A/N: Hello dear readers! I know I'm terribly late and I could find a million excuses, some of them would actually be true, but I don't think there's a point to do so…As always I have to say a big thank you!! to Vikertee, my wonderful beta!! Anyways, here's chapter 9, I hope you'll like it!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, please don't sue me. I'm just using Mrs Rowling's wonderful characters!
9. HOW TO DECEIVE A PROFESSOR
Hogwarts, February 1974
No. No. She refused to believe it. It simply wasn't possible. It couldn't be possible. She was tired and maybe she was wrong. This was impossible. It was a hallucination, a delusion. It was just a trick of her mind because she hadn't slept very well the previous night. She knew she was wrong. He would never do that. She knew him.
Lily pushed the heavy doors of the main entrance and run down the stairs, fighting back the tears that burned at the edge of her eyes. No, she would not cry. She would not cry because all this was just a mistake. It had been a stupid little mistake.
She didn't realise it when the tears finally run down on her cheeks. She didn't realise she had reached the lake until she found herself flopping down under a tree right next to the shore of the lake. And she didn't realise it when she started sobbing as the memory of Severus in that dark corridor came back to her mind.
Lily had just finished breakfast and was heading towards the Library. It was a beautiful day, perfect weather, if a bit cold, for a visit to Hogsmead. She had arranged to meet with her friends outside the Great Hall right after she had returned some books to the Library. They would spend the day in the wizarding village and come back at the castle right in time for dinner.
She was walking fast, as she didn't want to be late, carrying the books in her hands. As she passed a dark corridor, just before the last corner before the entrance to the Library, she heard it. A soft, yet quite clear gasp, as if someone was in pain, and low laughter. Low, cruel laughter.
She knew that it was not a good idea and that she would regret it later, but she just had to see what was going on. What if someone was hurt or being bullied? So, very carefully, she peered around the corner and looked at that dark corridor. Lily nearly dropped her books in surprise as she saw that three Slytherin boys had cornered a fifth year Ravenclaw and were pointing their wands to him. And one of the Slytherin boys was Severus.
"Don't you dare talk about things you can't even imagine!" said the biggest of the three Slytherins. Lily recognised him as a forth year named Avery. The other one was a boy from their year named Mulciber. Why was Severus hanging around with those guys?
"Fuck off! Go practise your Dark Magic somewhere else! Once this reaches Dumbledore's ears…" the boy from Ravenclaw tried to retort, but he found a wand pressed roughly against his throat. It was Severus' wand.
"What? What is he going to do? I'll tell you what he'll do," Sev said a bit angry, "he'll do nothing, because you're not gonna talk to anyone…Mudblood!"
Lily heard nothing more after that last word. She knew nothing but that word coming out of his mouth in such a casual way…as if he was used to saying it regularly. She turned around and walked away, the Library books forgotten in her hands. She was walking mechanically, not knowing exactly where she was heading to, as her brain tried to process the information.
She knew that word. Of course she knew it. She had been called that once last year and her friend Eleyn had explained to her what it meant. What she didn't know was why Severus would say it.
As she sat under the tree by the lake, she tried to calm herself down, reasoning Severus' actions. She stopped sobbing and cleared her tearful eyes with the back of her hands. She knew that it was these boys' fault. They were awful and were a bad influence for Severus. She knew him almost four years now and he was her best friend. He would never do something to hurt her, she knew that much. Maybe that Ravenclaw boy had done something really mean or nasty and Severus was angry with him and the word just slipped out. Deep down, she knew that there was no excuse, but she decided that there was no point thinking about it right now. She would talk to him later that day, probably after Hogsmead, and ask him about his friends.
Feeling a bit better once she had decided that she would talk to Sev, Lily got up, smiled at herself and walked back to the castle. She couldn't stay sad or angry for long since she was a very positive person and believed in the best of people. Maybe with the exception of only a few people. Maybe Black and Potter didn't not have a good side at all, and she was more than willing to accept that. And of course there were those Slytherins who really practised Dark Magic. But Severus was different. He was nice and cared for her. Sure, sometimes he was bitter and sarcastic but she knew that this was his family situation's fault. He was a good person and it's not like he said that word to her…
"Um, Professor, could we ask you something?" McGonnagall looked up from her parchment and watched as James Potter and Sirius Black stood there in front of her desk, both of them looking very serious.
"Does it have anything to do with my class, Mr Potter?" she asked, putting down her quill.
"Yes, of course. It's all about transfiguration!" Sirius informed her at once.
"I see," she said, examining them cautiously, "go ahead then and ask." She didn't really believe that their intentions were innocent, but she was curious as to what they were about to ask.
"You see, we were studying the other day…"
"…at the Library, that is…"
"…and we were wondering about how easily someone can transfigure the human body…"
"There's the Polyjuice Potion, but how about transfiguring it into a thing…"
"…or an animal?"
"I don't see your point, Mr Potter and Mr Black. There are ways of transfiguring the human body, but why would you be so interested in it?"
"Um, nothing, simple curiosity," Sirius replied, putting on his sweetest smile.
"Curiosity killed the cat, Mr Black. You should know that."
"Well, thank Merlin we're not cats then!" James said.
McGonnagall raised one eyebrow at him and her look clearly said 'don't try to be smart with me'. James laughed nervously and proceeded to ask the question to which they desperately needed a positive answer.
"So, we were wondering whether you could give us permission to look to the restricted area of the Library."
The Transfiguration teacher was slightly taken aback, but her characteristics, as she opened her mouth to respond, clearly spoke of a negative answer.
"Of course," Sirius hurried to add, "we are going to write an essay for you, describing what we found."
"We are?" James asked puzzled, but started nodding enthusiastically once Sirius stepped on his foot.
"As tempting as that may sound, volunteering to write an extra essay for my class, I must refuse. There are dangerous books in the restricted section, Mr Black, and I'm afraid I don't trust you enough to go there. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to finish what I was writing, in order to join the rest of the staff for lunch. You should also go to the Great Hall."
Sirius and James knew better than to stay there and try to argue with her; it would only make them look more suspicious. So they thanked her for her time and left the classroom, in order to join Remus and Peter, as the latter was keeping the former company, so as to not raise any suspicions.
"Sometimes I think that our reputation is not good…" Sirius said sceptically.
"Yeah, I know. We should have expected McGonnagall to refuse. So, who are we going to ask now? Flitwick or Brown? They're both quite naïve…we could easily persuade them."
"Hmm, I don't know, James. Brown is quite unpredictable. However, if we cause some trouble during Charms, and I mean serious trouble…no pun intended," Sirius added quickly once he saw James' exasperate expression, "then Flitwick would be distracted and he would agree more easily to sign something for us."
"That sounds like a plan to me! Okay, we have Charms right after lunch. We should be quick, coz we don't wanna be late for Potions, that would raise suspicions. So, what are we going to do? Old, classic dungbombs?"
"Nah, don't forget that we are going to be in Charms. Flitwick will be able to deal with something like that in a blink of an eye. We need something that will probably upset him…"
"Okay, I've got an idea!" James said finally and explained his plan quickly to Sirius, because they had almost reach the entrance to the Great Hall.
"I didn't expect this to happen!" Remus said, still a bit wide-eyed, as the four boys walked towards their Potions class. "I mean there has to be a logical explanation for this, how could…"
"Drop it, Remus. Weird things happen from time to time…even in Flitwick's class," Sirius said, throwing a quick glance at James who was walking behind them, fuming.
"I can't just drop it! I mean this was completely ridiculous! How can someone be hurt by his own spell? Are you sure you had nothing to do with this?" he asked them for the third time after they had left the class.
Sirius nodded absentmindedly and sighed heavily. James' plan had been good. Since they were sharing this lesson with Hufflpuffs, the only thing they had to do was to take advantage of their naivety. They had carefully used an enchanted mirror to make a spell that some Hufflpuff student had tried to cast on a cushion return to his caster. Naturally, since they were practicing with spells that could only be broken by the caster, the student would panic and while Flitwick would try to calm the student down, James and Sirius would ask the Professor to sign the little piece of paper that would grant them access to the books they wanted. Meanwhile, Peter would make sure that Remus wasn't paying any attention to the scene.
Yes, it was an excellent plan all in all. But, and there were always big, awful buts, they hadn't counted on the reaction of the poor student. Edward Johnson, their target, had panicked a bit more than expected and started sending jinxes in all kinds of directions. Two of them had hit Flitwick and as a result, the Professor had cast a very powerful Protego charm around him, making it impossible for anyone to go near him. He had then dismissed the class and kept back Edward in order to calm him down and make him lift the spell he had unintentionally cast on himself. And that's how they had found themselves walking to the Potions class this early.
"I bet Slughorn will make us tell with every detail what happened in Charms…" Peter started saying.
"Hey!" James suddenly said, "How about Slughorn?"
"How about Slughorn, what?" Remus asked him narrowing his eyes. There was definitely something off with the way James avoided to pay any attention to Remus' question.
"Well," Sirius begun, "I thought about and although he likes us a lot, I don't thing he's going to let us get out with it easily…"
"Okay, I know I am missing something. What's going on?" Remus asked again, this time a bit more aggressively.
"How about bribing him?" Peter suggest suddenly, ignoring Remus completely.
"No, no…unless we just suck him up…" James said thoughtfully, "I'll figure something out before the end of class"
Remus didn't speak to them at all during Potions and although he was terrible at potions, he considered his pride far more important than to ask for the boys' help. Sirius felt a bit guilty for ignoring him like that, but Remus' silence suited their purpose better right now.
Once the class was over, the four boys started packing their stuff as quickly as possible since it was time for dinner and they were all starving. James was surprisingly the one to put all of his things in his bag first and stood silently watching to the general direction of Slughorn. Suddenly a flash of red walked past him and an idea formed in his mind.
"Hey, Sirius!" he called to his best friend, "Slughorn really likes Evans, huh? And she is rather good at potions, isn't she?"
"Um, I guess…why do you ask? And what's Evans got to do with anything?"
"Just watch…" he replied mysteriously and went to their Professor's desk.
"…hahaha, I was sure you might say something like that, sir!" Lily Evans giggled.
"I'm sure you were! So, how could I help you, Miss Evans?" Slughorn asked her with a smile. James almost vomited in his mouth…if he ever caught Slughorn smiling at him like that he would commit suicide. However, he approached them carefully and listened to what Lily had to say, ready to jump into the conversation.
"Well, you see, I was wondering, how come certain ingredients in potions can be used both for healing potions and poisons? Isn't that a little bit…unorthodox?"
"That is because the ingredients interact differently one with another."
"So, if we could use magic to seal one ingredient's essence and add an other one in a poison, couldn't we neutralise it?" Lily asked excitedly.
"You have just impressed me even more, Lily! Of course what you're talking about is highly advanced potions-making and you're still only in third year, you haven't learned enough to really understand…"
"Yes, but sir!" James cut him in, "I must admit that what my classmate, Ev-Lily just said, has been bothering me too…you surely are not going to leave us just with the same-old 'you're too young to understand'?"
"What are you talking about, Potter? When have you-" but James didn't let Lily finish what she wanted to say and he continued.
"What about giving us the chance to discover what we want to know by ourselves?" he suggested.
"My dear boy, if you're so interested in potions then go ahead and search for yourselves! I'll be right here if you need to ask any questions!"
"But I never said that I-" and Lily was yet again interrupted by James.
"That is great, sir! However, since you said that this is about advanced potions-making, what if we need to look at the restricted section of the Library?" James asked as innocently as possible.
"What?! The restr-?" Lily begun, finally having a vague idea what James was here for.
"I'm sure," James proceeded to say, once he saw Slughorn's doubtful face, "that Lily will make sure nothing gets out of control."
"Well, I guess if that's the case, then here's a paper with my signature to take it to Madame Pince. I'll be expecting news of what you have found. Now, off you go!"
"Thank you very much, sir!" James said, and before Lily could protest, he took her by her arm and dragged her out of the classroom.
"What exactly do you think you're doing? I'm going right back to Slughorn to tell him what you just said and did was all an awful act!" Lily half shouted angrily.
"Then you'll have to admit to him that you lied, even if it was indirectly. Don't worry, Evans, I'll make sure Slughorn finds out about our 'progress'! See ya!" he said and with a wink he ran to his friends who were watching him curiously. He didn't say anything though, because Remus wouldn't approve of a visit to the restricted area of the Library.
Once they sat down at the Gryffindor table and started eating, James took the paper with Slughorn's signature and waved it in front of Sirius, making sure that only Peter, and not Remus, could see it and mouthed triumphantly the words 'I got it'.
Hogwarts, April 26th 1974
"Prewett for Emerson, he dodges the Bludger and heads straight for the goal hoops…he's ready to score and-NO! Emmott saves the day for Ravenclaw as he manages to catch the Quaffle. Now Ravenclaw has the Quaffle and Stone passes it to MacFarland and-OUCH! that must have hurt, Jameson, Gryffindor's Beater just send a Bludger right on Leach's back…"
It was the last week of April and the perfect day for a Quidditch match: Gryffindor vs Ravenclaw. If Gryffindor managed to beat them, then they would head straight for the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup. Jameson, Gryffindor's Captain had advised James to catch the Snitch as fast as possible as they were already more than 40 points ahead of Ravenclaw in the House Cup. The game had started half an hour ago and Gryffindor was heading with 50 to 30.
James scanned the air and tried his best not to listen to the commentary, because he would be tempted to stop in mid-air and watch the game. They had a good team but nothing special. Baker was a bit nervous for a Chaser and he hoped he would be able to be the one to replace her next year when she would have graduated. The Beaters were strong but they could be faster…and if only he was Captain…He had some very good strategies in mind and couldn't wait when the day would come that he could try them with his team.
"Roberts saves yet again for Gryffindor and she passes the Quaffle to Baker, Green tries to steal it but she has to dive to avoid a Bludger and now Prewett has the Quaffle and Emmott is…FOUL!!" shouted Daniel Richardson, a fourth year Hufflepuff who had wisely been chosen for the commentary as he was more objective than others would have been, "Emerson shoots-and IT'S IN!-it's 60 to 40 for Gryffindor…"
James cheered excitedly along with the rest Gryffindors and, as he turned his broom to a different direction, he saw it! The Golden Snitch flying near the Gryffindor's goal hoops. He leaned forward and flew as fast as he could.
"And Potter dives, could he have seen the Snitch or is it just a-No! He has seen the Snitch and now Leach is speeding up, reaching for the Snitch from a different direction and every one has stopped to watch them, and Potter gets closer and-GOAL for Gryffindor as Fabian Prewett took advantage of the distracted Ravenclaw Keeper-and POTTER GOT THE SNITCH, the game ends! It's 220 to 40, what a magnificent game and now it's almost impossible for anyone to beat Gryffindor, at least to the House Cup!"
James hopped off his broom and was immediately surrounded by Gryffindors who were cheering and shouting and congratulating him. Sirius managed to fight his way through the crowd while having a death grip on Remus' forearm.
"You did it, mate!!" he shouted as he hugged James tightly, "Although I lost three galleons…"
"Sirius and I made a bet and he supported that you would win with less than 200 points!" beamed Remus who proceeded to hug James, too. "I think we lost Peter somewhere in the crowd…" he commented to no one specifically.
Later that afternoon, the Gryffindors were in the common room having a huge party celebrating their amazing victory.
"I should've really asked that blessed house-elf's name who took me to the kitchens last year…Then I could thank it properly for presenting us with such a an amazing gift…" James said after his eighth pumpkin pasty and fifth mince pie.
"This feels great…" Sirius said dreamily.
"What? Eating?" asked Remus.
"That, too. I was basically talking about James saving Gryffindor…You know with all the pranks and the detentions we get, well, let's say that maybe we lose a bit too many points for Gryffindor…BUT! James is here to win all these points back with a nice Quidditch match…I owe you, mate!" Sirius said and winked at James and the latter burst out laughing.
"I think I'm going to bed now," Remus announced a little while later, "it was a very exciting day and I'm awfully tired…"
"From now? It's only a quarter to nine!" James whined.
"The moon's in two days," Sirius whispered to his best friend, "besides, that way we'll be able to talk about the you-know-which project!" and with that said, he turned to Remus and wished him goodnight.
"I think that if we keep going at that pace, we won't be able to start before next year…" James said once Remus had left.
"Yeah," Peter agreed, "the translations are taking as way too long. Why couldn't they have edited these books so that they could match this century's language?"
"I don't know, probably because they wanted to make sure that minors wouldn't be able to use them…Well, too bad for them because we are not any ordinary minors!" Sirius said. "You know what I've been thinking? When we started calling Remus 'Moony', we said that we would use nicknames for ourselves. I thought that we could use the animal we will turn into as the inspiration of the nickname!"
"If we manage to turn into animals…" Peter added a bit gloomily.
"Oh for Merlin's sake, Pete! Stop being so pessimistic…" Sirius told him.
"Actually you know what? This is a great idea!" James said, sitting up suddenly. "If you could chose, in what animal would you like to turn into?" he asked them.
"I dunno, something big, I guess…to match Moony's size, you know. Maybe a big wolf or a bear. Or a panther! Yeah…I'd like to be a panther!" Sirius replied a bit too enthusiastically.
"Well, I haven't really thought about it…" Peter said hesitantly, "um, maybe a horse…I like horses, they're strong and run really fast, but I guess that doesn't apply to me, hahaha…" Peter laughed embarrassed and the other two boys joined him. "What about you, James?"
"Well, isn't it obvious?" the others looked at him curiously and Sirius raised an elegant brow, "Of course I'd like to be a lion!"
"Of course!" Sirius mimicked him, "our brave Gryffindor boy would be nothing else than a brave and wild lion…Actually you're so full of…Gryffindor-ness, that I wouldn't be surprised if you turned into a lion!"
"Yeah! And my nickname will be Lionheart!" James said, his nose stuck on the ceiling.
"How original…" Sirius said sarcastically, and then turning to Peter he added, "I told you I'm not letting him pick my nickname!"
"What?! That's not fair!! We kept your idea for Remus's nickname, now you should let me choose one for you!" James almost shouted.
"You get to chose Pete's nickname if you want…As far as mine is concerned, I'll ask Remus to help me find something decent!" Sirius said firmly, "Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to bed…this party is not that interesting, after all…we have no Firewhiskey or Butterbeer…Honestly now, we need to find a way to sneak into Hogsmead!"
"Firewhiskey? Isn't that a bit too strong for us…I thought that minors are not allowed to buy Firewhiskey…" Peter questioned him.
"No, we're not allowed to drink Firewhiskey, but we are not allowed to make illegal potions either, and we don't seem to care since we're becoming animagi. Sirius, however," James continued, "is right. We need to find a way to sneak into Hogsmead…Imagine all the things we could do…Zonko's, Honeydukes, butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks…"
"I bet there must be a secret passage or something, leading there. We can think about it later, now I want to go to bed…Are you guys coming?" Sirius asked the other two boys.
"Yeah, we're coming," James said and he got up and headed to the boys' dorms, closely followed by Peter.
Hogwarts, May 1974
Shitshitshitshit… "Remus, faster!" Sirius shouted to his friend and started repeating the same mantra all over again…shitshitshit, we're so screwed…
Truth is, that this time they were really in trouble. If Filch caught them, he would definitely sent them to Dumbledore. And it was a shame really, because it had all been a brilliant of his and James of course. But somehow, it had all gone wrong and the prank they were supposed to play on Snivellus backfired and they managed to hurt Filch and his awful cat, Mrs Noris. Plus, they had destroyed a portrait. And now Filtch was chasing him and Remus, because Remus had tried to reverse the damage they had caused on the portrait using some spells, Merlin knows where he had learnt them, and the caretaker had thought that he was actually causing the damage.
Remus tried to keep up with Sirius, but he really couldn't run as fast. Not only did he not have the stamina, but he had also eaten a bit too much during lunch and he thought that if they kept running for a while longer, his lunch would be meeting with the floor and perhaps his shoes. "Sirius…I-I," he panted, trying to find his voice, "I c-an't-exausted-too much lunch…"
"Okay, okay," Sirius said bringing himself to a halt, "I can still hear him coming," he whispered and looked around him gingerly, "I think we should hide somewhere."
"Alright, come here," Remus yanked Sirius' arm and dragged him towards a statue.
"It's not big enough to hide both of us!" Sirius protested, but he squeezed next to Remus nevertheless. "Where's James with his Cloak when we need him?"
Then, he took his wand out and pointed it to a door a few feet ahead of them and made it open and then shut loudly.
"Nice," Remus whispered, "now he'll run straight to that door!" No sooner had he finished his sentence than Filch appeared, running in a weird kind of way while carrying his cat. As Remus had predicted, he didn't pause to inspect the place there, rather he opened the door hastily and disappeared.
Both boys let out a sigh and relaxed against the wall. "That was close…" Remus finally said, "Next time remind me…hey, Sirius, what are you doing?"
Sirius was currently looking at the statue that had hidden them sceptically. Then he got up and started examining its head and its hump. "You know," he started saying, "this is a very ugly witch."
Sirius didn't seem to mind Remus' confusion as he touched the statue's head with his wand, murmured something and then, when nothing happened he repeated this touching instead the hump. And to Remus' surprise it opened. Remus' jaw hit the floor.
"Okay," he said, after he had closed his mouth, "how the hell did you do that?"
Sirius grinned widely at him and, instead of answering the question he asked Remus smugly, "Wanna see where it leads?" and without waiting for a response, knowing perfectly well that Remus would follow him, Sirius jumped in the passageway.
"I don't believe that, I don't believe him…" Remus muttered to himself before he too jumped into the passageway.
He landed on the floor after a couple of seconds, right next to Sirius. He got his wand out and murmured Lumos. He got up and turned to his friend, "Alright, explain. Now!"
"Well," Sirius begun unable to stop smiling from ear to ear, "when you squeezed me against that statue, I saw something that looked liked letters on the base of it. There were two words, one on each side. The letters were really, really small…I'm pretty much amazed by myself too for noticing them…Damn! I'm so clever…"
"Sirius! To the point! What were the two words?"
"Dissen and Dium. It's obvious that it's a spell split in two. So, I thought I should try to see what it did."
Remus didn't say anything. He was caught between remaining in silent awe and praising his friend, something that would definitely make his ego grow bigger, if possible. "That's unbelievable…" he said finally, "Where do you think it leads?"
"I don't know, but that's what we're going to find out right now!"
"What? No, Sirius, no! We have a class in less than twenty minutes and we can't afford to be late. The others are gonna look for us and-no!" Remus immediately said when Sirius opened his mouth to protest, "you can't use that mirror, coz James left it in his trunk today." Of course, he was referring to the birthday present Sirius had made to James: a two-way mirror they could communicate through. "We can come back later. We know where it is, it's not gonna disappear…Besides," Remus played his last card since he knew that none of the previous arguments would affect Sirius, "can you even imagine what James would do to us if he found that we explored a new secret passage without him?"
Sirius paled, although it was hard to tell in the dim light of their wands, and nodded, "Yeah, yeah…we should wait until midnight and come back with James. And Peter. We should probably bring the Cloak too. And I should talk to James about that mirror…I didn't give it to him to forget it all the way up to the dorm. It's for emergency situations like this one!" Remus couldn't help but roll his eyes at Sirius' dramatic speech.
So, the two boys climbed up through the witch's hump, made sure no one was around and dashed to their next class, making it just on time before the Professor entered the classroom. And Remus had to stop Sirius from shouting the exciting news to his best friend because, although he was a genius, sometimes he could also be incredibly stupid.
A/N: Here are the two teams:
Gryffindor: James Potter/Seeker, Albert Thomas and Andrew Jameson/Beaters, Fabian Prewett, Edmund Emerson and Brenda Baker/Chasers and Ebony Roberts/Keeper.
Ravenclaw: Karen Leach/Seeker, William Macmillan and Oliver Wilson/Beaters, Emily Stone, Alan MacFarland and Petrina Green/Chasers and Patrick Emmott/Keeper.
A/N²: I'm sorry but I really couldn't think of a name for Filtch's cat…So, let's just assume that he names all his cats 'Mrs Noris', because…um, because when he was a kid (imagine that!) he had a kitten named Mrs Noris and a spell accidentally hit her and since he's a Squib he couldn't heal his poor cat and now this is a trauma in his heart. So, he names all his cats after that very first kitten he once had…I know, I'm completely mental…Review, please?