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The Flower and the Stag, Part 4

Lily wandered around Diagon Alley, window-shopping. She had already bought all of her school stuff, and was trying to find James. His parents were going to drop her off at Kings Cross the next day with him, Remus, Peter and Sirius.

‘Hey Carrot!’ A familiar voice called.

Lily turned around and grinned, then crossed her eyes.

‘Hullo.’

Remus, Sirius, Peter and James were walking towards her, carrying bags full of… she wasn’t sure what. Whatever it was, it wasn’t books. And if it was books, there were an awful lot of them.

‘What’s that?’ She pointed at the bags with a curious expression her face.

Peter tried to look down at his nose at her, but she was taller than he was, so he settled for a superior look. ‘None of your business, Lily.’ He spat out her name like it was a rotten piece of fruit.

She glared at him and turned to Sirius. ‘Will you tell me?’

Sirius nodded, but first he talked to Peter. ‘She knows about the potion.’

‘Oh.’ Peter tried to hide his disappointment, but failed.

‘We needed ingredients and some spell books to help us.’ Remus explained.

‘We didn’t want to get stuck as trees,’ James said with a grin.

Peter spoke up. ‘Are you going to be an animagi as well?’

She hadn’t thought of this. ‘Nah. I’m happy human, thankyou.’

He breathed a sigh of relief, but only Sirius saw and he frowned at the smaller boy.

‘So. What animals do you want to be?’ She asked.

‘Ssshh!’ They all hissed together.

‘What?’ Lily whispered.

James started to walk off, and motioned for them to follow him.

When they were alone in an alleyway, he spoke.

‘It’s illegal to become animagi.’ He told her.

‘I know that.’

‘So we don’t want people to over hear us. We’d get expelled.’

‘Oh yeah. Sorry.’

‘So you should be,’ Peter said, pleased Lily was in some trouble.

Lily ignored him. ‘What animals do you want to be?’

‘Well,’ Sirius said. ‘You can’t choose. The animal sort of has something to do with your personality.’

‘So Peter’ll be a rat?’ Lily asked with a giggle. Peter poked his tongue out at her.

‘We got a book where you can sort of look in to what you might be.’ Remus said, looking through one of the bags.

‘The shop keeper said it was a lot of nonsense, but it might be interesting.’

‘Cool.’

Then they heard someone calling James’s name, so they packed the bags and ran out into the sunshine.

James’s dad was waiting for them with a big grin on his face. ‘Morning boys.’ Then he saw Lily. ‘And girl.’

Lily smiled.

‘So, we’d better be off. It’ll take awhile to get home.’ He said cheerfully.

As they walked to one of the fireplaces, Lily spoke to James. ‘Isn’t he sad that you’re leaving?’

His dad over heard her. ‘I’m delighted.’

James poked his tongue out. ‘he’s putting on a brave face. But when we leave, he’ll break down into tears.’

‘I don’t know.’ Lily said playfully. ‘He does seem happy. But then, if I were him, I’d be happy too. Away from you for a whole term! Heaven.’ She sighed.

Sirius grinned. ‘Nah, don’t worry James. She’d probably chase after you if you were away for a whole term.’

‘As if I would!’

‘You would.’

‘Would not!’

‘Would too!’

James and Remus exchanged a glance, and Remus shrugged.

They followed James’s father through Diagon alley arguing the whole way.

Mr Potter handed Lily some bright green powder. ‘Ladies first,’ he said with a smile.

Lily looked at the powder in her hand and then at the five people standing next to her.

‘Um…What exactly am I supposed to do?’

‘Oh yeah, Dad, she’s never travelled by floo powder before.’ James said.

‘haven’t you?’ he said in surprise.

‘Uh, no.’

‘She’s a mud-blood.’ Peter said with a smug smile.

‘Better than a half-squib.’ Lily snapped.

To add to Peters’ anger, everyone sided with Lily.

‘But- she called me a half-squib!’ He whined.

‘And you called her a mud-blood!’ Sirius pointed out angrily. He didn’t like Peter much either.

‘Kids, kids.’ Mr Potter said calmly.

They stopped fighting.

‘Back to the issue at hand.’

They all looked confused, and he sighed.

‘The floo powder.’

‘Oh, yeah.’

‘James, you can go first then.’

James grabbed a pinch of floo powder and sprinkled it into the fire. It blazed higher and turned bright green. James stepped right into it and said loudly ‘Aberdene!’

Lily looked Sirius. ‘Aberdene?’ She repeated.

‘That’s the name of his house.’

‘Why do you give a house a name?’

‘So you can use floo powder.’

‘Right.’ Lily nodded her head.

‘You don’t get it, do you?’

‘Nope.’

‘Okay, you go next.’ Sirius pushed her towards Mr Potter. ‘You just sprinkle some in, say ‘Aberdene’ –and you have to say it loudly- and you should be there.’

‘Should?’

‘Yeah. Some times people panic and get stuck. Or they fall out the wrong fireplace. Don’t worry, it’s never happened to me.’

Lily sprinkled some powder in, and stopped to listen to some last minute instructions.

‘Keep your arms in tight-’

‘Don’t panic-’

‘Jump out the first fireplace you see.’

‘Peter!’ Remus scolded.

‘Don’t do that last bit,’ Sirius advised.

Lily hopped into the fireplace. It felt like someone was tickling her with a lot of very big feathers.

‘Aberdene!’ She said, and almost swallowed a mouthful of ash.

She fell out onto a carpet with a bang, and looked around her. It was a very nice room, well furnished, but cosy.

And empty. Where the hell was James?

‘Oh God, tell me I didn’t fall out the wrong one.’ She moaned quietly.

Someone tapped her on the shoulder and she shrieked.

‘Ow.’ Who ever it was said. She turned slowly around, and there stood James, rubbing his ears.

‘Took you long enough. You weren’t scared, were you?’ He said with a grin.

Lily glared at him.

‘No. What’s to be scared of?’ he looked at her suspiciously.

‘Oh, you know. Dragons have been known to eat people up on lucky occasions.’ Lily stared at him.

‘Lucky?’

‘Well, yeah. Do you know anyone who’s been eaten by a dragon?’

Lily figured he was kidding. ‘Are you on any type of medication?’ She teased, and felt his forehead.

‘Just as I thought. Very hot.’ She looked up at James and laughed.

She suddenly realised she’d been looking at him for a long time, when Sirius rolled out onto the carpet and spread soot everywhere. Lily looked away quickly.

Sirius didn’t notice anything though, because he was to busy brushing dust off himself.

‘How’d you get so much soot on you?’ James said, staring at his friend in disbelief.

‘Took the long way. Visited some friends, you know.’ James rolled his eyes, and Sirius grinned.

‘Your old man’ll have a fit. I saw his face when I didn’t say Aberdene, and I thought he’d turned green.’ He sat down, soot and all on a couch. Lily waited for James to tell him off, but he didn’t even seem to notice.

‘D’you have a house-keeper?’ She asked.

James looked at her in surprise. ‘No. We’re not that rich. Dad doesn’t like the idea of having servants. Do you have a housekeeper?’

‘No. Forget it,’ she said, shaking her head.

Remus and Mr potter turned up after about 5 minutes, but Peter didn’t turn up at all.

Mr and Mrs Potter were starting to get worried.

‘Who went after him?’ Mrs Potter asked her husband, and he sighed.

‘He went last.’

‘Lachlan!’ She scolded him.

‘He wanted to! He insisted, and said everything’d be fine.’

They argued for a moment longer, and then they realised that the kids were still watching.

‘James, could you show your friends where they’ll be sleeping?’

James nodded and walked out the room, Lily, Remus and Sirius trailing behind.

James stopped by a blue door and opened it. ‘You’re sleeping here,’ he said to Lily.

‘By myself?’ Lily asked, peeking into the dark room.

‘Yep. Why, scared of the dark?’

‘More scared of you than I am of the dark. You’re not sleeping near me, are you?’

‘We’re sleeping in this room down here,’ he pointed down the corridor.

Lily shrugged. ‘Okay.’ Then she watched them continue down the hall and turn into their room.

She turned on the light and looked around. It was a very nice room, with a bed in one corner and a window above it. She grinned. At home, she had to walk over to the window to see the stars, but now she could watch them until she fell asleep.

Lily crawled into bed and snuggled down under the covers sleepily.

A crash of thunder sounded outside and she sat bolt upright.

Moonlight was shining across her bed and rain was splattering down on the windows, so she lay in bed and listened to the howl of the wind outside. She loved storms like this, the louder, the better.

James, Remus and Sirius lay in sleeping bags in James’s room. They left the bed empty, in case Peter turned up in the night, which they thought was unlikely.

‘Bet Lily’s scared,’ Sirius said with a grin.

‘I don’t reckon she would be.’ Remus said slowly, and the others stared at him.

‘Why’s that?’

‘She just doesn’t seem like that sort of person.’

‘Yeah, guess not.’ James agreed. ‘Hey, did I tell you about that ghost in the attic?’

‘Ghost?’ Sirius said, he was halfway through a yawn, but was now suddenly wide-awake.

‘Yep. It howls when there’s a storm, but it’s invisible. So it’s not an ordinary ghost, not like Nearly Headless Nick, anyway.’ James lowered his voice. ‘Dad said, once when an old lady lived here, she was found dead. But she had been perfectly healthy. And here’s the spooky thing. She was ice-cold.’

‘Probably just a heart attack,’ Remus said reasonably, trying not to shake.

‘Yeah.’ Sirius agreed.

‘But,’ James said slowly and dramatically, ‘Whenever there’s a storm, it howls and moans, and people say they can hear the lady’s spirit screaming for help. Dad always tells me to keep my light on, and he locks the doors.’

‘What good’s that gonna do?’ Sirius said from under his pillow.

James looked thoughtful. ‘Dunno. Guess It’s just a precaution.’ He shrugged.

There was a loud knock on the door; James dived under the bed, Remus jumped into the bed, and Sirius burrowed even further down in his sleeping bag.

The door creaked as it opened and a man’s voice said ‘Boys?’ The light was switched on, and James looked out from his hiding place.

‘Oops. Hi Dad!’ He said cheerfully, crawling out.

‘You aren’t scared of the storm, are you?’

‘What? Us? No way! We were just… Playing a game! Yeah, that’s it.’

He raised his eyebrows. ‘Well, don’t stay up too late, you’ve got a big day tomorrow.’

‘Yup.’ James nodded his head.

He walked out and shut the door behind them, leaving the room in darkness.

James leapt under the bed again.

About half an hour later, Sirius said, ‘Um? James? Remus? You awake?’

‘Yes.’

‘Uh huh.’

‘We’re being stupid. I mean, we’re wizards. We shouldn’t be scared of a stupid old ghost. Even if it does murder-’ he changed his mind. ‘Actually, I think I’ll stay under here for a bit longer. Nice and cosy.’

‘Sirius is right.’ Remus said from under the blankets on James’ bed. ‘We’re fourteen years old-’

‘I’m still thirteen,’ Sirius interrupted.

‘Whatever. But we shouldn’t be scared of a ghost.’

‘I agree.’ James said firmly. But none of them moved.

Lily sat up in bed, unable to sleep. It was boring, lying in bed all-alone, when everyone else was probably having fun. So she pulled a blanket around her and crept out the door, tip-toed down the hallway and put her ear to the door of James’s room.

It was silent.

Don’t tell me they’re already asleep. She thought grumpily.

Then she had a great idea.

James was counting the springs under his mattress, when he heard a low moan and sat up, banging his head on the springs.

‘Yeow!’ he yelled.

‘Shut up!’ Sirius hissed. He shut up and listened.

The moaning didn’t stop. It grew louder and louder over about five minutes.

‘What should we do?’ Remus asked, his eyes wide.

‘Get my dad.’ James said straight away. ‘He’ll know what to do.’

‘And walk right through a murderous ghost?’ Sirius said. ‘I don’t think so. Let’s just stay here.’

‘And wait for the ghost to kill us? You’re crazy.’

They argued over what to do for so long, Lily’s throat became dry from moaning, and she started to giggle.

The boys turned to the door in surprise, and it burst open to reveal Lily sitting on the ground laughing so hard she was crying.

They stared at her for a moment, as she sat doubled over, helpless with laughter. Then James spoke. ‘We were trying to sleep.’

Lily looked at them with watery eyes. ‘You- you-’ she broke off into another fit of giggles.

After she’d calmed down, she said ‘You thought I was a murderous ghost!’ And she fell down onto a sleeping bag she thought was empty, and landed on a snoring Sirius.

He gave a yelp and Lily leapt off in shock.

‘What the hell is in there?’ She pointed to the sleeping bags from the doorway, her face whiter than usual.

‘A monster.’ James said calmly. ‘but don’t worry, it’s quite tame.’

‘A monster?’

‘Yup. Very rare, mind you. Want to see it?’

‘It?’ Lily was having a hard time grasping the concept that a monster was in front of her.

Remus unzipped it and flipped back the covers. Lily shrieked, and Sirius stared sleepily at her.

‘Whadyowah?’ He said sleepily.

Lily glared at James, and he grinned at her.

‘Gotcha.’

‘I got you first.’ She retorted.

He poked it tongue out at her. ‘Why are you here, anyway? Don’t tell me you were scared of the storm.’

‘I was bored. Can I stay here tonight?’

‘What?’ James asked.

‘Why?’ Remus asked.

‘G' night.’ Sirius said.

‘Can I sleep here, because I’m lonely, Good night Sirius.’ She said without missing a beat.

Lily didn’t wait for an answer, she just walked right in and crawled into a sleeping bag.

‘I’m sleeping there.’ James said.

Lily looked up and grinned. ‘Well, there’s plenty of room.’ She moved over.

James looked at her. ‘I might sleep in my bed.’

Lily shrugged. ‘Okay.’

Lily and Remus fell asleep pretty quickly, but Sirius was snoring so incredibly loudly, James couldn’t sleep. He rolled over in bed and looked at the moon, but then some clouds covered it and everything went dark.

He lay on his other side and stared into the darkness. He was looking forward to going back to school. Maybe not school, but being at school was fun.

The moon came out again, and it shone on Lily. James looked at her sleeping, and almost laughed.

She looked a bit older than fourteen during the day, probably because she was quite tall. James and Sirius were both taller, but apparently they were very abnormal, and she was just abnormal.

But when she slept, she looked like she was ten years old. Lily was sucking on her thumb and had kicked off her blankets and lay curled up in a ball. Her red hair was tangled over the pillow and she breathed through her nose quietly, unlike Sirius, who sounded like fifteen pigs at meal time.

Remus was cuddling a teddy bear to his chest and his hair was falling down over his face.

Lily stirred, and opened her eyes. ‘Is it morning?’ She mumbled.

‘No. I couldn’t sleep.’

‘Scared of the ghosties?’ She teased.

‘Shut up.’

‘Night. Don’t let the bed-bugs bite- wait a minute. I hope they eat you alive.’

‘Good night, Lily.’

But she was already asleep.

*****

At Hogwarts, things had changed. When they got off the Express, all the teachers were waiting for them with their wands, and not even Dumbledore was smiling.

‘What’s Dumbledore doing here?’ Sirius said in amazement.

James looked at the solemn face of the headmaster, and said ‘Voldemort.’

Everyone around stared at him. ‘What?’

A Ravenclaw girl came up to him, and said crossly ‘It’s You-Know-Who.’

James glared at her. ‘His name is Voldemort.’ The girl flinched and walked away.

Peter, who had turned up in the night from nowhere in particular, tugged on his robes.

‘What?’ James snapped.

Peter was offended. Usually James was very nice to him.

‘You’re not supposed to call him by his name.’ He hissed.

‘I’m not giving him the satisfaction.’ James said angrily, and he hopped into one of the carriages that would take them to Hogwarts.

Remus, Lily and Sirius climbed in after him. Peter looked in through the doorway. ‘What about me?’ He whined.

‘What about you?’ Lily asked politely.

‘Move over.’

He tried to push Lily out of the way, and when she wouldn’t move, he pulled her out.

With Lily out the way, Peter crawled awkwardly into the carriage to find it was empty. He looked out the window and saw Lily lying very still on the ground. James, Sirius and Remus were kneeling around her.

*****

Lily lay in the infirmary. She tried to focus on the face in front of her, but it kept going fuzzy.

It probably wasn’t even real, she told herself. She reached out and touched it.

And poked James Potter in the eye.

‘OW!’ He gasped.

‘Wha?’ Lily said vaguely.

Her eyes’ swimmed in front of her before everything came into focus.

James was rubbing his eye, Remus was sitting on a chair reading a book and Sirius was snoozing.

She could see Peter pleading with professor McGonagall outside the doors. He was crying. Lily usually felt sorry for anyone who cried, but Peter looked so pathetic. She grinned sleepily.

‘Hullo.’ James smiled at her.

‘What happened to your eye?’ Lily asked.

James looked at Sirius and then back at Lily. ‘Maybe you need more sleep.’

‘How long have I been asleep?’

‘Umm?.. About six hours?’ Remus said, and Sirius nodded his head.

‘What? But- I’ve missed the sorting.’

‘Yeah. So did we.’

‘You sat here for six hours?’ Lily said in amazement.

‘Well, no. About two. McGonagall made us eat.’

Professor McGonagall was standing behind Sirius as he said this, with an amused expression on her face.

‘I don’t remember saying anything of the sort, Mr Black. I thought you said you were starving.’

‘Oh.. Um, yeah. I might have said something like that.’

Lily didn’t hear the rest of the conversation; she had dozed off to sleep.

*****

It was Christmas time, and almost everyone had gone home for the holidays. They were terrified Voldemort would come and get them. Holly’s theory was that Voldemort would wait until Dumbledore was drunk, and then he’d kill them all.

Lily said it was a pretty good theory, but with a few tiny flaws. One, Dumbledore had never gotten drunk before. Two, Voldemort couldn’t get into the castle. Three. She couldn’t think of a three, but when Holly said ‘See?’, Lily pointed out the first two were pretty good.

Most prefects were staying (they thought Voldemort wouldn’t mess with them), there wasn’t a first year in sight, and most of the seventh years had stayed. ‘To protect the school’ one Ravenclaw girl said, but James thought they were more useless than everyone else put together.

‘They only care about the exams,’ he muttered when he heard this.

Sirius grinned. ‘We’ll protect everyone!’ And for the rest of the holidays, he walked around rescuing maidens in distress. Most of the maidens either slapped him, or turned red and walked away, but one intelligent person recommended a psychiatrist.

Sirius was deeply offended.

When everyone else returned, lessons started again. Most of the classes when on like normal, but some teachers were very pre-occupied, Professor McGonagall in particular. James and Sirius became bored when she was writing on the blackboard one day, and they threw a dungbomb at Holly.

Instead of yelling, screaming, or crying (a substitute teacher did that once), she told Holly quite calmly she could have the rest of the day off, gave Sirius and James a detention, and let them all out early.

‘What’s the point of being bad when you don’t even get into trouble?’ Sirius grumbled through a mouthful of pie.

‘You got a detention.’ Peter said.

‘You call that a punishment?’

‘Most do. Normal people, anyway.’ Lily said.

‘Well, Miss Normal, I am not.’

‘Not what?’

‘Normal.’

‘I know that.’

‘She didn’t even get mad.’ James said thoughtfully. ‘Something must be wrong.’

‘Yeah, a little something called Voldemort.’ Remus said.

‘Will you stop saying that name? It’s creepy. He’ll hear you.’ Peter muttered.

‘How?’ Lily challenged him.

‘He just will.’ Peter argued.

‘Does he have spies everywhere or something? Don’t be stupid, Peter.’ Sirius said.

Peter sat quietly for the rest of lunch. He listened carefully to everything they said, and scuttled off quickly before the afternoon classes began.

After lunch they had defence against the dark arts. Peter wasn’t there. But Lily was the only one who noticed, as she was working with him. Supposed to be, anyway. So she sat with her head in her arms, looking up occasionally to watch James get screeched at by the professor. (He turned her hair green.) Sirius and Remus were busily discussing something (Lily suspected it wasn’t legal, as they shut up as soon as anyone went near to them). But Peter didn’t show up all lesson.

*****

A small figure sat on an old broom, shaking from fear and from the cold. But mostly fear. He wasn’t exactly afraid; but his master had been known to do some very cruel things. As long as his information pleased him, it’d be okay.

His small beady eyes looked over the landscape, but the building he was looking for was not in sight.

He wondered if anyone would notice his absence, but he wasn’t really worried about it. His friends- wait they were not friends. They were the people who were patient enough to put up with him, but he knew they didn’t really like him. Well, maybe some did, but she didn’t. He knew it, but he didn’t particularly care. She was in the way of his plans, his great, marvellous plans.

Anyway, his companions missed enough school, while he went to every lesson. He couldn’t afford to miss anything, or he fell too far behind. She’d probably do all the work anyway. She always said he was stupid. She never actually said it, but he could tell. The look in her eyes- and that was another thing. Her eyes. What was it with them? They stood out far too much. He wished he had eyes like that. Then maybe someone would notice him. But no, she got everything. Looks, friends, brains, admirers- she didn’t know it, but he did. Even the people in his league thought she was a catch.

But after this, everyone would know his name. He wouldn’t be a nobody; he’d be a somebody. And hopefully eliminate her in the process.

He squinted down into the countryside, and cursed the sun for being so bright.

There it was. A large, run-down house made of wood. Muggles thought it was deserted, his master was clever like that.

The boy landed with a skid. He had never been any good at flying. Or anything else for that matter, he thought bitterly.

He hid the broom in a tree and prayed it wouldn’t be stolen. If it was, he’d be stuck. Master wouldn’t help him. That wasn’t in his nature. While his friends would always help- ‘no.’ he scolded himself. ‘You can’t think like that. Master will kill you. Remember all the times they’ve left you out, snapped at you. Remember them?’ he nodded firmly to himself.

‘I must do this. For me.’

He knocked on the door.

‘Password?’ an eerie voice said loudly.

‘Midnight, the witching hour.’ The boy said loudly, hoping it hadn’t been changed. Master could get very grumpy.

The door creaked open. He stepped inside loudly, as master didn’t approve of tiptoeing. He said it was for wimps.

The boy climbed the stairs, fiercely telling his legs to stop shaking. And his teeth. And his hands.

He knocked on an old door with a brass handle. It swung open.

‘Who is it?’ A figure in a black and gold cloak said softly, his voice sort of- hissish.

‘Peter, Sire.’

‘Peter who?’ The voice growled dangerously.

‘Pettigrew, Sire. You asked for background information at Hogwarts.’

‘Ah, yes. And what do you have for me, boy?’

‘What- what do you want to know?’ He stammered. It was cold in this room. There was a fireplace filled with coal, but no fire. The master must have noticed, because he snapped his fingers and a blazing fire lit up the room.

‘Give me names, boy. Who can we trust? Who would be needed? Who must we get rid of?’

‘Well.’ Peter gathered his thoughts together. ‘The Slytherins are probably your best bet. They’re sneaky, cunning, and down-right mean.’ The figure in the cloak smiled, as if this pleased him.

‘They’re pretty stupid too, though.’ The figure frowned, and Peter flinched.

‘Who would be useful?’ He hissed quietly.

‘Umm, well…Some of my friends-’

‘Friends?’ Master interrupted.

‘Well, they’re not really my friends. But they’re clever.’ He added hastily.

‘Oh? How’s that?’

‘They want to be animagi. And they’re popular, good at Quidditch, funny…’ Peter trailed off.

‘And are they for or against the dark-arts?’

‘Against.’ Peter said quickly. This, at least, was obvious.

‘Will it be easy to convert them?’ The cloaked figure asked, stroking their chin.

‘Not easy, no. But if we could, it would be a great help.’

‘Yes, yes. How about thorns in our path?’

‘Huh?’ Said Peter stupidly, and the figure sighed impatiently.

‘Will anyone get in our way?’

‘…There is one person. She’s-’

‘She’s?’ Master said in surprise.

‘Yes. She hangs around with us. They’re besotted by her.’ Peter said angrily.

‘Besotted,’ the figure repeated, clearly amused at Peter’s anger.

‘And what is this girl like?’

‘Well. She’s very clever, especially at charms. And she’s funny, that’s why Sirius and James like her, in my opinion. She’s nice to most, but she dislikes me. I think she suspects me.’

‘What?!’ The master hissed.

‘Oh, no, not like that!’ Peter said hurriedly.

‘Good. But why is this such a problem?’

‘She doesn’t listen to people. And she has nightmares, Sirius let it slip to me. She would stand up to you, I know she would.’

‘Hmm.’ The figure seemed to be thinking. ‘I’ll think of something. You may leave.’ He added, with a wave of his hand.

Peter bowed and left the room in a rush. He was determined to please his master, but being around him too much gave him the creeps.

He mounted his broom and flew home through the clouds, crashing into a tree, cutting himself, and getting knocked unconscious.

*****

Lily, James and Sirius were playing chasey in the snow, after being told off by the fifth years. Sirius was ‘it’. Lily and James were racing through the forest, when they came across a figure. He was lying face down and breathing heavily, it looked just like he was asleep, except for a long cut on one arm. He must have scraped himself on a stick.

‘It’s Peter!’ James exclaimed, and he ran over to him.

Lily followed slowly behind, breathless from running so fast. Sirius appeared a moment later, breathing heavily. ‘Who’s that?’ he asked, clutching a stitch in his side.

‘Peter.’ Lily said.

‘Huh? What’s he doing here?’

‘Dunno. Help me get him up,’ James said, trying to lift Peter by himself.

‘Why?’ Lily and Sirius said in unison.

James glared at them, so Lily sighed and lifted his feet. They carried him up to the castle, with Sirius bringing up the rear, saying things like'try not to drop him,’

and Lily’d reply ‘I’ll do my best.’

They only dropped him once, by accident. At least, Lily said it was an accident when Peter woke up wailing.

They left him in the infirmary to do their homework, and raced each other up the stairs.

They all went to Hogsmeade about two weeks before the end of school. Lots of kids didn’t go, as Voldemort was real outside the school gates. Some people thought if they walked out of school alone, they’d be blown up.

So Lily, Sirius, James, Remus and Peter were the only fourth years going. It was very empty at Hogsmeade, and after buying sweets from Honeydukes, they wandered around for awhile, bored.

Remus didn’t want to go to the shrieking shack, although Lily was quite eager to. Sirius talked her out of it when he offered her a free butterbeer.

A bell rung softly when they opened the door, and Madame Rosmerta appeared.

‘Afternoon, kids.’ She said cheerfully.

‘Hullo. Could we have five butterbeers, please?’ James asked politely.

‘Or you could give us them for free, we wouldn’t mind,’ Sirius added with a cheeky grin.

Madame Rosmerta laughed. ‘Five butterbeers coming right up.’

They found an empty table, which wasn’t hard, because the place was almost completely empty anyway.

Madame Rosmerta walked briskly over with the butterbeers, and smiled at them all. ‘No free drinks today, I’m afraid. Business is down at the moment.’

‘Yeah, I can see that.’ Sirius said, looking around.

‘We’ll come in more often. We’ll tell McGonagall you’re going broke, she wouldn’t want that. And then, when we’ve made you rich, you can give us free drinks again.’ James said cheerfully, sipping on his butterbeer. Madame Rosmerta laughed.

‘I’ll see you kids later.’ She said with a pretty smile.

*****

On Hogwarts Express, James stared gloomily out the window, while Lily danced on the chairs. She’d had a bit too much red cordial that morning, and had gone hyper. Sirius was egging her on with a huge smile on his face, and Remus laughed. Peter wasn’t there, he’d disappeared again.

The train turned a corner and Lily fell on top of James with a shriek. Sirius was laughing too hard to help them up, and Remus was in hysterics. Lily untangled herself from James robes and giggled, while James groaned.

‘Sorry.’ She said with a laugh.

‘I think you need to take it easy for awhile,’ he said, his eyebrows raised. Lily started to sing.

Sirius pulled his camera out silently and grinned at James. The light went flash, and brought Lily back to earth.

‘You didn’t just-’

Sirius nodded.

‘Oh no. Oh no. Oh NO.’ She said, her cheeks still pink from dancing.

The train stopped, and Sirius and Lily jumped off the train, Lily trying to grab Sirius’s camera, but he was far too tall for her.

Lily bumped into her mother. ‘Oh, hi mum.’ She said casually. Then she called to Sirius ‘You’d better not get that developed!’

Sirius laughed. ‘I will!’

She poked her tongue out and followed her mother to the car, dragging her trunk behind her.

‘So, how was school, sweetie?’

‘Strange.’ She said, pulling at face at Severus Snape out the window.