1976

"I can't believe you are still letting him get to you, Prongs. Honestly, after six years, you should be able to ignore Malfoy no matter what."

"If only it were that easy, Padfoot. But you weren't there." James' brow furrowed in anger at the memory of his latest Malfoy confrontation.

"What could he have done to provoke you so much? I thought you'd been 'tamed' by Lily. At least enough to avoid a month of detention AND losing house points."

"That's my weakness. That Malfoy git was saying things about Lily that, well, any man would have done the same thing to protect the reputation of his future bride."

"Future bride?!?" Moony cut in. "Since when are you engaged?"

"We're not, but I think we will be one day," James replied. He got that look in his eyes again, the twinkle that told his closest friends he was thinking about Lily Evans and how happy she made him. Shaking his head to bring himself back to reality, he looked at the clock. "As for right now, if I don't get to detention, McGonagall will skin me."

"Have fun with Lucius!" Moony teased. James simply rolled his eyes and left the common room, waving goodbye to the Fat Lady in the portrait.

As he approached Professor McGonagall's office, he became aware of footsteps behind him. James thought to himself that he would have been perfectly happy to serve a months detention alone if only he could have gotten one or two good hexes out before the impromptu wizard's duel between he and Lucius had been interrupted. He turned to face Malfoy, steeling himself for the familiar sneer, and was startled to see Professor Dumbledore there instead.

Professor Dumbledore smiled in greeting, "Mr. Potter."

"Yes sir," James answered with a smile for the kind headmaster. Albus Dumbledore had offered nothing but kindness since James' first year, despite the number of rules that James and his Marauding friends had broken. Right now, thought, James had to wonder what was going on.

"There's been a slight delay. Professor McGonagall will be a bit late and I offered to greet you and Mr. Malfoy in her absence. It seems that she's decided..ah, Mr. Malfoy, nice of you to join us. Cutting it a bit close, weren't you?"

The blond scowled at Dumbledore and then at James. "I'm on time, that's enough." He leaned against the wall casually, expressing in his body language that he felt his participation in this detention was far beneath him. "I believe you were about to give us a message from McGonagall?" he drawled.

"Professor McGonagall has decided that the two of you should begin your detention with an extra assignment. Seeing as how you are well ahead of your peers in your respective focus classes, she would like you to work together and share that knowledge."

James groaned inwardly. Detention with Malfoy would be bad enough, but to actually have to converse with him and work together? That was just asking too much. Glancing at Malfoy, the sneer on his face told James that he was none too happy about this turn of events, either. Taking a deep breath, he looked back at Professor Dumbledore with a silent plea for escape in his eyes. "What type of assignment?" he asked.

Dumbledore smiled at the young man, knowing full well that he was dreading this answer with every ounce of his being. Never has Dumbledore seen such a pair of polar opposites as James Potter and Lucius Malfoy, nor did he expect to find such a pair again. It was precisely these differences that prompted him and Minerva to develop this particular punishment. Despite young Mr. Malfoy's background, they hoped that he could be positively influenced if provided with enough of a good example. Thought their efforts had not worked during his first six years at Hogwarts, neither professor was quite prepared to give up on the boy just yet. Who better to influence him than James Potter, the last heir in the Gryffindor bloodline, the young man who had already found himself fighting on the side of good when faced with a small group of dark wizards in his fifth year. James was a powerful force to be reckoned with and Dumbledore sincerely hoped something good would come of this assignment.

"Well, Mr. Potter," Dumbledore answered, "since you have excelled in Defense Against the Dark Arts and Divination, and you, Mr. Malfoy, have shown extreme cunning in both Potions and Charms, Professor McGonagall and I would like to see if you can create a divinatory potion with a corresponding Dark Arts charm. The purpose would be to learn of major future events connected with the Dark Arts and then use the charm and potion to ensure the best possible outcome."

"Excuse me sir," Malfoy was using his best manner now, knowing full well how to turn on the charm and appear the perfect gentleman. "It sounds as if you are saying you want Potter and I to rid the world of all future negativity. Isn't that quite a tall order for a couple of students?"

"Not at all, Mr. Malfoy. I simply asked you to work on this. If you can save the world with it, so much the better. It need not be that complicated for the detention requirements, however. I do suggest you both get started on it. You'll be working on this for 3 hours every night this week. Should you be late or absent, you'll lose your house an additional 50 point."

"Yes sir" the boys said almost in unison.