OPTIVUS By: P.P.V.V.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. J.K Rowling does. All original characters/ideas are mine to claim, though. Please do not repost elsewhere. This is a standard disclaim.
AN: Unlike most Altered Universe stories, this one takes a major twist in that it does not follow J.K.R's timeline or setting. In a sense, it still does, but Hogwarts has suddenly changed into a highbred, social society. That said, the language and Housing system has changed drastically.
Academics at H.W Academy
LOGICS BRANCH - House Ravenclaw
ARTS AND ATHLETICS BRANCH - House Gryffindor
SOCIAL SCIENCES BRANCH - House Slytherin
HUMANITIES - House Hufflepuff
The term Optivus is Latin for "Chosen". One that is picked, a high position in military.
And so begins the sequel.
- Optivus -
"Then the meeting is adjourned."
Lily couldn't imagine being happier hearing those words. She was starving: the Dinner Bells had rung quite a while ago but the Elites' meeting had gone for longer than expected. Sir Lucius Malfoy had been quite ruthless – he had covered every detail of the Academy's problems. It seemed that he was tense about something and Lily had expected that Sir Dane Mactavish would stop him, but the elder man remained quiet.
The top concern for the day was that once again, supplies were getting low. A storm was well on its way though, so the Academy could not afford to send anyone out for fear of their safety.
They were also short on Professors. Many had died during an attack to the school and the Academy had not been able to find adequate replacements.
It had gotten so desperate that Sir Lorien had conceded to teach the Philosophy classes and Sir Severus had volunteered to teach Chemistry in the meantime.
Because of that, Lily took over the Books where the Elites would keep the minutes of their meetings and their records of tasks. The numbers were driving her crazy and she wished she could hand the monotonous task back to Severus as soon as possible.
The added responsibilities made it that much harder for the Philologus Elites to function, thus resulting in meetings finishing later because of all the issues they had to deal with.
"You look tired, my Lady." Severus noted, pushing his chair in as everyone began to leave the room.
Lily hooked her hair behind her ear as she stood. "No, I'm not." She said. "I'm just a bit over-loaded." She proceeded to tuck her own chair in. "Sir, don't you think it would be better if we elect new Elites? We're short in numbers."
The Slytherin Elite shrugged. "We were short 2 last year and we managed just fine."
"The Humanities Branch is missing both its representatives – my own Branch has a post to fill too." She protested.
"You should raise the issue next meeting." Severus told her. A small smile, very uncharacteristic for the dark man, touched his lips. "I don't suggest you mention it now – Sir Lucius seems quite agitated."
Lily gathered her books (there were quite a lot of them) and asked, "I've noticed: is it something we should worry about?"
Severus shrugged again. "I do believe it has something to do with a cousin of his, but of the topic, I could not say more." He held the oak door open for her and she slipped through, gratefully.
Together they walked toward the Dining Hall in silence, and though they weren't close, the atmosphere was comfortable. Only a month ago, Lily wouldn't have dreamed of walking next to him, or even holding a long conversation. In fact, he wouldn't have existed in her mind, save for the fact that he was a school icon.
Students cleared a path for them when they passed, and despite the fact that it had been two months since her Pendant acceptance, Lily still felt awkward about it.
She caught sight of the Bell Tower and paused in her steps. "Go ahead." She told Severus. "I will take my dinner later."
Hugging her red cape about her shoulders tightly, she pushed her way to the north-side exit toward the outside hallway. It was cold, and the ground was covered in snow that had been littered with footprints as students walked to and from classes.
In the gardens, a group of children were having a snowball fight, and Lily was glad to see it. She had feared that they would never smile again after their struggles.
It all seemed like a dream now.
About two months ago, H.W. Academy had experienced a night of terror where an outcast group of the Russian Army had decided to invade the school in hopes of turning the King's hand by taking the students within hostage.
They wanted England to enlist its help in Russia's conquest against other nations. The King, however, had signed a treaty that stated that England would remain neutral. To show that it had no desire to either join or provoke Russia's mission, the King had opened his borders to let the Russian Prince in with promises that he would not be harmed.
Some of the Russians, however, had not been happy with that and had tried to reverse the decision through force.
Over 40 people had died that night.
When Lily looked out over the white field, she saw the Russian Prince, Aleksey, and his friends joining in on the snowball fight, laughing with the children. Their presence seemed to put them at ease and it caused her to stop momentarily and watch.
It was cold, but not bitingly so. She hoped that the storm ahead would be the last one of the season so that she could enjoy the outdoors more often.
She felt something warm envelope her shoulders and she jumped, turning around to see sharp blue eyes staring down at her. "What are you thinking of?" The owner of those eyes asked.
"Sir James! You scared me!" Lily cried, squirming in his grasp. The man had taken off his jacket and draped it around her.
"That wasn't my intention." He said, apologetically. "It's cold out here, my Lady. Don't tell me you are thinking to play in the snow as well."
She laughed a little, grateful for the warmth of his jacket. "I wouldn't mind…" She peered up at him. "Were you following me?"
He pouted. "I was waiting for you." He corrected. "Your meeting finished quite late."
Lily rolled her eyes. "I'd rather not talk about it." She said. "I was on my way to visit the graveyard."
James absently rubbed her shoulder with his big hand. "For Aesalon?"
"To pay my respects." Lily nodded. "I can't help but think I was the cause of his death, after all. If I hadn't been so stubborn to stay behind on that ledge, trying to act all valiant, he probably would still be with us today."
Her companion clucked his tongue disapprovingly. "He would never want you to blame his death on yourself, Lady Lily."
She turned her gaze past the playing children and hugged his overcoat to herself tighter. It smelled like the shampoo he used, and was still warm from his body heat. "I miss him…"
"As do I." James said. "He was a good friend of mine too – he is in a better place now. The suffering he had to endure when he was alive is finally ended."
Lily smiled at the bittersweet memory. Although she had only known Aesalon for a short time, she had become fast friends with him. She remembered his jaggedly-cropped hair and his monotonous tone of speech. His shy smile lingered in her dreams, and often, she would wake, the sadness in her heart causing her to weep.
"Shall I accompany you?" James asked, after a silence.
"Well, since you waited for me for such a long time, you might as well." She allowed, leading the way.
He crossed his arms for warmth against the cold sting in the air and followed her.
Over her shoulder, Lily asked, "Why did you wait for me, anyway?"
"I have a matter I would like to discuss with you."
She stopped and turned around, waiting for him to draw level with her before setting out again, this time, with him by her side.
"Where is Sir Remus?" She asked, after a while.
James stuffed his hands in his pockets. "He's feeling ill of late." He said. "He's holed himself in his room." They picked their way across the snow, their footsteps crunching as they made their way slowly toward the small Cemetery that was located behind the South Wing of H.W. Academy.
"Have you heard anything on Sir Peter's condition?" Lily asked, avoiding a patch of ice by stepping over it.
"Unfortunately, no." James said. "Sirius hasn't sent his periodic message yet. The last one came two weeks ago, but no more have come since then." Anxiety crept into his voice as he spoke and Lily suddenly regretted bringing up the topic. He paused and then demanded, "Was that the topic of your meeting today?"
"No, no!" Lily said. "Sir Lucius just seemed concerned today and I figured that Peter was the reason behind it. He's become more obsessed with every detail of the way things are run in the Academy."
"Of course he's anxious: if there's one thing Sir Lucius does not want, it is to become heir to the throne." James said.
"Heir to the throne?!" Lily repeated. At James' forbidding look at her outburst, she hunched her shoulders apologetically and whispered. "What do you mean?"
"He's the next closest male in line. His mother is the King's sister, after all. If Peter cannot ascend, it is likely that His Majesty will choose Sir Lucius."
Lily took in that piece of information. She had almost completely forgotten that Lucius had ties with Royalty. Huffing, she picked her way up to the Cemetery Gates. "With ambitions as high as his, why wouldn't he?"
"He might not look like it, but Sir Lucius would never want to take the burdens of a crown." James said, placing his hand on the steel bars and giving it a push inward. The gate swung open with a creak.
Lily made a sound of disbelief. The society in which they lived often baffled her, or managed to somehow surprise her with its complicated relationships. She had nearly been floored with the news that Peter was the King's son.
Apparently, very few people in the Academy knew that fact either.
And, according to James, fewer people knew of Peter's exact whereabouts now.
Without word from Sirius, even those people were left in the dark.
James had fallen into a somber mood at the mention of Peter's health. The boy had been very sick with a failed liver, and he had left the Academy to undergo a surgery that had seemed successful but all of a sudden turned for the worse. If there was one thing Lily did know, it was that the James was fiercely protective of his friends – especially Peter.
She cleared her throat and forced her voice to sound cheerful. "Well, just because you didn't get a message from Sir Sirius doesn't mean that Sir Peter's not okay. I'm sure he's fine, and that their message only got delayed because of this weather."
James relaxed visibly. "I hope so."
The Cemetery was small, lined neatly with rows of gravestones, most of which were partially covered with snow. A few of them had flowers before them, no doubt having been visited by a student of the Academy – probably a fallen friend or sibling.
They found Aesalon's grave easily, as they both frequented it often. This time, as they stood before the stone, it felt a trifle awkward. Lily squatted, the sword at her hip tracing a small streak in the snow by her boots. "Hey," she said, quietly. "I'm sorry I don't have anything to offer you today." She paused, letting her words hang in the air. Behind her, James did not say a word, but she felt his hand on her shoulder again, in a gesture of comfort.
She decided to leave it at that, staying by the grave for as long as she could withstand the cold. Often, she would wonder what it would be like if Aesalon had survived. Surely he'd be eating dinner with her, his gray eyes watching intently everything that happened around them. He'd probably even laugh – a rare display of emotions that he seemed to only portray around her.
But he wasn't ever going to be eating dinner with her again. He was gone.
James stayed rooted to his spot, waiting patiently for her to finish and when she finally made to stand up, he helped her. "Are you all right?" He inquired, when she hesitated for a second more, looking down at the gravestone.
Lily nodded, fighting back tears. "I'm fine…I didn't mean to take so long. You must be frozen."
"Just a little." He admitted. On an afterthought, he added, "I am also hungry. I had been hoping you would accompany me for a meal."
"Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?" She asked, as she turned to leave the Cemetery.
James coughed. "Ah…Madam Hooch insists that we begin practices for the upcoming Festival."
"Practices?" Lily asked.
"It seems she did not forget." James groaned. "I am really not adept in the art of dance."
The Festival. That had been one of the topics discussed at the Elites' Meeting earlier.
She couldn't help but giggle at the look on James' face. It was as if someone had told him that he was going to be executed at any moment.
"I thank you kindly for your concern, Lady Lily." He muttered, in a resigned manner.
"You'll be just fine." Lily assured him. "Most of the women will not be watching your feet, but your face."
He winked. "Does that bother you, that they are attracted to my good looks?" He teased.
She glanced away, toward the side where she saw a group of people standing around, chatting. They were dressed down smartly in their black uniforms, and it seemed as if they had just finished their meals, making their way to their Branch together. "I don't care." She said.
James put his hands up, as was his habit, to comb through his messy hair. "Oh, but it does." He insisted. "I can tell."
Lily made a sound of disgust. "They can look at you all they want." She declared, rounding on him. "It's not as if we're dating or anything."
At that, James grinned. "I have asked you many times, my Lady." He said. "You know you are the object of my admirations."
Damn him and his smooth style of speech. She couldn't stop her blush – any girl would swoon at the way he worded himself.
"What are you so afraid of?" He asked. "You are holding yourself back when I am quite certain you don't want to."
"I'm not afraid." She protested. "I'm…can we please stop talking about this?" She had not expected their conversation would take this turn. They had discussed this before, and it had ended awkwardly.
"No, we can't." He said. "Lady Lily, there will be no other for me."
"I won't force you." He said. "But I don't want you to keep denying your feelings."
At that, Lily glared at him, stopping in her tracks. "You think you've got it all figured out, do you?" She demanded.
He smirked. "Yes, I certainly do." He said, a hint of amusement in his voice. It made her blush harder.
"My apologies, I've upset you again." He said. "I will talk no further on the matter." He began to walk again, as though nothing had happened between them.
Reluctantly, Lily began to walk too, and she felt James take her hand and squeeze it reassuringly.
Unwillingly, she relaxed. There was something about his touch that always made her feel better. It lingered there for a moment before he retracted it.
When they reached the Dining Hall, it had cleared out substantially. Some heads turned their way when they crossed over to a table together, but neither of them noticed as they were both intent on getting some food. The smell of it was making Lily's stomach growl eagerly.
James wasted no time in ordering for them when a waiter passed by. He ordered two glasses of wine as well, before turning to her again. "So, what say you, Lady Lily?" He asked. "Do you have time enough on your schedule to practice with me?"
Lily drummed her fingers on the table. "I'm very busy this week." She told him. At his disappointed look, she hurriedly said, "But I think I can squeeze in a little time for practice before Lights Out every day."
"That would be wonderful." He said. "I don't want us to disgrace ourselves come the day of performance."
The drinks came then, and he lifted his glass to her in a small toast before drinking it.
She copied the motion. The red wine tasted strong and bitter, a taste that she had not yet gotten accustomed to. "Don't think I'm doing it to dance nicely." She said. "I'm only doing it because it will encourage the other students to join in. Ever since the infiltration they've all been down and out.
"It doesn't help that the King's Army is still around. It makes the students feel as though there is still a threat to be afraid of."
James put down his wine glass, turning it around with his thumb and forefinger. Over the course of the two months, his suspicions had risen, but he had not been able to research into the matter thoroughly. He didn't want to brood over it, instead saying, "Yes, well, the Festival should put smiles back on their faces. And hopefully it won't be because of my inability to dance."
Lily rolled her eyes at him for the second time that night. "You know, you're really vain." She told him.
He lifted his glass again, tipping it to her. "Why thank you, my Lady. Coming from you, I will take that as a compliment."
They fell into amiable talk then, over the meals when they arrived, about the weather, their subjects and of course, the way that they had suddenly become busier than normal.
James informed Lily that since it was his last year, he planned to join the King's Army when he graduated. His original plan to become a Philologus had failed, and although he was upset about it, he found that it was better that way. "It's not so much that I don't want to become a Philologus," he thought to explain, "but it's more the fact that I don't suppose I'll make an efficient one. During the attack on the Academy, I realized I'm better suited for a position in defending the Crown."
"But that's such a dangerous job." Lily pointed out.
"Being a Philologus is just as dangerous." He said. "They're always objects of assassination or ransom."
Well, that was comforting.
"So, you want to be a General, then?" She asked.
"Perhaps." Was the reply. "Or a direct guard to His Majesty that he picks by hand."
Lily snapped her fingers. "Sir Lucius mentioned that to me the other day. He used a term…" she trailed off as she dug into her memory for the word. "…Optivus?"
James nodded. "Only a select few may stand with His Majesty at all times. They would do anything to protect the King and his family, even if it meant giving their lives."
Lily saw his shoulders sag as he spoke and she knew that he had started to dwell on the past. He had been tortured and abused during the infiltration of the school, as the Russians had tried to pry information that only he seemed to have. In the end, he had begged for death at the mere thought of betraying the King.
He had never forgiven himself.
"If this is because of what happened two months ago, Sir James, then you don't have to prove anything to anyone: you are just a boy. No one could have expected you to go through such pain." Lily said.
James couldn't help but glare at her. "I'm not a boy. I'm a man grown."
"Well, either way, you didn't give those men what they wanted. You didn't betray anyone!"
"It's the thought that counts." He said, miserably.
Lily pursed her lips. She wasn't about to argue any further, because she knew that James could be stubborn when he wanted to be. Instead, she finished off her meal and got to her feet. "I'm tired." She announced. "I'm going to bed – it's been a long day."
He got to his feet too. "I'll walk you." He offered.
She held out her hand to decline. "No, it's okay. I'll be fine on my own. Thank you."
Reluctantly, he sat back down and she offered him a smile. "We'll have our first practice tomorrow night, sir."
"Good night." James said, nodding once.
"Good night." She responded, gathering her books again and hugging them to her chest.
As they talked, they were unaware that a few tables away, a figure watched them interestedly.
Remus was sick with a fever, but his fiancée sat by his side, a cold towel in her hand. This she pressed to his forehead, causing the man to stir.
"Sir Remus, you have a visitor." She whispered, pushing a golden lock aside on his pillow.
James peeked in, then, entering cautiously. "How is he?"
"He's still delirious." Nymphadora sighed, seeing that Remus had not been able to decipher her message at all. He had resumed closing his eyes because he was not able to fight off the lull of sleep for very long.
Disappointed, James bowed and left the room again.
He hoped that Remus would get better – it seemed as though all his friends were sick. He made his way down the Men's Dormitory Staircase when he saw that the lights in the Common Room were still on.
When he went to turn them off, he was surprised to see Lily fast asleep at the table, her books and quills neatly stacked beside her. She must have been so exhausted. It was a known fact that the Elites had a lot of work to do, and he knew that it could take its toll. She looked beautiful – and deeply asleep – and he didn't want to wake her up. At the same time, he knew that she would have back pain from the crooked position she had placed herself in.
Ever the gentleman, he moved toward her and shook her shoulder. "Lady Lily, you should go upstairs." He whispered, gently. When she didn't rouse, he tried again, and this time she let out a muffled groan, shifting slightly in her sleep.
Well, there was only one thing left to do. Putting one of her arms around his neck for support, James bent down and scooped her up into his arms, holding her securely under her legs so that she wouldn't fall.
He was surprised that she did not wake, rather, she buried her face into the hollow of his neck. It must be admitted that he paused momentarily, to savor the feeling, but then he began to walk up the stairs to her bedroom.
She may have been beautiful, but she was also heavy.
It took him a while to get the door open because his hands were occupied, but when he finally did, he gently deposited her on her bed, removing her shoes as he did so.
Lily still did not wake, rolling over onto her side. James unbuckled the sword at her waist so that she could be more comfortable and unhooked her cape so that she wouldn't tangle herself in it, placed those on her chair by her desk, and left the room.
Unaware of any of his ministering, Lily slept on, lost in her dreams.
To Be Continued…
AN: Thanks to everyone for patiently waiting for the sequel to Philologus! For those of you who did not read Philologus, I hope this still made sense. I hope everyone will enjoy this story just as much, and as always, I'd love to hear what you think so far. Please be so kind as to leave me a review before you exit the window!
Thanks for reading,