- . -
Chapter 5: The Seeker
Sept 14th, Dear Diary,
I simply cannot wait. In a few short hours, the first Quidditch practice will commence. I, as the Seeker, am feeling a tad nervous, although very excited. I have discovered a new interest in flying, and I intend to pursue, though not as a career, although it is a very entertaining pastime. I have only now realized what an experience I have missed out on for these many years…
However, I must tread extra cautiously around shady areas. Especially in light of Malfoy's new threat. Quidditch is an exceptionally dangerous sport, and this year, I seem to be a magnet for chaos. I must avoid it. I must avoid Malfoy. Avoid him at all costs. And I must find out how to thwart this curse – before it begins to make a noticeable impact on my life.
Madam Pomfrey bustled by Lily's bed. "If all goes well," she said quietly, "you'll be out of here in time for classes tomorrow."
Lily smiled weakly as she helped herself to a glass of pumpkin juice, laced with a light sleeping potion. That would be wonderful. Any place but the hospital wing, which she was getting sick of.
She woke up much earlier than expected. Moments later, she saw why.
"Aren't you risking your wizarding pride a bit much here, Malfoy?" she asked disdainfully, as the towering form of Malfoy leered at her.
"Pity the Bludger didn't knock some sense into you, Mudblood," Malfoy said silkily.
"Oh, shut up," Lily yawned. "Now, I'd like an explanation to why you came blundering over here at two o'clock at night. Couldn't it wait 'till morning?"
Lucius' grey eyes glittered. "You have plausibly grown more foolish than you were when you first entered the castle this year. I merely came to warn you…that if you do not resign from the Gryffindor Quidditch Team first thing tomorrow, you are dead."
Lily raised her eyebrows. "That's strange. You'd think I'd've stopped walking around…"
"I am serious, Mudblood."
Lily whipped out her wand. "No, you're not Sirius, you're Malfoy, but it won't matter in a few seconds, because you'll be a toad if you don't get out of here right now!"
Malfoy backed away from the angry redhead. "Suit yourself, Mudblood. I was merely trying to expand your dwindling life span – but no matter. Be sure to reserve your bed here with Madam Pomfrey, you'll be seeing it a lot more often…"
And with that, he was gone.
- . -
Now, almost a week later, his words seemed less frightening, as Lily sat in her favourite armchair, by the dying embers in the fireplace, scribbling away in her diary, her pen making pleasant scratching noises that echoed across the empty common room. Pale rays of weak sunshine filtered through the windows. She paused, the halt in the pen's scratching causing an eerie silence in the common room. As though instinctively, she snapped her diary shut, and tapped it with her wand, whispering "Colloportus," as the lock on her diary sealed shut. She stuffed her wand, diary and sleek black pen into her book bag, closing the flap as Alexis made her way down the stairs.
"Morning," Alexis greeted, as Lily turned to her. "Aren't you finishing an essay or something like that?"
Lily's hand flew to her head. "Oh no! I haven't finished my Potions essay!"
She reopened her book bag, pulling out her pen and several rolls of parchment.
"Are you planning to write an encyclopaedia?" Alexis asked disdainfully, as Lily rummaged through her bag and pulled out what looked like another dozen rolls of parchment.
"Shut up, Alexis, these are only my plans," Lily explained, still looking for more parchment rolls. "And I've only started my essay, it's only seven rolls long, and this essay is worth a huge portion of our Potions mark – I can't find my research on moonstone!"
"Moonstone?" Alexis asked incredulously. "Lily, there may be hundreds of ingredients in Veritaserum, but moonstone isn't one of them! I know, I nearly blew my cauldron up last class when I added it in!"
"That's exactly my point!" Lily wailed. "I had a huge section on how moonstone is a complementary ingredient in the strongest Truth Potion – but the Ministry outlawed it ages ago – and now, they've modified the potion so that it reacts with the chemical makeup of moonstone – spent eons looking it up – and now it's all gone!"
"What's that over there?" Alexis asked, pointing to two rolls of parchment covered with tiny writing. Lily stopped wailing and looked at it.
"My research! My research! Here it is, my work on moonstone! Thank you, Alexis!"
And with that, she threw herself on Alexis in a tight embrace.
"Gods, Lil – get off me!" Alexis said in a constricted voice, pulling the redhead off of her.
Lily paused, and grabbed her pen, and began shuffling her many rolls of parchment, trying to find her notes.
She began to scribble, her writing tiny and neat, nonetheless. The scratching of her pen was very annoying to Alexis, who posed another question.
"Why don't you use a quill?" Alexis asked curiously.
"It takes too much time," Lily replied simply. "Just reloading a quill wastes ten whole seconds of my life."
"Ten seconds?" Alexis raised her eyebrows. "That's a significant time span for you, Lil? What can you get done in ten seconds?"
"My essay," Lily replied, as she finished off her last sentence with a flourish. Alexis blinked. Her overachieving friend had scribbled down an extra five feet in less than ten minutes.
"How do you accomplish that?" Alexis asked incredulously.
"What?" Lily asked, capping her pen, and rolling up her parchment.
"Writing novels in ten minutes," Alexis said.
"It's the result of almost eleven long years of practice," Lily said proudly, as she tucked her essay into her bag, and twirled her pen expertly. "Of course, I knew exactly what I was going to write about…see, all my notes are there – all I had to do was construct actual sentences – and I had my conclusion there – see? Child's play."
"For a freak," Alexis muttered under her breath.
Lily glared daggers at Alexis as she replaced her pen in her book bag.
"So, Quidditch practice in an hour," Alexis said. "You'd better get ready."
"Why? It's in an hour," Lily said.
"Exactly. You'll want to stock up on padding, because Potter will work you so hard – it'll be a record if no one ends up in the hospital wing after their first practice. I had to spend a week, because Potter insisted on whacking the Quaffle with Beater bats at me – I remember once he persuaded Spinnet – George Spinnet, Beater before Niles – to chuck his club at me and see if I could dodge it." Alexis shuddered. "Came at me faster than if I Summoned it. And Niles! When she tried for Beater – he was literally making her whack a wall of Bludgers! I mean, Potter's a good captain and everything, but he's a maniac!"
"I'll say," Lily agreed heartily.
- . -
"Okay team. Now, I know it's another year, and another chance to win the Cup, but I still want your attention – EVERARD! KIRKE! STOP FOOLING AROUND!"
Catherine Everard and Alisha Kirke, the remaining team Chasers, stopped dive-bombing each other in mid-air to listen.
"Now, Everard and Kirke have been kind enough to act their age," James said, with a scowl characteristic of Professor McGonagall, "however, that does NOT mean I'm relaxing the standards of practice for this team. In fact, I believe they're going to get even tougher than they were last year. So put up, or out."
His hazel eyes rested on Lily.
"Lily can manage fine," Alexis said crisply. "She survived a rogue Bludger attack on her first day – and no matter what you think Potter, you're no Bludger."
"Just leave her alone, James," Miles said. "Lily's strong, she doesn't need you fretting like an old mother hen."
James tossed him a scowl.
"Okay then, team. First up, Chasers. I thought up of a perfect decoy system strategy – I grab the Quaffle – you two fall back a bit, and then…"
Lily looked up longingly at the sky, wondering if Quidditch practices were always this boring. How she wished she'd gone straight to the Great Hall for breakfast – she was so hungry…
The word jolted her out of her reverie, and she found herself face-to-face with a very angry James Potter.
"Maybe if you spent less time daydreaming and more time paying attention, we'd have a chance of winning the next match, eh Evans? What do you think, Kensington?"
"Huh?" Alexis jolted out of her stupor. "Potter, next time you want to get us all asleep, maybe you should sing us a lullaby – it sure would be more effective."
James glared at her.
"Now, as I was saying –" he paused to give Alexis and Lily a very dirty look in turn, "Evans, your best hope is to just stay out of peoples' way – maybe knock the other Seeker off his broom if he gets to the Snitch before you – I doubt you can feint – only professionals can do that, and no matter how much talent you showed us that day, you can't beat a professional –"
"Here's a thought," Lily said loudly. "How about you stop nitpicking and claiming that you've heard me say things I've never even thought of, let alone said!"
"I never did that!" James said indignantly.
"Oh yes," Lily said. "You just implied not-so-very subtly that I claim to be better than a professional. Well, Potter, if you think that, you need some serious mental help."
James rolled his eyes.
"And don't go rolling your eyes at me; it's not very polite," Lily snapped.
"I suppose you of all people are going to give me lessons in manners now, are you?" James said through gritted teeth.
"Alexis, is this how practices work? The captain just finds excuses to let out some pathetic vendetta against his players, and that's it? No flying, no broomsticks, nothing? Or is our captain in need of a definition of the word practice?" Lily demanded of her best friend.
"Not usually," Alexis replied. "I suppose he's just peeved that he missed a great chance to snog Avery Bell, and he's venting it all out on you, because you took her place, and I'm sure you wouldn't be as great a snog as Avery Bell would be –"
"Kensington, when you're done babbling, maybe you'll all remember that this is a practice going on here –" James began hotly, but Lily cut him off.
"Exactly! And Potter, maybe when you're done babbling, you can get on with whatever it is you dragged us out of bed at the crack of dawn for!" she shot back.
"What's the matter? Too early for you?" James challenged.
"Can you stop nagging, Potter?" Alexis broke in exasperatedly. "Lily was up an hour before that, finishing off that confounded essay Versailles set on Veritaserum! All seven feet of it!"
"I don't need to know Evans' homework schedule, thanks," James replied coolly. "I think I've got better things to do."
"Don't let me stop you," Lily muttered.
"Don't let me get in your way," James retorted.
"SHUT UP! Both of you!" Niles shouted, glancing at the three, annoyed. "It might have been funny at first, but please, if you're going to row like this for the rest of the morning, perhaps you should call practice another time, James. Maybe meeting with certain individuals first thing in the morning isn't the best idea for you."
"If he's going to be prejudiced over any individual on the team, then I don't think he's best suited for Captain," Alexis stated sharply. "Perhaps he ought to remember that, or maybe if McGonagall came and supervised, it would be best for his temper. What do you think, Potter?"
"Just get on with it!" Lily finished crossly. "I got the knocking the other Seeker off his broom part. Anything else you'd like me to do, Potter?"
- . -
"Not like that, Evans! The other way! The other way!" James barked as Lily zoomed by, arm outstretched for a tiny golden blur that was heading for the hoops.
"I'm going for the Snitch, Potter!" Lily snapped, turning her head back at him. "Only that's my job as Seeker, isn't it?"
"You should have led the other Seeker in the other direction!" he snapped back. "If you do that in the real game, the other Seeker would beat you there – he's obviously faster than you are!"
"Lily, watch out!" Catherine Everard broke in shrilly, as Lily turned her head back forward, and swerved sharply, a hairsbreadth away from collision with the goal hoops. Two seconds later, she turned back to the Gryffindor captain, with a scowl on her face.
"I can't concentrate with your nagging, Potter!" she said exasperatedly.
"Get used to it, Evans," James replied dryly. "It's a commitment now, and either you're treated like the other team members, or treated like no member of the team at all. So get up, or get out."
"You don't annoy the others half as much," Lily grumbled. "But if you think that by being an irritating little bugger, you're going to get me to resign from the team, you're heavily mistaken. Because you've been an irritating little bugger for your whole life, on or off the pitch. I suppose I'll have to put up with it more now, but –"
"EVANS, SHUT UP AND GET THE SNITCH!" James roared. "THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE HERE TO DO, NOT JUST STAND THERE AND SWEAR!"
"AND WHY DON'T YOU JUST THROW THE QUAFFLE INTO THE HOOPS, LIKE THE CHASER YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE, RATHER THAN STAND THERE AND NAG?!" Lily shouted back, before speeding up after the Snitch, a tiny golden blur followed by a scarlet one.
"Nice one, Lil!" Alexis grinned as Lily's fist closed about the Snitch. "Potter, you work her too hard. Hardly a minute goes by when you're not at each other's throats or something."
"Well, she should improve her attitude toward her betters," James replied silkily.
Lily turned around slowly, and faced him, incredulous.
"Betters? You?" she demanded. "Potter, the only reason McGonagall made you captain was because your father's a rich git! And that's it!"
There was a long silence on the pitch, as the onlookers looked at the electricity crackling between a furious Lily and an equally angry James.
"Don't you ever mention my father again, Evans," James said in a dangerously soft voice through clenched teeth. "If you do, the consequences will be so severe, you'll remember it for years to come, and start crying like the immature baby you are."
"And you're someone to talk about being immature, Potter?" Lily retorted, her eyes flashing angrily. "You're the immature one here – having to resort to pathetic threats, and I'm telling you Potter, I'm not scared."
"Evans, I'm dead serious."
In a flash, Lily had whipped her wand out from underneath her scarlet Quidditch robes, and pointed it directly between his eyes.
"Go on then," she said, her voice icy. "But you're forgetting who's better with the wand."
There was tension in the air, as the remaining players on the Gryffindor Quidditch team watched, awestruck, as Lily and James hovered ten feet away from the other, Lily's wand aimed directly in between the eyes.
Slowly, Lily pocketed her wand, and flipped her red hair over her shoulder. "Now," she said, looking at her team-mates. "What is this, an exhibition match? Do I have to blow myself up?! Are you not entertained thoroughly?!"
"Come on, let's try that manoeuvre again," Alexis said wearily, everyone aware of the mounting hostility between Lily and James.
- . -
"No, no, no! Evans, you're doing it all wrong!"
Lily rolled her eyes, and faced the captain.
"Bee in your bonnet, Potter?" she asked irately. This had been the eleventh time he had stopped her.
"You're supposed to catch the Snitch after you break out of the dive!" James snapped. "What's wrong with you, Evans? Why can't you follow directions?"
"Maybe," Lily said, in the air of someone explaining that one and one made two, "I work better without a prejudiced maniac breathing down my neck. Or perhaps if you didn't explain everything I had to do, and let me work on my own…"
"Not a chance," James said firmly. "You're new, Evans. You're new. You haven't been on the team long enough to adapt to its style. Frankly, you're the biggest weakness we have – the weakest link. Also, you're the least dedicated to this sport out of all of us – a lot of reasons to raise eyebrows at your request of working alone."
Lily sighed. It had been two weeks of consecutive practices – two long weeks of clouds, and rain, and ceaseless rows with the Quidditch Captain.
"Listen, you," she said dangerously. "I agree that we're not the best of friends, and that's there no love lost between us, but for God's sake, can't you even maintain a close-to-professional relationship with your team on the pitch, even if they're not the siblings someone forgot to give you? Isn't that one of the key characteristics McGonagall looked for in a Captain?"
"A close-to-professional relationship," James repeated, raising an eyebrow. "How can you maintain a close-to-professional relationship with the pebble in your shoe?"
There was a stunned silence, as Lily digested his words, a numbness taking over her face.
"The pebble in your shoe," she echoed blankly, meeting his eyes. "That's all I am to you. The pebble in your shoe."
James blinked. "Listen, Evans, you're getting it all wrong…"
Lily shook her head, and distracted herself by pretending she had seen the Snitch, and pulled into a sharp dive, the wind screaming into her ears so she would have to listen to him, and maybe he wouldn't see how deeply his words had wounded her.
It's better for him anyway, Lily thought to herself miserably. I'm cursed, aren't I? Maybe it's for the better that he hates me with the intensity of his heart and soul. I was getting too hopeful…I don't want him to feel the same way I do – it would kill him…
Lily felt a slight tremor go through her – she had spotted the Snitch hovering two feet below the other goal hoops.
But still…he didn't have to be so rude. Just because I'm not an attention-seeking prat like Hilary doesn't mean I can't feel. For God's sake, stab me and I'd bleed!
She pulled out of her dive, the cold Snitch struggling uselessly against her fingers. She stared at it thoughtfully, before another yell brought her out of her reverie.
Another criticizing by James, no doubt.
"What is it, Potter?" she replied wearily, not facing him, eyes still trained on the Snitch struggling in her fingers.
"Are you going to let that Snitch go anytime soon, or will you hold us up for the rest of the evening?"
Lily took a deep breath, and closed her eyes, to stem the flow of heat and anger that welled up inside of her. I will not talk more than necessary, she told herself. To hell with everything, I'm here to play, not to row with James, and if he can't accept that, he's a bigger prat than I thought possible.
She let the Snitch fly out of her hand again, watching its progress carefully. It flew in circles near Alisha's head, and then it somersaulted over to Catherine's broomstick, and finally circled around the goalposts before James said, "Go!"
Lily urged the broomstick to start, and she sped toward the goal hoops, gaining on the little Snitch, before it swerved sharply, barrelling toward the other end. She gasped as she pulled herself out of collision course, rolling over in a 360-degree somersault in the air, and shooting off in hot pursuit of the golden glimmer dead ahead.
Abruptly, she felt something tug at her senses – subtly at first, and then, all of a sudden, a pain so intense gnawed away at her senses…she cried out loud, and the broom was out of control. She couldn't see it. She couldn't see anything, except clouds of white mists swirling away in front of her eyes…she was sweating profusely, but she was shivering…it was ice cold – she tried to breath, but she couldn't! And she was falling…falling…
She could dimly hear people calling her name before everything went numb…
"Lily! Take Harry and run!"
Harry? Who's Harry?
"Lily! There's no time to lose! Take Harry and run! It's Him!"
Hold on…who was this? Who was Harry, and who was Him?
"I can't leave you!" she heard herself say. "I can't leave you here!"
Leave who? And why couldn't she see?
"Lily, I can't guarantee I'll be safe, but for Harry's sake, you've got to get out of here, He's coming!"
"I can't just sit around and wait, knowing you're going to die!" Lily cried tearfully.
Die? Who was dying? And who was Harry?
"Be brave, Lily," the male voice said in a gentler tone. "Please…for Harry…? For me?"
Lily threw herself against his neck. "Oh, James…"
A flash of green light, and screaming…Lily couldn't tell who was screaming…was it her, or James, or the baby in her arms…there was laughter – cold laughter…more screaming…and then a cold voice hissed in a sibilant voice… "…die…"
"James!" Lily screamed again, crying, as the baby in her arms wailed, heartbroken, its green eyes filled with tears.
"Oh, Harry," Lily said to it, her own eyes filling. "Your father is gone…"
Lily's voice echoed slightly, as she woke up, sitting up, her head still spinning, the fog clearing…
"Are you…okay, Lily?"
She blinked. She was on the ground, and the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team was surrounding her, worried.
"I'm fine," she said, her breathing returning to normal. Her heart was beating as though she had run a marathon, and she was bathed in ice cold sweat. Although she felt slightly odd…had that been a dream…or a vision? And that kid, Harry…had he really been James' son? But he had green eyes…
My eyes, Lily realised.
Who was the boy's mother? Lily wondered to herself. And why did James tell me to take Harry…surely he had a wife?
…what if I was the mother?
She shook her head vigorously. "I feel sick," she murmured, avoiding the glances of her team-mates.
"It was really weird," Alisha offered. "One minute you were fine, and the next minute, you just sort of…fainted…more like had a fit, really…"
"You started to fall off your broom," Catherine continued, "but we all sorta pulled together and got you to the ground safely. You were mumbling and stuff – I thought you were in a trance or something…maybe you could be a Seer or something, Lily…"
"Right," Lily said sceptically. "You decided to become a Seer then, if you're planning to tell the future –"
"How funny of you to mention the future," Malfoy said, his sneer growing more pronounced. "As you do not have one."
A sudden realization hit Lily over the head.
Could it be the curse? She thought to herself sickly, before looking up at her team-mates.
"I'm going back to Gryffindor tower," she said thickly. "I don't feel so well."
"Stress," Alexis nodded, and threw James an irritated glance. "If certain people gave her a break, maybe we wouldn't have to have finished practice so early, eh?"
"Shut up, Kensington," James said irritably, though he looked slightly sheepish.
Lily got to her feet shakily, thinking fast. How long ago had classes ended? Could she catch Malfoy in his rounds – the seventh-year Prefects had duty tonight…much as she despised talking to the snivelling git, she had a few questions that needed answering…Harry…who was he? And what did she and James have to do with him?
"I'll go with you," Alexis said quickly, noting Lily's discomfort.
"It's okay," Lily gave a wan smile. "I won't collapse on the way to the castle, if it's any assurance to you. You keep on practicing, and Alexis can tell me what I missed tomorrow. Or if it's important enough, Potter can tell me himself."
Saying so, she winced and slowly made her way back to the castle, trying to sort out her thoughts.
Was it a dream? Or…something more…?
- . -
Lily made her way to the Great Hall, looking for the silver-haired Slytherin.
Lily started. It was a tall, blonde Slytherin girl. Lily recognised her as Narcissa Black, a seventh-year Prefect.
"I'm looking for that git, Malfoy," Lily replied. "If you've seen him…?"
"Oh," Narcissa replied, looking slightly suspicious. "He's patrolling the Charms corridor. Why?"
"Oh…" Lily paused. "Someone tipped me off about something – I needed to check if it was true."
"You're brave," Narcissa nodded. "I did see him with a diary, though, and I didn't think he'd own one that was fuzzy and pink."
The thought of it brought a slight smile to Lily's lips, before she dismissed it with a frown. "No," she shook her head. "I think not. I think I'll go and confiscate it."
"You're very brave," Narcissa nodded before continuing down into the Entrance Hall.
Lily shook her head, and headed toward the Charms corridor. To what ends was she going to have to see before she could get rid of this curse…if, in fact there was a curse?
Lily started. The Potions Master was leering down at her sinisterly. Lily groaned inwardly. Outwardly, she smiled sweetly and said, "The same to you, Professor."
Professor Versailles returned the smile, albeit with venom dripping every angle. "The Gryffindor Quidditch team should be practising today, should they not? Only my Slytherins could not receive this…opportunity to practise, owing to your team's untimely bookings."
Lily met his gaze steadily. "Potter does his best to keep us in line," she said flatly.
"Indeed?" the professor raised his eyebrows. "And this Potter…he is a good Captain, you say?"
"To some, yes," Lily replied slowly.
Lily shrugged. "He is very hard on me," she confessed. "Although most captains should be hard on new players."
"And class rivals?"
"Why are you out of practice early?" Professor Versailles asked her.
"I wasn't feeling well," Lily answered.
"Indeed," the Potions Master sneered. "And you are heading to the Charms corridor when the hospital wing is clearly the opposite direction. Clever."
Lily didn't reply.
"Wander carefully, Miss Evans, for even now, a great distance from the darkness of pain and anguish, the danger remains. Good night."
And with that he was off.
Lily shook her head. "What in the name of Gryffindor was that?"
She started off toward the Charms corridor again, eyes trained for the Slytherin Prefect. She had not far to look before she spotted him leaning against the doorway to the Charms classroom.
"Fancy seeing you here, Mudblood," he sneered.
Lily rolled her eyes. "Whichever form takes your fancy, Malfoy. I've got a few questions for you."
Malfoy fingered his wand, twirling it idly between his fingers. "Ask on."
"Does this curse make you delusional?"
Malfoy shrugged. "I do not know. But in your case, I do not suspect the curse had anything to do with it."
"Don't get fresh with me," Lily snapped. "It's your bloody fault I'm stuck with this – the very least you could do is answer a few bloody questions!"
"Language, Evans," Malfoy said, eyes glittering.
"Oh, so we're on name terms, are we?"
"You are wasting my time," Malfoy said slowly. "Either ask your questions or get out."
"The same. Does this curse make you delusional?" Lily demanded.
What seemed like a glint came into Malfoy's eyes. "Explain," he said.
Lily rolled her eyes again.
"I had a trance," she said simply. "Or a dream – I don't know which, but I know I'm not a Seer. Can you explain this?"
Malfoy raised his eyebrows. "Now, the Aeternum spell has some effects, Mudblood, but enhanced delusion is –"
"Who's Harry?" Lily demanded.
Malfoy stopped talking, and looked at her, puzzled. "Who?"
"Harry," Lily said clearly. "There was a child in the – trance – and his name was Harry. And Ja – a man was telling me to take him and run."
The Slytherin pondered on it.
"Who's Harry?" she demanded again.
Malfoy shook his head. "I've never heard the name before," he said. "Perhaps you were in a trance, perhaps you were not. Maybe you were seeing your future, or someone else's past, I don't know either. But get this straight, Mudblood, don't be surprised if more come into that vacuum in your head. Expect them."
And he marched off.
Lily shook her head.
"That's bollocks, that is," she murmured to herself.
- . -
Disclaimer: I own no one mentioned in the book. Everything you recognise belongs to Jo.