The Sugar Quill
Author: Hallie (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: All in the Name of Love  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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Continued from Score All to Us - Nil to Snape

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Chapter 1 - Cecelia, Eleanor, Felicity and Lily

The end of August. The summer holidays were entering their close. Four girls, about sixteen or seventeen years old were travelling down Portabello Road.

"Flick!! You're incorrigible!" A petite girl with long red hair, which was pulled off of her face, and huge emerald eyes laughed at the tallest of them.

"What? It's not my fault he was a peeping tom. He deserved it!" Felicity Howell, a pretty brunette, looked at her, brown eyes innocent.

"Don't look at me like that!"

"Yeah, but Lil, did you see his face when she called him a-"

"Okay Ellie, there's no need to repeat it. Lily looked scandalised the first time round!"

"I'm looking on the bright side. She didn't try anything illegal. Can you imagine her dad's face. 'I'm terribly sorry Mr Howell, but Felicity is currently an inmate of the nearest gaol. They said they'd let her out if you went to get her!' He'd never agree to us visiting again!"

They reached a large Victorian house, with a mahogany front door and shining brass knocker. It opened, and a tall man with dark brown hair and twinkling blue eyes greeted them.

"Come on in! Flick, aren't you going to introduce us?"

"Well, if you'd let us come inÖ! Is Kat asleep? What's Mags doing?"

"Yes, Kat's asleep, and Mags was muttering about lunch." As they spoke they moved into what must have been the living room. It's main feature was the cast iron fireplace, above which was a huge mirror. The room was furnished comfortably, with blue sofas and yellow walls. Books were scattered on the coffee table, and a newspaper was folded neatly on a chair.

"Dad, these are Lil, Cee, and Ellie. My friends from Hogwarts." Hogwarts was Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. That was the unusual thing about the four girls, and the inhabitants of the house. They were all magically talented.

Mr Howell gestured for the girls to sit down. They were a good-looking group, no one could deny that. Eleanor Silver had icy blue eyes, and silvery fair hair that fell in ruler straight masses, to touch her shoulders. Cecelia Hall, on the other hand had wavy black hair that fell to her knees, and deep, dark eyes. Combined with Lily Evans's Celtic beauty, and Felicity's own charisma, they were very pleasing to the eye.

A woman the complete opposite of Felicity entered the room. This was Flick's stepmother, Mags. Together with her new half sister, Katherine, and her father, they made up the Howell family. Felicity and her father were Welsh, but had lived in America for eleven years, after Flick's mother died when she was five years old. When her father had married Mags, they moved back to England, where her father had a job, and Felicity transferred to Hogwarts, where she had quickly become a member of the group that Lily, Cee and Ellie formed.

"Hi! You must be Mrs Howell." Lily said to the short woman with the golden hair and grey eyes.

"Call me Mags. And I'm guessing that you're Lily?"

"Red hair a dead giveaway. Oh well, we all pay for our sins."

"Not at all. It's a lovely colour. I was actually referring to your height. Flick said that I'd know you straight off, and for once I'd be able to look down on someone. She's cheeky, our Flick, I'll grant you that!"

"Tell me about it!" Lily groaned, good-naturedly.

"What's she been saying now?"

"You don't want to know! How's Katherine?"

"She's fine, and we're calling her Kat. Much shorter when I have to yell for her you know."

"Only if she's like Flick!" Ellie chimed in. "If she's more sedate then you won't need to call her, she won't be given to running off."

"You're Ellie, I know, which makes you Cee. Come on girls. I've got lunch in the kitchen, and we can have a good old natter. Flick's dad's off to work now, so it'll just be us women."

"I pity the neighbours!" Mr Howell said, under his breath.

"What was that, Daddy darling?" Felicity asked, innocently.

"Nothing!"

It was an afternoon indulged in gossip and laughter. They were a gregarious lot, and given to doing things so outrageous that no one would think to ban them. A particular favourite was an incident at the end of the previous school year.

"I have to say I think the boysí end of year feast fiasco was the best!" Ellie giggled.

"What did they do to the poor boy then?"

"Poor boy? Mags, this is Severus Snape we're talking about. He tried to get James expelled!" Flick exclaimed.

"How? Why?"

"It doesn't matter. Suffice to say, he deserved all he got."

"Doesn't he always?" Cee asked, laughing.

"Stop side tracking." Lily chastised them. "We always said that Snape's hair was greasy enough to fry food in, and the boys, um, put it into practise."

"I don't like the sound of that!" Mags' words were those of a mother, but she was trying to conceal her laughter.

"Neither did I." Lily agreed. "But when did they ever listen to me?"

"James listens to you." Felicity stated, wickedly.

"Not always." Lily replied, blushing.

"Most of the time." Cee muttered. Mags seemed to sense that they were on dangerous ground, and she promptly changed the subject. By the time Lily, Cee and Ellie had to leave, all were happy again, and the afternoon had been spent, for the most part, in high jinks.

Lily's birthday was on the last day of August, one day before the beginning of school, making her the youngest of the group that produced most of the mischief in their year. She lived in a cottage, with her mother and father. Her elder sister, Petunia, had been married for ten days, and was currently enjoying a honeymoon on the French Riviera. Lily had to admit that Petunia's in-laws were rich, but her new brother-in-law, Vernon Dursley, left her cringing. He had intolerance for anything 'unnatural' to rival Petunia's, and Lily, in her capacity as a witch, was just about as abnormal as you could get in his eyes. Not that she was all that bothered. Ever since she had found out, her sister had barely spoken to her, and while Lily regretted the lost companion, she and Petunia had never been close, so it was no great loss.

On the morning of her birthday, she was greeted by an ocean of presents, including several from her wizarding friends. She opened the gift from her parents first. It was a gold watch, studded peridots, which happened to be her birth stone. Exclaiming over its beauty, she moved on to the present her sister had left for her. A writing pad and envelopes. No surprise there. Petunia had given her that every year since she had turned twelve. She had collected a range of hues, and coloured inks to go with them, that being Petunia's chosen Christmas gift. Her next present included a letter.

ĎLil lovey,

Sorry, this is going to have to be a quickie. Kat's screaming, and Dad's on the warpath. I think the lack of sleep is finally getting to him. Well it's not my fault there's a baby in the house, I'm being as quiet as a mouse. (Take that look off your face. I can be quiet you know, it's just no fun!) The whole point of this is to wish you a happy birthday. Getting on a bit now, aren't you? Seventeen. Before you know it you'll be old and grey, rambling on about what it was like 'when I was young', perish the thought. I hope you like the present. Have a great day, eat lots of chocolate, and be merry!

luv 'n' stuff

Flickí

Flick's present turned out to be a book of charms, charms being Lily's favourite area of magic. Cee sent a box of Chocolate Frogs, and Ellie went for a book token. Eventually there was only one letter left. Lily knew who it was from, and waited until her parents had started working, before reading it in the privacy of her bedroom, looking out at the magnificent view her window gave.

'Dear Lily,

It seems I spend my life writing to you, but I couldn't not send this. After all, it's your birthday. I was actually aware of that fact before I got a letter from Flick, and another from Ellie, and one from Cee, but something tells me they have little faith in me. Anyway, many happy returns (pretty mundane thing to say, huh?) I know I don't go in for slushy stuff...' Just the big brother act, Lily thought ruefully, 'but I found this poem, and I thought you might like it.

What is love? It's often asked

Is it what I feel as I walk past

A pretty girl, or is that only

A feeling born because I'm lonely?

Love is special, I say

Love is there for you, come what may

A feeling that you'll know when it hits you

A feeling that makes one from two.

Love is the experience you'll never forget

The warmth that will never let

You feel alone, it's always there

The one whom you love will always care.

They say some love is unrequited

I say love comes, its never invited

For everybody, woman or man

There is a love you'll understand.

And once you find that love

Cherish it. It is above

All those empty dreams of old

And is far more precious than any gold.

Happy birthday Lily. Have a great day. I hope you like the present.

Lots of love

Jamesí

Lily smiled as she read the poem, and then turned to the package that accompanied the letter. Her boyfriend was notoriously unromantic. He'd been at her sister's wedding, and his primary interest had been the food. So he must have gone to a lot of trouble to find a rhyme that she would like. Lily herself didn't go in for all things lovey-dovey, but that didn't make her any less the romantic. Her friends often joked that the reason she had fallen for James had been his devilish streak, in spite of her protests to the contrary.

She tore the paper from the package, and was greeted by an ornately decorated box. Curiously, she opened it, and inside nestled two miniature white doves. Lily smirked. Perhaps James was a romantic after all. Being products of the magical variety, the models moved, and one tucked it's head daintily under it's wing. Gently, Lily placed the box on her bedside table, and then went off to find her mother.

Chapter 2 Ė Kingís Cross Station

The next day, Lily's father transported her to platform nine of Kingís Cross Station. After a hurried goodbye, he left her for his work. She, in her turn, made use of a large group of German tourists in order to cover her entrance to the magical platform nine and three-quarters. No sooner was she in then a call greeted her.

"Lily! Lil! Over here!" She hurried over to greet Flick.

"Flick! Thanks for my birthday present. How's your dad?"

"Like a bear with a sore paw, but I'm not bothered - I'm at Hogwarts, he's in London, there's quite a bit of mileage between us."

"You can say that again. There's Ellie. ELEANOR!" Ellie, in her turn, joined them.

"How're you doing guys? Have you seen Cee?"

"Nope. And I don't expect to see her until ten minutes before we're due to leave. You know Cee, always leaves everything till the last minute." Lily laughed at Felicity's light-hearted insult, and Ellie joined her. Lily was about to speak when a hand came over her eyes, and a voice whispered

"Guess Who!"

"Grow up Sirius!" she said, scathingly.

"Getting priggish in our old age are we?" Sirius Black countered, looking at her searchingly.

"Who're you calling old? And why are you staring at me as though I've suddenly sprouted tentacles?"

"Oooh! Good idea!"

"Nice one Lil, lovey, you've given him another idea to use on Snape." Felicity said, sarcastically.

"Well, why are you staring at me?" Lily asked, ignoring Felicity.

"I just wondered..."

"What?" Felicity asked sharply.

"Well, are you still a prefect?" Lily blushed. She'd be hoping to keep this under wraps for as long as possible, especially regarding Sirius.

"Not exactly." Sirius looked at her, questioningly.

"Okay, okay, I'm Head Girl. And don't fall about laughing."

"Dumbledore's more romantically inclined than I thought." Sirius muttered. "Well, Lily," he said, in his usual clarion tones, "you'll be pleased to know that lover boy is your counterpart."

"I will?" She asked.

"Why not?"

"You've been on a planning committee with James, and you're asking why I'm not over the moon to know that he's Head Boy?"

"Oh, I see your point?"

"Which one?" Ellie asked.

"Well," Flick said, cutting Sirius off, "Either Lil's worried about James' tendency to, um, dominate planning sessions, or she's concerned that they'll get very little work done."

"Flick!" Lily exclaimed. "What exactly do you think we do?"

"Go over spells?" Flick asked impishly.

"Ha ha, very funny." Lily replied scathingly. "Some friend you are." She turned to Sirius. "Where is James, anyway?"

"Here." James said, coming up behind her. While he was not as tall as Sirius, he dwarfed her figure only a little over five feet, and had unruly black hair and blue eyes that sparked electrically.

"Where've you been?" Lily demanded.

"Looking for Remus. Why?"

"Just wondered." She replied, evasively. "Cee's here. I can see her. Give her a wave someone."

"Why can't you?" James asked.

"Oh use your brains," she replied. "She won't be able to see me through you, will she?"

"Well, you saw her."

"By peering round you. Stop being so pedantic. Anyone would think you'd-" he cut her off with a kiss, which was greeted with a chorus of whistles.

"Shut up." he said to his friends good-naturedly. "That's the only way to keep her quiet!" Lily glared at him, and turned to Cee. As Felicity had predicted, Cee had left very little time for mounting the train, and all of them hurried to the compartment that Flick had reserved earlier, by strewing all her luggage around it.

"Do you have enough luggage?" Sirius asked, gaping.

"Ah, leave her alone Sirius, she's a girl!" James drawled.

"Listen to the pot calling the kettle black!" Lily said, gesturing towards Sirius own luggage. "Between your stuff, and Flick's, how are we all supposed to fit in?"

Lily was right to be concerned. By the time everyone's belongings were packed into the compartment, there was only enough space for seven people. And Flick, Cee, Ellie, James, Sirius, Peter and Remus had beaten her to it.

"Where exactly am I supposed to sit?" she asked. "Or am I supposed to stand up for the entire journey? Perhaps there's something you're not telling me. I can always find another carriage. I heard that Nathan Briggs had space in his." That statement meant the others turned to gape at her.

"Well, she's small." Flick said. "Maybe she could sit on one of our laps?"

"If you didn't have so much junk" Lily emphasised the word junk, "then I'd be able to sit like a seventeen year old, rather than a seven month old." As she was talking, the train suddenly lurched forward, and she ended up sprawled across the four boys.

"Great pose Lil." Sirius smirked.

"Shut up Sirius!"

"Lil, you can't spend the whole journey standing up." Ellie said, plaintively.

"You've got a better suggestion?"

"Go and sit on Sirius. Then maybe he'll shut up."

"Charming." Sirius replied. "If she sits on me I'll have dead legs and then- Hey! What do you think you're doing?"

"Sitting on you." Lily smiled at him, angelically. "Ellie was right - you need it. Oh, and for your information, I am not a baby whale!"

"Never mentioned one. I just said your weight would kill me-"

"I 'spect your mum would be grateful." Flick chortled.

"Seriously, can't we move some of this around, so that I can sit down?" Lily asked.

Eventually the luggage was arranged so that Lily could just about squeeze in. Unfortunately, it meant her cat, Jet, was being nursed by Remus, and Cee's owl, Aphrodite, was perched on James' shoulder.

"The Magical Menagerie has nothing on us!" Sirius muttered.

The rest of the journey passed with little incident. Eventually they reached the stop for Hogwarts. Jet and Aphrodite were back in their cages, and all of the luggage was with its owners. Lily had only one case, and Jet. Flick, by comparison, had two cases, a rucksack, and a cage containing her new kitten, Kat's cat.

"Why on earth did you call her Kat's Cat?"

"Because Kat's fallen in love with her. I dare say she'll be Kitty by the end of the week, but never mind. And Hagrid's dealing with the first years, so we really should be off."

They made their way to the Great Hall, and soon it was time for the sorting.

"Our last," Cee muttered to Flick.

"My first," she retorted. "I missed it last year." Then she hurriedly shut up, as the hat began to sing.

In days of old I was required

By a quartet of magicians

They needed to complete their houses

With those they would commission

Great Gryffindor I remember well,

Noble, brave and true

He desired for his house

Those who were these things too.

By far the most intelligent

Was Lady Ravenclaw

She saw the value of learning things

And laziness deplored

Fair Hufflepuff was kind and sweet

And terribly loyal

She wished for her house

People unafraid of toil

Now Slytherin, a clever chap

Less faithful than the rest

Was more inclined to darker ways

And viewed those to be best.

So put me on and do not fret

I've done this job for years

In spite of all you may have heard

I can allay your fears

The house to which you belong

Is written in your mind

I'll see it there and say for you

Where those like you you'll find.

After much applause, the first years were placed into their houses. Lily watched in a wave of nostalgia. She remembered her own sorting all too well. A Hufflepuff, Rita Skeeter, was sorted before her, then she put the hat on. It considered Ravenclaw, seeing her love of learning, but then told her that she was capable of brave and noble things, and she had become a Gryffindor. In some ways she wished that she was one of the first years, with another seven years to look forward to, but she had done her time, and now she was at the other end of the school. Then there was the beginning of term feast. Dumbledore stood to say a few words.

"I'll be brief, but there are a few words I'd like to say. We have only one new face this year. Professor Horti, our Herbology professor, retired at the end of last year, so here is Professor Sprout, his replacement. I'm sure you'll make her very welcome. Now, let us eat!"

They set to. Even though they had eaten on the train, the eight mischief-makers were ravenous. There was little conversation as they devoured as much as they could. Anyone would have thought that they hadn't been fed for months, judging by the amount they ate. But as Peter had once remarked, the food was just too good to skimp on.

After the meal, they were almost walking in their sleep, and so they set off for bed. The new password was Armarillo. Once safely in their dormitories, all were fast asleep, and the entire Gryffindor tower was silent.

Chapter 3 - Introducing Severus Snape

The mischief-makers went through the first week of term without incident. When Sirius realised this, he looked at the others in horror.

"One whole week! We've been back one whole week, and we've not had a single detention! James - dump Lily. All this love stuff is going to your head get with it- James! Lily! What are you doing?"

"Kissing." Flick told him. "And leave them to it. As long as you don't look it's kind of sweet. And drop the whole dump Lily act too. Otherwise you'll have four not so good friends, and James' head will appear on a wanted warrant. Believe me, I know a lot of painful curses, and you wouldn't like to sample them."

"Flick - you spend far too much time paying attention to what goes on in Defence Against Dark Arts."

"Oh, and you don't? It's Remus' best subject. Ten to one if he can do it you can."

"Remus is more intelligent than me."

"Can't argue with that. He hasn't set a record for the greatest number of detentions earned in a year. And don't smirk like that, it's nothing to be proud of."

"Sorry, Mum. Lighten up Felicity! Oooh! Looks like the love brigade have finished. Prongs, get yourself over here!"

"Why?" James asked mildly.

"Because I want to do something so that you remember that we never ever go for more than a week without detention!"

"This is Hogwarts calling Sirius. I am Head Boy. We have to wait a couple of weeks, or I set a bad example."

"Yeah, after that you can create bedlam." Lily said sarcastically. "I don't know why I like you boys. Even Rattie has more sense than you. And that's saying something. Now, I hate to love you and leave you-"

"Literally" Sirius muttered.

"But I have some research to do. If you could put your 'I am sensible' hat back on before I get back, so much the better!"

With that Lily left the room. Soon after Felicity followed, and the two boys were left to their own devises. For once they did not do anything illegal. But soon all that was to change.

On Monday morning they all went down to breakfast chattering happily. Sirius and Felicity were having a good natured argument, and Lily and James were discussing the Potions test they were to sit later that day. Meanwhile Cee and Ellie were delving into the world of books - both were reading the same - and Remus was doing his best to give Peter some last minute coaching.

At the table they generally sat four on each side of the table. This morning was no exception. Felicity was nibbling on some toast as she read a letter when Severus Snape approached. Snape was James' archenemy, and showed it. Not that it mattered. James returned his loathing with interest, yet he never stooped to Snape's level. His jokes, while meant to pay Snape back, were not malicious. Severus himself could be very malicious, and rude into the bargain. He soon learnt that the best way to rile James was to call Lily a Mudblood. Unfortunately for Snape, it also roused Felicity, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Cee and Ellie.

"Well, if it isn't Potty Potter and his fan club. I don't understand you Potter. From your superior vantage point one would think you drew the line at associating with Mudbloods and foreigners" Snape sneered at Lily and Felicity. "But I forgot, the Mudblood is your girlfriend isn't she. What did you do? Dose her up on Love Potion? Either that or she's mad. Then again, maybe she's just stupid. I'm going for the latter-"

"Shut up Snape." James growled, coldly.

"Can't take the heat? Oh, and you may be interested to know that your Muggle girlfriend's Muggle sister has a hate for wizards. Not exactly good grounds for a lasting relationship, is it?"

"I already knew that." James shot back, hotly. "But I'm not interested in Petunia am I. Lily and her sister are chalk and cheese, and you only know about both of them from hearsay!"

"Leave it James." Lily said softly.

"But-"

"Leave it." Lily was firm. Then she directed a hard glare in Severus' direction. In frosty tones that James remembered all too well from the previous year, she addressed him. "Anyone else in my family you'd like to insult? Or are my sister and I enough? You might be interested to know that my aunt thinks that magic is the stuff of folklore, very mugglish. Or maybe the fact that my father's a scientist? Not a particularly logical job is it? Well, Severus, I'm sure you'd fare adequately in the Muggle world. Or maybe the stress of being without magic would threaten you? After all, you'd actually have to work. And there's a novel idea!"

"You little-" Snape was lost for words. He turned on his heel and left the room. Lily looked and James and smiled.

"I believe I won that round."

"Don't you always?" It was a standing joke between the two of them that she always won. Her diminutive form, coupled with her ability to charm meant that it was very difficult for anyone to disagree with her. While she hated the childlike stigma that went with her height, she was prepared to use it to her advantage. And childlike innocence gave her a great advantage.

"He shouldn't call you a Mudblood." Cee said, piously.

"I want to know who he was calling a foreigner. I'm a native of Britain just as much as the rest of you!" Flick exclaimed in outrage.

"Don't fret Flick. I don't think Snape would want to take you on in a hurry."

"Too right. And I've changed my mind. Sirius, get plotting. I don't care what you do, as long as it's safe, and it gets Snape back. Okay?"

"Marvellous!" Sirius said, grinning gleefully.

He enlisted James, Remus and Peter to carry out his plan. It was simple, but effective. Snape had harassed them at breakfast, therefore at breakfast he would pay. Beyond that, the girls knew nothing.

The next day, their whole perspective changed. At breakfast, Snape sprouted devil horns.

"Couldn't be more obvious if they tried!" Cee groaned at Ellie.

"Nah!" Ellie replied. "They're sitting over here. And no one can see their wands. No one would guess. Snape can suspect, but he won't know. And there's no way of proving who cast a spell that I know of. I'd say it's ingenious."

Meanwhile, Flick, seated next to Sirius, smiled, and said

"Who's a clever boy then?"

"Where's the parrot?"

"You're a laugh a minute- I don't think! That was a bit of a brainwave though. Maybe not quite dramatic enough, but I like it."

"Not dramatic? Flick, the guy sprouted horns. What do you want that's got more drama than that?"

"Steam coming out of his ears to go with it? Maybe breathing fire - actually, perhaps coupling Snape and fire is a bad idea. Still..."

"Next time you plot a revenge, if you want something more 'dramaticí!" and Sirius snorted.

"Lighten up! We've got Herbology today. I wonder what the new professor is like?"

"You call that lightening up?" Sirius looked at Felicity in wonder. She merely tilted her head towards Snape, who had just reached them.

"I'll kill you Potter! And it'll be a long painful death!"

"But Severus, I don't understand. I don't recall earning such a fate."

"Cut the innocent act out Potter. I know."

"Snape? Why have you sprouted horns all of a sudden? Did your wand backfire?" Sirius asked, genially.

Snape hissed insults at them, and then left the table. Very soon the eight of them had finished, and once they reached the Gryffindor Common room, they made enough racket to wake the dead.

"Did you see his face?"

"Sirius, you're incorrigible!"

"James, you need acting lessons! That was appalling! I thought you were supposed to be a good liar." Lily teased her boyfriend good-naturedly.

"I'd like to see you do better. And incidentally, who said I was acting?"

"If that was genuine, I'd hate to see what you're like when you don't mean something."

"I hate to break up the party, but if we don't move now we're going to be late for Herbology." Remus said, reluctantly.

"Who cares?" Sirius asked.

"I do." Lily replied. "So do Flick, Cee and Ellie. And so should you. Come on!"

"Spoil sport!" Sirius muttered.

Chapter 4 - The Trial

In the second week of term, Sirius received a letter.

"That was from my dad! Guess what!"

"He's going to impound you for insane behaviour?" Flick asked. They had had an argument.

"More like you! Youíre the one who-"

"Get on with it Sirius!" Remus interrupted.

"The Ministry wants us to testify against Endommager, you know the guy who-"

"Got Lily. Yes, we know. So why are you excited?"

"Because it will be fun. And Lily can pile on the agony, and he'll get life sentence."

"But I thought he was already locked up!" Lily looked up him, with large, frightened eyes.

"He is." Flick glared at Sirius. "But they can't send him to Azkaban without a trial."

"But you told me that he was in prison, you told me...you lied to me!"

"Lily, you were having nightmares every night! We had to do something. You were hysterical..."

"I'll give you hysterical..." Lily looked at her fiercely, then looked at her breakfast. "You were only trying to help. When's the trial Sirius?"

"Next week. Wednesday."

"We'll miss lessons then. Okay."

And beyond that she said nothing, and chatter turned to other matters. On the Wednesday following, all eight of them were met by Sirius' father at the school, with Ministry cars, and they were driven to the court.

Once there, they were greeted by a woman, vaguely familiar to Lily, Felicity, James, Sirius and Remus.

"You're here! I'm guessing you're here to testify?"

"Halfreda? Goodness, you've changed!" Flick recognised her first. The eyes were the same turquoise blue, but they had lost the haunted looks, and the wavy blond hair was no longer tangled, but well kept, and clean. She'd put on weight too.

"I look a lot better than I last saw you, I grant you that. How are you Lily? You look better too."

"I am. What are you doing now?" Halfreda Dubrillsiod had been responsible for the speed of Lily's rescue, when she had been kidnapped by the evil wizard Endommager the previous year.

"Back with the ministry, hunting out the bad eggs. Oh, this is my husband, Larry."

"Pleased to meet you. These are my friends."

They had a brief chat, and then the trial commenced. Eventually, it was time for Lily to testify.

"Now, tell us all about the events earlier this year, that led to up to the alleged kidnapping." Endommager's lawyer questioned her first.

Calmly, Lily spoke of the letter that she had received, warning her of his intent to capture her, in order to hurt the Potters and gain information about both them and the Blacks. She mentioned the talking owl.

"Miss Evans. Can you tell us what occurred last year after my client had 'kidnapped' you."

"Well, I remember seeing him, and then everything went black, and when I came round he was there."

"Yes, but what happened?"

Suddenly Lily went deathly pale. Flick looked at Cee and Ellie, worried.

"Leave me alone. Stop it. Your hurting me!" Lily's high pitched plea filled the room.

"Miss Evans?"

"No, stop it. I told you everything. I don't know anymore. Please..."

"Miss Evans?"

Sirius' father spoke up.

"I believe Miss Evans is suffering what is known as a repeat scenario, whereby she is reliving the time she spent in your clients company. While her evidence is useful, I suggest you move on to another witness, while she is treated for shock." The judge nodded, and Halfreda was called. Lily moved out of the stand and into the hall, shaking violently.

"Lily? Lil. Come on Lil snap out of it." Felicity was concerned.

"She'll be okay, just leave her for a few minutes." Mr Black spoke quietly. "I've seen it happen before, usually when someone has blocked off the trauma they suffered, blaming themselves for its occurrence.

"She thinks it's her fault." James said to him. "She's always though that. We told her over and over again that it wasn't, but she didn't believe us." Suddenly Lily snapped out of it.

"Where are we? What's going on? Is he convicted yet?" She tried to speak through chattering teeth. Felicity hugged her fiercely.

"Your freezing. Here, put this on." She handed Lily a sweatshirt, which her friend pulled on, thankfully.

There was no time to discuss what had happened then, but once the trial was over, and Endommager had been sentenced to life in Azkaban, Lily's friends explained what had happened to her.

"But I don't remember. I remember being in the stand, and I remember in the corridor, nothing else."

"That's how it works Lily. Your subconscious took hold of you." Mr Black spoke soothingly.

"And how many times did we tell you not to blame yourself? To talk about it?" Felicity asked, shooting her friend an exasperated look. "But did you listen? No."

"I couldn't." Lily said, softly. But I can now."

And on the way back to Hogwarts she told her friends everything, the pain, the fear, the loathing. In doing so, she removed a burden from herself. They were amazed that the strength of her character had carried her so far. Once they were back at Hogwarts, they had dinner, and then went straight to bed. And the nightmares that wouldn't go away, finally stopped.

Chapter 5 - Midnight Adventure

As the term wore on, Sirius became restless. So did Felicity. And they decided to act on it.

"I hate having to say this, but so far this year has been really boring."

"You're the one who decided to concentrate on studying." Sirius glowered at Flick. They'd had a row about that. Both could be very single minded, and when they didn't agree, everybody knew about it.

"Just because you want to fail. I do have a life to live you know."

"You call spending every waking moment with your nose in a book having a life?"

"No. Which is why we're going to do something exciting."

"We as in all eight of us?"

"No, we as in you, me, James and Lily. They need to drop the slush factor, and go back to being their normal spicy selves."

"Spicy?"

"Don't worry about it. But if Lily wasn't so self-conscious about the Head Girl thing, then we'd have so much more fun. So, we're going to show her how to have a good time. But James had better come along, or you'll get lonely. Now, here's the plan..."

While Felicity and Sirius were plotting, James and Lily were taking a stroll.

"James?"

"Yes?"

"Why are we walking in a circle?"

"I don't know."

"Why are Flick and Sirius looking like the cat that got the cream?"

"I don't want to know."

"Sensible. We'd better go back actually, Flick and I are going to see Hagrid. He's going to show us some new animal he's got."

"Try and come back with all your fingers."

"Flick's the one that has the accidents. They all like me!"

"Such blinding modesty."

"I know! I had a good teacher."

"Who?"

"You."

"I am not arrogant!"

"I didn't say you were. Just self satisfied."

"Thanks Lil."

"My pleasure. James?"

"What?"

"I'm getting wet."

"That's because it's raining." Lily rolled her eyes at him, and they hurried into the castle, where they were cornered by Sirius and Felicity. Flick told Lily their plans while they were on their way to Hagrid's.

At midnight the next day, Felicity left the dormitory, accompanied by Lily. In the common room, they met James and Sirius.

"I still say this is stupid." Lily groaned. "And I'm going to be dead tired tomorrow."

"Excuses, excuses!" Felicity shot back. "Anyone would think I dragged you here."

"You did!"

"Small, insignificant detail. Have you got the map?" She turned to James and Sirius.

"Of course." Sirius answered.

They left the common room, and made for the astronomy tower. On arrival, they were about to talk when Lily put a finger to her lips, and cupped her ear. They listened, and heard boots clumping up the stairs. Quickly they hid. Fortunately, James had his Invisibility Cloak, so they scurried behind a chair, and covered themselves with it.

A tall figure, as black as the night itself, entered the room, and Felicity shivered. This man had an ominous presence. He brought out a torch, and began to flash.

"What's he doing?" Sirius asked, confused.

"Shhh!" Lily hissed. "He's signalling."

"Who? And how do you know?"

"It's Morse. I'll explain later. And she hurriedly pulled a piece of parchment and quill from her robes, and wrote down what was being flashed.

Once he had finished flashing the man left the room, and once the sound of his boots had faded away, they crawled out of his hiding place.

"What did he say?" Felicity asked Lily curiously, as James and Sirius peered over her shoulders.

" TO PLAN AT THE SCHOOL TARGET ONE KNOWS NOTHING TELL LEAD G SEND FURTHER ORDERS LEAD Z" James read.

"What does that mean?" Sirius asked.

"More to the point, how do you know that's what he said?" Felicity asked Lily.

"I told you, Morse code. I learnt it at Brownies, before I knew I was a witch."

"What are Brownies, and what's Morse code?"

"The Brownies are an organisation set up by Lady Baden Powell. But don't worry about that. As to Morse, it's a way of talking using flashes, or sounds or whatever. It uses dots and dashes to communicate. Obviously they know it, and non-Muggles wouldn't, so they're using it. To anyone who didn't know, it's just a funny light pattern."

"I'm guessing," James began, quietly, "that they're some kind of group, and not a good one at that. Target one is obviously someone at Hogwarts, and Lead G is obviously giving Lead Z orders. And everything is going to plan."

"So what are we going to do?" Felicity asked.

"Tell Dumbledore?" Lily suggested, doubtfully.

"Probably have to," Sirius said mournfully. "And then we'll get an earful for breaking the rules."

"We'll get more than an earful." Lily said. "We're at the wrong end of the school. I hope the trophies are fairly clean, because I can see a detention with our names on it."

"Never mind. All for a good cause."

"What good cause, James?"

"I don't know!"

Chapter 6 - The Daily Prophet

When Cee, Ellie, Remus and Peter heard of their exploits, they were angry that they hadnít been included, and joined Flick, Lily, Sirius and James in the discussion that followed. Should they mention it to anyone?

In the end, they told Dumbledore, not without trepidation. Consequently they were surprised when he did not give them a detention. He didnít even take house points from Gryffindor. Instead, he gave them ten points.

"You were breaking rules by the dozen in what you did, and Iíd expect better of you, but if you hadnít told me about this mysterious man then no one would have known. So, your sense of duty outweighed your sense of self, and thatís a good thing, something you should be proud of." Beyond that he said nothing, to Flickís annoyance.

"If it wasnít for us then no one would know anything about this guy!" she grumbled on the way back to the Gryffindor tower. "Youíd think heíd tell us something."

"He canít say what he doesnít know." Lily pointed out. "Itís my guess that heís as much in the dark as we are."

When they reached the common room, they were greeted by an excited Cecelia.

"Look! This was in the Daily Prophet!" Felicity took the article she was waving gleefully, and together Lily and Flick read.

ĎToday the Ministry of Magic issued a statement regarding the Lead group that has long been extinct. It seems that the group has been re-founded, and are already plotting no good. In a statement the Ministry said

"While we have established a link between the group and some violent outbursts, there is no proof to suggest that they are of the same calibre as the previous group."

The Lead group was last dominant in the 1940ís and were known supporters of Grindelwald, who was defeated in 1945 by Albus Dumbledore, the current headmaster of Hogwarts. With his demise, the group disintegrated into chaos, and a reign of terror ended.

But should the Ministry be concerned. After all, we are once again living in fear. For the past four years Voldemort has dominated the Dark Arts scene, ably supported by the notorious Death Eaters. If the two groups were to join forces, would anyone be able to withstand the resulting force? The Ministry must take action if disaster is to be averted. There is no time for dicussion. Now, more than ever, is a time for vigilance, and prevention is far better than cure. Especially when there may not be a cure.í

"Cee? Why exactly are you excited? This is bad news, not good. Yet another set of raving lunatics has joined the race to world domination!" Flickís tone was exasperated.

"Use your brains Flick!" Sirius turned to her. "Sorry, I forgot, you donít have any!"

"Take that back. Youíre the one who-"

"Would you two please deal with whatever it is thatís got into you recently? Either your best friends or worse enemies." Remus entered the discussion hastily. "The reason Cee is excited. You said that the man doing the flashing mentioned a Lead G and Lead Z. Is it possible that theyíve got something to do with this Lead Group?"

"It would make sense." Lily said, slowly. "I mean, theyíd be after Dumbledore if they were like the old lot, surely. He somehow defeated their leader. Heís an ideal target."

"So you think Dumbledore is target one?" James turned on her.

"No."

"But you said..." Ellie was confused.

"They wouldnít go after Dumbledore directly. Itís too obvious, and heís far too powerful for anyone to defeat him. It would have to be someone else. Probably a student. After all, heís responsible for us as long as weíre here."

"Lilyís got a point." Remus mused. "But thereís not much we can do about it. I suppose weíll have to wait until weíve got more information. But we need to be in the astronomy tower to get it." He looked at James and Sirius.

"Are you thinking what Iím thinking?" James asked both Sirius and Remus. Sirius looked at him solemnly.

"This is a mission for Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs!"

"And Lily." Flick said firmly.

"Why canít we go without her?" Sirius asked. "Sheíd only get in the way."

"Thanks Sirius." Lily said dryly. "Unless youíve learnt how to decipher a pattern of lights in the last twenty four hours, youíre going to have to have me along until you can work it out for yourselves."

"Oh. Well, maybe you wonít get in the way." Sirius had the grace to look embarrassed.

They decided that someone would have to keep watch in the tower every night. Otherwise they may miss the next bulletin. It was also established that everyone should learn Morse code in order to let Lily sleep.

"I am not going sleepless for the next six months." she declared vehemently. "So you had better be quick learners."

She spent the afternoon teaching an attentive audience the finer points of the Morse Code. By early evening, they were up to a test.

"Right. Iím going to tap this, itís not dark enough to use lights, but the principles the same." She picked up a pencil, and tapped a complex rhythm. "Okay! Letís see what you got." She snatched Flickís paper from her, and started to laugh.

"What?!" Felicity looked wounded. Lily coughed, and read

"Bend sore open. Target losed. Lead G. It doesnít exactly make sense!"

"Iíve only been learning for three hours."

"Flick, thereís no such word a losed, that I know of. Didnít that suggest a small problem?"

"You went too fast."

"You need more lessons." Lily chortled. She looked at everyone elseís. No one had quite got the message right. Then she came to Peter.

"Something something o--b--s. Something Something. Something T. Peter, did you learn anything?"

"It was hard."

"Soís your head. Itíll make it that much easier to knock some sense into it. Now, for your information, the message said Send more orders. Target moved. Lead G. Remus was closest, he only got the last letter wrong. Which means that he gets to watch tomorrow night. And thatís enough dots and dashes for one day. But we could play exploding snap."

They settled down to several rather violent games of snap, and for the time being, at least, all thoughts of the mystery of the night were forgotten.

 

Chapter 7 - The Visitor

They had been watching for the midnight visitor for three weeks with no success. Although, as far as Lily and Remus were concerned, everyone - with the exception of Peter - managing to grasp the concept of flashing lights was enough of a success.

One morning, at breakfast, they were tucking into some porridge when Dumbledore cleared his throat.

"I wonít be a minute. We are in the position of entertaining a guest this evening, and tomorrow. Emily Samuelson is the daughter of the American Senator of Sorcery. He is staying in Britain for the next week, and she has expressed an interest in visiting Hogwarts. She is seventeen years old, so sheíll be joining our seventh years. If she needs help, Iím sure all of you will be only too happy to oblige. Thank you." And with that he sat down, and the babble of chatter resumed.

That evening, Felicity was surprised when Professor McGonagall cornered her.

"Miss Howell. This is Emily Samuelson, Professor Dumbledore mentioned her at breakfast. Sheís going to reside in Gryffindor for her stay, and as sheís in your year, I require you to look after her." With that the Professor walked off, leaving the two girls looking at each other.

"Hi! Iím Felicity Howell. Welcome to- Em?!!"

"Flick? Good Lord! Whatíre you doing here?"

"Learning. Well! This is a turn up for the books. When Dumbledore mentioned Emily Samuelson this morning it didnít click, you know. We really should have stayed in touch, but you moved."

"When dad got the Senator of Sorcery post. I know. Fill me in. Whatís happened to you? Howíre your dad and Mags?"

"Donít laugh, but you know how Mags has always been completely undomesticated?"

"Yeah. I remember when she and your dad got engaged. The first thing she said to you was ĎIím glad your dad has you, Iím never having children.í"

"She obviously changed her mind." Flick said wryly.

"You donít meanÖ?"

"Yep. My little sister, Katherine Mary Howell is now four months old."

"I know your dadís persuasive and everything, but thatÖ! Anyway, how are you? Are we going to the common room?"

"Itís as good a place as any to start. Youíll be able to meet my friends. Donít worry if they seem a bit daft. Even Lily gets a bit insane on occasion, and Cee lives in cloud cuckoo land. Iím fine, incidentally. I love it here! What about you? Whatíve you been doing?" Emily groaned

"Working! I have to slog. It would be mortifying if I failed my NEWTís, you know, with Dadís position. Heís staying with a Mr Black at the moment. Something to do with the Ministry."

"Mr Black? Siriusí dad. It has to be. Heís really nice."

They reached the common room, and Sirius swooped on Felicity.

"Whereíve you been? Thereís another article in the Daily- who on earth are you?"

"Donít mind Sirius." Felcity said to her bemused guest. "His poor mother despairs of him, so she landed him on us."

"Your boyfriend?"

"Me? Her boyfriend? An ugly lump like her? Where did you get that idea?" Sirius rejected Emily straight off. "And who are you anyway?"

"Sirius, this is Emily Samuelson."

"Oh, the American chick!" Flick glared at him.

"Do we look like baby birds? Come on Em, Iíll introduce you to the others."

Cee and Ellie greeted the newcomer politely, but Lilyís warm enthusiasm made up for any lack of emotion in their greetings.

"Hi! Iím Lily Evans."

"Head Girl and do gooder!" Felicity added.

"Youíve met Cee and Ellie, I Ďspect. And Sirius. Thatís Remus over there. He has a tendency to the philosophical. Heís trying to teach Peter how to do Morse Code, a Muggle thing-"

"I know. My mumís a Muggle."

"You know? I love you, the others are complete duffers. Iím Muggle-born myself, so I learnt it before coming here. I didnít know anything about magic though. Anyway, James is the one sprawled in the chair over there. And donít be fooled by the book heís reading either. Itís called Five Hundred Pranks In Quick Easy Steps. Dumbledore was having an off day when he made him Head Boy!"

"I heard that. Iím an excellent one. Not as boring as you."

"Oh really." Lilyís voice took on a note of polite interest. "So youíll be only too happy to know, Mr Excitement, that we have a ball to plan. And as Iím so boring perhaps youíd like to do it." James looked at her, suddenly not so cocky. Felicity laughed.

"Your face. She was joking. There isnít a ball. Is there Lily?"

"Actually I was serious. The Yule Ball."

"I thought that was to do with the Triwizard Tournament."

"It is. But who said you needeed the French and the Poles to have a good time?"

"You donít," Sirius piped up, "you have me!"

"Exactly." Lily said, grinning at him. "So, Sirius, life and soul of the party. Youíll be helping Jimbo over there with his planning."

"When did I say that?" Sirius back-pedalled quickly.

"Ah, go on Sirius. The two of you can rope Remus and Peter into it, and itíll be absolutely marvellous." Felicity was enthusiastic.

"Well. Thatís settled then." Lily said, happily. "Iíll tell Professor McGonagall to send any further instructions to you four. Now, Flick! Why donít we take Emily on a tour of the building?"

The three of them walked off, arm in arm. Sirius turned on Eleanor.

"What did they do that for?"

"I think it had something to do with James calling Lily boring. And you calling Flick ugly. Remus and Peter are just caught up in it because theyíre your friends."

"Youíve got to help us!" Sirius sounded desperate.

"Uh uh. Iím with Flick and Lil. If you guys are so fabulous then you can be practical for once. Come on Cee. Have a nice time planning." Ellie and Cee left the room.

An hour later, the boys were around a table, doing their best to have some sort of action plan for the ball, this being an idea they had borrowed from Helen Baxfield, a friend of Ceeís.

"Sirius, we canít seat Gryffindorís next to Slytherins. It wouldnít work!" Remus protested when Sirius made a rather ambitious suggesion. "Better to let people seat themselves, and just have several tables available."

"Dancing!" James said suddenly. Peter looked at him.

"There is no way I am dancing!"

"Peter itís a ball - dancing is what you do!" James retorted. "And thatís not what I was going to say. Weíll need music. Anyone know a good band?"

"The Ravenclaws have one. They might help."

"If you, em, sweet talk them." James looked at Sirius slyly.

"Apart from the fact that half of them are male." Sirius retorted.

"Ah. Good point. Weíll just have to ask. How many people go to this anyway?"

"I dunno. About fifty?" Remus answered.

"I think more than fifty, Remus!" Helen told him as she walked past. "Try one hundred and fifty, and you might be closer to the mark."

"Fantastic. A lot of planning then!"

"Not soís youíd notice."

"Marvellous!"

Meanwhile, Lily was getting to know Emily.

"My little brotherís at home in the States. Dad said heís too young to come without mum. I donít need supervision, but a seven year old high on sugar does, and my mum couldnít come."

"So how do you know Flick?"

"We went to the same school. Then she left. We would have stayed in touch, but she left, and I moved before she had a chance to write. Besides which Iím a hopeless correspondent!"

"Soís Lily," Flick said happily. "She writes one letter for seven of us to share around."

"Thatís not fair!"

"Only joking!"

They went on to explain the previous years excitements, and when they finished, Emily looked at them in admiration.

"You guys sure have a lot of adventures!"

"The one was more than enough." Lily said, primly. And who could argue with that?

 

Chapter 8 - The Yule Ball

Emily was only supposed to spend one day at Hogwarts, but her father had to spend more time than anticipated at the British Ministry, so she joined Hogwarts as a temporary student for the rest of the Autumn term, and the Christmas Holiday.

Two weeks after Lily sprung the organisation of the Yule Ball on to James, it was to take place. Consequently, everyone needed a partner. It was the object of much discussion.

"Iím going on my own." Flick announced firmly.

"Flick! You canít. It wouldnít be the same!"

"Itís alright for you! You donít have to worry about finding a partner, youíll be going with James. Some of us donít have lover boys!"

"I wish you wouldnít say that! Ellie, are you going with anyone?"

"Remus. Bless him, he doesnít get out enough to ask anyone else, so I asked him, instead."

"Somehow, I never saw the two of you as a couple." Cee mused thoughtfully.

"Cecelia, how many times do I have to tell you weíre just dancing partners?"

"Yeah right!" Cee scorned. "Mike Adams asked me. I said yes. The guy is just too good looking to turn down! Besides, heís a Ravenclaw. Very intelligent!"

"Cee, youíre incorrigible!" Lily exclaimed. "What are you going to do Em?"

"I havenít really though about it," the tall American admitted. "I suppose Iíll go alone."

"Nah. Peterís gone on you. Heíll ask."

"Iíd have to be desperate!" Emily realised what she had just said. "Sorry guys. Me and my big mouth huh?"

"Donít worry about it. I can see your point. Heís not quite as, em, dashing as the others is he?" Lily stated the obvious.

"Iím going to be a bachelor girl!" Flick announced, daringly.

"Why?" Emily asked curiously. "Couldnít you go with Sirius?"

"Donít go there." Lily advised. "Itís dangerous ground. Theirs is a love-hate relationship, and I think itís currently in hate mode."

"He called me ugly." Flick said obstinately.

"That was two weeks ago!" Cee said in exasperation. "Heís probably forgotten about it."

"He also dropped itching powder on my chair."

"Okay. Donít go to the ball with Sirius!" Ellie said hurriedly.

In the end, Andrew Lamsden asked Emily to the ball, and Flick true to her word went unescorted.

The night of the ball, and the girlsí dormitory was bedlam.

"Who stole my hairbrush?" Cee screeched above the racket. "I need it!" She did as well. One of the problems of having wavy hair that touched your knees was that it tangled easily. At that second it looked like a birds nest.

"Here, borrow mine." Lily threw hers over, her own mane of silky curls groomed, shining, and unbound. The red of her hair sparkled in the lamplight. Meanwhile, Felicity was bemoaning her very crumpled dress.

"Who sat on it? I left instructions - no one sit on my bed. I only went to wash my hair for goodnessí sake. Now what am I going to do?" Ellie rescued her with a simple Uncreasing Charm.

When they were all ready, they made a stunning crowd. Flick had chosen to wear scarlet robes, made of satin, while Lily in contrast wore floaty white. Cee chose eggshell blue, and Ellie was resplendent in pale pink. But it was Emily who made them gasp. She was usually an ordinary looking girl. Her elbow length nut brown hair was generally pulled back in a ponytail, and her grey eyes were hidden behind glasses. But tonight the glasses were gone, the hair was in a sleek french pleat, and she was wearing robes of jade.

"Andyís not going to know what hit him!" Lily said, gleefully.

"Lil, you are such a baby!" Flick said good-naturedly.

"Ah, leave her be." Emily said, happily. "Youíre only young once. Come on girls, lets go knock Ďem dead!" And with that rather bold statement, they met their friends in the common room.

The Great Hall paid tribute to the boysí skill at delegation. One thing was for sure, they werenít responsible for the wreaths of holly, and elegant table arrangements. The Christmas tree was a work of art, and there was an atmosphere of merriment.

Somehow, the boys had got a band together, and they were playing softly. Dancing would have to wait, however, dinner was to be served first. Course after course of good food was placed at each of the small tabled strategically placed around the room. Eventually, even the largest of appetites was satisfied.

"The house elves must be having a field day!" Emily exclaimed, at one point.

"What do you mean?" Lily asked curiously.

"They absolutely adore being of service. When they were told to do this, I expect they danced for joy."

"Oh. As long as they donít view it a drudgery."

"Nah. They were practically kissing Jamesí feet when he asked them to do it."

"Uugh! Poor them!"

"You canít talk Lil. You spend a fair amount of time attached to him."

"Flick! Youíre disgusting!" Lily said, shocked.

"True. Arenít you two going to dance?" James answered that question for her, and they joined the couples gliding around the dance floor. Flick looked on in satisfaction.

"I love happy endings!" she said, gleefully.

"Who said anything about ending?" Sirius asked from the opposite side of the table.

"You know what I mean!"

"Flick?"

"What?"

"Would you like to dance?"

"It depends."

"On what?"

"Whether youíll stand on my toes or not!"

So Sirius and Flick took to the dance floor. The two of them were clearly friends again. Their relationship was explosive to say the least. They had very similar characters, consequently, in their friendship they never did anything by halves. Either they were friends, or they werenít. However, for all their faults, their disagreements never lasted long. Both had hot tempers, quickly roused, and equally fast to fade. Their friends despaired of them. Both were incredibly witty, and many an hour had been spent listening to them as they had a sound off. In spite of the insults that flew between them, their verbal banters were very entertaining.

The revelry went on for hours, but it had to stop at some point. Eventually, everyone had left the room, and tired but happy were making their way back to either their common rooms or dormitories.

Grinning gleefully, James turned on Lily.

"Never let it be said that I canít organise a ball!" And with that, he disappeared into the boysí dormitory.

"ĎNight James!" Lily called after him, pointedly.

 

Chapter 9 - The Christmas Holidays

Usually most of the mischief-makers stayed at Hogwarts over the festive season, but this year was different. Eleanor, the daughter of a very wealthy, aristocratic Pureblood line that could be traced back for centuries had invited all of them to spend Christmas with her at Silver Hall, her parentsí mansion. They all accepted with thanks. Even Lily, who spent most of her Christmases with her parents, was available.

A chauffeur driven car took them to their destination. Lily and Cee had visited Ellieís house before, and knew what to expect. The others were spellbound. Even Sirius was speechless for once.

Silver Hall was breathtakingly majestic. It had been built for Ellieís great-great-great-grandfather, to replace the original manor house that was in disrepair. The eighteenth century building was clean cut, and very simplistic, but its sheer size proved it to be a home of the rich. Several stairs led up to the Italian style porch. Once they entered the main hallway, Emily looked around, and admired the marble that decorated it.

"Must be worth a fortune!" she muttered. "Wish I lived somewhere like this."

Eleanorís parents were a pleasant looking couple, but quite out of place in the grandeur of their surroundings. By contrast, Ellie herself was a natural lady. Her command of every situation on her home ground was effortless. Without realising they were doing so, her friends began calling her Eleanor. Somehow the name ĎEllieí did not match the self assured young woman who showed her house with joy.

On Christmas day, Lily woke in the bedroom she was sharing with Felicity. Rubbing her eyes, she sat up. The huge four-poster bed was even larger than the one that was hers at school, and she looked quite lost in its vastness. She shivered. The morning was cold. The house was set in the Scottish highlands, and snow was not uncommon. She reached for her dressing gown, and then froze. Flickís bed was empty.

"Flick?" she said, uncertainly.

"Merry Christmas!" her friend exclaimed chirpily, as she left the en suite bathroom, fully clothed, and considerably more awake than Lily.

"How long have you been up?" Lily demanded.

"About an hour. Honestly Lil, you were sleeping like the dead. Hurry up and dress. Cee and Eleanor are up and soís Emily. And the boys have been dressed for hours.

So Lily pulled on her clothes, and then she and Flick joined their female friends.

"Come on!" Eleanor said, excitedly. "Itís time for breakfast. The boys reckon theyíre starving. We were only waiting for Lil."

"You should have woken me!" Lily cried, embarrassed.

"No. You looked too sweet, all asleep, curled up in a ball. But hurry up now."

They tucked into a breakfast of bacon rolls and cereals of every type, chattering mettily, while Lord and Lady Silver looked on benignly.

"Weíll be able to snow ball later!" Sirius said, between mouthfuls of roll.

"Trust you to think of that!" Flick said, laughing.

"We should open our presents first." Emily said, happily.

"You baby!" Cee exclaimed. "Youíre as bad as our Jo. Thatís all she ever thinks about - presents!"

"Itís what Christmas is all about!" Emily replied.

"Unless youíre religious." Lily muttered in an undertone.

"Pardon?"

"These rolls are really good!" Lily said brightly.

"The house elves will love you forever!" Eleanor smiled.

"Good. They all deserve gold stars."

"Because if Lily cooked it-"

"It would be an absolute mess!" Eleanor finished Ceeís sentence. Lily was a notoriously bad chef, and Cee and Ellie had eaten one of her meals before then. It was a feat never to be repeated.

"Give over you two!" Lily exclaimed, outraged. "My mum gave me lessons in the summer. I can cook three meals now - beans on toast, spaghetti on toast, and cheese on toast!"

"Such accomplishment!" Flick said wryly.

"What?" said Sirius, as if in shock. "Lily, perfect all rounder canít do something!"

"Donít push it smarty." Flick leapt to her friendís defence, oblivious to the fact that she had teased Lily previously. "You canít do it either." Hurriedly. James intervened.

"I think weíre all finished. Off we go!"

Much later, after a huge Christmas dinner, and several presents apiece, they were standing in the garden, debating how to split into two teams, in order to snowball fight.

"I think we should just create all round bedlam!" Sirius stuck to that point stubbornly.

"But it wonít be strategic. And there wonít be a winner." Felicity objected.

"Does that matter?" James queried.

"Itís no fun without a winner!" Felicity exclaimed.

"Yes, but Flick," Lily interrupted patiently, "thereís an odd number of us. We canít split into two even teams."

"Hello! Whatís going on here?" A tall, pleasant looking young man walked up the path.

"Josh!!" Eleanor exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

"Funnily enough, sister dear, itís my home. And who are all these people?"

"Theyíre my friends. Guys, this is my brother, Joshua. Heís been in Albania for the past seven years, playing with hippogriffs. Josh wants to be a vet, donít you!"

"For magical creatures." He concurred. His blue eyes were the only feature that identified him as Eleanorís brother. His hair was jet black, his complexion tanned a deep brown. "But Ellie, who are these people?"

"I told you, my friends! And you know Cee anyway! Lily, Flick, James, Remus, Peter, Sirius and Emily. Emilyís only staying here until after the Christmas holidays though. Her dadís the American Senator of Sorcery, and heís over here on business. Emily knew Flick when they were at school in the states."

"Flick? Oh! Felicity! Are you American then?" he turned to the girl with the big brown eyes.

"No. Welsh."

"But-"

ĎMy dad worked over there after my mum died. When he remarried we moved back here, and now we live in London." she explained.

"Oh, right. Howíre you doing Cee? Howís Jon?"

"Ceeís brother and Josh were in the same year at school. Thatís how Cee and Josh know each other." Ellie explained to the others.

"Married." Cee said glumly,

"You sound so enthusiastic!" he teased.

"And heís a dad too. Poor Violet. I bet he came up with that name!" Cee still hadnít got over her niece being called Violet.

"Itís a pretty name." Lily butted in. "Better than Lily, anyway."

"Lilyís a nice name too." Josh smiled.

"I think Iíve fallen in love!" Lily joked.

"Lil! You already were!"

"What he doesnít know wonít hurt him," Lily quoted, blithely.

"But I do know!" James retorted.

"Never mind. You know I was only joking." And she stood on tiptoes and gave him a quick kiss.

"From that Iíll deduce that those two are heading for domestic bliss." Josh observed.

"Tell me about it!" Flick exclaimed, in disgust. "By the end of the year theyíll be married and have done with it."

"Not if I can help it." James said, bluntly. "Weíd be living in the streets, with no job, and no food. Very good way to start life, I don't think!"

"Ever the optimist." Cee said sarcastically. "Getting back to the snowball fight. Josh, you can join the boys, and weíll play boys versus girls."

Ceeís idea was a good one, and soon they were running around squeals carrying in the still frosty air. Eventually they stopped.

"We won! We won!" Flick crowed joyfully.

"Typical female." Sirius muttered. "Rub salt into the wound!"

At the end of the holidays, they had to say good-bye to Emily. Sheíd only known them for a few weeks, but she fit into the group very well, and earned herself the mischief-maker reputation when she Ďaccidentallyí brewed her potion incorrectly, and Severus Snape, with whom she was obliged to work, ended up covered in boils. They were now enemies for life.

"Donít forget to write." Lily told her, firmly. "We can always have conversations at midnight using the ĎSummaticusí Charm. I have to admit that having a head in the fire isnít the best solution, but itíll work. Then we can have proper conversations. You take care okay!"

"If you find anything out about the Lead movement then let us know as soon as possible. That way, weíll have some idea of what weíre dealing with. And when we have another message decoded, weíll let you know." Cee added. It was left to Flick to coin the occasion.

"Donít do anything I wouldnít do! And that includes sucking up!" she said, with a pointed look at Lily.

"Iím wounded." Lily said, with mock hurt. "I canít help it if they love me. Iím just a loveable person."

"Okay then." Flick said, skeptically. "Have a nice trip Em. Write as soon as you get there. See you!"

 

Chapter 10 - Flashing Lights

Back at Hogwarts, the eight of them got back into their routine of midnight watches, and full days. If Flick was inclined to grump about the amount of time they wasted when nothing happened, nobody seemed to mind. Life was fun, and they knew it. They were blissfully unaware of the full extent of evil in the world, and even if they had known, they were invincible. To them, life was just one big adventure, and one to laugh and joke about.

There was little time to do any joking, however. The teachers were piling work on them, in an effort to ensure good NEWT results.

"Alleluia!" Lily said, thankfully, as she put her quill down for the last time. "Five rolls of parchment later, and itís finally finished. I think Professor McGonagall thinks that all we need to worry about it Transfiguration. And then Professor Flitwick gave us all that Charms work to do! Itís a wonder James and Sirius have time to worry about joking!"

"Youíre surprised that James and Sirius joke?" Flick looked at her, with raised eyebrows. "Lil, lovey, thatís all they ever do. I donít know when they do all this work thatís heaped upon us, but somehow they manage to cram a million and one things into every day."

"Look whoís talking!" Lily said, pointedly. "Who is it who turned Snapeís robes multi coloured, sneaked into Hogsmeade for Butterbeer, and somehow managed to complete a History of Magic essay all in the same day?"

"Snape deserved it!" Flick protested. "He turned poor Katís Cat blue, and made the poor thing hide in our dormitory for a week. And we deserved the Butterbeer. After all, itís not every day that someone gets the better of McGonagall - even if it was Sirius. So there!"

It was three days later, and Lily had got up early, in order to complete her Potions homework. Flick flew downstairs in excitement.

"Lily! He was there again, signalling! Look!" and Felicity showed Lily a crumpled piece of parchment.

ĎDUMBLEDORE NOT SUSPICIOUS YET BUT IN NEWS. ORDERS TO BE CARRIED OUT ON 16 OF 6 CANT WAIT. MORE TOMMORROW LEAD Zí "Flick! We need to know what the orders are! Otherwise someoneís going to get hurt."

"Come on Lil, Juneís ages away. Weíve got plenty of time to come up with a solution!"

"Flick, how to we solve a problem when we donít know what exactly the problem is, only that there is one?"

"With difficulty. But weíll just have to wait wonít we. From what that message says, more will happen tomorrow. And itís your night. Iíll come with you, and weíll see what we can do. And we need to tell the others."

On seeing the new message, Remus suddenly looked thoughtful.

"We should tell Dumbledore, but we canít because it would show weíve been breaking rules again. I have this feeling that weíre getting mixed up in something - again!"

"Ah, come on Remus, itís fun!" Felicity exclaimed, her cheeks flushed with excitement. "It beats studying, anyway."

"Yeah, Moony, itís what they call Ďon the jobí training. Weíll be the best people to fight Dark Arts ever!"

"Dream on Sirius!" Ellie said, coolly. "Thatís Dumbledore. But youíre right. And Lil and Flick are right to. Weíve got to go tonight to see the next message." And as they all agreed, that was that.

Consequently, the next night eight students squeezed under one Invisibility Cloak - with difficulty.

"Ouch! Sirius that was my toe!"

"Well if you stick your feet in awkward places what do you expect?"

"Remus, youíre hugging me!"

"Sorry Cee. Itís a bit of a nightmare getting all of us under here!"

"Shhh!" James hissed. "Otherwise itíll just be me, Peter, Lily and Ellie. At least they arenít bickering."

"Touchy touchy!"

"Shut up Sirius, heís right - and youíre still standing on me!"

"Flick! Get a life!" Eventually everyone was covered, just. And not comfortably. On arrival at the tower, Lily took charge.

"Right, you bunch of lemons. Really that cloak is only meant for one, but we need two, so the one person can write while the other holds the cloak - if you get my drift?"

"Just about. Carry on, bossy."

"Well, Flick and I will stay out here, and the rest of you can go in the cubby hole behind that portrait. Okay?"

"Wait a minute! Itís my cloak!" James protested.

"Fine. You stay with Flick. But we need to hurry."

Six pairs of arms and legs heaved themselves behind a portrait, as the sound of footsteps approached. After the flashing had been completed, the dark figure disappeared.

"Itís alright! You can come out now!" Flick murmured. They reappeared.

"Flick. We have a problem."

"What?"

"That cubby hole, itís full of Lead stuff. And we read it."

"Really! Well donít beat about the bush. What did it say?" James was interested.

"Youíre not going to like this."

"For goodness sake Lily! Get on with it!"

"Flick? Itís you theyíre after. And I canít see any way of stopping them!"

Chapter 11 - Hidden Plans

Felicity looked at her friend in horror. Why would anyone be after her? She voiced her thoughts.

"Why would anyone be after me Lil? I know no one of importance. I'm not even a particularly good student."

"That's not true! You've been doing just as well as I have this year. Only those two," she jerked her head towards James and Sirius, "have ever done better than us. So yes, your intelligence could be a reason. Only if that was it, why didn't they go for a Ravenclaw?"

"It might be a good idea for all of us to read those plans you found." Remus suggested.

"I thought you already had." James looked at him in confusion.

"Only Lily and Sirius. There wasn't enough space for anyone else to look."

So they all huddled together, looking at the evidence that was to make a world of difference to Flick's perspective of the whole affair. Considering it was the middle of the night, they were suddenly wide awake.

"I say we tell Dumbledore." Flick said, stubbornly.

"Felicity! We've been through this more times than I can remember. We CANNOT tell Dumbledore because we're not supposed to be here. And I'd like to see his face - 'How do you know all this Miss Howell?' 'Well sir, we've been having midnight watches.' Get a grip!" Sirius looked ready to shake her.

"Get a grip? GET A GRIP!! Some psycho group devoted to a leader who's been gone for thirty years is after me, and you're telling me to get a grip? I'm only seventeen, that's way too young to die. What're you going to do? Spend every hour of every day looking for an unknown foe? Fantastic, I don't think!"

"Calm down!" Lily said, hurriedly. "You'll wake everyone up!"

"Oh excuse me for being scared. I didn't realise it was against the law. Next time, Lily Evans, future Minister of Magic, I'll make sure I consult the rules!" Lily looked at her, hurt.

"Well, fine. If that's the way you want it!" she spun around and left the room, cheeks pink with anger.

"Great one there Flick. She'll be in a temper for days!" Ellie looked at Flick with undisguised anger. "She was right. You are too loud - way too loud. And she didn't deserve that. I'm going after her." And Ellie too left the room. James looked around at the six of them remaining.

"Forgive me for ordering you around, but maybe we should go back to bed now, and discuss this tomorrow!" His idea was a good one, and they left the tower room for their dormitories.

They awoke late the next day, but fortunately, it was Saturday. They met up in the Shrieking Shack, which they had termed their DADA HQ. (Defence Against Dark Arts Headquarters) it was here that they had talked about the whole Endommager incident, and they were going to worry about Felicity's problem in the same place.

"Maybe it has good luck in the walls." Peter said thoughtlessly.

"Good luck for some." Remus muttered.

"What was that Remus?" Ellie asked, curiously.

"Nothing!" Remus said, hurriedly. "Where're Flick and Lily?"

"Having a shouting contest across the Gryffindor dormitory." Cee said solemnly. "Last thing I heard was Felicity 'You are a-" Cee was silenced by a glare from Ellie.

"You really don't want to know what they were screaming at each other. It wasn't pretty. And Lil's supposed to be the shy sensitive type!"

"Only Madam Flooey thinks that she's the shy sensitive type. Everyone else knows she packs a good punch!" Sirius said, feelingly.

"When did she punch you?" Cee was curious. She hadn't heard about this.

"In the first year, after I called her Carrots. I think she was too mad to speak." Sirius looked sheepish. "I admired her after that. The girl's got guts."

"'The girl' is also my girlfriend." James said good-naturedly. "Find your own."

Before Sirius could reply, Lily and Felicity rushed in.

"Sorry we're late. We were just..um.."

"Discussing the Transfiguration homework." Flick helped Lily out, with a smile.

"Transfiguration right...Flick?"

"What's up?"

"I don't recall McGonagall telling us to heap as many insults as we could on to our best friends."

"Don't know what you're talking about. Come on! Have you come up with anything good?"

"We thought we'd wait and consult you, your highness." Sirius replied with mock reverence.

How charming." Felicity graced him with a sweet smile. "Perhaps you'd like to hear our," she gestured towards Lily "idea then. If you think it will work, we'll take it from there."

"You're actually talking to each other then? I thought you hated each other. It sounded like that this morning."

"Don't know what you're talking about." Lily replied, in an offhand manner. Flick winked at her.

"Well?" Ellie said, impatiently. "What's the plan?"

"Who said anything about a plan?" Felicity asked, with a wicked smile.

"Your idea then."

"Okay. Have you read the plans recently?" Lily asked.

"Sure, last night."

"That's not quite what I meant. Last night we were all a little touchy, half asleep, and probably didn't read it properly."

"Definitely didn't read it properly." Flick said, firmly. "No one's after me, exactly. Which is definitely a good thing, for me, at least. However, I'm somehow interwoven into their little plot."

"Wait a minute. How do you know all this? I thought you two were having an argument."

"Yeah right! Lil and I don't argue! We just had a difference of opinion. Anyway, I was up early this morning, and we went back to the tower, to have another look at the plans."

"And I was already there." Lily added. "There was something that didn't make sense about the whole affair last night. Why would someone be after Flick? After all she's not exactly high profile. So we talked and made up, and then we looked at the plans again. And Flick, in her wisdom, copied them. So when Cee and Ellie entered the dormitory, and Flick was yelling insults at me, it was because we were trying to decipher the whole problem. And she thought she could do it, only Jet was sitting on them, and I didn't want to move him.

We've figured out as much of their plans as we can, which is always a good thing. Going in blind is a bad idea. After all, you need to know what the problem is in order to solve the problem." Lily looked at Felicity expectantly.

"Right. What we've established for sure is that this neo-Lead group is not being led by Grindelwald. So thank the stars for small mercies. And never believe what you read in the Daily Prophet. And the second most important point is that they don't want to hurt anyone - we think. Whoever is coordinating the operation merely wants to discredit Dumbledore."

"But how do you-" Sirius began. Felicity silenced him with a glare.

"If you don't believe us, then you can have a look at the plans. Lil's got them. But that is irrelevant. What we need to do is figure out who it is that's got this bunch of low down-"

"Felicity!" Lily said, warningly.

"Sorry. We need to know who their leader is, and what their motive is. That means that we'll be spending a lot of time in the library."

"You see, Flick and I have a theory. Whoever it is that's ordering this had to have been close to Grindelwald. A brother or sister? Did he have a wife? Was she as bad as him? We, Flick and I, think that our best line of attack would be to find out about the old Lead group. So we'll have to go to the library and get the advanced Dark Arts books out. Then, hopefully, we'll get more information on all of them, and can form hypotheses. Okay?"

"I'm not going to argue." Remus replied, after a period of contemplation. "It makes sense. The more we know, the less we have to guess."

The others agreed with his philosophy. There was little else they could do, and having looked at the plans once again, they discovered that Lily and Flick were right. Further discussion led them to conclude that there was no point in continuing midnight watches.

"Well thank goodness for small mercies!" Cee exclaimed. "I was starting to get fed up. We'll be able to find all the info we need behind that portrait."

So, they knew where their unknown enemy kept his papers. It was better than they had hoped for, but was it good enough?

Chapter 12 - In The Library

Considering that Sirius Black hated the library, in the last couple of days he had been spending a lot of time in it. Along with various friends. It was all very well for people like Flick and Lily to say research, but research what exactly?

"How's it going Sirius?" Flick came and sat opposite him, large book in hand. "I would have been here earlier, but I had to get all that Potions stuff done. Have you found anything?"

"His middle name was Johann?"

"That's not exactly what we had in mind." Flick said, grinning. "Any siblings?"

"One brother - Himlert. Am I the only one who thinks all of this sounds a bit German?"

"Nope. What do you know about this Himlert character?"
"Evil. Once he killed seven Muggles, wiped out an entire family in cold blood."

"There's potential for it to be him."

"Sure. Only one small problem..."

"That problem being..." Flick asked, frowning.

"He's been dead for twenty years. Obviously there are ghosts, but something tells me that this guy wasn't going to come back."

"I'd ask why, but I don't think I'm going to like the answer."

"I don't think you would either. Am I the only one who's actually going to look at something? Or is that book there more than a pretty ornament?"

"Gee Sirius, you're oh so funny." Came Flick's sarcastic reply. All the same, she opened the book and began to scan it, and Sirius went back to his own research.

An hour on, and Sirius was beginning to get bored. There were only so many tales of evil that he could be bothered to read in one day, and he was fast reaching his limit. He was about to tell Flick he was calling it a day, when he heard her hiss

"Yes!"

"What?"

"He was a womaniser."

"Fabulous. Glad he had a good time when he wasn't killing people. Flick, how exactly does that help us?" Felicity began to count points off on her fingers.

"We know his parents are both dead. His brother is likewise, and we know that Grindelwald himself isn't behind any of this. He's probably dead as well. So there are very few people with a motive. However, his girlfriend - that's a completely different matter."

"Flick, he probably had more girlfriends than Iíve had hot dinners."

"Yes, but right at the end, he obviously found his Mrs. Right. Because he was engaged to be married."

"To who?"

"I don't know!" Flick looked at him in exasperation. "But I'd guarantee that she's the one behind all this."

"Yeah, but why wait all this time? Why not get it over and done with?"

"It would be too obvious right after Dumbledore got him, and his supporters probably disbanded. So she was prepared to bide her time until she had supporters, and it wasn't going to be high profile. Devious, evil, and utterly brilliant. No wonder he fell in love with her."

"So we've established a motive - revenge." Sirius began to tick things off. "And we've got a perpetrator-"

"Oooh! Big word!" Flick said, with typical sarcasm.

"A perpetrator - his fiancée. And we have a setting - Hogwarts. As far as I can see the only thing we're missing is a plan of action." No sooner had Sirius finished than Lily appeared, James in tow.

"Guys, we need to talk. Now!" Lily said, in hushed tones.

"Why?"

"Because why's a crooked letter. Come on! Don't stand there asking questions. We're going to HQ. Now!"

"You know, for someone so small, she does a good impression of a lion, tiger and hippogriff!" Sirius grumbled, to no one in particular.

Back in the Shrieking Shack, James relayed their findings.

"Lil and I were checking to see if anything had been added to the paper selection," he began. "It had. A plan of action." Felicity shot Sirius a triumphant look. "I'd offer you the good news or the bad news, but there's no good news. The bad news is that Flick is involved."

"But not as the victim." Lily put in, hastily, seeing the protest that was forming on Flick's lips.

"No." James agreed. "It's like this. Whoever it is that relays the orders has sent them to the secret agent here at Hogwarts. And before anyone asks, we don't know who he is. The aim is to frame Dumbledore as the leader of the neo-lead group."

"But he defeated Grindelwald. Why would he want to be leader of the group?"

"Use your brains Peter!" Cee retorted. "It could be made to look like a coup. He defeated Grindelwald so that he could take over the group."

"But why wait so long?"

"No one will be paying all that much attention to him. They're too busy chasing Voldemort. So it's an ideal time for the less than legal organisations to surface." Ellie answered Sirius' question.

"More to the point," Flick added, "why would I be needed."

"You're a good forger." Lily said, in a matter of fact way. "They need you to forge Dumbledore's writing, giving someone orders. It would be incriminating."

"Why not use a spell?" Cee asked. "It would be pretty simple."

"Because a spell can be reversed. If it was written properly, then there could be nothing done to alter the handwriting." Lily replied.

"And once Flick's done her bit, they can go to the Ministry, and offer it as proof that Dumbledore's behind the uprising. Plant a few more such letters in his office, and who's in a position to defend him?" James finished his explanation.

"And how long have we got to sort this?" Ellie asked the obvious question.

"If they'd stuck to their original plan, four months. But they've brought the date forward again. The aim is to put the plan into action in three weeks, the middle of March. Which leaves us precious little time to plan a solution."

They looked at each other. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse. They'd had four months to plan in originally, now there was less than three weeks.

"Let's face it, guys. We'd have to have our part plotted a week in advance, then we'd have time to sort out any problems we come across. As things stand, we've got a fortnight to foil a potentially disastrous plan." Flick said, glumly.

"Cheer up guys!" Lily said, smiling. James looked at her, bemused.

"You mean you can actually see some good in all of this." He asked her.

"James, there's good in everything if you look hard enough. And if we've got all this and our NEWT's as well, then we're not going to be bored. And you four-" and expressive hand singled out the boys, "might manage to escape detention. And before Sirius goes on about how that's a bad thing, you have to have at least one detention a week, blah blah blah, I'd like to remind you that the trophies will need a good rub soon. If you're lucky, you won't be the poor souls in there helping Flich to finish it."

"And," Flick added, "you might manage to avoid Snape in the next fortnight. Whatever anyone else says, that has got to be a good thing."

"Yeah, no one wants to see his ugly mug!" Cee giggled. "It'll be a breeze."

"I'm glad you're confident." Remus said. "Now can we go please? This place gives me the creeps."

"Scared of ghosts Remus?" Ellie asked, curiously.

"Oh come off it Ellie," Lily jumped to his rescue. "We're in a school full of them. And Remus is right. This place is creepy."

Eleanor looked at her curiously, but left it. One thing she had learnt long ago, if people wanted you to know their business, they would tell you. Otherwise, it was best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Chapter 13 - Flick and Sirius

James Potter observed Sirius who was stuck in a book again.

"Okay Padfoot, spit it out!"

"What?" Sirius asked, innocently.

"Come on Sirius, you never read library books voluntarily, and in the last three days you have done nothing to warrant a detention. Clearly something is bothering you. Either you tell me, or I tell you. Got it?"

"If you know what it is that's bothering me, although nothing is, then why do you bother asking?" James chose not to answer the question, instead he went off on a completely different tack.

"Do you remember when we figured it out about Remus? We didn't tell him what we knew, just that we knew it. Because we wanted him to tell us. That way he wasn't deceiving us. And you remember how angry you were, because he wouldn't tell us the truth. Well, just because I know what's bothering you, it doesn't mean that you don't have to tell me."

"So you want me to tell you. Fine. Tell you what exactly?"

"For goodness sake Sirius, do you want me to spell it out for you. Because I will."

"Go away."
"No. For one thing if I do you'll just sit here and live in a fantasy world, and for another you still haven't admitted it."

"What?"

"You - love - Felicity." James said it slowly, clearly enunciating every syllable.

"No I don't. You love Lily. I love no one. It's that simple."

"Which is why the two of you spend so much time in the library together."

"And even if I did fancy Flick we wouldn't get anywhere - she feels nothing for me. Besides, I told you ages ago that I'm one for a platonic relationship. We're friends. F R I E N D S. Got it?"

"No. You act like friends. It's different."

"Prongs, you don't know how much you sound like an old woman."

"Sirius-"

"James! Drop it." So James did. But that didn't mean he was happy. Not at all. Meanwhile, Lily and Felicity were having a similar conversation.

"Lil, it wouldn't work. We argue too much!"

"But that's you, Flick. You argue with each other because that's how you are. Sirius argues with everyone, and you'd never concede a point. And anyway, that's why he likes you. You're the only person who has the guts to stand up to him."

"So do you. So do James and Remus."

"Yeah, because Sirius really wants to go out with me. I'm only his best friendís girlfriend. And the reason James, Sirius and Remus are such good friends is because none of them will let the others dominate."

"It would never last."

"Flick, going out with him does not necessarily mean that you have to marry the guy."

"Yeah - James seems dead set against it."

"Yeah right! And pigs might fly! He just doesn't want to admit he loves me. And you and Sirius are just as bad! It's like living with a load of children."

"Lily, stop worrying about my love life, and start worrying about the approaching deadline we have. It may have escaped your notice, but I'm actually the primary target of a bunch of crazed lunatics. If we don't come up with a plan soon, then you won't have my love life to worry over. There won't be any love life - there won't be any me!"

"Calm down, lovey. Didn't we decide that they planned to keep you alive."

"Who's to say that they won't dispose of me once they have what they want?"

"Flick, it's not going to happen. We'll figure something out. Why don't we just forget about Sirius, James and the rest of the world, and see Hagrid. Maybe Rattie will actually let you play with her today."

"Yeah right. And pigs might fly!"

"Wingar-"

"On their own!"

A few days later Felicity burst into the Gryffindor Common room, cheeks flushed with anger.

"I think that's our cue to disappear!" Sirius muttered.

"SIRIUS!!!!" Flick yelled.

"What've I done now?" He exclaimed.

"What have you done? Lily, bless her, her mind works in strange ways, thinks you and I love each other. Last time I checked, a burning desire to yell at someone until they were nonexistant did not constitute love." Her words were soft, controlled. Too controlled.

"Felicity, if you'd tell me what exactly it is I've done wrong-"

"You know."

But that was the problem. Sirius didn't know. He and Felicity left the room, barely containing the shouting match that was waiting to happen.

"Okay, I've changed my mind. Those two should never get together. Can you imagine what it would be like? They run more hot and cold than my hot tap - and that's saying something!" Lily murmured to James.

"Spoil sport! It would be fun! We could charge for- Hey! Stop it!" Lily had picked up a cushion, and was bashing at him, until he begged for mercy.

"We won't charge! They can argue in private! Lily! Give me that cushion!" And he prised it from her grip, sprawling across the floor with the effort. Lily laughed, the merry sound pealing prettily.

"That'll teach you to be mercenary. Go and find Remus, and then the two of you might want to dress Sirius' war wounds. I think that Flick was feeling a bit, um, zealous!" And she went of in search of Cee and Ellie.

Sirius. meanwhile, wasn't faring too well up against Flick's wrath. She was mid tirade when he decided he'd had enough.

"Felicity! FELICITY! Would you shut up for just one minute and tell me what exactly it is that I've done wrong?"

"Okay smarty. You've done nothing. And that's what's wrong."

"WHAT?!!"

"Okay, before I say this, can I ask you something - would you be terribly upset if I wiped your memory when I've finished?"

"Yes. Because you don't know the charm, and I'd end up with absolutely no memory. And I have things I need to remember."

"Well, in that case, once I've said this, and we've hit each other a few times, if you could just forget it happened, I'd appreciate it."

"Fine. Now will you please-"

"I'm going, I'm going! Okay, so when I said that I didn't love you in there, I wasn't being truthful, strictly speaking. I sort of...love and hate you...you understand?"

"Um...no."

"Okay, see if you understand this." And before he could stop her, she'd leant forward. Sirius was quite concerned that she was going to hit him, so when she planted a firm kiss on his lips he was slightly shell-shocked. Before he had a chance to respond she was gone.

Much later, before they went to sleep that night, Flick told Lily the whole story in hushed tones.

"You mean you yelled blue murder at him because you hate him because you love him. Very refined Flick. You handled it really well."

"This from the girl who told her boyfriend she loved him in the library. The library of all places."

"Never mind. It'll work out all right in the end. What will be will be and all that."

"I feel so much better!" Came the wry reply.

Whatever happened between Flick and Sirius the next day, no one knew, and neither were prepared to tell. But when Cee and Lily saw them later, no one could doubt that they were a couple.

Chapter 14 - Planning

The two weeks were almost up, and the eight seventeen year olds had come up with a solution. They were sunning themselves in the school grounds. The March sun was warm, and it wasn't really fair to Remus to continue to use the Shrieking Shack.

Lily looked over at Flick and Sirius, and did a double take. Then she turned to James.

"I swear we were never that bad." Ellie, hearing her words looked at her frankly.

"You don't know how much I'd love to say you were worse, but sadly, I'd be lying. They're awful, and we thought you were bad."

"They were. Awful." Felicity looked at her friend and winked. "Now, I believe that someone had a plan."

"Right. And about time too!" Cee added. As Ellie and Remus decided to turn intellectual, and make it up, perhaps they should explain."

"Okay." Remus said easily. "It's like this. Lily and Flick will stay together all day on the fourteenth of March - D-Day if you like."

"What?" Ellie asked.

"Muggle saying." Lily informed her. "Don't worry."

"As I was saying," Remus continued, "Lil and Flick stay together. If they can't get Flick alone, then they'll probably take Lil too, but that's fine. If there are two of you, you'll figure out an escape route easily."

"Hold on a minute!" Flick interrupted. "Why do we have to go at all? Couldn't we just detain our mysterious assailant?"

"Sure you could. But then you wouldn't have anything incriminating, and they'd get away Scot free. So you have to go with them. But the two of you will be fine. Anyway, there's more. Obviously, we need a contingency plan, in case Flick and Lil don't quite manage to find an escape route. So Ellie and Peter will shadow them all day, and then they'll be there if they need help. Ellie will brief you four later, okay?" All four of them nodded their heads. "Good. Meanwhile, James, Sirius and Cee will be staking out Dumbledore's office. Then, when our unknown intruder comes to plant the papers and letters there, you can detain him. Obviously, the three of you'll need the Invisibility Cloak, so no one sees you."

"What're you doing?" Cee asked, curiously.

"I'm monitoring the situation on the map." Remus announced. "That way, if it looks like anyone needs extra assistance, I can help them. Everyone clear?" There was a general nodding, and then Flick spoke.

"Sometimes I wonder about our sanity. Surely the sensible thing would be to go to someone in authority."

"Don't go there again!" Ellie moaned.

"I'm not. But you have to admit we're all stark raving mad."

"Speak for yourself." Lily replied. "The rest of us know exactly what we're doing."

Talk turned to other affairs, but later Ellie and Lily were discussing their plan.

"I know it'll work," Lily began, "But I don't particularly like the idea of going along with it. I can see where Flick's coming from when she says about talking to someone in authority about everything, but I don't see how we can. They'd never believe us."

"I don't know. There's a minuscule possibility that they might believe us, but we don't have enough evidence to prove our point. All the plans have gone-"

"They've what?!" Lily exclaimed.

"Exactly." Eleanor said. "So there's no evidence. And we don't know who our spy is. So we're better off dealing with it ourselves."

"Ellie, I've just remembered one small problem - I promised Hagrid I'd look after Rattie. I have to for Care of Magical Creatures anyway, but he's doing some business for Dumbledore then, and I said I'd keep her."

"Oh well," Ellie said, philosophically, "Maybe she'll bite." Lily laughed at that.

"Oh, I think we can guarantee that!"

They had three days before all their plans had to be put into action. Ellie was briefing 'her' team.

"I suggest that we follow the two of you in the next couple of days, and you two try to stay together at all times. It's good practice you see."

"You'd never guess her maternal grandfather was a hit wizard would you?" Lily said to Flick, dryly.

"It shouldn't be too hard Ė youíre together a lot of the time anyway. Peter and I will follow you."

"It's fortunate that we can't Apparate, or we'd have a problem." Flick commented.

"Once they hole you up - if they whole you up, then Peter and I will get you out. Understand."

"Clear as mud." Flick said cheerfully. "How many house points are we going to lose."

"Don't be so pessimistic." Lily scolded her. "We might actually win some."

Chapter 15 - Moving In To Action

March 14th dawned bright and cheerful.

"You'd think that the weather might be dull." Flick said groggily. She had a habit of getting up when she was still half-asleep, and consequently was never quite with it in the morning.

"I prefer it bright." Ellie said, conversationally. "Makes me more optimistic."

"All right for you to say," Flick grumbled, under her breath, "you aren't the one they're gunning for."

"Who got out of the wrong side of bed this morning?" Cee asked cheerfully.

At breakfast their chatter was usual. There was no sign that they were planning to do anything that they wouldn't otherwise do. Except, perhaps, Felicity's irritability.

"Come on Flick! Snap out of it!" Sirius said to her grinning.

"Excuse me? Read my lips - do not say snap out of it to me. Got it?"

"I think so. Flick?"

"Snap out of it." Flick replied, grinning back.

"Hallelujah! She smiled. Score Sirius a point!" Lily exclaimed.

"Shut up Lil!" Sirius and Flick said at the same time. They looked at each other and burst into gales of laughter.

"See I told you!" Came Lily's triumphant cry.

Flick and Lily were fortunate in that they had the same lessons on Tuesdays. Unfortunately, while they were in lessons, Ellie and Peter weren't always with them. However, when they had discussed this they had decided that it was very unlikely that they would be ambushed between lessons.

Care of Magical Creatures was followed by Divination. But Lily and Flick didn't make it to Divination. A mysterious somebody took care of that. One minute they were walking down a corridor, the next they were somewhere that they had never seen or heard of before. A figure cloaked in black was with them, and a woman stood on a raised platform.

"You have done well, Lead Z." The cloaked figure pushed back the hood, and Lily and Flick gasped. The man who had been sending messages wasn't a man, but a woman.

"She's a- She's- Her-"

"Flick! Stop stuttering!" Lily said sharply. I'd say look surprised, she thought to herself, but something tells me I don't need to!

"However," the woman on the platform continued, "You have one girl too many. Which is Felicity Howell?"

"She did her homework well." Flick muttered. "If she thought to investigate it'd be obvious who I am. Since when was I about a foot shorter and a red head, I'd like to know."

"The tall girl with the dark hair is Felicity." Lead Z replied.

"Zephyr darling, you could scarcely call the ginger one tall!" The platform woman laughed, a cold evil laugh. Felicity felt Lily stiffen beside her. If there was one thing her friend couldn't stand it was being called ginger. The beautiful russet curls were anything but.

"Don't let her get to you." She murmured. Lily relaxed slightly.

"Do you think I'd be able to hit her at some point?" She asked, sweetly.

"Lil, once she's in custody I hope we never see her again. And don't get violent."

"Felicity Howell. Come here." The woman on the platform demanded.

"Make me." Came Flick's reply. It wasn't sullen, rather challenging.

"Believe me girl, you don't want to play games. Once I was the most powerful woman on the globe. Now look at me! Forced to rely on silly schoolgirls to help me gain power."

"You should know I don't take kindly to insults." Flick's reply was clear, and devoid of emotions.

"Don't mess with me. You'll regret it. I am Gretl. Once I was the fiancé of the great Grindelwald. Now I am nothing. For this Dumbledore will pay. You think I shall let a stupid child get in my way? For that is what you are - a child. I will have what I want, and it is in your best interests to do it my way. Any other way, and your little friend." She emphasised the little. "Will feel the worse for wear. Now, will you work with me?"

"No." Flick said calmly.

"Here we go again." Lily muttered, calmly. "What is it about me and curses?"

"Crucio!" Gretl shouted, pointing her wand at Lily. The girl stiffened, but that was the only sign of the pain she was feeling.

"You need to do better than that." Lily spat, through gritted teeth. "I've been done over by the best, and believe me, I'm a lot harder than I look."

"We'll see about that." Came the calm reply. "I am not interested in you. It is your friendís cooperation I need."

"Fantastic. Do you think you could vary curses? Only I get bored after a while." Lily's reply was almost bored. Flick marveled at the strength of character her friend demonstrated.

"Crucio!" The curse was shot at Lily again, and Flick winced in sympathy. The only thing that kept her from breaking throughout the long session of torture that followed was Lily's courageous banter between curses. Flick could never give in when her friend was prepared to go through far worse.

After an hour, neither Lily nor Flick showed any sign of relenting, although Lily was leaning heavily on Flick. Gretl was growing desperate. In the end, she said the words that chilled both girls to the bones.

"If you won't help, I kill her." Lily looked at Flick, eyes widened in horror. That was no empty threat. The heartless shell of a woman before them would carry it out. What she had said was true. She had no need of Lily, it was Felicity that she wanted. To her Lily was just another tool.

"Don't worry." Flick muttered at her friend. "It's not over yet." She raised her voice.

"All right. I'll do it." Lily sagged in relief, and Felicity did not miss the strain showing in her eyes. What were usually emerald green orbs were cloudy with pain.

"You know something Flick?" Lily's voice was hoarse. "I hate adventures."

Chapter 16 - Major Rethink

Back at Hogwarts Ellie and Peter were concerned.

"I can't find them anywhere!" Ellie hissed at her counterpart.

"Neither can I. Oh, do you think they're dead. Have they been killed. Flick was right! We should have-"

"Peter, you are not helping!" Ellie told the boy, sternly. "We need Remus and the map. If they're in the castle it will show them. If they're not, we'll have to hope that we're not too late." The two of them hurried off in search of Remus. They bumped into him on the way to the Gryffindor Common room.

"We have a problem." He told them grimly.

"Flick and Lily?"

"Gone. In between Care of Magical Creatures and Divination. Completely vanished, along with someone called Zephyr Howkins. Do you know her?"

"Ravenclaw. Left last year. Not particularly friendly. Never saw her as being the type for the Dark Arts, mind you." Eleanor rattled off facts.

"Marvellous. Hold on, they can't have Apparated-"

"They used a Portkey." Ellie finished the sentence for him. "Absolutely fabulous, I don't think. Now what do we do?"

"Find the others. They have to get whoever it is that's off to Dumbledore's office. Then we can launch Operation R." Remus informed her.

"Um, Remus," Ellie began, tentatively, "we don't have a plan R."

"Rescue. We'll go after them."

"If they're not already dead." Peter said gloomily. Remus and Eleanor glared at him. "What? What did I say?"

* * * *

Lily and Felicity were far from dead, but not particularly happy.

"Why is it I always end up enduring the Unforgivables?" Lily asked, suddenly. They were in a dark, wet, smelly dungeon. Apparently Gretl had to make plans. "What happened to fair shares and everything?"

'I don't know." Flick replied honestly. "But do you think you could warm it up in here. And where on earth is Rattie?"

"Here." Lily replied, removing the creature from her robes. "Maybe she'll attack Gretl or something. And how exactly am I supposed to warm it up in here?"

"You're a witch."

"Without a wand." Lily finished. "And my name is not Halfreda. Wandless magic is her speciality."

"Lil, what's Rattie got." Lily picked up the ratunike, and pulled a wand from between the animals teeth.

"I don't believe it! It's my wand! She must have picked it up just before we were transported! Rattie! I love you!" She turned to smirk at Flick. "And you told me I was daft to learn all that stuff about ratunikes last year. All that research is working." And she kissed the little animal rapturously. Within minutes their cell was considerably warmer.

"We should be working out how to get out of this joint." Flick said, thoughtfully.

"Maybe we should wait. Remus said-"

"Yeah, and look where that plan got us! A prolonged stay in a dungeon. Marvellous. Or not."

"I see your point." Lily said dryly. "And I hurt all over."

"Better than being dead."

"No, it would be much better if I woke up about now, and realised that it was all a nightmare. Sadly that's not going to happen. But you're right. You've done their forging, and can you honestly see them letting us go?"

"Um no." Flick said bluntly. "We know too much."

"Precisely. So we wait until we're out of this hellhole, and then we make a break for it. The only problem I can see is that I don't have a clue where we are."

"Right." Flick said.

"Oh, come on Flick give me some help here!" Lily said, exasperated.

"Well I don't know where we are either."

"Rattie." Lily said, suddenly.

"Lily, she's here."

"No, stupid! Ratunikes can Apparate, the only magical creature that can, except for wizards and witches. If we give Rattie a note, then she can take it to Remus or Ellie, and then perhaps they'll be able to get us out of here!"

The two of them constructed a note using the quill and parchment that Flick had in her robes.

GUYS, DON'T HAVE A CLUE WHERE WE ARE. COULD BE IN TIMBUKTU, BUT WE DOUBT IT, IT'S TOO COLD. SOME CRAZY WOMAN CALLED GRETL IS THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THIS WHOLE LEAD THING. SHE WAS GRINDELWALD'S FIANCEE. THE THINGS PEOPLE DO FOR LOVE! IF YOU COULD USE RATTIE TO FIGURE OUT WHERE EXACTLY WE ARE, WE'D APPRECIATE IT.

JAMES, YOU CAN MAKE USE OF ALL THAT RESEARCH WE DID FOR FLICK, HOW TO TALK TO ANIMALS. AND HURRY UP. WE'RE HOPING TO GET OUT OF THIS JOINT, BUT HAVE NO WAY OF RETURNING TO HOGWARTS. AND ZEPHYR HOWKINS IS THE DOUBLE AGENT THERE, IF YOU HADN'T WORKED THAT OUT ALREADY. FLICK HAS DONE THE FORGED DOCUMENTS, YOU CAN'T ALL COME, SOMEONE NEEDS TO GUARD DUMBLEDORE'S OFFICE.

NONE OF YOU HAVE TO COME, IF YOU COULD GIVE RATTIE DIRECTIONS SO WE CAN GO HOME. ALTHOUGH WE MIGHT NEED TRANSPORT. AND I STILL SAY YOU SHOULD TELL DUMBLEDORE.

LOVE

FLICK & LILY

Lily told the ratunike exactly what she was supposed to do, and the little rodent-like creature disappeared. All the girls could do now was wait and hope.

* * * *

When Rattie appeared in front of him James Potter was nothing if not surprised. As far as he knew, she was supposed to be with Lily, and Lily was the only person, with the exception of Hagrid, who could actually go neat the little creature without the risk of losing fingers.

"What on earth is that doing here?" Sirius asked him curiously.

"She's supposed to be with Lily." James said, concerned.

"It also seems she has a note." Sirius observed.

"You going to tell me how exactly I'm supposed to get this note?" James asked him. "I like having ten fingers. Nine would be one too few." Rattie answered his question by dropping the parchment at his feet, and then moving into the shadows to wait. James bent to pick it up, unfolded it, and read it, Sirius looking over his shoulder.

"Damn. Next time I say we let Flick do the planning." Sirius said, gruffly.

"There won't be a next time." James replied grimly. "I swear those two only have to breathe and they run into trouble."

"What did Lily mean, talking to animals?"

"I'll explain later, we need to find- Remus! Excellent, we were just going to look for you."

"Lil and Flick are in trouble." Remus told him breathlessly.

"We know." Sirius said calmly. "They told us."

"How the- I don't want to know. So, what've we got to do?"

"Talk to that rodent-" Sirius began.

"Rattie." James interrupted.

"And figure out where they are, then give them directions back. And someone should go to get them transport."

"It'll have to be broom power. They can't Apparate, we can't make portkeys, and there are no handy hippogriffs." Remus told them.

An hour later, the rescue party was formed. Remus and James would go with Ellie, while Sirius would stay at Hogwarts along with Cee and Peter, and capture their elusive spy.

"I still say Remus should stay here and I should go with you and Ellie." Sirus told James.

"Exactly why you're staying. If you and Flick get together she'll probably screech at you for half an hour, and then our cover will be blown. So you stay here and detain the plant, and we'll go and rescue your lady love. Okay."

"No. You get to go."

"Lily isn't quite as vocal as Flick in times of trouble. Besides which she only yells at me when I do something wrong."

"Prongs, she never yells at you."

"Because I'm perfect."

"Yeah. You just keep thinking that. Good luck, and don't get yourself killed."

"Ditto. Be back soon. Come on Ellie, Remus. The sooner we go, the sooner we're back, the sooner it's out of our hands."

So they separated, Sirius, Cee and Peter to watch for hours, and James, Remus and Ellie to help their friends.

Chapter 17 - Cave By The Sea

Lily and Felicity had made their escape route. They had spent hours exploring their dungeon, and Felicity had discovered a secret passage that would hopefully get them out of the dungeons. All they needed to do was enter it. So they were profoundly grateful for the wand Rattie had salvaged for Lily. A simple exploding spell left a gaping hole in the floor, and a quick mutter and it was restored, the two girls safely underneath the ground.

"It's even more damp down here!" Lily complained. "Whose brilliant idea was this?"

"Yours." Flick replied. "And anything is better than spending the next ten years of out life rotting in a dungeon. So stop moaning."

"Easy for you to say." Lily retorted. "Youíre not the one who spent several hours being cursed. Not that I'm complaining."

"Not at all." Flick muttered. "Hurry up will you. It's cold down here as well as damp. And if we don't move fast they'll realise that we've gone."

So the two of them hurried along the narrow passageway, moving, for the most part, in silence, making regular checks to ensure that they were not being followed. At last they reached a rather rotten looking wooden door.

"It doesn't look like it's been used recently." Flick said, doubtfully.

"Probably has something to do with the fact that prisoners don't generally come equipped with escape tools. We're just lucky."

"Really." Flick said dryly. "I'd hate to be with you when we were unlucky."

"Ha ha! You know exactly what I mean." Lily grasped the handle, and opened the door firmly. An almighty creak, and they were free.

"Thank heavens!" Felicity breathed a sigh of relief.

"Flick!" Lily muttered to her friend. "What do we do now?"

"Wait for the rescue party. You couldn't magic up some food, could you? I'm starving!"

"Trust you to think of your stomach!" Lily laughed. All the same, she conjured up some sandwiches, and a jug of Butterbeer, and the two of them hid in a little cave that was conveniently situated a few metres from the door. The stone structure had two entrances, and chance made Felicity look out of the one they hadn't used, about an hour later. What she saw made her screech in horror.

"LILY!!"

"Shhh! Someone will hear. What's up?"

"That's what's up!" Flick gestured towards the entrance, where water was rising, rapidly. "We seem to be trapped by an incoming tide. We could go back-" but an almighty crash drowned out the rest of her words. Startled, the two girls turned to see that the hole they had entered the cave from had been blocked by a fall of rock.

"Fantastic!" Flick exclaimed. "Now we're stranded in a cave with no way of leaving, and on the way to a watery grave. Forgive me for being hysterical, but WHAT DO WE DO NOW??!!"

"Keep calm Flick!" Lily chastised her friend. "We're okay for now, and if we're lucky the water might not reach us. When the tide's gone out again, we'll be able to get out, and then the others will turn up, and we'll leave this dump for good!"

"Or we could use that wand, and make some kind of shield, so that we don't drown."

"Why don't we wait until it's desperate before doing that. What's the point of doing that if we're not sure whether we'll be affected. And incidentally where would you rather be? Here, or being tortured. And don't say being tortured, because you never have been. Personally, I'd rather be here. We are witches after all!"

"You just want lover-boy to race to the rescue!" Felicity retorted.

"Flick! Shut up!" Lily glowered at her friend, and they sat in uncomfortable silence.

Meanwhile, the rescue party had arrived at the castle. Somehow, they had managed to transport themselves and Rattie without any of them coming to harm. And for some peculiar reason, the ratunike was straining to get away from the castle, towards the rising tide.

"What on earth is that creature doing?" Remus asked curiously.

"I don't know. But Lily and Flick said to listen to her, so that's what we do." Ellie stated, firmly. Before either of the boys could stop her, she was off after Rattie. James and Remus followed. When they reached the sea front, the ratunike plunged into the water, and started swimming towards a distant opening in the rock of the cliff.

"I didn't know ratunikes could swim!" James said worriedly.

"I didn't know ratunikes existed." came Remus' exasperated reply. "Ellie! What are you doing? ELEANOR!!" For as he had spoken, Ellie had plunged into the water and followed Rattie. James looked at Remus and raised his eyebrows before plunging in after her. Remus followed, muttering something about women.

Within half an hour, the four of them, including Rattie, were inside the cave. The water was shallow enough to wade in here, and James was just about to ask what exactly it was that they were doing, when a squeal startled him.

"ELLIE!!! You don't know how pleased I am to see you!" It was a rather irate Felicity. "James! Remus! Where's Sirius?" She asked frowning.

"Guarding Dumbledore's office with Cee and Peter." Remus told her. "Where's Lil?"

"Here!" Lily replied. "You took your time didn't you?"

"Hi Remus, how are you Remus, thank you for coming Remus!" James teased, smiling at her.

"This is not the time for pleasantries!" she retorted. "Some of us have been freezing in this, well, I'm not sure exactly what it is, but all we want to do is get back to Hogwarts. But Hi Remus, how are you Remus, thanks for coming, now we can go!" Remus laughed at her reply. Then he frowned.

"We have a minor problem," he began. "We left our brooms on the other side of that," gesturing towards the watery expanse, "so we're actually stranded."

"Or not." Lily replied. "Honestly, don't you listen to anything. We spent a whole lesson on Summoning Charms and the one time they have a practical use, you act defeatist."

"Oh. Yeah. Accio broom!" Remus spoke the charm, and his broom returned to him. Ellie and James did the same.

"Okay, peeps, Lil, Flick, you need to share a broom with someone else." Ellie informed them. "Flick, you can fly mine if you like, you're better at it than me."

"It's not hard to be better than you." Lily told her, lightly.

"I wish I could say the same about you, but sadly it's not true." Ellie stated sorrowfully. "I'd have offered to let you. but I thought you'd like to spend time with him." she jerked her head towards James, smiling.

They all settled on to the three brooms, and then they were off. It was beginning to get dark, but the sky was clear, and the stars were bright. As they travelled, Lily grew drowsy in James' arms, and by the time they reached Hogwarts, she was half asleep. He shook her gently.

"Lily! We're back!"

"Leave me alone!" she muttered, eyes closed.

"Lily! Come on Lil, we've got to go in! It's freezing out here!"

"You might as well try and wake the dead for all the good that's doing!" Ellie exclaimed. She stroked Lily's cheek once, firmly. Lily's eyes opened, and she blinked a couple of times to focus. "Easy when you know how!" Ellie smirked at James.

"What the- never mind!" and so they straggled into the entrance hall where they were met by a grim looking Sirius. He smiled when he saw them.

"Good! You're back!" But then he frowned again. "Peter, Ellie and I have seen Dumbledore. We're to go straight to bed, and he'll see us in the morning."

"Did you get Zephyr?" Flick asked, anxiously.

"Lets' just say we got a little more than we bargained for." Sirius replied grimly. One look at his face told the others they would get nothing more from him, so wordlessly they entered the Gryffindor Tower, and went to bed.

Chapter 18 - All In The Name Of Love

The next morning the girls were the first down to breakfast. All of them looked tired, Lily and Flick both had huge dark circles under their eyes, testimony to the nightmares they had endured in. But in spite of this, all were incredibly cheerful, as they helped themselves to sausage, bacon, and eggs. When the boys turned up they smiled at them.

"Tired boys?" Flick asked, genially.

"Fine thanks." Remus informed her. "Slept like a log."

"We noticed." Cee told him.

"How?" Sirius demanded.

"Hey, you guys aren't the only ones to enter other peoples' dormitories uninvited." Lily informed them. "We just thought we'd take a peek, and maybe get a picture or two!"

"You didn't- You couldn't-" James stuttered.

"Oh, but we did." Ellie cackled, gleefully. "You looked incredibly sweet. Oh, and Peter, what's your bear called?"

"My-! You know-! I'll-!" He stuttered.

"Don't worry about it." said Cee, feeling sorry for him. "Lily still has all of her teddies."

"Cee!" Lily hit her friend playfully.

"What? They knew that already!" Cee replied.

"You can't talk Cecelia Hall!" Felicity said to her. "You still have all yours, under the false pretence that they're for your niece. Yeah right!"

After breakfast, they made their way to Dumbledore's office, seemingly happy, if not without trepidation. At the door, Lily paused and turned to Sirius, inquisitively.

"So what happened yesterday?" she asked.

"I suggest we go in, and I have no doubt Dumbledore will make us tell you." he replied. They piled into the study, and Dumbledore greeted them.

"Ah! You're here then! Marvellous. Right, after yesterday's events, perhaps you should explain what it was you were doing.

"We told you about what we suspected ages ago," Lily began. "But we weren't sure that you'd take us seriously, so we investigated for ourselves. And we found out that Flick was involved in a plot to discredit you. And we found out when it was going to happen, so we planned to prevent it."

"I take it that events didn't go quite to plan." Dumbledore stated.

"You could say that." Flick told him. "Lily and I ended up in a castle somewhere, and then this woman, Gretl told us her plan, and said I had to forge some documents, because I'm good at copying other people's handwriting." she blushed as she said that.

"You'd never use that gift for illegal purposes of course." Dumbledore said, smiling.

"Of course not." Flick agreed. "Well, anyway I said no, and she said I had to, and I said I didn't have to do anything. So she said that she'd hurt Lily, but I still said no, and so she did. And when she realised that neither of us were going to give in, she said that she would kill her. And she wasn't joking, so I agreed. And so I did her forging, and then she gave me a dose of the Unforgivables, and then we were locked up in a cell...." and Flick told the entire story of their escape. "...and Sirius said we had to see you this morning, so here we are."

"So, Mr Black, Mr Pettigrew, Miss Hall." Dumbledore began. "What did you do while your friends were on their mission of mercy?

"After James said that Sirius should stay here, we all carried on waiting, because we knew that eventually Zephyr would turn up and try to frame you. We must have been there for hours, and then we saw two people in black. Well obviously we were surprised - we were only expecting one. Still, they didn't know the password to your office, and one of them had this thing that she held up to the portrait and it just froze."

"Brentry key." Dumbledore informed her.

"Yes, well, we couldn't let them get in. We'd seen you go out, of course, so we knew there'd be no resistance, so we Stunned them, and then we got you, and you put them in that room. And that's it." She finished.

"Quite true. Perhaps we should have Gretl and Zephyr tell their story. I am particularly interested in why Miss Howkins did it."

Dumbledore left the room, and a minute later re-entered, accompanied by Zephyr and Gretl. Lily shrank back against James, and Flick gasped.

"You!" Gretl spat at Flick.

"Me." Flick agreed. "Well, you didn't honestly think I'd let my best friend be half killed by you, and undergo a bit of it myself without some kind of justice, did you?"

"You call this justice. This is false imprisonment. If it wasn't for you and you friends-"

"Professor Dumbledore would be in Azkaban." Flick finished her sentence. "Clearly we don't agree on what justice is."

"Thank you Miss Howell." Dumbledore said, calmly. "Gretl, Zephyr. Why?"

"You." Gretl said, and the one word was filled with hate. "You ruined my whole life in one blow. I was getting married in a week. And suddenly my world came tumbling down. My fiancé was defeated, disappeared. His supporters deserted me. One day I was the most powerful woman in the world, I had everything I ever wanted. The next I was desperate. I wanted you to feel what it was like to be desperate. You have absolutely no idea about what it was like. It was just another do good cause to you. My fiancé never did anyone any harm-" James snorted at that, anyone with any sense knew that Grindelwald was just about as far into the Dark Side as you could get.

"He was a man. He deserved to be treated better than that. I deserved better than that. You ruined my life. I wanted to ruin yours."

"Eloquently put." Dumbledore observed. "I'd guessed as much. But why you Miss Howkins. You had everything going for you. You've only been out of Hogwarts for one year."

"I'll tell you why." the girl spoke softly. "Three months after I left school, I fell in love. With Sam Grindelwald. Grindelwald's nephew. He was part of the neo-lead group. He was funny, clever, nothing you would associate with the Dark Arts. And I loved him. I'd have married him, you know. But he never got the chance to ask. Because he was involved in a faction uncovered by hit wizards. Sam once said to me he'd rather die than go to Azkaban. I didn't believe him. But it was almost as if he knew. Because he would have gone to Azkaban. He never got the chance to choose though. One of the other members of the faction killed him. My beautiful Sam, he was dead. And he was working to clear his family name. He believed Grindelwald was good, deep down. And when he died, I felt that I should take his place. I didn't join for the cause. I joined in the name of love. And I did as I was told, because that is what I was told to do. And now, I suppose I'll be in Azkaban. But it doesn't matter. Not anymore."

Dumbledore nodded at the eight seventh years, and they left the office. When they reached the Gryffindor Common room, James turned to Lily.

"You aren't a member of any unheard of movement are you?"

"Well, yeah, actually, now you come to mention it, there's the RSPCA, the NSPCC, I'm a big supporter of that one, actually, RSPB mainly because of the owls you know, and then there's Dr Banardo's-" Lily smiled wickedly as she rattled of the names of several Muggle charities, and James looked more and more confused.

"Don't you think that's a bit radical Lil? How many of these things do you support for goodness sake?"

"Loads. You don't take Muggle Studies, do you James?"

"No. And you already knew that."

"Well, they're all charities for children and animals in the Muggle world. Honestly do I look like I dabble in illegal business?"

"No, you look tired." and he ducked before she could hit him.

Chapter 19 - In The Astronomy Tower

After the hype surrounding the Lead case died down, the marauders went back to marauding. They might have been at the top of the school, and old enough to know better, but as James told Lily when she reminded him of this, life should always be fun.

One night, however, two figures met up in the Gryffindor common room, and it was certain that they weren't intent of mischief. Before they left, they vanished, reappearing only when they reached the Astronomy Tower.

"I can see Venus." Lily remarked, peering through a telescope.

"I don't believe you're star gazing."

"Neither do I. I don't believe that I got up at one o'clock in the morning to come and stargaze with you, either. What did you put in my dinner before you suggested it?"

"And Agreement Curse." James said grinning at her.

"Ha ha. Very funny." Lily was sarcastic. Then she frowned. "But why are we here?"

"Because I wanted to talk to you. And because it's light in here without any sort of fire, with all the stars."

"So what do you want to talk about?" Lily asked, settling herself in a chair.

"Life, the world, the universe in general." came James' reply, as he sat across the table from her.

"Quite a big topic, don't you think?" Lily smiled at him.

"Okay, seriously, what are you doing when we leave school?"

"Going home." Lily told him, deadpan.

"I'm killing myself with laughter. You know exactly what I mean."

"Not really, no. I plan to get a job, like anybody else. And I plan on getting a house. And if you're agreeable, maybe I'll see you occasionally."

"Fair enough. So will you live by yourself?"

"No. With Flick. We're going to get a flat together in London, near to where she is. That way we'll both be fairly close to our parents. And talking of parents-"

"We were?" James asked.

"We are now." Lily informed him. "When do I meet yours. I write to them, they write to me-"

"They do?"

"Mainly when your mum wants to check you haven't blown everywhere up yet. Anyway, she wants to know when she's going to meet me."

"Graduation." James said promptly.

"You can tell her then." Lily replied. "Have we finished yet? I'm tired!"

"No. I want to show you something."

"What?"

"Look." James manipulated the telescope, and Lily peered into it.

"Wow! When did you see that?"

"Ages ago. Pretty isn't she. You don't see then very often. They're supposed to bring you good luck." James smiled, satisfied.

"You think you need it?" Lily asked.

"Nah! I've got you. What could be more lucky than that?"

"You know, sometimes I think I'm in love with you." Lily whispered.

"You know, I think the same about you, all the time." he replied, before kissing her lightly. They were interrupted by a low whistle.

"Okay! Break it up!" came Felicity's usual clarion tones.

"What are you doing here?" James asked bluntly.

"We came to watch the romance movie. What do you think?" Sirius asked, sarcastically, appearing at that moment.

"More to the point," Lily said, ignoring Sirius, "How did you know we were here."

"Well, when James woke you up he was rather loud. And so I thought you might do something McGonagall wouldn't approve of. So I woke Sirius up-"

"You woke Sirius, and you were coming to see if we were doing something we shouldn't be!" Lily exclaimed.

"And we followed you. But we didn't listen to any of that - honest!"

"Apart from the bit where James told Lily he loved her." Sirius told Flick.

"He did! When? I mean, Sirius, we weren't supposed to listen. Did you really tell her you love her?" Flick turned to James.

"Not exactly."

"Liar." Lily whispered in his ear.

"What was that Lil?" Sirius asked, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"None of your business!" she replied, briskly.

"So why are you really here?"

"Because we fancied a romantic midnight stroll, same as you." Flick said dryly.

"Yeah right. You two are even less romantic than we are!"

"Hey! We can be-" James silenced Lily with a glare.

"I dread to think what you would describe as romantic, if you think the way you and Lily act is not romantic!" Sirius declared. "You're permanently attached."

"Really." Lily raised her eyebrow.

"Well, maybe not permanently, but a lot of the time. Anyway, why are we really here? We're here because it's one o'clock in the morning, and all sane people are sleeping. However, as you decided this morning you'd be insane, we thought we'd join you."

"Very nicely put, Sirius. Amazing grammar!" Lily said, dryly. "James, take your babbling friend up to your dormitory, and then Flick and I will be able to get some sleep!"

Chapter 20 - Lost Map

The Gryffindor seventh years had a penchant for mischief. The girls were as bad as the boys, only subtler. Consequently, the boys were blamed for the girlsí misdeeds. And James, Sirius, Peter and Remus had a mischief making accessory that made life so much easier for them. The Marauders Map. They had made it themselves in the previous year, and it was a companion on the majority of their outings. One lunchtime, when the girls were visiting Hagrid, the boys decided to plant Dungbombs in the Slytherin Common room. The map made this easy. The school was riddled with secret passages, and one led directly from the corridor outside the Gryffindor Common room into the Slytherin Common room.

"Have you got the map?" James asked Sirius impatiently, and they squeezed under the invisibility cloak.

"Yep. The Slytherins are going to love this, Prongs my friend. Come on Moony, we've got to go!"

Remus joined them, and the four boys entered the secret passage. Once inside, they shrugged the cloak off, and James pocketed it.

"I bet the Slytherins don't know about this!" Peter said to Remus. "If they did-"

"They don't though. James, who's actually planting these things?"

"Padfoot. It was his idea. Besides, they never blow up on him."

"Blame Flick for the last one. It was her idea." Sirius laughed. "You should have seen your face!" They were referring to an incident when, while he was planting Dungbombs in Severus Snape's dormitory, one of them exploded on him. Needless to say, Remus, Sirius and Peter had been hysterical, while James was less than amused.

"I don't care. You're doing the bombs." James told Sirius.

"Ah well, if you insist." Sirius grinned.

He had just about finished when he heard whistling. Sirius hurried back to the secret passage, and joined the others.

"You cut that a bit fine, didn't you?" Remus asked.

"I didn't want to do a James, and come out covered in dungbomb, understandably! These things need loving care and nourishment." Sirius said, in a singsong voice.

"Youíre mad!" Peter whispered. "Within ten years you'll be in a mental hospital!"

"We already knew that!" James told him. "Come on, we need to get back to the Common room before someone starts to get suspicious."

"James, they're suspicious already!" Remus told him.

"Exactly." Came the satisfied reply.

They were half way up the corridor when Sirius began to search his pockets frantically. James turned and happened to see him doing so. He frowned.

"What's up?" James hissed at Sirius.

"I can't find the map!" Sirius hissed back.

"Fantastic." Remus put in sarcastically. "I suppose we'd better go and find it."

They backtracked three quarters of the way. Just as the boys were beginning to despair of ever getting the map back, Sirius issued a triumphant yelp. His triumph was short-lived however, as James and Remus turned to look at him, his eyes widened it horror. He had seen the map, but someone else had too. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter squeezed behind a statue, and watched with dread. Filch, the caretaker, picked up the old and battered piece of parchment, and looked at it, suspiciously. He pocketed it, and moved on.

"Nice one Sirius!" James hissed. "Now what're we going to do?"

"It's not my fault!"

"You had it!"

"Well I don't now."

"I realise that!" James sighed. "I suppose arguing's not going to bring it back. We're never going to live this down!"

When they were back in the common room, the girls greeted them.

"Why're you looking so glum?" Flick asked, brightly.

"Sirius dropped the map, and now Filch has it!" Peter informed them.

"He did what?" Lily exclaimed.

"It's all right, he couldn't work it in a million years!" Remus assured her.

"Just as well." Lily informed them. "Because if he could, there'd be no more night time rambles, no more jokes no more extra food no more-"

"I think we get the picture." Flick said to her. "I just don't believe you lost it. That map was every mischief-makerís bread and butter, and now it's gone!"

"Thanks for that Flick!" Sirius growled.

"My pleasure! What I want to know is what it was you were doing that involved the map in the first place."

"You'll know soon enough!" Was Sirius less than satisfying reply.

"I want to know now!" Flick whined.

"Patience, my dear Felicity is a virtue."

"Well it's not one of mine, and if you don't lose that preaching tone, you'll find that some of us are slightly more proficient at fighting than you might think."

"I think we already knew that!"

"So, what were you doing?"

"They were baiting the Slytherins, what else?" Lily told her.

"Hey! How did you know?" Sirius asked.

"Because I have ten brain cells more than you. And because thatís all you ever use the map for." Sirius was saved from replying by an almighty roar.

"POTTER!! BLACK!! LUPIN!! PETTIGREW!! MY OFFICE, NOW!"

"I don't think Professor McGonagall shares your sense of humour." Felicity informed the boys, sweetly.

Chapter 21 - Reign of Terror

The summer term was progressing swiftly, and all too soon the eight mischief-makers would be undergraduates no more. As they considered career options, one thing became abundantly clear. The world was fast becoming an unsafe place. Lord Voldemort was rising fast, even for him. The threat he posed was so well publicised that none but the most naive believed that he was anything other than dangerous.

Lily, James, Flick, Sirius, Remus, Cee, Ellie and Peter were all studying hard for their NEWT's.

"I'm never going to pass!" Peter moaned at one point.

"You have to." Cee said, shortly. "Come on Peter, optimism! If you don't believe in yourself, nothing will happen. There are enough people in the world who are prepared to put you down, without you helping them!"

"Cecelia Hall being philosophical!" Sirius exclaimed. "I don't believe it! Look, Peter, stop worrying okay. The rest of us can do without it. You know, in a couple of weeks we're leaving this joint forever. We might never see each other again!" His tone took on a gloomy note.

"Not you too!" Flick exclaimed. "James, Remus, have you been giving them Pessimism Potions?"

"Not that I know of!" James grinned.

"First and foremost, we are not going to lose touch. Especially not you boys. You're like this!" she crossed her fingers. "Besides, if you don't get together, you'll all get boring."

"So what are you planning on doing?" Ellie asked, curiously.

"I'm not sure." Flick told her, honestly. "I mean, being an Auror, that would be fantastic, but it's risky. And I'm not good with risky." Lily nodded her head at that. "Lily de-ah! Your supposed to argue with that! Anyway, I don't want to go into the Ministry. They're just a bunch of incompetents pretending that they know what they're doing. On the other hand, I quite fancy going into medicine."

"I pity your patients!" James laughed. "If they say one thing wrong, you'll poison them!"

"I would not! Anyway, what're you going to do?"

"I am going to be start a League Against Voldemort, and then detain all his supporters." James replied.

"Not ambitious at all then! And don't you think that perhaps there already is a League Against Voldemort?"

"Well if there is then I'll join that." James told her seriously. "Look at what he does, apart from go on and on and on about being 'pure' blood. That's a joke! Seventy five percent of the wizarding population have Muggle ancestors of one description or another, and Squibs usually marry Muggles. And I heard that he's a half-blood."

"And Remus, Peter and I will be doing exactly the same." Sirius informed the girls. "We talked about it the other day."

"I'm going to be a writer." Cecelia told them, excitedly. "And then I'll be able to report on your guerilla warfare."

"Right." Sirius was dubious.

"Look, don't worry! I'm not going to make you sound bad or anything." Cee assured them. "I'll just tell it how it is."

"Lil's dead set on Charms." Ellie announced. "And I'm going to make the most of a huge inheritance and do nothing."

"Really?" Cee asked, astonished.

"Well, not exactly. I'm going to work for free, voluntary work you know. I thought I'd go into tactics."

"Right." Cee nodded her understanding. There was no need to say whom it was that Ellie was going to work as tactician for, it was blatantly obvious that she was another of Voldemort's enemies.

A few days later the exams were over and done with, and there was only a week left of school. The eight of them were laughing by the lake when Professor McGonagall arrived.

"Miss Howell. I need to speak to you in my office."

"All right Professor." Flick grimaced at her friends behind Professor McGonagall's back, and followed her into the castle.

"I wonder what all that was about?" Lily said, looking after her friend, anxiously.

"Ah, Flick's probably pulled off another prank, and McGonagall's hauling her over the coals."

"I don't think so. She'd have told one of us if she was plotting something. Perhaps something's wrong."

"Stop being such a fusspot, Lil." Ellie said, genially.

Flick entered Professor McGonagall's office, confused. As far as she knew, she had done nothing to warrant a visit to her head of house. Still, anything was possible.

She saw a Hit Wizard as she entered, and her heart entered her mouth. Something had gone badly wrong.

"Miss Howell?" The tall man quizzed her.

"Felicity Howell. That's me." She informed him.

"Miss Howell, I'm not really sure how to tell you this. There's no easy way to do it-"

"What do you mean?" Flick asked, hoping against hope that the news wasn't bad.

"Miss Howell. My name is Gerald Hilinas and I'm a Hit Wizard, as you may have gathered. I'm terribly sorry, but your parents are dead."

"No. You've got it wrong. My mother died years ago. Daddy- Daddy's still alive, he promised he'd stay alive." Felicity whispered in anguished tones. Hilinas looked at Professor McGonagall inquisitively.

"Felicity's mother died when she was five. It was her father and step-mother." the Professor explained.

"I see. Miss Howell, I know this is hard for you, but there's more. Your father and step-mother were murdered by Voldemort-"

"What about Kat?" Flick choked. "My baby sister."

"There was a baby in the garden. She was sleeping when we arrived, which is probably why she did not perish. How many people know about her?"

"Only my friends, Mags and Dad. Dad said I wasn't to tell the world, that there were bad people out there."

"Your father was a wise man Miss Howell. Did you know he was working against Voldemort?"

"No." Felicity said bluntly. "He never told me about his work - he said it was top secret."

"Your father and step-mother were murdered because of your father's involvement in the fight against Voldemort. I understand how hard this must be for you, but we need to talk about arrangements. Your sister-"

"I'll look after her."

"But-"

"Look, she's lost her mother and father, and I've lost mine. She's the only relative I've got left, and if you think I'm going to let some stupid authority put her in an orphanage, you've got another think coming. I have one week left until I graduate, and then I'm spending a year at MedSchool. I'm commuting, so I'll be home at night and in the morning. My friend, Lily Evans is sharing a house with me, I'm sure she'll keep an eye on Kat when I'm not there."

"But you're too young!"

"People younger than me have the same sort of problems. I'm eighteen. Old enough to marry. And Kat and I will stay together if I have to defy every law in this country to achieve it. I'm glad that's settled. Good day, Mr Hilinas." And Felicity fled from the room before they could see the tears running down her face. She ran and ran, and eventually reached her favourite haunt, a secluded tree in the Forbidden Forest. Once she was ensconced in its branches, she gave way to grief, and cried her heart out for the father who had been everything to her, and the step-mother who had never tried to mother her, rather to be her friend.

Lily found her there and hour later, still shaking with sobs.

"Flick? What's the matter?" she asked softly. The red eyed girl in front of her was not the Felicity of laughing eyes she knew.

"Daddy- Daddy- He's- Lily, he's-"

"Something's wrong with your father?" Lily asked.

"He- He's dead Lily. Him and Mags. Murdered. By Voldemort. It's only Kat and I left."

"Flick! I'm so sorry! I had no idea! Look, you can't stay here. Let's get back to the castle, and I'll take you to the hospital wing. Madam Flooey will know what to do."

Lily helped her friend to the hospital wing, and within ten minutes she was in a sleep mercifully devoid of dreams.

When Flick joined the others the next day her eyes were still red and swollen, and her face grave and sorrowful. But they were supportive, and she knew that in time the ache would get better.

Chapter 22 - End Of Term

The end of term rolled up in no time. For the seventh years it was the last time they would ever see their school as a student. In a way, it was exciting, but it was also with regret that they sat down to the feast.

Gryffindor had won the House Cup, by a landslide, due in the main to points that the eight mischief-makers had earnt when they had foiled the Lead Group's plan to discredit Dumbledore. After the speech and food was over and done with, it was time for the final night in Hogwarts.

The next day saw eight people once again squeezed into one compartment. Flick was sandwiched between Lily and Sirius. She wasn't going home. Lily had come up with a solution to her problem with her sister and her work.

"Flick, come and stay with my parents and I, until we can find a house. Mum'll look after Kat. She's a dab hand with babies. And you can't go back to your house, there're too many memories. You'll have to go back someday, but someday isn't now." So Felicity was joining Lily in her house in Kent.

"It's weird you know," Lily began. "I mean, seven years I've been waiting for this day, and now itís come, I wish I could have those seven years all over again."

"Yeah, but think of all the years you've got ahead of you. I mean, this time next year you could be married and have children." Cee grinned wickedly at James.

"Wait up! Who said anything about children?" Lily asked. "Kat will be plenty for now, thank you very much. More to the point listen to you wishing my life away! Didn't you ever think that perhaps I want to be young, free and single forever?"

"The only problem I can see with that is that you're not single. Besides, you're the marrying type."

"Stop! Stop it! I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED!! OKAY!!! Good. Now, if you'll excuse me!" Lily left the compartment in a huff.

"Come on James! Hurry up and pop the question!" Sirius teased.

"I don't know what you're talking about." James replied, loftily.

"Pull the other one. I need to know when you're planning on marrying her so I can save for the present."

"Shut up Sirius!! Weren't you listening? She wants to be young free and single for the rest of her life."

"Yeah, and my name's Albus Dumbledore!" Sirius snorted.

"It is?" Lily asked from the doorway. "And I always thought it was Sirius!" there was an edge of sarcasm to her tone.

"Ah, Lily darling, I believe Jimbo over there has something to ask you."

"What?" Lily demanded.

"Nothing." James said, hurriedly. "Ignore Sirius, he mad."

"James, he's always been mad."

"Oh."

They sat chatting companionably for a while, and then Cee shrieked.

"I've just realised! We can do magic even when we're not at Hogwarts."

"Cee, where've you been for the last half a century?" Flick asked. "Of course we can. As long as it's legal." She sent a warning glare to the boys.

"But all the fun stuff is illegal!" Sirius whined.

"And why do you think that is?" Flick asked, sarcastically. "Take a wild guess you end up-" she stopped, and looked suddenly sad.

"What do you-" Peter began, and earn himself and elbow in the ribs from James and Remus who were sitting either side of him.

"What did I say?" he cried.

"Oh, Flick, I thought I'd better mention Petunia." Lily said, hurriedly. "She sent me a letter, and let's just say I'm not her favourite person right now. So if she's rude to you, just ignore her. I do. It's easier."

"Why does your sister have this complex?" Remus asked, curiously.

"If I knew then she wouldn't have one." Lily informed him. "It doesn't matter. She'll probably disown me sooner or later."

"Such a happy family." Peter muttered sarcastically.

"Pardon?" Lily turned on him.

"Nothing." He smiled at her.

"Yeah right, I believe you." she came back.

Eventually they reached Platform 9ĺ. Slowly they disembarked. Lily stood for one last look at the train. It was old fashioned, quaint, yet she cared for it far more than any of the modern Muggle trains. To her it meant Hogwarts, and she wasn't going to forget that in a hurry. Then she and Flick moved their luggage through the barrier and joined the Muggle world once more. Waiting for them were Lily's parents and Katherine. Lily flung herself on to her parents, and Flick seized the eleven-month old baby.

"Fee!" the strawberry blonde haired, cobalt blue eyed child cried.

"Kat! How're you doing sweetie? Having a good time?" The little girl just flung her arms around her sister. Lily meanwhile was talking animatedly to her parents. The five of them made their way to the Evans's car.

They arrived at the pretty cottage nestled in countryside. This was Lily's home, but now it was Flick's too. Lily's parents made sure of that. She had started with calling them Mr and Mrs Evans, but Lily's mother had soon put a stop to that.

"I hope you don't mind, but Kat calls us aunt and uncle. You can too if you like, or we'll just be Evie and Hugo. It's up to you." Flick, grateful for the gesture that made her a member of the family adopted her sister's strategy, and 'Aunt' Evie and 'Uncle' Hugo made her very welcome. She had Petunia's room as her own. Evie had said that Petunia wouldn't need it, and as Lily needed hers, and the spare room had become Kat's nursery it made sense for Flick to have the remaining room. It was smaller than her room in her father and step-mother's house, and still decorated to Petunia's rather garish taste. Lily had offered to help her paint it, however, so it would soon be Flick's room.

Within a week of the holidays Felicity truly belonged in the Evans household. Evie was prone to asking her to fetch the post, and Kat toddled around as if she owned the place. The entire community of the house worshiped her, and she adored being the centre of attention. She was very close to Flick, and her sister was glad of that. Because she and Kat would always be Howells even if they were adopted Evans'.

Chapter 23 - NEWT Results

Lily woke early one morning at the beginning of August. Her sunshiny room was light and airy, but she dragged herself out of bed, and made her way to Felicity's. At the doorway she paused to smile. When it had been Petunia's room, Lily had never troubled to enter it. But since Flick had taken over, it seemed she spent more time there than in her own room. She could hear gurgles from inside which meant Flick was up, and Kat was with her. She pushed the door open, and looked around the pale blue room. Flick smiled at her.

"Morning Lil! You're up early aren't you?"

"I couldn't sleep. Too nervous."

"You worry about everything!" Flick laughed.

"I do not. Aren't you worried?"

"Petrified!" Flick grinned. "But we'll be fine. It's a good thing I'm here. If you'd have woken Aunt Evie up she'd end up in the nearest hospital. Lily Evans out of bed early on a day she could sleep."

"Ah, shut up!" Lily laughed. She chatted for a while, then left Flick to it, and went and got dressed. At half past seven Lily, Felicity and Katherine joined Lily's parents at the kitchen table.

"Morning girls!" Evie called chirpily, stacking toast in the rack, and stirring scrambled eggs haphazardly. "Lil, go and get your father. He'll be late for work if he doesn't hurry. Flick, I don't suppose you'd be an angel and get the post? Thanks! And how's Kat this morning? Hungry darling? Look! You can have some porridge, okay."

Lily and Felicity left the cosy kitchen to do as they were bidden, and Kat was placed into an old fashioned highchair, and fed porridge.

"I've got post!" Flick said, amazed, when she returned to find Lily, Kat, Evie and Hugo sitting around the table.

"Really!" Lily was interested. "Open it, who's it from?"

"'Dear Felicity, I am worshipping you from-' Lily, you never said that you had nut cases living around here.

"We don't!" Lily said, smiling. "Here, let me see." She took the letter glanced at it, and then smirked at Flick. "It's from Sirius. It's a wind up. Now eat your breakfast."

They had just about finished, and were doing the washing up when an owl arrived, bearing a letter with the Hogwarts seal.

"They're here then." Lily said gloomily.

"Shall we open them together?" Flick was nervous.

"Might as well. Then you can pick up the pieces!"

"Lily, you know as well as I do that you did fine."

"So did you. Come on, we might as well get the worst over and done with!"

They ripped open the envelopes, and Flick looked at Lily in delight.

"Six. Damn good I say! Most people only get four!"

"Seven. What did I get that you didn't?" Felicity peered at Lily's paper.

"Muggle Studies. You'd think I 'd manage something like that! My mum was a Muggle, for goodness sake!"

"She did die when you were five, Flick. You have been living a pureblood lifestyle for twelve years."

"True. If I did it again now though, I bet I'd do better. It's living here."

"I'll never forget mum's face when you tried to fry eggs in the toaster!" Lily went off into peals of laughter. "Honestly, it was priceless."

"Lil, lets face it, Professor Jordan was a complete disaster. I doubt he has ever worked a Muggle appliance in his life. Is it any wonder that I didn't pass?" Professor Jordan had been the Muggle Studies professor, a pureblood, and a clueless pureblood at that!

"Not really." Lily admitted. "I wonder how the others have done?"

"Well, as we're not likely to see them for a while, we'll have to rely on good old Morgana to keep us informed." Morgana had been Felicity's father's owl, and when he had died, had been left to her.

"Poor thing!" Lily exclaimed. "Last time we sent her to Sirius she was there for a week, and when she came back, she was rather the worse for wear!"

"What did you expect?" Flick retorted. "He'd spent the week trying out various enchanted owl pellets on her, although why he couldn't use his own owl, I don't know."

"Somehow, I don't think she'd be appreciative if we'd tried sending her to any of the boys. On the other hand, I suppose we could wait. It's only a fortnight until graduation, after all."

"Thank the stars!" Flick exclaimed. "Then it's only a month until I'm off to MedSchool, and what'll you do then?"

"Join the boys." Lily said, simply.

"Pardon?" Flick looked at her curiously.

"Join the boys." Lily repeated.

"Hold on a minute. Ellie said you wanted to do Charms!" Flick exclaimed.

"Flick, come on, let's face it, Aurors use Charms as much as the next person, besides, do you think I'm going to let those four have all the fun?"

"I see your point - you poor thing! All day every day with those four madmen. I can't say I envy you."

"I 'spect you'll envy me even less when I come to you for repairs." was Lily's cynical reply.

"You'd better not. Aunt Evie and Uncle Hugo would freak! So would Kat, and so would I! Understand?"

"Loud and clear sarge!" Lily mock saluted.

"And don't you get cocky young lady!" Felicity laughed. It was a routine the two of them often went through, one taking the role of mother, the other of a naughty child, found with her hand in the biscuit tin.

Chapter 24 - Graduation

A boiling hot day in the middle of August. The Evanss, the Dursleys, and the Howell, were all inmates of a moderate sized house near to Hogwarts for the week, on account of Lily and Felicity graduating.

On the morning of graduation, Lily and Felicity were up early.

"Why oh why oh why?" Lily moaned, when Flick woke her.

"Because sweetie, if we're not there on time we have a minor problem."

"And I'm supposed to care, why?"

"Because honey, your meeting lover boy's parents, and a great impression you'd make if you didn't turn up!"

"Oh - I'd forgotten about that...Flick!!"

"What?" Felicity asked, patiently.

"What about Petunia?"

"What about her?"

"She's here."

"Well duh!"

"But she'll hate everyone. She hates me, and I'm her sister."

"Nah. She'll get on just fine with James. He'll exercise his charm-"

"What charm?" Lily asked.

"And all will be well. Besides, didn't they meet at her wedding?"

"Um, not exactly." Lily said, smiling.

"Okay! Spit it out!"

"We sort of, um, hid when she came in our direction." Lily's reply was sheepish.

"You're hopeless."

"Never mind. Didn't you say I had to get up?"

And so, Lily and Felicity prepared for their graduation. After lunch, Lily, Felicity, Mr and Mrs Evans, and Vernon and Petunia Dursley travelled to the Scottish train station, where, at Platform nine and three-quarters they took the train to Hogwarts.

The Great Hall was arrayed in regal splendour, the four houses colours hanging artistically around the walls. The second they entered, Lily and Felicity were pounced on by Cee and Ellie.

"Come and meet my parents!" Lily said, eagerly. The two girls followed her to where the Tevallions and Katherine stood, looking rather bemused by the whole affair.

"Mum, Dad, these and Cee and Ellie, my friends."

"We've heard so much about you!" Evie Evans exclaimed. "Lily and Flick sing your praises all the time! How are you?"

"Fine thank you Mrs Evans. Mr Evans." Ellie was at her most polite. Looking at the Evans's she could see that Lily got her Celtic good looks from her father. "I'm terribly sorry, but we have to rush off - Dumbledore wants to see us."

"What've you done now?" Lily grinned.

"Wouldn't you like to know." Cee replied, mysteriously. And with that, the two girls disappeared.

"How rude." Petunia said prissily. "They could at least have said hello. I mean, are Vernon and I invisible." Lily hid her frustration. As Petunia and Vernon had hidden behind her parents when Cee and Ellie approached, it was hardly surprising that they didn't speak to her.

"Sorry 'Tunia. They'll speak to you later, I'm sure."

"This place freaks me out." Was the sullen reply. Lily gave up trying to be pleasant. It was fighting a losing battle anyway.

"You didn't have to come!" she snapped. "You just had to satisfy your curiosity."

"And she wanted to meet James, Sirius, Remus and Peter." Flick added in an aside. She had seen enough of Petunia to work out her motives, and decided that the bony woman wanted to ensure that her little sister's male friends weren't merely figments of the imagination.

Before Lily could reply, hands covered her face, and a voice whispered in her ear.

"Guess who."

"Grow up!" She muttered, pulling the hands away, and smiling at James. "Where's Sirius?"

"Having an emotional reunion with Flick by the looks of things." He replied, pointing towards Felicity and Sirius. "Honestly, some things are not meant for public places."

"Come on smarty!" Lily chastised him. "We have to go and say hello to my lovely family, and move Kat before she sees a side of her beloved sister that babies were never meant to see."

"Lucky me!" was the wry reply. Still, he followed her, and greeted her parents.

"Hello! How are you?"

"Fine thank you James, dear. Goodness, you've grown. You're almost twice as tall as Lily!"

"Don't exaggerate Mum!" Lily exclaimed, blushing.

"I'm not Lily love, it's the truth."

"Your fault mum, for giving me the wrong genes."

"Don't blame it all on your poor mother!" Mr Evans smiled at his daughter. "Your Great-great aunt Ethel was even shorter than you are!"

"Poor woman!" Lily said in heartfelt tones. "Come on Jimbo, 'Tunia's dying to meet you."

"'Tunia?" He whispered in her ear. She ignored him, and smiled prettily at her sister and brother in law.

"Petunia, Vernon, this is James Potter. My friend." she said genially. Petunia looked at the tall boy with his blue black hair and sparkling blue eyes, and then looked at her husband, appraisingly.

"There's not much fat on him is there?" She asked Vernon. Lily glanced at James, and went off into a coughing fit, his face was such a picture.

"He needs to do something about his hair." Vernon replied, studying James intently.

'Sorry' Lily mouthed at her boyfriend. He rolled his eyes at her, and she didn't miss the mischievous twinkle that suddenly graced them.

'No," she mouthed. James pulled a Ďwho me?í face, and then spoke to Petunia.

"I know what you mean. It's absolutely hopeless. Lil's told me to brush it a million times, but you know, I have a phobia of hairbrushes and combs, so it's impossible. Lovely to have met you. Must go." And he grabbed Lily's hand, and pulled her away before going off into peals of laughter.

"James Potter!" she exclaimed. "You are the biggest liar on the face of the earth. Honestly - 'I'm scared of hairbrushes!'" Suddenly Petunia squealed.

"James! What did you do?"

"Nothing." He said, too innocently.

"Really?" came the polite reply. Too polite. "Then why is my sister running around, being chased by what seem to be an army of cornish pixies?"

"Not guilty." James told her. She glared at him. "She deserved it." He amended. "For calling you a freak."

"I'm not even going to ask," she said wearily.

"Good." came the self-satisfied reply.

"James!" A middle-aged man with bright blue eyes clapped his hand on James' shoulder. Lily looked at him, and saw where James' captivating gaze came from. This man, who was almost certainly his father had the same glint of hidden steel in them, and the mischievous light that was the only tell tale sign that James Potter was not as innocent as you would have him believe. His hair, although unruly, was blonde rather than black. "And you must be Lily!" the man smiled at her. "I'm Edward Potter, James' father. My wife is over there, talking to Sirius' mother. Oh, and who did you use the Foaloun hex on James? It seems to be working rather well." Lily's gaze hardened.

"He used it on my sister." she said, precisely. "And I had nothing to do with it."

"He did-"

"What's he done now? I'm Helena, by the way, his lordship's mother." The short woman had grey-green eyes, but the same blue-black hair and features as her son.

"He cursed Lily's sister." her husband informed her.

"He did what? James Matthew Potter! How many times have I told you not to curse people? Especially not your future sister-in-law-"

"Excuse me?" James blinked at his mother. Fortunately for him, Lily had been dragged off by Felicity and Kat while his mother and father had been discussing his misdeeds.

"Oh come on James! I'm your mother! I can read you like a book. I knew exactly what you were thinking when you were two minutes old. You love that girl, and youíre going to marry her. I know it!"

"I have just realised the folly of having a mother who's also a very proficient Divinator." James informed his father. "Where's Lil?"

"A young whippersnapper with a baby dragged her off when your mother got as far as the 'how many times have I told you...' routine."

"That would be Flick and her sister-" Any further remark on James' part was cut off by a loud echoing yell.

"Lily! I'm going to kill you! I must have been mad to agree to come to this freak house!" Petunia was clearly irate, and Lily was bearing the brunt of her anger. All eyes turned to the centre of the great hall where two girls, one tall, skinny and blonde, the other short, slim and strikingly beautiful. The latter was known to all those graduating as Lily Evans. The identity of the other was unknown. Lily faced her sister, and sparks seemed to emit from her eyes.

"You didn't have to come. It's not my fault you had to satisfy your morbid curiosity."

"It is your fault that your freaky boyfriend has a warped sense of humour."

"Well if you hadn't been so rude his 'warped sense of humour' wouldn't have come into it."

"I should have known better than to think that anything or anyone you like would have been worth meeting!" Petunia spat. That caused an outcry.

"Well sister dear," Lily hissed, "you've known for a long time that our tastes differ. I can accept that. But I swear if you insult my friends once more, I'll never speak to you again in my whole life." She turned on her heel and marched off, pretty nose elevated.

"Feisty friend you've got there." Edward Potter remarked to his son. "She'll get on well with your mother."

After Petunia's outburst, graduation continued without incident. As James' father had predicted Lily and Mrs Potter got on like a house on fire, and the Evansí and the Potters had a civilised conversation. James, Sirius, Remus, Lily, Ellie, Flick and Cee were at the top of their year, surprising no one. After all, in spite of their protests to the contrary, they were intelligent, and once they put their minds to it, nothing was beyond them.

Chapter 25 - Lily and James

After they graduated, Lily and James kept in regular touch, with the help of his owl, and her detailed instructions on how to retrieve Muggle post. They met up as often as they can, but it wasn't until the Auror training classes began in October that they saw each other for a prolonged length of time.

"I thought you were doing Charms!" was James' first remark on seeing Lily.

"Nice to see you too!" she replied. "Well someone had to prove that girls were just as good as boys. Besides, I rather liked the sound of this. It uses pretty much everything."

"Right." was the flat reply.

It was the beginning of December, and James and Lily were being sent on a practise assignment. They were to pose as husband and wife, and they would meet with a couple in a league with Voldemort. (As it was a training exercise, the Voldemort supporters were played by experienced Aurors.) When Felicity heard of Lily's assignment, she sent her an owl.

'...Dumbledore clearly likes to stir the pot. I hope you enjoy being Mrs Potter. If youíre lucky, James might enjoy it too, and perhaps the two of you could make it permanent. You've been acting like a married couple for ages, you might as well make it official...'

And so, on a very cold December night, a train pulled up at a station in London. Very few people alighted, but among them was a couple. They could not have been more than eighteen. The young man helped the dainty girl out of the carriage, and laughed at a remark she made. His reply made her frown at him, before smiling, and kissing him on the lips. Their teacher, who knew nothing of the relationship between two of his most promising students, gave them marks for making their cover story look authentic.

"Well," James began, "I believe there's a pleasant apartment waiting for out arrival."

"Good. I'm knackered." was Lily's heartfelt reply.

"Come on then, Mrs Amelia Blotterfield. Let's go home."

"What did you call me?" she hissed in his ear.

"Amelia Blotterfield. It's your code name. Make the most of it sweetie. It won't last long. And incidentally, you look better with red hair." Lily had performed a simple hair dying charm to disguise her features, and the mahogany tresses made a stark contrast with her fair skin and green eyes,"

"Well you look better when you shave." she informed him. James had grown a beard, and affected a limp. "That beard is prickly."

"Sorry hon. You'll have to get used to it." James offered her his arm, and she took it smiling. Together they left the station.

Seven days later and two young people, obviously together were having a showdown in the leafy grounds around the training school.

"James, remind me never to go out with you again." Lily said hotly.

"It wasn't supposed to hit you!"

"It wasn't supposed to hit anyone! You weren't supposed to do it."

"So I improvised."

"Next time don't! You have no idea how much I hated having six extra arms."

"Well, apart from that bit it was fun."

"James, it wasn't supposed to be fun. We were tracking deranged lunatics-"

"Two rather good actors, actually." James interrupted her.

"And you were supposed to be scared stupid."

"I preferred it when it was supposed to be fun."

"Yeah, it was great fun, spending a week in the hospital wing because your partner cursed you."

"Well you have to admit it was kind of funny."

"James, are you never serious?"

"Sometimes."

"Like when."

"Like now." After kissing her, he began to speak again. "I reckon you'd make a good wife."

"I know you'd make an awful husband, but do go on." she said, smiling wryly.

"And I'm not sure that I like the idea of you being someone else's good wife."

"I have to say that I'm not overly keen on you being anyone's awful husband, but there we go."

"Lily, be serious."

"This from you."

"Okay, I give up. If you're not going to listen..."

"I am." she said, softening.

"Lily, listen. I love you."

"I love you too - when you're not hexing me!"

"What do you think about marriage?"

"I wouldn't say I'm against it."

"Good." He got down on one knee. "So, Lily Evans. Will you marry me?" There was a pregnant pause.

"Yes."

THE END

Disclaimer: I was not J. K. Rowling, I am not J. K. Rowling, and I will never be J. K. Rowling. Therefore, none of this is mine. Well, the plot is, but the characters arenít. Actually, her characters arenítÖyou know what I mean!

Continued from From this Day Forth

Thanks to everyone whoís reviewed this at some point. When I chaptered it, before the rewrite to make it consistent with the information Rowling has provided us with recently, I lost all of my reviews, so I canít thank you all personally. But I do really appreciate feedback Ė itís nice to know that people do actually read my scribbles. For those of you agitating for the sequel Ė Iíve submitted From This Day Forth for editing, and as soon as I get it back, Iíll post it here. Just to let you know, Iím not dead (not yet anyway) and I am working on a new fic, this time about Charlie Weasley. However, Iím currently inundated with schoolwork, so I canít guarantee when it will be released. I have finished part one, but Iím not putting that in for editing until I get From This Day Forth Back. Thanks for all your encouraging words, feel free to drop me a line at hallieu@hotmail.com or talk to me on Aim (Iím Hallie2985), or to check out my website Ė The Marauders Den As always, reviews are welcome! Thanks guys.

Hallie

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