The woman standing next to Dumbledore looked around at the eight of them, frowning. Her hair was quite white, and compared to Lily's fiery red locks, or James's black hair, she looked rather out of place, or she would have if she hadn't been standing next to Dumbledore.
Her eyes glanced from Remus, who was now sitting down next to Amanda, whose hand was over her mouth, trying to muffle the sound of laughter. Lily had plopped into James's lap and his arms were around her waist, his head leaning on her shoulder, watching Dumbledore and waiting for them to be introduced.
Jo was still glaring at Sirius, and Sirius and Miranda had finally stopped flirting with one another- partly because Sirius had made eye contact with Jo, and partly because of their company.
She pursed her lips, and she too waited for Dumbledore to speak. Why he had chosen these people, she had no idea.
'Arabella, this is Lily Evans, James Potter-' (James bowed, bending Lily forwards in the process) '-Remus Lupin, Amanda Fire, Jo Gilles, Sirius Black and Miranda Whitehorn. This is Arabella Figg.'
There was a loud chorus of 'hellos' and then Dumbledore got down to business. Arabella's eyes stayed on James and Lily, who looked quite comfortable. James caught her eye, and grinned charmingly. She ignored him and turned back to Dumbledore.
'Arabella, I'd like you to show James, Lily and Remus around our headquarters, I'll take the rest.'
Sirius winked at them.
'We will be meeting here tomorrow evening at a quarter past five- is that alright with everyone?'
They nodded, Dumbledore smiled, and then Lily and James and Remus followed Arabella, while the others stayed with Dumbledore.
Once outside, Lily looked at her older companion curiously. 'How come we're with you, not anyone else?'
James nudged her playfully. 'Don't want to be with me, eh?'
Arabella continued walking. 'I'm not really sure. He was under the impression the three of you work quite well together.'
James raised his eyebrows and looked at Lily. Under the impression? He mouthed silently. Remus snorted with laughter, because he was quite sure of what was going on in Arabella Figg's mind.
During the rest of the walk- it took at least an hour to get to wherever it was they were going- James walked into about three rosebushes, and Arabella went on and on about her cats. By the time they sat down for a break, Lily was quite sure she was insane.
'Where are we going?' Remus asked for the fifth time, stepping carefully over a ditch in the path. When Lily had pulled James out of the ditch, they ran to catch up, only to find Arabella was now tell Remus (in detail) the daily resume of her cat Pooka.
Lily rolled her eyes and plucked a flower from a bush, fiddling with it.
He loves me, he loves me not- Lily, what are you doing? She shook her head and tossed what was left of the flower onto the ground. James slung his arm around her shoulder, humming cheerfully. She backed away, wondering if James was allergic to the wildlife. But before she could ask him, Arabella stopped by a large building and unlocked the door.
James and Remus looked around while Lily talked to Arabella for a moment about locking charms. 'This place is creepy,' James commented, peeking around a doorway.
Remus nodded and sneezed.
Lily started up the staircase while Arabella re-locked all the doors.
'What's with all the secrecy?' James asked, rifling through a box.
Lily rolled her eyes. 'James, idiot, d'you want Death Eaters walking in on us?'
James stopped. 'Oh…yeah.'
Remus and Lily exchanged a glance. 'Are you okay today Prongs? You've been off with the fairies lately.'
James just opened another box in reply, sending up a cloud of dust.
'Ooh, look. It's, um…stuff.'
Lily peered over his shoulder. 'Yay, stuff. Come on, let's go upstairs, that's where the office is.'
Remus glanced at her, his eyebrows raised. 'How'd you know?'
'I was listening to Arabella.'
'You have ears?'
Lily stared at James for a moment, but before she could point out he was quite obviously deranged, or before she could ask if he'd been dropped on his head as a toddler (it was quite possible) Arabella had returned, her wrinkled face grumpy, white hair knotty and windblown from being outside.
'Which is why,' James said knowledgably, winking at Remus 'I always carry a hairbrush.'
Lily looked at him for a moment, seriously considering whether or not she should call a psychiatrist. She decided against it, mainly because it had started to rain.
'Do you actually own a hairbrush?' Remus asked as the four of the walked slowly up the creaky old stairs, holding onto the banister for fear of them collapsing underneath- not that holding onto the banister would do much good, probably just prevent them from- no, it wouldn't do any good.
James sniffed, following Arabella into a room that actually looked modern- no dust bunnies leaping out from every corner, no creaky floorboards. A cauldron was placed in one corner, a potion bubbling away tirelessly, occasionally spitting out poisonous looking globs of slimy green stuff, burning little holes in the floor.
Don't go near the cauldron. Was the first thought that entered Lily's mind. The second was James doesn't own a hairbrush, does he?
'Do you have a hairbrush?'
James pouted, slouching in a chair well away from the hissing cauldron. 'Course I do.' Self-consciously, he patted the back of his head, smoothing down the clumps that were sticking straight up. Of course, they immediately sprang back up again, much to Remus and Lily's amusement.
'Aw, don't worry James,' Lily said, patting his head. 'We still love you.'
James grinned stupidly.
Remus wrinkled his nose. 'Speak for yourself.'
Arabella cleared her throat before James could ask why Remus didn't love him.
'Albus- Professor Dumbledore- has asked me to explain today what we do.'
'Fight Death Eaters?'
She glared at James, who smiled sweetly at her.
'May I continue?'
'You may,' James said graciously.
Lily groaned, and elbowed him hard. When James had stopped sniffing, Arabella continued.
'I, personally, do not know why Albus chose you three- of course, your academic records are very high, but so far, I have seen no common sense, in fact, no sense whatsoever.'
James, Lily and Remus all bristled at these comments, and sat a little straighter in their seats.
What could possibly have been a smile passed briefly across the old woman's face. Lily was sure she must have imagined it, because a few moments later her face was just as stern as ever.
'The eight of you will be working with older members, and with each other. It's a similar job to what the Aurors do- but you will not be paid, as Dumbledore has already made clear. Is anyone here actually an Auror?'
They shook their heads, and Lily looked at James questioningly.
'It was boring,' he explained. 'Me and Sirius were stuck in office jobs right from day one- so boring.'
Lily rolled her eyes, but she couldn't help grinning at the image of James sitting behind a desk at the ministry. James and paperwork just didn't seem to go together.
'This job will not be all trapping Death Eaters and questioning them, I hope you realise,' she said, her croaky voice fierce. 'It's hard work, but not all excitement.'
James's brown eyes looked quite cold for a moment as he regarded this woman. Then his lopsided grin returned, and he shook his head. 'I don't think it will be,' he explained. 'But I want to actually make a difference, not, as I sad before, trapped behind some cheap wooden desk.'
'How d'you know it was cheap?' Remus inquired, wondering if the desk had a price tag.
'Ah…I just know these things.'
'Wasn't the pine wood good enough for you?'
'How d'you know it was pine?'
Arabella sighed loudly, causing them to look at her.
'What's that potion over there for?' Lily asked before they could be told again that they were irresponsible- they weren't. They were just slightly off track.
'It's a tracking device,' Arabella said calmly, also obviously quite pleased with the change of subject.
James looked quite interested, and he moved forward to look at the cauldron. It gave a particularly loud gurgle, bubbling over onto the ground, creating a large burn, which quickly spread to where James's feet were placed. He leapt back., crashing into Lily, who shrieked loudly.
Arabella snorted with disapproval, glaring at Lily and James, both of whom were now struggling to stand up, and at Remus who had at first tried to hide his giggles, and then let out a loud yell of laughter, earning him another reproving look.
Lily had a feeling Arabella was trying to calm down to stop herself from doing anything drastic. Like blow them up.
'You can go now. Potter, don't go near that potion again until it's ready.'
James looked at the potion curiously. 'What'd happen if I touched it?'
Arabella smiled. 'Probably explode. Or burn…'
She left the building swiftly, calling for them to lock the doors behind them.
Lily edged towards the door. 'Was she serious?'
'Lily, darling, you're far too gullible. Look, I'll just throw my hat in…' James threw in his hat. There was a loud bang, and a few moments later, bits of shredded hat were lying on the floor. 'Oh. And it explodes.'
Lily blinked. 'Maybe we should go…'
Remus nodded. 'Jolly good.'
She stared at him. 'Pardon?'
Remus shrugged. 'I think the fumes are getting to my brain,' he explained, shrugging.
James nodded. 'Yes, off we go.'
'Shall we skip?'
Lily gaped at her two friends, who were both skipping merrily out of the doorway and down the overgrown pathway. Yes, I am friends with lunatics…my God. I've kissed that maniac. Eurgh…but hey, he's pretty good kisser…true, true.
She locked up the door with several locking charms, to make sure no one could enter. Then she ran to catch up, torn between becoming invisible so no one would see her with them, or skipping with them.
It really wasn’t a very difficult decision. She became invisible and laughed as people riding their bikes past stared at the two adolescents in disbelief. One poor rider was so occupied with them- she was a girl and they were pretty cute- and as a result of all this she crashed directly into a tree.
Rowena Archer rocked back and forth in her chair, twiddling a pen with her finger.
Professor Sinistra was saying something or other about stars…she wasn't quite sure what, as she'd given up listening after about ten minutes of boring, boring, boring information.
She turned around.
'Look at this,' Joey McIntosh whispered, his blue eyes glinting in what little light there was in the astronomy tower.
She rolled her eyes, but took the piece of parchment, unfolded it and then read it. She let out a snort of laughter.
'Miss Archer?' Sinistra said coldly, advancing on her not so innocent student.
'Mmm?' She tried to assume an angelic expression, which made Joey snigger. The rest of the class looked on with interest, having woke up from their snoozes.
'Give me that note,' she held out her hand, her grey eyes cold.
Professor Sinistra tapped her foot impatiently. 'Hand it over, Archer.'
Rowena looked at the note in her hand, and then looked up at her teacher, who looked quite menacing and most unlike their usual kind, if not a bit boring astronomy teacher.
So she stuffed it in her mouth.
'What note?' It sounded a bit muffled, but the detention was worth it. Better than two detentions, anyhow.
As they walked out of the classroom, she sidled up next to Joey, who grinned at her. 'Nice move, Archer.'
She shrugged. 'You owe me. Big time.'
Lily sat up in bed, her green eyes still closed. She forced them open.
Sirius was sitting on the end of her bed on his knees, grinning cheekily, still wearing his teddy bear pyjamas. She stared at him for a moment.
'So how are you this fine morning, my darling little Lily?'
Lily looked quite confused for a moment, not to mention sleepy. 'Sirius?' She mumbled again.
'Yes, Lily, it is Sirius. Hello.'
She rubbed her eyes. 'Hello.'
Lily rolled out of bed sleepily. 'I don't usually go to see James in the middle of the night.'
'You don’t?' Sirius handed her the dressing gown hanging behind the door.
She walked out into the kitchen, glanced at the clock and, when she had blinked several times, she gave a little shriek and ran to the window, shoving the curtains aside.
Sirius came out of the bedroom, his eyebrows raised in a strange angelic expression, which really didn't suit him at all. 'You rang?'
Lily glanced back out the window before she gave another shriek. 'It's 3:00 in the morning!'
'Do you have point, or can I talk now...Hey, Kermy, you've gone a weird sort of purple colour…maybe you should breathe.'
'I'm going back to bed,' Lily said stiffly after a few moments, glaring at him grumpily.
'Aww, but I wanted to talk to you.' Sirius whined, following her out.
'Could we talk when the sun is actually up?'
Lily sighed as she crawled back into bed, snuggling comfortably under the covers. 'No, darling, it isn't.'
Sirius threw back her covers and crawled under after her. 'I am a wittle darwing, aren't I?'
Lily rolled onto her side. 'No. You're not. Please leave me alone.'
'Me? Moi? What are you implying, Miss Evans?'
'That you're a crazy, crazy person.'
Sirius lay on his back gazing up at the ceiling. 'Yes, I've been told that.'
The two of them lay there for a moment, until Sirius started snoring. Lily leapt out of bed.
'Sirius, you moron, wake up! Up! Now!'
Sirius either couldn't hear her or chose not to hear her, but either way, he didn't get up.
Lily stamped her foot, pulled the covers off her bed and wrapped them around herself, trying very hard to push Sirius out in the process- but, sadly, it didn't work. He just lay there curled up with his thumb in his mouth, clutching James the Second tightly under his arm.
Jo snapped up in bed, not used to being yelled for very, very early in the morning.
Lily stomped into her room, green eyes flashing menacingly.
Jo lay back in bed. 'Oh, it's only you. What's the time?'
'Time to get up. Go and tell your darling sweetheart to get out of my bed!'
'What? James isn't my sweetheart…'
Lily gave a loud yelp. She was, as her friends had realised, quite insane in the mornings. 'Sirius, you idiot, Sirius!'
Jo stared at her. 'Lily, why is Sirius in your bed?'
'How the hell should I know? Just go in there and get him out!'
'Wow. You are grumpy in the mornings, aren't you?' But she climbed slowly out of bed, leaving a rather cross Lily standing in her bedroom.
Lily could hear Jo slapping him across the face in an attempt to wake him up. After a few moments, however, she couldn't hear any sounds at all.
Lily padded down the hallway back into her own room, where she found both of her friends lying fast asleep on her bed.
'Why me? Why me, I ask you, why me?'
Jo glanced up sleepily. 'How come you're talking to the ceiling, Lil?'
Lily just walked out the room, sighing tiredly.
James knocked on the door later that day, and when Lily opened it, he headed straight for the fridge.
'Does anybody ever think of anything but their stomachs around here?' She asked crossly.
James looked up. 'Yeah. Where's Sirius?'
Lily groaned loudly, sitting down at the table with her head in her hands. 'In my bed.'
James did a double take. 'What was that?'
'With Jo,' Lily added.
James's eyes widened to the size of saucers. 'Excuse me.' He hurried off to Lily's doorway. 'Oh.' He sounded extremely disappointed. 'They've got their clothes on…'
'What were you expecting? No, wait, I don't want to know what you were expecting.'
James grinned. 'You sure?'
Lily ignored him and peeked behind the door, to where Sirius and Jo were fast asleep, curled up closely to each other.
'How sweet.' James commented. He looked at Lily. 'Want to try out Jo's bed?'
Lily stared at him for a moment, wondering exactly what was going on in his head. 'Potter, calm your hormones for a moment. I'm hungry.'
He looked crestfallen. 'Now who's thinking of their stomachs, huh?'
'It's threatening me. It's saying 'foooooood.' Can't you hear it?' Lily patted her stomach fondly.
'If you weren't so damn cute, I'd be having second thoughts about you,' James muttered. 'Although you're pretty nice as well, I s'pose. And sweet…'
Lily raised her eyebrows. 'Are you coming onto me? James, I am your girlfriend.'
He mumbled something under his breath, but recovered quite quickly. 'So you'll kiss me?'
Lily shook her head, smiling. 'Course I will.'
'After I've eaten breakfast.'
'Oh, for goodness sake, Joey!' Rowena snapped. 'Just eat your bread already!'
Joey nibbled off his crusts and then became involved with shaping the bread into a snowman shape, pretending he hadn't heard her.
She sighed, and went back to picking at her own soup. It was full of…she stared at it. Ew. Mushrooms.
'Yuck.' Rowena pushed her bowl away, wrinkling her nose with disgust. Joey was now chewing up his bread, his crusts left forgotten on his plate.
'So. What're we doing today?'
Joey looked thoughtful. 'I was thinking we could do something to do the squid…'
A dreamy expression came over Joey's face, his eyes glazed over. 'It would look nice purple…with big fluoro spots…'
'Or, we could study for the test tomorrow.' Rowena said. Where did that thought come from? Rowena, have you lost your mind?
Joey blinked. 'Or not.'
'I'm studying,' she said stubbornly, standing up. 'See you later.'
Joey watched her leave, a confused look now on his pale face, brown hair falling into his eyes, making him look quite like a lost little puppy with nowhere to go. What's up with her?
Rowena found herself in the library. 'Won't this be fun,' she muttered to herself. She looked around. 'Maybe I should just go dye the squid,' she mused. But instead, her legs carried her over to a deserted table on the far side of the library, as far away from people as she could get. On it, a book sat, face down. She looked at it curiously, and turned it over. It was blank.
She sighed, disappointed. How boring. But, just out of interest, she opened it and started flicking the pages, searching for something interesting. It was filled with page after page of diary entries, written neatly in some kind of cursive handwriting, all loopy and old-fashioned. At the end of the book, pages had been stuck in.
She frowned and sat down, wondering how this diary could possibly have found its way into the library. Obviously, someone had left it there…unless it had just- appeared? Don't be silly. Books can't walk.
Rowena went back to the beginning, searching for a name. Inside the front cover, written in tiny, tiny writing, it said 'Liesal Harper, 1932.'
'How interesting,' she murmured. Then she pocketed the book, and left to find Joey, hoping he hadn't already done something odd to the squid.
It was a stormy night, and Lily and James were sitting, quite bored, in their Headquarters, guarding the items that had been brought in that afternoon. Which, as James had pointed out, was pretty unfair, considering they still didn't know what was in the crates. Mundungus Fletcher had been all too secretive.
Lily examined the tracking devices, all of which were quiet for the time being. It was, to put it quite frankly, boring.
'So,' James said, yawning loudly. 'When do Amanda and Remus get here?'
Lily shrugged. 'Midnight, I think.'
James looked at his watch. 'It's three o'clock already.'
A clap of thunder crashed then, the lightening that accompanied it flashing through the sky. The candles that lit in the room they were in flickered, and blew out.
It was pitch black.
Lily lit her wand, which lit up her face eerily. 'I'm going to fall asleep…'
James, for once, had nothing to say in reply, as it was far too much trouble to open his mouth.
'Me too…' He managed to say, a yawn taking over. Until his head decided to droop to the side and bang into the wall. 'Ow!'
Lily, who had been half-asleep, awoke with a yell. 'What?'
'I banged my head…'
She giggled, and realised they weren't going to get any sleep at all.
As Lily and James sat guarding the mysterious boxes, Sirius and Jo were on the couch at Sirius's house, arguing over the remote control.
'We're not watching that,' Jo said, shaking her head stubbornly.
'And you want us to watch that?'
'What, pray tell, is wrong with that?'
'Look at them! Look at what they're wearing!'
'Look at what you're wearing!'
Sirius glanced down to look at what he was wearing. 'What's wrong with what I'm wearing?'
Jo shrugged. 'I dunno, I can't actually see them in the dark…'
Sirius rolled his eyes. 'But we aren't watching that, I refuse to.'
'So close your eyes,' Jo suggested helpfully.
Sirius snatched the remote control from her hand, flicking it to a different channel. 'Oooooh. Look at this.'
'Sirius. This is dumb,' Jo whined.
'Just because I have the remote control.'
I don't believe I'm doing this, Jo thought grumpily. I'm easily within kissing distance of Sirius Black and I'm arguing over the TV channels with him. How sad.
'We could watch a video,' Sirius said. 'But we don't have any videos.'
'Or a VCR,' Jo added, grabbing the remote control back.
'But look at what they're wearing!' Sirius complained. 'You can't expect me to watch this!'
'So sorry. D'you have any better ideas?'
Sirius thought for a moment. He had the irrepressible urge to kiss her, which surprised him. After all, she was Jo. He didn't like Jo, not like that… Sirius could have sworn he heard the little voice in his head tutting at him. 'Just kiss the girl,' it appeared to be saying. Well, Sirius wasn't a person to ignore the voice in his head.
Jo's own head went quite dizzy for a moment. 'Yes, we could do that.'