona Samuelson pleaded with her daughter.

  “Mom?” Emily’s eyes flickered open, and she looked at her mother.  “Where am I?  What happened?”

  “You’re in the hospital, sweetie,” Fiona explained.  “You were attacked.”

  “I ‘member,” Emily replied, thoughtfully.  “It was horrible, Mom, and then he left me, and I tried to scream, but I just couldn’t.” Emily burst into tears, and her mother held her.

Chapter 21 - On his Trail

            “James, Sirius!  How lovely to see you!”

  “Good to see you back in the land of the living Em,” Sirius replied.  “We’re here professionally, though.”

  “Where’re Lily and Remus?”

  “Waiting outside,” James informed her.  They’d only let two of us in.”

  “Stupid people!” Emily said light-heartedly.  “What do you need to know?”

  “Pretty much everything,” James replied.  “We’ve got some clues as to the identity of your attacker, but we need to know what he or she looked like.  Then we can go through the files and see if we can find a match.”

  “He was male,” Emily told them, shortly.  “Tall, muscular about a million tattoos.  Black eyes.”

  “Before or after you were at him?” Sirius asked.

  “No, his eyes were black, same as yours are brown.  He had black hair as well, and a moustache.  Ugly, his face was kinda disfigured.  Definitely not someone you’d want to see in the dark.”

          As she was talking, Sirius muttered a spell, and a picture of a male fitting the description Emily gave wavered in the air.

  “Is this right?” he asked her.

  “Not quite.  A bit more- there!” After making a few adaptations, Emily looked at him triumphantly.  “That’s your man.”

  “Thanks Em,” James transferred the picture to a notebook.  “We’ll be back some time, socially.”

  “James, Sirius, before you go, can I ask you a favour?” Emily began. 

  “Depends what it is.” James replied.

  “Contact Bobbie - Roberta Gillymedows, you know - and get her involved.  I reckon she might just be able to help you.  And if you want me for anything, just come along and I’ll give you a hand.”

  “Thanks for the offer, Emily, but I think we’re actually supposed to figure this out on our own.  But we’ll get Bobbie involved if you like.  I’ll ask Lil to owl her later, while we see if we can get a match in the files.”

  “Thanks guys.  See you later.”

  “See you, Em.”  The two men left the room satisfied that they had all the information that they needed.

          That evening, five people were grouped in James’ flat, discussing strategies.

  “It doesn’t help that there are identical twins fitting the description,” Bobbie said, irritated.  “And neither of them have tattoos according to that ancient thing!” She was referring to the magical machine that found exact likenesses to a pictures drawn up by the Aurors.

  “The best bet is to split up and track both of them,” Lily began.  “Then, if they both have tattoos we’ll just have to bring both of them in, and deduce it from there.”

  “But we can’t split up evenly,” Remus pointed out.

  “So we find a temp,” Lily said, softly.  The others looked at her, astonished.  By temp, she meant freelance auror, and as a rule, they tended to be shunned by the BSA. 

  “Everyone from Thump on up will want our guts if we do that!” Sirius told her.

  “Well everyone from Thump on up are elitist bigots who don’t deserve to hold positions of responsibility!” Lily replied, fiercely.

  “Or,” Bobbie said, “Lily and I will go to one brother, and you guys can take the other.”

  “But then one of them won’t have a partner.” Lily objected.

  “Yeah, but Lil, there are three of them. So it doesn’t matter.  Okay guys?”  The boys nodded assent.  “Well, what are we waiting for?  Let’s find the addresses and get going.”

          Lily and Bobbie were tracking the eldest of the twins - Jacob Marliosa.  They Apparated to his hometown in Nottingham, and staked out the building.  Eventually, when Bobbie had serious cramp, and Lily was contemplating developing a new strategy, the man in question appeared.  Lily nudged Bobbie, who jumped and looked in the direction Lily was pointing. 

  “Well,” she whispered, “he fits Emily’s description.  What are we going to do?”  The she noticed a suspiciously devious look on Lily’s face.  “Lily?”

  “We follow him,” Lily said, simply.

  “Why?” Bobbie asked, frankly.

  “Because,” Lily replied, “if he’s the man we’re after then he’s off on another ‘lets attack some poor unsuspecting target’ mission.  If we catch him red handed it’ll be that much easier to get a conviction.”

  “That, Lily, my dear, is a good plan,” Bobbie concurred.  And so the two of them followed their ominous suspect to an out of the way house.  When he entered, Lily looked at Bobbie, and nodded.  The two of them hurriedly followed him in, careful to remain hidden from view.

  Who are you?”

  “That, sweetheart, is something you don’t need to know.  Let’s just say I could be a friend, but I make a bad enemy.”

  “Take whatever you want and go!” the woman said frantically.

  “Now now, is that any way to treat a guest?” Jacob Marliosa taunted.  “You’re coming with me.”  The woman reached for her wand.  “Now now, that’s not very friendly, is it?  Cr-”  Before he could finish cursing the woman, Bobbie and Lily appeared, and disarmed him.  Then, leaving Lily with a restrained Marliosa, Bobbie went over to the woman.

  “Excuse me, I’m Roberta Gillymedows from the BSA.  Would you mind coming with us?  We need a statement.”  The woman nodded assent, and four figures Disapparated.

          Back at auror HQ, Sirius, James and Remus greeted Lily, Bobbie and their companions.

  “How did it go?” Bobbie asked them, curiously.

  “Jack Marliosa isn’t our man.” James replied.  “He’s like a lovesick teenager.  It’s gross!”

  “Who does that remind you of?” Sirius asked James, innocently.

  “Looks like you had more success than we did.” Remus nodded towards Lily and Bobbie’s captive and the woman.

  “Caught him in the act.” Lily replied, smugly.  “I’m going to see to the lady, you guys can get Marliosa down to the brig.”

 

Chapter 22 - Trial and Sentence

          Jacob Marliosa’s trial date was set in the middle of April.  By the time the day came, Emily was completely recovered, and consequently, able to give evidence.

  “What do you reckon’ll happen?” she asked Bobbie, just before the trial.  The two of them had become the best of friends, and had also been accepted at the BSA central office, meaning that they now worked with Lily, James, Sirius and Remus.

  “We caught him red handed, so I don’t think he’ll get off, if that’s what you’re asking,” Bobbie told her complacently.  “It’s not a case of will he get sentenced, it’s a case of what will the sentence be.  Are you ready?”

  “As I’ll ever be.”

          Emily, Bobbie, Lily and James were all witnesses at the trial, on behalf of the prosecution.  They waited nervously outside the courtroom as the trial commenced, joined by the woman that Lily and Bobbie had rescued when they detained Marliosa - Jenna Uliguy.

  “If there’s one part of the job I hate,” Lily began, “it’s this one.”  Before anyone could reply, a clerk called.

  “Miss Samuelson?”

  “Good luck Em,” Bobbie smiled.  “Knock ‘em for six.”

          Nervously, Emily stood on the witness stand and took her oath. 

  “Miss Samuelson,” the lawyer, Mr Jones, began, “what were you doing on the evening of the 20th March this year?”

  “Well,” Emily began, “I was staying with my friend, Lily Evans, at her flat near the BSA headquarters.  First of all, I spoke to my dad-”

  “What about?” the lawyer asked.

  “I was telling him how I planned to stay here, and get a job at the BSA.  Anyway, then I wrote to my friend Roberta Gillymedows, about being my partner.  I’d just got her reply when I was interrupted by the door opening.  Well, I thought it was Lily- Lily Evans-”

  “Where had Miss Evans been?” the lawyer asked.

  “Lily had been out with James Potter, her fiancé.  They invited me, but I’d arranged to speak to my father, so I couldn’t go along.  Anyway, I asked Lily if she’d had a good time, and a man replied that he wasn’t Lily but he was planning on having a good time.  Naturally I was confused.  Well, I asked his name, and he said I didn’t need to know, that he was a friend, and that I’d be going with him.  So I reached for my wand, and he told me he wouldn’t do that if he was me, and began to hurl curses at me.  Well, I blocked them as best I could, but quite frankly, duelling isn’t something that I’ve ever spent hours practising, and he was better at it than I was.  I stayed defensive, but eventually he got the better of me.  I remember hearing a laugh, and the next thing I can remember is waking up in the hospital.”

  “Thank you Miss Samuelson.  No more questions.”  Then it was the defence lawyer’s turn to cross-examine.  He suggested that Emily had provoked attack by reaching for her wand.  Emily replied frankly.

  “I suppose it was possible, but look at it this way.  I was alone in a place that I’m still learning my way around, and a strange guy turns up and starts leering towards me.  What would you do?  Invite him in for a cup of tea.  And I certainly didn’t throw the first curse.”

          Eventually the cross-examination was over, and Emily was free to leave the stand.  The next witness was Lily.  She explained in simple terms what she had found on her return from her outing with James, and what had occurred afterwards.  She then went on to explain what they had done to catch Marliosa.

  “So you set up a trap for him?” the defence lawyer asked her.  Lily disagreed.

  “No.  We just followed him where he chose to go.  We wouldn’t have had time to set up a trap, besides which there was only Roberta Gillymedows and myself at the scene, and both of us were involved in tracking Marliosa.  Anyway, I’m an auror; it’s my job to make the best of any situation I’m thrown into.  And even if it was a trap, the fact that Marliosa was attacking Jenna Uliguy is pretty incriminating.”

          When, at last, the day was over, they’d all finished being interrogated.  Lily was indignant, feeling that the defence lawyer had undermined her professionalism, and Bobbie too was feeling the smart of his tongue.  Sentencing was to take place the next day, and all of them hoped that he would get a long time in Azkaban.

          The next morning dawned bright and sunshiny.  Bobbie said it should have been dull and gloomy to add effect to the trial, but Emily told her that the sunshine reflected how she’d feel when Jacob Marliosa was firmly behind bars.

          In the courtroom, the atmosphere was tense.  Then the jury delivered their verdict.  Guilty.  The judge sentenced Marliosa to ten years in Azkaban, and the Aurors rejoiced.

          Later, at Sirius flat, they all got together.  Emily sighed contentedly.

  “Thank goodness that’s over,” she began.  “Now all we’ve got left to worry about is Lily and James’ wedding.”

  “Worry about it?” Lily frowned at her.  “What’s to worry about?  You don’t think I’ve spent three and a half years doing nothing do you?  I’ve had it planned since I was about three!”  She smirked at James, who looked slightly disconcerted.  “Don’t worry, dear, I promise you won’t have to wear tights,” then she burst into gales of laughter at his expression.  “It’s all right James, I’m only joking!” she said in between chuckles.  He looked incredibly relieved.  But Emily had a point.  The wedding was in two months.

 

Chapter 23 - Preparations

          At the beginning of May it was a case of all systems go at the Evans house.  The wedding reception was to take place there, and Evie and Hugo Evans were determined that everything should be perfect.  When Petunia, their elder daughter, had married, the reception had been at the local hall.  But Lily wasn’t Petunia, and she had laughed when the possibility was suggested.  After consulting with James, she asked her parents if they would object to her having it at home.  They had been touched, and now they were busy ensuring that everything was in place.

          Felicity Howell was working in the Evans’ huge garden.  She had been put in charge of decorating the house, and weeding the garden, a job that had taken several weekends to perfect.  She planned on doing the flower arrangements the day before the wedding, to ensure that they stayed fresh, but that didn’t mean that she could completely forget about them.

          The rehearsal was a week before the wedding itself.  Lily, her father, Flick, Kat and Kat’s friend, Amy Militaris all went to the church.  After speaking to Debbie and Paul Militaris Lily had decided that Kat had a point, and Amy joined the wedding list.  They arrived outside the gothic church, and Kat and Amy looked at it in awe.

  “It’s huge!” Kat breathed.

  “Pretty,” Amy informed her.  “Very pretty.”

          They met James and Sirius, and then went off to find the vicar.  When he turned up, he looked at Felicity and Sirius who were sharing a joke arm in arm.

  “Are you ready?” he asked them.  Looking at Sirius’ face, then at each other, Lily and James spluttered.

  “Not us,” Flick informed him, “them.” 

  “Oh, sorry,” the minister turned to Lily and James.  “Are you ready?” he asked them.  They nodded assent, and everything went well.  After half an hour, they were happy that everything was perfect and went off home.

          Two days before the wedding, James had a stag night.  Thinking about it, Lily came to the conclusion that in his case it was more appropriate than anybody else’s.  Anyway, she didn’t know the details of what went on, and she had no intention of finding out.  The words underwear and flag seemed to be associated with each other, and on discovering this, she kept well away.

          The day before the wedding was incredibly hectic.  There was so little time, and so many things to see to.

  “It’s manic,” Lily gasped at her fiancé, when he came to help.  “I’ve been up since five.  Go and ask Mum for something to do.  I’ve got a million and one things to do - orders from her.  No one would believe it was our wedding.”  Smiling at her dishevelled look, James found Evie Evans in the kitchen, and was told to ensure that his parents had rooms in the hotel, and to put up a camp bed in Kat’s room, as Amy was staying the night.  He did so without any fuss.  He got on well with Evie and Hugo Evans, and he wanted it to stay that way.

          Finally, everything was ready, and James was gone.  Evie and Flick were putting Kat to bed, and Lily was left with her father.  Hugo regarded his younger daughter sombrely.  This was the last night that she was to be completely his.  There had always been a special bond between Hugo and Lily, and he couldn’t help but wonder whether it would be broken.  His beautiful red head smiled at him, and sneaked on to his lap.  He was transported back to the time when she had truly been his little girl; sneaking in exactly the same way after her mother had sent her to bed.  Lily smiled at him.

  “Do you remember the day Mum found out that I didn’t stay in bed once she put me there?” she asked, “I used to come downstairs, and visit you in the study, and I wouldn’t go to bed unless you carried me there.”

  “Right little madam you were,” her father smiled.  “I don’t know who was more disappointed when Evie found out - you or me.  I don’t know Lil, you grew up so fast.  I can remember the first time I saw you.  You and ‘Tunia were the best thing that ever happened to me.  I remember your first day at school.  You were so proud of that pinafore and sweatshirt, your mum had a hard job getting them off of you.  And you always used to come and find out what I’d done at work.”

  “But really I wanted to tell you about school,” Lily smiled.  “I remember.”

  “Now look at you,” her father went on.  “All grown up, and a credit to your mother and I.  You’ve always been special, Lily, never forget that.  And no matter what happens - where you go, or what you do, you’ll always be my baby, and I’ll always love you.”

  “I love you too Daddy,” Lily replied, softly, and as she had done so many years ago, she kissed his cheek, and left him to his thoughts.

 

Chapter 24 - Dearly Beloved

          Kat and Amy were up at the crack of dawn on the morning of the wedding.  They made quite a contrast with each other – Kat was fair and had eyes of deepest, darkest blue while Amy had dark hair and hazel eyes.  Both girls were small, but where Kat was dimpled, Amy was incredibly skinny thanks to prolonged illness, although she was beginning to fill out.  The two of them bounded into Felicity’s room.

  “Morning Flick!” Kat shook her elder sister awake.

  “Kat!” Felicity moaned.  “What time is it?”

  “Don’t know,” Kat replied, glibly.  “I don’t have a watch!”  Felicity glanced at the clock on the bedside table.

  “Katherine Mary Howell!  It’s five o’clock in the morning!  Come back at seven, and I might see about getting you breakfast.”  With that, Felicity rolled over and went back to her well-deserved slumbers.  Kat looked at Amy who shrugged, and then the two of them went back to Kat’s bedroom, and got back into bed.  Very soon, they were fast asleep.

          At seven o’clock, Kat woke with a start, excited all over again.  She shook her friend gently, and the two of them made their way to Flick’s room once more.  Only Felicity wasn’t there.

  “Where is she?” Amy asked.

  “Dunno,” Kat replied.  “Let’s find Lily.”  And with she danced towards the door of Lily’s room.  She would have opened it, but before she could she was interrupted by a melodic voice.

  “Kat?  Amy?  What are you doing?”  Lily looked at them in astonishment. 

  “Looking for you,” Amy told her.  “Morning Lily.”

  “Morning Amy.  Morning Kat.  I suggest we all go downstairs and get some breakfast before doing anything else.”  Inwardly, Lily groaned.  The prospect of food made her feel quite sick.  But the three of them set off for the kitchen, where they were greeted by Felicity, who shoved bowls of cornflakes in front of the girls, and offered Lily some toast.  Lily eyed it with disgust, but took a slice none the less, and sat crumbling it.

  “You’re supposed to eat the food Lily,” Flick admonished her.  Lily smiled weakly, and then started to eat her breakfast.  Slowly.  It took her half an hour to finish one slice of toast, and when she was done, Evie was washing the little girls and getting them dressed.

          When Kat and Amy had finished in the bathroom, Lily locked herself in there for an hour.  By the time she had finished, Felicity was frantic.

  “Lily!  The wedding’s at eleven, and it’s half eight now.  Aunt Evie, Uncle Hugo and I still need to wash you know.  We’ve only got two and a half hours left!”

          However, by ten o’clock, they were all nearly ready.  Felicity appeared, her shoulder length brown tresses sopping wet from a wash, although she had got as far as her petticoat.  She muttered a spell, and her hair was dry.  After running a brush through it, she sat in front of Evie Evans.  Evie was a hairdresser, and Lily had asked her to organise everyone.   When she had finished with Felicity and the little girls, Evie turned to her youngest daughter.  She smiled as she saw the curly masses floating down Lily’s back.  Burnishing them with a brush, she set the veil and tiara of flowers on to Lily’s head, and then turned the girl around to look at her.  The sight brought tears to her eyes, although she smiled through them.  Lily looked like a fairy tale princess.  She was completely different to her elder sister.  Petunia had wanted a ‘traditional’ wedding complete with meringue, frills and flourishes.  Lily’s dress looked incredibly simple, a plain ivory dress with ruffled sleeves with an overdress of white brocade.  It was unconventional, and it was stunning.  Lily had always been pretty, but in that dress, she looked surreal. 

  “Aunt Evie!  We’ve got to go!” Felicity poked her head around the door.  Evie nodded and wiped away her tears.  She looked at Lily one last time, and then Lily rose on to the tips of her toes and kissed her mother.

  “One last time, eh Mum?” she smiled.  “Next time I do that, I’ll be Lily Potter.”  Evie smiled and nodded, before kissing her daughter.

  “Go and find your father,” she told her daughter.  “He’s probably moping in the garden.  And remember - no more than five minutes late.”

  “Yes, Mum,” Lily blew her mother one last kiss, and then ran off to find her father.  Evie laughed.  Lily had always been like that.  Blasé about everything.

          Meanwhile, James and Sirius had made it as far as the church, and Sirius was doing his best to calm his friend down.  Sadly, his best wasn’t very good.  James was pacing the vestry when Flick appeared.

  “Hi guys, how’re you doing?  Sirius, your cravat’s wonky.  Here,” and she straightened it.  “James, chill out.  Lily was ready to leave when I left; only she had to find Uncle Hugo.  Aunt Evie said he was in the garden, so he’s probably having a tête at tête with Lil.  Aunt Evie told her she’s to be no more than five minutes late, and knowing Lily, she’ll cut four minutes off of that time.  I’ve got to go.  Kat and Amy have probably given the vicar a heart attack by now.  Oh, and James?” James looked at her.  “Good Luck.”

          It was exactly one minute past eleven when the organist began to play the bridal march, and Lily and her entourage started their procession down the long aisle.  People gasped at the beauty of the scene.  Kat and Amy were at the head of the procession, in plain sashed dresses of blue and green.  A solitary Felicity attired in the same colours and with the same simplicity followed them.  Then, a radiant bride and her father drew up the rear.  James and Sirius stood waiting at the front, and when Lily reached them she whispered.

  “No dungbombs,” and smiled at them, breaking the tension.  Then all of them turned to face the vicar.

  “God is love, and those who live in love live in God: and God lives in them.” The service began.  After Sirius and Remus had finished the readings, and the vicar completed his sermon, they came to the actual marriage part of the service.

  “...James, will you take Lily to be your wife?  Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?”

  “I will,” James answered firmly.  The priest turned to Lily.

  “Lily, will you take James to be your husband?  Will you love him, comfort him, honour and protect him, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?”

  “I will,” Lily replied.  Then the priest received Lily’s right hand from her father, and gave it to James.

  “I, James Matthew, take you Lily Alexandra, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and worship, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law; and this is my solemn vow.”  Then Lily took James’ right hand.

“I, Lily Alexandra, take you James Matthew, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law; and this is my solemn vow.”  Then the vicar took the rings from Sirius, and blessed them.  They were exchanged, and then the vicar spoke again.

  “In the presence of God, and before this congregation, James and Lily have given their consent and made their marriage vows to each other.  They have declared their marriage by the joining of hands and by the giving and receiving of a ring.  I therefore proclaim that they are husband and wife.”  The service was completed, and Lily and James, Felicity and Sirius, Katherine and Amy, Evie and Hugo Evans and Edward and Helena Potter went to sign the register.  The first thing Lily did after signing her last Lily A. Evans was to kiss her father and mother.  Sirius raised his eyebrows at her, and James smiled.

  “What?” she asked.  “They’re my mum and dad.  I just threw away their name, don’t you think they deserve some kind of thanks for the twenty-one years they put up with me?”  Then she turned to Edward and Helena Potter, and kissed them.  Helena’s eyes twinkled.  Finally, Lily turned to her husband, and threw her arms around him.  After kissing him, she smiled at the assorted company.  “Everyone finished?  Then off we go.”

          They left the church in a flurry of activity, and within half an hour they were all at the Evans’ home.  Everyone sat down at the long tables that had been set up on the lawn, and it was time for speeches.  Sirius, as best man, went first.

 

Chapter 25 - Together Forever

          “Flowers, apparently, are important at weddings.  Well, James is all right then, he’s got a flower of his own.  Lily will cause me severe bodily harm for that crack, but it has to be said.  Lily of course, will disagree, and I advise James to agree with her, because there are three rules in married life, which apparently apply to every couple.  James, here’s a set for you.

 1. Lily will always be right.

 2. If Lily is wrong, refer to rule number one.

 3. Lily can be wrong if she chooses to be so, and if it is in her best interests.

          Now, weddings are supposed to be times of sheer embarrassment for the couple involved.  It just so happens that I have some compromising pictures of James and Lily, which I’ve had enlarged.  This was taken at six o’clock in the morning, and what they were doing on top of the astronomy tower, I don’t want to know.  Knowing the two of them, arranging something compromising.  I have others, but they’re too embarrassing, and I don’t think Felicity would appreciate it if James returned the favour at our wedding.  They are however, available on demand, and can be purchased if you wish to do so, although I’m not sure why you’d want one.

          Having said all that, I have to be serious.  Which of course I am.  Lil and James are a fantastic couple, and I’d like to propose a toast. To Lily and James, may they live to a ripe old age without too many marital feuds.   James, you have my grate number.  If she gets violent, just pop by.”  Amid laughter, Sirius sat down, only to be thumped by Lily on one side, and Felicity on the other.  Then Flick stood up.

 “Normally at this point James would toast the bridesmaids, but before he does that, I have a few things to say.  Mainly because Lily was complaining that only men get to make speeches the other day.  I have it on good authority that James once said that if he married Lily he’d be marrying a sergeant major.  Lil, much as I love you, he was right.  However, I’d like to issue a few words of warning. 

          Children.  If you must have them, I hope that you pity them accordingly.  With parents like James and Lily the poor kids will have a lot to live up to, and if they’re redheaded James they have my sympathy.

          Food.  Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy at all times, as I know both of you are liable to forget that you’re cooking something and go off and work.

          Business.  Never mix business with pleasure.  It always goes pear shaped.  I admit this warning’s probably come a bit late, but there we go.  And James, if you have to curse people, try not to attack Lily in the process.

          I’d love to toast myself, but Lily told me that it would be egotistical.  So I told James to do it.  Anyway, as the bride’s best woman, or maid of honour, or whatever they’re called, I’d like to say this.  Lil, you’re the best friend a girl could have, and make sure you let him know who’s the boss.”

  “Flick, Sirius, thanks.  Apparently I have to say something that doesn’t involve insulting my wife.  I’d have thought the words ‘my wife’ were insulting enough, but anyway…  I’d like to thank Evie and Hugo Evans for bringing Lil up to be the treasure she is, and for hosting us today.  Thanks chaps.  I’d also like to mention my own parents, who have put up with bedlam since I could crawl.  I blame my father.  So does my mother, but never mind.  I’d like to propose a toast to the bridesmaids - Kat, Amy and Flick, for looking terribly pretty, and not overshadowing the bride.  And I think that’s about it.  Enjoy the food, and have fun.”

          Then Hugo Evans stood up. 

  “I’d like to congratulate Lily and James, and I have one thing to say.  It’s your dance.”  James smiled at him, and then at Lily, stood up, and offered her his hand.  She accepted, and whispered to him.

  “James, what exactly are we dancing to?”  James shook his head, and then the band struck up, as the bride and groom took centre stage.

  Such captivating green eyes,

  those tender and serene eyes,

  those fascinating green eyes,

  they’re loving and they’re true.

  The sea beneath the blue skies,

  is envying your green eyes,

  the beauty of the woodland,

  keeps reminding me too.

  My heart where-in my love lies,

  is telling me of love ties,

  I look into your green eyes,

  And wonder if you care.

  My dreams are all about you,

  I’ll never, never doubt you,

  one look into your green eyes

  and I find my heaven there.” 

          The song ended, and James kissed his wife’s hand.  Lily had other ideas and kissed him on the lips.  Then the band struck up again, and other couples joined them.  Lily looked at James, winked, and then dragged him off to see all the visitors.  They saw Bobbie with her boyfriend, and Emily, both of whom were with Ellie and Cee, and they found Remus and Sirius and thanked them, and then Lily met all of James’ relatives.  After smiling until she thought her jaw would break, the two of them finally escaped back to the dance floor.  Unfortunately, while there they bumped into Lily’s Auntie Maureen, who had told Lily’s mother that they were made for each other at Petunia’s wedding.

  “Lily!  Congratulations my dear!  How are you?  Lovely wedding, and to think, the last time I saw the two of you was at Petty’s wedding.  Speaking of which, where is Petunia?”

  “On holiday,” Lily replied, eyes going cold all of a sudden.

  “Now?  Oh well, never mind.  Look, there’s your mother, I’ll go and speak to her.” and Maureen disappeared.  James bent down, and whispered into Lily’s ear.

  “Don’t let it get to you.  You know you’d have hated it if Petunia had been here anyway.”

  “Didn’t mean she had to book her holiday to coincide with my wedding though, did it?  I endured her stupid reception, she could have returned the favour!” Lily hissed back. 

  “Never mind, sweetie.  Let’s go and find my mum and dad.  It’ll be more fun for you.”  So off they went, and had a good long natter with Helena and Edward Potter. 

          The festivities went on for hours, but at five o’clock, Lily and James had to leave.  Smiling at everyone, Lily threw her bouquet.  A rather startled looking Emily caught it.  Lily smiled at her, and then waved goodbye to everyone.

          They arrived at their destination at seven o’clock, just as the sun was setting and onlookers saw two figures perched on a rock silhouetted against the setting sun, with eyes for none but each other.  It seemed as if they were part of the landscape, and as it drew dark, they faded from view, as though they were together for all eternity.

 

THE END
Disclaimer:  It’s not mine, I tell you!  All that is J. K. Rowling’s belongs to her.

.

Hallie

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