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Chapter 9- Missing In Action

“Mr. Pettigrew, I would appreciate an answer in coherent words rather than your incessant stuttering.” McGonagall snapped, eyeing Peter with a sharp glance. “Mr. Pettigrew, I am in front of you, not next to Mr. Potter.”

“I-I, u-uh…” Peter muttered past his fingernails as he began to chew on them.

McGonagall rolled her eyes and stepped over to her desk to address the entire class. “Each of you will visit my office within the next week for questioning of this incident. I am well aware that it may have not been anybody present in this room, but I highly suspect that this is not the situation. I will find out who is responsible for this.”

The room was filled with a silence so disturbing that Sirius found himself fidgeting nervously in his seat under McGonagall’s passing gaze. The professor was glaring razor-sharp daggers at everyone, and Sirius could practically feel those daggers tracing lightly along the skin of his throat. It was a very good thing that the bell rang right then, because Peter thought he was going to crack- the look on Sirius’s face wasn’t comforting or reassuring.

Peter, Sirius, James, Raven, and Remus were the first out the door and into the hall. They were all practically gasping for air, choking because their collars all seemed very tight suddenly. James gulped and wiped away the thin layer of sweat that was on his brow, looking at his friends and letting out a heavy breath. That had been too close for comfort.

“I wonder who did that?! It was funny, but I pity them if McGonagall ever finds out who did it.” Celeste Blade, a second year Hufflepuff who had double Transfiguration with the second year Gryffindors, said to whoever she was talking to.

Remus gulped and kept walking to the dungeons for Potions with his friends, all the while listening to what Celeste Blade was saying to whomever she was talking to until Celeste split from her Gryffindor friend and went to the Herbology green houses. Nobody had long to say anything of the matter before Gloria went sprinting past them, tears in her eyes and waving a copy of ‘The Daily Prophet’ around like a maniac.

“What do you suppose is wrong with her?” Remus asked as Gloria breezed past him, accidentally hitting him in the side of the head with the paper she was waving about.

“I don’t know.” Sirius answered, shaking his head as he watched Gloria race by again.

“I don’t even see why you’re all worried about why Gloria is racing around like a bloody lunatic when our own necks could be hung in a matter of days if McGonagall finds out we were the ones who-” Peter said in exasperated tones.

“Shut up! Somebody might hear you!” Sirius exclaimed, clamping his hand over Peter’s mouth. He soon pulled a face and jerked his hand away, looking at Peter with his lip curled. “You licked me!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“If Exploding Snap doesn’t help you forget something, I don’t know what will.” Remus said as he set a card down, leaning against the side of his four-poster bed, a drink sitting by his side.

“Quidditch.” James replied, sifting through his cards. “Always works for me.” He smirked, and looked up at his friends before returning to his cards.

“A good book.” Raven told Remus before she yawned.

“A cherry tart and hot cocoa.” Peter yawned, having felt the urge to do so since he had watched Raven yawn widely from her spot in between James and Remus.

“A memory charm.” Sirius put in from where he lay across his bed, his hands in front of him with his cards in firm grip. “That’ll make you forget anything.” He smirked as the others rolled their eyes at him. “Do not roll your eyes at the truth-teller.”

“Truth-teller? Sure, Sirius. Tell me the truth on this one- who was responsible for putting gum in Onnalee MacDonald’s hair?” James inquired, his brows raised and a grin gracing his merry features, his cards pushed together and in his hand so a certain Remus Lupin wouldn’t be looking over his shoulder at his cards (Remus needed all the help he could get in the area of card games.)

“Oh… uh…” Sirius scowled. “You set me up for that one!”

Remus chuckled to himself as he searched through his cards to find one to play off of Peter’s. Even if Peter wasn’t all that bright, he was still a card fiend. Remus glanced up to look out the window, and his eyes saddened (and had the others been looking at him rather than listening to Sirius making excuses, they would have noticed this) as he saw the pending sunset. He looked over at the clock- it was only six o’clock. He sighed to himself, blowing his bangs out of his eyes. He hated this.

“Right. That’s it for me. I have to go now… funeral tomorrow and all that.” He said, getting up and tossing his cards to the pile on the floor.

“Funeral?” Peter asked, slightly confused and not realizing that Sirius had taken the opportunity to look at Peter’s cards over his shoulder. “Sirius!” he exclaimed as he noticed, and swatted at Sirius, but missed and hit James instead.

“Ouch!”

“Sorry, James.”

“Yeah, I told you last week… my Aunt Millicent died.” Remus hoped he looked sad as he turned to get his suitcase from under his bed. “Lethifold got her.”

“Oh… sorry Remus, I guess it just slipped my mind.” Peter apologized solemnly, looking down at the floor as he spoke.

“It’s alright, Peter. Anyway, I’ll be back in a few days.” Remus said, heading for the door. “Bye guys.” He smiled weakly as he went out the door.

“Bye Remus!” they called to his retreating back.

“Poor Remus… somebody in his family is always sick or dying.” Peter said quietly as he began to straighten out the cards and put them back in their box.

“You know something odd?” James asked, giving his cards to Peter and then leaning back once more, sipping his goblet of water.

“The way Peter looks?” Sirius chuckled, turning over on his back and looking at everyone upside down. He smiled. “Sorry Peter, couldn’t resist.” He told Peter, who chuckled in return, for once being a good sport.

“That wasn’t what I meant. I mean… four of Remus’s aunts have died in the last year and a half.” James pointed out.

“Maybe they’re all easy lethifold targets.” Raven shrugged. “I read this book about this family of witches and wizards that was hunted by dragons for centuries because of a talisman the family had. Some Russian sorcerer put a curse on the talisman… nasty thing, it was.”

“Raven… they’ve all been named Millicent.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Remus sat in the Shrieking Shack the next morning, awaiting the return of the school nurse so that he could spend a day or two in the Hospital Wing, having horrible tasting potions shoved down his throat. He was shirtless, wearing only a pair of muggle jean shorts that were severely torn, and now the rough edges were catching on some of the splintered wood of the table he was sitting on.

He looked down at the floor, noticing a single sunbeam gracing the cold darkness of the floor before him. He slid off the table, ignoring the pain as his cut legs rested on the rickety wood of the floor. He reached out for the sunbeam, as if hoping to catch it and hold it in his hand like a pixie.

Remus smiled as the warm sunlight shined brightly on his skin, for a fleeting moment providing a tingling comfort that traveled up to his elbow. His pale blue eyes glittered in the reflection of the light bouncing off the floor, and his very messy brown hair would have appeared blond to a person standing about thirty degrees to his left.

His reverie of the wonders of sunlight was interrupted when he heard the school nurse gently, if not in a frightened tone, call his name from the first floor. Remus frowned and removed his hand from the light, dismayed as the warmness in his hand disappeared and was replaced by the same old painful feeling that ached his body after the full moon.

“Coming!” he called down the stairs.

He stepped up bare-footed onto a table and pulled his cloak and his robes off of a very high rafter this his wolf self wouldn’t have been able to reach. He pulled his tattered robes over his head, hissing as they touched his wounds. He swept his cloak around his head and buttoned it around his neck easily, before wrapping his scarf around his neck to keep himself warm on the trip back to the Hospital Wing.

When he entered the main room, the nurse shook her head, placing her hands on her hips. “Remus, I’ve told you not to put your robes back on! You could get some fuzz stuck in your skin when it heals up!”

Remus rolled his eyes. Fuzz in your skin wasn’t all that big of a deal, especially when you had more serious problems, like trying to explain to your friends why you disappeared every month. He sighed.

“Sorry. I’ll try to remember not to do it next time.”

“Now look! We’re late! The sun’s up! We’ll have to move quick if you don’t want anybody to see you!” the nurse scolded, grabbing Remus by the arm, causing him to screech in pain as his robes pressed deeply into his wounds.

“Let go of me!” he snapped angrily.

“Come on!” she replied just as snappily, not ceasing to let go of his arm as she drug him towards the Whomping Willow and out across the grounds.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Sirius… Sirius… SIRIUS! If you want to go to the quidditch try-outs today, I suggest you WAKE UP YOU BLOODY IDIOT!” James hollered, shaking his friend angrily.

“Oi… James… keep it down…” Peter groaned and jammed his pillow over his head irritably.

Sirius just moaned and swatted blindly at James’s hands. James rolled his eyes and sighed heavily, before looking over at Raven, who was not a morning person, but was certainly more of a morning person that Sirius. She had come over to their dorm because she was getting dreadfully bored in the common room. Chatting with a fourth year girl about the finer points of History of Magic was anything but exciting, after all- she droned on just as badly as Professor Binns. So she had decided to lend her services to James in order to wake up Sirius.

James and Raven swerved their heads sharply to see who was walking into the dorm. The door creaked loudly as Remus walked in backwards, obviously thinking his friends wouldn’t be up this early on a Saturday morning (it was ten.) He turned around to meet the gazes of James and Raven, causing him to jump slightly. Once he saw what they were doing, however, he smiled.

“You’ll never get him up like that, you know.” Remus pointed out, tossing his suitcase onto his bed and then walking over to stand beside Raven and James.

“And how do you suggest we go about it Professor Lupin?” James asked sarcastically.

“Simple. We get Peter up.”

James and Raven stared blankly at their friend, pondering what he meant by waking Peter up. Maybe he meant that Peter hadn’t taken a shower in a while and his armpits stunk like all get-out. Maybe he meant that Peter, who did some very odd things in the morning, would make a smiley face on Sirius’s forehead with toothpaste. There was no telling about what Remus had meant until he explained himself.

“Peter can help us tip over Sleeping Beauty here’s mattress.”

“Ah, yes. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.” James replied, smacking his head and rolling his eyes as he went over and finished waking up Peter (who was only half asleep because of James’s yelling only minutes before.) “Peter? Peter?”

“What now?” Peter groaned sleepily, looking up at James, who appeared very blurry to him. “What’s going on?”

“We need you to help us tip over Sirius’s mattress so we can all get to quidditch try-outs.” James replied, smirking as Peter sat up, his blond hair all over his head.

“That’s today?” Remus asked, and when Raven nodded, he bit his lower lip and bashed his head into the wall. “Aye…”

“You sound like Evans.” James said.

“I forgot… oh well. It doesn’t matter. There should be enough room left in the stands for me to sit. Who am I kidding? Of course there will be. Not like it’s a match.” Remus shook his head.

James raised a brow. “Talking to yourself is the first sign of mental illness, you know.”

“And being friends with people like you is the second.” Remus quipped, leaning his head heavily on the wall. He sighed and pushed off the wall, turned around, and went over to Sirius’s bed. “Get you moron, or you won’t get any freshly baked tarts from your mum for Christmas.”

Sirius was up like a shot. “What?”

Peter threw his pillow at Remus angrily. “You got me up for nothing!” Remus caught the pillow with ease.

“I didn’t get you up, he did!” he said, chuckling and pointing at James.

Peter took his other pillow and swatted James. “You git! Now I won’t be able to get back to sleep!” he whined, and then put his pillow over his head before collapsing back onto his bed, immediately regretting it when he hit the back of his skull on the headboard. “Oww…”

“Come on you lout! We have to go!” James said, jerking Sirius out of his bed.

“I’m off to get my broom while you change.” Raven said, dashing out the door to get her prized racing broom she had gotten from her brother Barry.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Oh boy… this is going to be a long day…” Sirius groaned as they stepped into the stadium, shielding his eyes from the light bouncing off the water of the lake.

Half the Gryffindor box in the stadium was filled, mostly with people fourteen and up. Everyone was in alphabetical order, and James felt his stomach lurch when he realized he would be sitting all by himself in one of the last rows. He gave a sideways glance to Sirius and Raven, who didn’t look the least bit nervous since they would be sitting next to each other.

James snorted.

“MR. LUPIN, PLEASE REPORT TO MY OFFICE AT ONCE!” the booming voice of McGonagall sounded throughout the grounds, an obvious affect of the Sonorus Spell (though they didn’t know that- they were only in second year. They weren’t brain surgeons just yet.)

Remus groaned and closed his eyes. “Sorry guys, I have to go… good luck!” he whirled on his heel and began to leave the pitch.

“Don’t worry Remus, you won’t miss mine- I’ll probably be last!” James chuckled half-heartedly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“What do you think Remus will say to McGonagall?” Sirius asked Raven as they waited for their names to be called by the captain.

“Dunno…”

“Let’s just enjoy today. If we get caught, we get caught and we’ll have our heads bit off, chewed up, and spit out by half the adults we know. But today let’s just think about quidditch, all right? The captain won’t want us if we seem distracted.” James put in as he paused by the row they were sitting at on his way up to a higher row. He was trying to sound noble, looking at them and balancing his broom on his right shoulder.

“Do you actually think that?” Sirius asked.

“Sort of… it sounded good, though, didn’t it?”

“You’re a git.”

“Takes one to know one.” Raven put in.

“Well… I’d better finish my hike. I hope I get there by sunset.” James laughed, continuing up the stairs as good-naturedly as he could.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was quite amusing and entertaining to watch a few people (who clearly had never been on a broom until then) try out for various positions, mainly of the Beater kind. They would duck and dive around the pitch, screaming that the bludgers were attacking them, all the while cursing at the captain who stood on the ground, shouting at them that that was what the bludgers were supposed to do.

One boy in particular aroused a few chuckles for the slowly disappearing audience. He had been the Seeker the previous year, and he had suffered an eye injury over the summer that had forced him to have Coke- bottle glasses that barely helped his field of vision. It was for this reason that he was trying out again- the captain had to know if he could see well enough to see the Snitch in a match. It wasn’t looking too good for Charles Hawthorne, the boy in the glasses. It took him an hour and a half to find the Snitch, while in had taken five minutes for Raven to spot it from the stands (the time it took for him to find the bloody thing left several people snoozing.)

“SIRIUS BLACK! SECOND YEAR! FORT THE POSITION OF KEEPER!” the captain, Carlisle Harper, called across the field.

Sirius gulped. Raven gave him the thumbs up sign, watching him nervously get his broom ready. From somewhere higher up in the stands, there was a loud shout of, “GO SIRIUS!”, sounding very much like the voice of James. Sirius smiled weakly.

“Think he’ll do good?” a boy next to Raven asked his friend.

“Don’t think so. He looks too jittery to stop anything.”

Raven dug her nails into her arms to restrain herself from saying anything. She swallowed as she watched Sirius fly over to the goalposts, looking just as nervous as she felt. He could even pass for nauseous at that point, he was so horribly pale and clutching his room so tightly James thought his best friend would be in the Hospital Wing with broken fingers.

Several Chasers flew into a line in front of Sirius to begin to try to make goals past the smaller second year boy.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“RAVEN BLAKE! SECOND YEAR! FOR THE POSITION OF SEEKER!” Harper called out over the pitch.

Raven gripped her broom firmly, straddled it, and took off from her seat, not caring to waste time going down to the pitch for a take off. She did a few laps around the stadium, doing a few warm up loop-the-loops and flips. She even got brave enough to stand on her broom while it was flying along at twenty miles an hour, keeping a firm grip with one hand and the other outstretched for optimum catching in that position.

She returned to the center of the field and watched Harper let the Snitch go. She had to wait for two minutes so that the Snitch would get a proper head start. She wiped her sweating palms off on her pale green robes (they didn’t have to wear their uniforms on weekends.)

“GO!” Harper called.

“Alright then…”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Later that night, James and Sirius collapsed on their beds, totally wind-blown and wind-burnt from their exhilarating races around the pitch after the try-outs had been over. It didn’t take them all that long to fall asleep, and it was for this reason that Remus found it very hard to talk to them about what he had told McGonagall.

Over in the girls’ dormitory, Raven was just coming out of the bathroom, a towel in her hair and a toothbrush hanging out of her mouth. She had forfeited participating in the races with Sirius and James around the pitch, favoring a hot shower instead. When she came out, Gloria and Lily were playing chess while Sarah was painting her fingernails like ladybugs.

“How’d it go?” Sarah asked, all smiles now that she was alone with her friends and didn’t have to worry about taunting because of her glasses.

“I won’t know until Monday. Harper has to average everything and all that.” Raven replied, going back into the bathroom to rinse her mouth out.

“Oh.”

“I think you’ll make it, Raven. You’re a great Chaser!” Gloria smiled.

“Gloria, I play Seeker.” Raven chuckled.

“Right. Sorry about that.” Gloria blushed, giggling.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The wait couldn’t have been more intense. Sirius was surprised he had any fingernails left by the time Monday morning came around. James had practically worn a hole in the floor of their dorm, having paced about so much in the last day. Raven had a very heavy curl in her hair from where she had twirled her hair on her finger so much, and her right middle finger was sore because she had twirled her ring around so much.

Because they were all so nervous, they hadn’t been very attentive when Remus had been trying to talk to them. Remus gave up at around noon on Sunday, realizing wouldn’t hear him if he had said the apocalypse was coming and the meteor was going to land smack dab on top of Hogwarts. Peter, of course, would have went nuts and jumped into the lake.

Then again, he might have done that if you had told him there was a colony of dust bunnies living under his bed, and they were now forming their own government. Of course, Remus reasoned, that would frighten him as well. But Sirius, well, he’d probably go under his bed to sign the peace treaty.

“No… no… I just can’t look! I’m too nervous! I think I’m going to pass out! I feel sick…” Raven argued as Gloria, Lily, and Sarah pushed her down the stairs and into the common room, where the sheet of results was posted.

“Come on Raven! If I can get over having glasses, you can read the ruddy results!” Sarah reasoned, giving Raven a shove toward the sheet.

“I- I can’t! Somebody read them for me, please!” Raven looked away hurriedly from the sheet, appearing as if she were frightened of it.

“Raven-“

“I’ll do it.” Gloria said, stepping forward and running her finger down the list of names.

She traced her finger down the line until she came to ‘Blake, Raven’. She stopped and then ran her ringer horizontally over the parchment, skipping past what year Raven was in and what position she was trying for. She sighed, enjoying the sound her fingernails made as the scraped over the parchment. She found such delight in small things.

Sirius and James came bounding down the steps right then, Remus and Peter coming slowly behind them, yawning and stretching in their pajamas. James and Sirius were behind Raven, and they asked Gloria to read their results as well. She agreed hurriedly to get them to shut up so she could try to understand how the result sheet worked.

“Come on Gloria! Tell us!” Sirius said, shaking Gloria by her shoulders.

Gloria swatted his hands away. “Wait a minute! I’ve only got two eyes!”

After a long, tedious silence, Gloria turned to them. “Well…uh… Raven… you didn’t make it… Sirius… you didn’t make it… James… you’re an alternate.”

Gloria expected an uproar of enormous proportions, but instead she was met by dead silence. No chaos, no earth-shattering cursing, no nothing. Raven had tears burning in her eyes, and one slipped and fell down her cheek quickly, causing her to cover her face with her hands. James looked heart-broken, gazing steadily at the floor at nothing in particular, a light dancing across his glasses from the fireplace, obscuring his eyes from view. Sirius swallowed and looked around, a miserable look crossing his face as he blew air out of his nose.

Remus’s jaw went slack and hung open like a cod’s mouth. He blinked and moved over to his friends, closing his mouth and putting comforting arms over their shoulders. He felt a bit awkward, but it seemed only the appropriate time for a young boy to hug his friends. He sighed and shook his head as he looked at the paper.

Peter told them he was sorry and stood silently, as if mourning the fact his friends hadn’t made the team like they had wanted so badly to do for so long. He looked solemn and quiet for a quite some time afterward.

Lily looked speechless, a dumbstruck expression playing her features. Her eyes were wide, and it seemed that even if she had once thought her now- semi-friends had been boasting about their skills and exaggerating about them, she had seen them in action, and now she thought they had been cheated out of being on the team. She blinked and looked down at the floor, her mouth still agape for a small smile. She closed it and looked at her bare feet.

Sarah looked a little taken-aback. She hadn’t seen them play at all, but she had seen them fly during their flying lessons the year before, and they had practically been the Air Aces compared to everyone else there. Even Malfoy and the other Slythering that were good at flying hadn’t been able to compare to their flight patterns that were advanced for their age group. Sarah thought that by the time they were twenty, they would be doing professional stunts that only the best fliers in the world attempted.

And yet Raven and Sirius hadn’t made it. And James had made alternate.

“Who got the position?” Raven asked, wiping at her eyes, trying to recover from her bout of tears, sniffling the whole while.

Gloria turned back to the sheet. She searched the paper with her eyes, glancing over names, years, positions awarded… “Umm…” she stopped and traced her finger back until she got to the name. “Some chap named Charles Hawthorne.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Breakfast that morning was dull and uneventful. It was especially miserable for Sirius and Raven. While Sirius was merely poking at his food with his fork and spelling out his name in the bacon, Raven as angrily jabbing her waffles with her fork and knife, muttering something about mortally wounding Charles Hawthorne. The others found it better not to talk at all, as they might set Raven off or depress Sirius even further.

James looked down, even if he had earned an alternate position. While most would find this absolutely wonderful and marvelous in every aspect of the situation, James found it gut-wrenching and headache-giving. He had worked so hard on his Chaser skills and flying tactics for such a long time that he had felt certain he would receive a playing position on team, rather than that of a bench-warmer. He had dreamed of flying out into the stadium, his ears burning with the cheers of the crowd and the boos of the Slytherins.

And the dull pain in his chest was a constant reminded that he still had to write his parents and tell them what position he had gotten. They knew he had tried out, he must have told them a thousand times. But how to tell them… how to tell them that their son who was the best quidditch player out of the four Potter children had been chosen for an alternate when he had scored nine goals out of ten, a tally much greater than that of most of the sixth years, who had on average racked up seven out of ten goals.

The looks Sirius was giving him weren’t very appealing either. James knew that Sirius would have been thrilled to the limit had he even been chosen as an alternate. And here James was, being a sour sport about getting the position Sirius wanted more than anything: a spot on the quidditch team, even an alternate counted to him.

“So… what’d you tell McGonagall?” James asked miserably, poking at his pancakes with his fork, leaning heavily on his left hand.

Remus looked up from his food. “I told her that I overheard some Slytherins talking about pixies the other day by the Charms room. She looked hopping mad.”

“Oh…” James muttered, his expression not changing.

“Well, that’s good. Now she’ll be after them and we won’t have to worry about her tanning our hides anymore.” Raven said, a lot less snappy than most people would imagine by the way she was mutilating her waffles.

“Tanning our hides?” James asked, his brows knit in confusion.

Raven shrugged. “American term I heard from Barry. He picked it up in Texas when he went on vacation there. It means… to yell at us and give us punishment.”

“Ah. Right.”

“Aren’t I always?”

James snorted. “You’re in a better mood than I thought you’d be.”

“Yeah…” Raven smiled at him. “I’m just thinking about what I’m going to do to Harper and Hawthorne when I get my hands on them.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Hey James!”

James turned around, looking for the person who had called his name through the corridor. “Huh?” he asked dully, still searching the crowd. He shrugged and turned around.

“James!” It was Gloria, a ‘Daily Prophet’ in hand. “Have you read the paper this morning?” she asked, walking over to him.

“No… I don’t read the paper.” James replied in a ‘duh. I’m twelve- like I care what’s going on at Gringott’s?’ voice.

“Your dad was in it.” Gloria said, jabbing the paper into his chest, knocking the wind out of him.

James straightened his glasses and began to read as he walked with Gloria to their next class. He dodged people as he went, causing some to look on in surprise because he could walk and navigate a crowded corridor at the same time without getting distracted by either.

“On the night of August 31, 1977, a muggle-born wizard named Charles McLaughlin and his family was murdered by the dark wizard Voldemort. Charles was getting ready to begin his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His mother was a muggle seamstress and his father was a muggle mechanic.

“We spoke with a few of the Ministry workers who were called to deal with the situation. Mr. Terrence Potter, who as you may or may not know is running for the position of Minister of Magic, which will soon be open when Minister Ashton retires from office in three months time, commented on the incident.

“ ‘We believe that the Killing Curse was used. There were no marks on the bodies- just looks of pure horror. I’ve never seen anything so… so… blood chilling in my life. Above the scene there was a large green skull with a snake protruding out of its mouth. I would like to say now that if anybody sees this spectacle anywhere that the Ministry should be notified immediately.’ Mr. Potter stated this morning when asked what had happened.

“This is the fifth of such crimes commited, but the Ministry assures everyone that the murders will be coming to an end soon. We can only hope so.”

James glanced at the picture just under the headline. It was of a muggle house somewhere that he presumed was outside of Manchester, completely crushed and mangled from an explosion. Brick was strewn everywhere, shattered glass lay mixed with the brick and ash that had healthily coated the street- he closed his eyes and looked away as he saw a miniature Ministry worker pulling a body from the wreckage.

He handed the paper back to Gloria. “Sick git, he is.” James told Gloria, who nodded solemnly in return.

James looked up from the floor and watched as Remus and Sirius went speeding by before hiding behind a tapestry. James narrowed his eyes and then looked to see who had been following them. It was a man covered in filthy, soot-stained clothes, who apparently didn’t believe in bathing or combing what hair he had. James curled his top lip in disgust at the man who was the caretaker that had replaced Appolyon Pringle only four years ago.

“Black! Lupin!” Filch hollered angrily, stalking up the hall and causing students to scatter like roaches as he walked by. “Potter!” he hissed, grabbing James up by the front of his shirt.

“Yes?” James asked, trying to hold his breath to get over the stench. It was hard to believe this was the man who kept Hogwarts clean.

“Your friends are in deep trouble now, they broke two picture frames in the Ravenclaw corridor!” Filch said angrily, spittle flying onto James’s glasses (he wasn’t sure whether to be glad it didn’t get in his eyes, or to be nauseous because he had Filch germs on his eyewear.)

“…Oh.” James nodded.

“Where are they? Where did they go?”

James pretended to look thoughtful. “I think they went to the library, but I don’t know for sure.” James made a noise as Filch dropped him and took off for the library.

“You’re a good liar, Potter.”

“Shut it, Snape.” James snapped, getting up and dusting himself off as he glared at his enemy, who was standing there coldly, sneering at him.

“Just trying to be friendly.” Snape smirked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Sod off.”

Snape turned to leave, but turned back after about two steps. He grinned at James, who in turn glared at him suspiciously. “I wonder where your friends are…”

James watched Snape’s eyes travel over the floor and then rest on Sirius and Remus’s feet, which were sticking out form under the tapestry. James’s eyes went wide and he looked up at Snape, shaking his head. Snape smiled, and when James approached him, he ran over to where Sirius and Remus were, and slammed his heel into Sirius’s foot, and then swung it back and stabbed it into Remus’s instep. Snape jumped back, and moved through the crowd to avoid James.

“OWWW!”

The two behind the tapestry jerked around, dancing on one foot each, and the next thing anybody knew, the tapestry came off the wall and Remus and Sirius were blindly dancing around, bouncing off the walls. When the tapestry stopped moving, the corridor seemed frozen- everybody was staring at the tapestry, plainly able to see there were two people lying on the floor under it.

One of the people moved toward the edge of the tapestry, and lifted up the hemming to reveal a very angry Sirius, who reached up, grabbed Goyle by the collar, and pulled him under the tapestry (he had a sneaking suspicion it was Goyle who had blown his cover and nearly broken his foot, he was so big and idiotic.) All anyone ever heard was a lot of hollering and Goyle losing his breath when he got socked in the stomach. They imagined that had anyone been able to see in there, they would be running for cover from the fire.

When Malfoy and Crabbe and saw what was going on, they dove under the tapestry to help Goyle, Snape following behind his best friend Lucius, causing James to hurry under to help because Remus and Sirius were out- numbered coupled with the fact that Slytherins didn’t fight fair at all. Gloria followed after James, leaving Sarah to pull at the roots of her hair in a very stressed manner.

“Oh…” Sarah moaned, chewing on her fingernails. “I should go in there too… no- I should find Raven and Peter! They’ll know-“

“Hey Sarah, what’s going on?” Raven asked, pushing past several people to see what was going on. She’d missed the whole thing since she had been getting help on her Potions from Professor Niles. “Filch asked me if I’d seen Sirius or Remus. Then some chap told me there was a fight going on- “

“James, Remus, Sirius, Snape, Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy.” Sarah replied nervously, still pulling on her hair.

“Well, come on then!” Raven said, pulling Sarah along with her, going into the fray with the Slytherins.

Sarah was out of there like a shot as soon as Raven let go of her to punch Snape. She didn’t want to fight with boys as big Crabbe and Goyle. Had Onnalee MacDonald been in there, she’d have been right in- but she preferred her nose not to be broken. Instead she settled for rooting for the Gryffindors.

Professor Niles was the first on the scene, followed by Filch and McGonagall, all looking confused yet furious. McGonagall jerked the tapestry off of the fighting twelve year-olds, angry, but not as angry as she had been over the pixies (the fifth year Slytherins had gotten in trouble for that one, thankfully.)

“What is going on here?” McGonagall bellowed as Niles shouted “Impedimenta!” McGonagall glared at him, and he undid the spell.

“At least I’m a good enough quidditch player to get out on the field.” Malfoy taunted.

James said nothing, but instead pulled his fist back and gave Malfoy a punch in the nose that made him feel like he was in last Tuesday and had his nose in the back of his throat.

“STOP!” McGonagall hollered, but it seemed nobody had heard her.

James and Malfoy had their hands around each other’s throats, and it sounded like Malfoy was having trouble breathing. Sirius, who thought he had a hold of Snape, actually had a hold of Remus’s throat and was shaking him furiously until he realized who had had in his grasp. Crabbe was beating the tapestry, and Raven had Goyle in a chokehold and was bending his arm in ways an arm shouldn’t be bent. Gloria, who could now see but didn’t realize the professors were there, jumped on top of Crabbe and started pounding him with her fists.

“STOP!” McGonagall repeated in a loud shout, and muttered a spell, sounding off a loud bang throughout the corridor, sending practically the whole castle into dead silence.

Raven turned to James. “We just can’t win, can we?”

“I’d say we’re winning.” James choked as best he could from lack of air.

“Mr. Malfoy! Let go of Potter’s neck this instant!” Niles ordered, walking over and personally prying Malfoy’s fingers from James’s throat.

“To Dumbledore’s office this second!” McGonagall watched as Sirius hobbled over to her, Malfoy following, clutching his nose. All of the students were battered and bruised, so she sighed and rolled her eyes. “Nevermind. To the Hospital Wing with you now!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The only sound in the Hospital Wing was that of Malfoy attempting to breath correctly. He was cradling his bloody nose in his hands, breathing through his mouth and making a noise that reminded Remus of an elephant with a head cold. The nurse wasn’t in at that moment, and Remus was dreading the moment she would walk in and reprimand him for getting into a fight with his condition.

He could imagine it now. “Honestly, if you had been cut and somebody else had got some of your blood in their cut-“ he rolled his eyes just thinking about it. Oh, and how his parents would love this! His mother already kept him in a bubble, and he knew it had just gotten a thicker shell on it. He groaned and sank into his pillow.

James hated the Hospital Wing. It was so clean and tidy that it was borderline disturbing. It smelt funny too, and he hoped that Malfoy had the smell burning in his bloody nose. And when you went to the Hospital Wing, you had to wear those stupid gowns that had no butt to them. Just disgusting. He would much rather be in Dumbledore’s office.