Chapter Four

Lily found herself lying down somewhere. Groggily, she opened her eyes. The environment was familiar, but a bit unexpected. The white walls and sheets of the hospital wing surrounded her, along with several worried faces. Lily shook her head and pushed herself up. Amanda was the first to react. "Lily!" She had thrown herself on the bed, hugging her friend around the neck. "We were so scared that you were-you were-oh, Lily!" Exaggerating a choking sound, Lily managed to breathe again. "Why am I here?" she asked, massaging her neck a bit. Her eyes traveled to her visitors, most of them bent over her bed--Peter, Sirius, James, Remus, Amanda, Eva, Vanessa, and, surprisingly enough, Serverus Snape. It was Snape her eyes fastened on, who was seated in a chair near the door. "What're you doing here?" was her confused question. Miss Hilton bustled over. "Oh, good, you're awake. The headmaster will be in in just a moment. Drink this." She pushed a cup of nasty-smelling liquid under Lily's nose. Lily frowned, but managed to gulp it down without spitting the slimy mixture back out. "What happened?" she asked as soon as she was able. Amanda, Sirius, and James sat down on the bed. Amanda was the first to speak. "I still don't know most of what happened, but you got carried back from the dungeons, and then there was this news of a flood down there, and you've been lying here for two days!" Lily's mouth dropped. "Two--two days?" James nodded. "Professor Dumbledore was in here along with half of Gryffindor Tower and a bunch of Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs. Of course, he came, too (he nodded towards Snape), though why, I don't know, and we've been sitting here since Miss Hilton let us in." "Yeah," Sirius grimaced, "at about twelve." Lily put the smoking cup on the nightstand. "What time is it now?" Eva pushed back the sleeve of her robe. "Five p.m." Lily yawned and dropped back onto the pillows. "I don't really know what happened, besides that I was in this dungeon, and then the door slammed shut, and the lake water started to come in, and I couldn't get out." James started. "You--you were locked in a dungeon downstairs?" "Yeah." Lily nodded. "I couldn't open the door. Why?" He gulped. "Never mind. I'll tell you later." The door creaked and a figure in dark blue robes entered. All of the visitors stood up and moved back from the bed, and the headmaster moved towards Lily. "I shall not require any explanations tonight. Miss Hilton does not want you to be moved back to your dormitory until tomorrow." He reached inside his robes and pulled out something golden, holding it close to Lily's eyes. "Have you ever seen this before?" Lily struggled to keep her eyes focused. It was a thinly woven gold necklace, ending in a midnight blue pendant. "No, sir." Dumbledore nodded slowly. "I will leave you to your friends. On second thought," he added, "I will require all of you to leave us here for a moment. Serverus, you stay here, please." he requested as Lily's friends trooped out, a bit reluctantly. The door closed with a soft bump, and Dumbledore turned back to Lily and Snape. "Serverus, you, I think, will be the best one to tell her about her accident. Good night to 33

you both." He left, closing the door behind him. Lily scanned Snape's hands tentatively for a wand. "About what accident?" Lily asked Snape, still a bit tense. "Don't you remember what happened down in the dungeons." Lily frowned. "That accident? I mean, was that an accident?" Snape shrugged, his frown lessening. "From Dumbledore's point of view it was. I don't think James meant for you to be drowned or to--" "Whoa! Time out! James meant for that to happen?" Snape looked a bit impatient. "I just said I didn't think he did it on purpose. But he did lock you in there." Lily held her ears shut. "He did what?" "Locked you in the dungeons. But that is not what I'm being called upon to tell you." Lily uncovered her ears. "What, then?" Snape handed her a glass of water. "Have you ever heard of elf-nymphs?" She frowned. "What do you take me for, an idiot? Of course I have." "Sorry." Snape held up his hands. "There are many idiots in the world." He let his hands sink. "They are the best smiths in the world. And this--" He pulled out the necklace Dumbledore had held a moment before. "This is some of their workmanship. It has several unusual powers, among them the gift of not aging." Snape sounded like a professor and a textbook combined. "I've done lots of studying on this, which happens to be one of the most powerful things they have made." Lily frowned. "How did it come here?" Snape regained his usual scowl. "Out in the east, there has been a rumor of a powerful wizard. Among other goals, he seeks to wipe out all of the Muggles and gain immortality. This--well, this necklace would help him immensely." Lily was puzzled. "And what does all this have to do with me?" Snape looked astounded. "You mean you don't know?" "Don't know what?" "When I dragged you out of that dungeon, this was in your hand." Lily spilled her water all over her lap. "You unlocked that door? I thought it was Sirius!" Snape scowled. "That's not a compliment." Lily tried to clean the water up. "I don't give compliments. I thought it was Sirius." Snape sighed. "If I can be mistaken for him, then I need to dye my hair orange." Lily smirked. "Wash it, too, while you're at it." Snape stood up. "I don't know why I even bothered. I really should have left you down in that dungeon." With which parting remark he left the hospital wing, slamming the door loudly. Lily raised her eyebrows. "Well, he does need to wash his hair." She sighed loudly, feeling the water soak her nightgown. Lily caught a nasty cold, and Miss Hilton waited two days before releasing her from the hospital wing. Lily was thankful to leave, as it got very lonely when she had no visitors. There had been no other patients, and the only thing Lily could do when she was alone was sleep. Miss Hilton had asked Eva and Amanda to escort her to Gryffindor Tower, as Lily's legs were a bit shaky from spending all that time in bed. The rest of the Gryffindors were at dinner when they climbed through the portrait hole. Amanda went first. "Do you want to go straight up to bed? Because I know they'll all

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want to know what happened, and when you're in the dormitory, at least I think the boys won't come up." Lily laughed. "What, are you crazy? The last thing I need right now is bed rest." Eva closed the Fat Lady. "Well, I asked McGonagall, and she refused to let you out of homework. I got everything down for you, if you want to start right now." Lily groaned. "I totally forgot about homework. Yeah, I guess I'd better." Halfway through the long essay on the different uses of a bezoar for the Potions master, Professor Cauldwell, the common room door opened. Amanda started to pack up their things as quickly as possible as a few seventh years drifted in, and by the time the noisy, chattering crowd had filled the common room, Amanda, Eva, and Lily had successfully escaped to their dormitory. Lily finished the essay as fast as she could, hiding in her four-poster. Amanda and Eva had also climbed onto her bed and were doing some Charms homework. Lily finally put down her roll of parchment and sighed. "Whew! Glad I'm done with that!" She flopped back onto her pillow and ruffled her hair. Amanda rolled her eyes. "You'd better be glad that was the only essay we had to do this week. Our Herbology teacher, that Groves, did a lot of practical lessons. One thing we did in his class was learn how to revive wilting plants. Watch." She pulled open the bed hangings and went to her trunk, on top of which there was a tiny wilting flower. "I pinched this from Greenhouse One." She placed the flower on the sheets and pulled out her wand. "Revivisco!" The flower, which had been a messy brown, quickly transformed into an orange blossom with thick, green leaves. It didn't stop there, though. The orange petals started to swell up and soon resembled tiny balloons. They refused to stop increasing in size, and pretty soon, the blossom took up a foot of space at the end of Lily's bed. They stared at Amanda, who half-grinned. "Oops!" Lily rolled her eyes and jumped off the bed. Eva leaned out of the curtains. "Now where are you going?" Lily had dashed over to her trunk. "Needle." She pulled one out of an embroidered hanging she was working on and ran back to the flower. "I don't know if this will work, but I sure hope so. She took the flower off the bed and held it outside the dormitory, just in case the flower petals contained something gross. Holding her breath, she stabbed at the orange mass with the point. There was the sound of an explosion. A sort of sweet-smelling nectar fell out of the flower and fell onto the grounds. Lily covered her ears, and in doing so, let go the flower. It fell down onto the lawns, where the rest of it exploded noisily. Eva sat on the bed, her palms clamped over her ears. "Amanda, you big trouble." "I am not! I was just practicing for Professor Groves!" Lily pointed towards the door of the dormitory, which was filled with gaping Gryffindors. "You big trouble." The next morning at breakfast, Remus was missing. No one seemed to know where he had gone, not even James or Sirius. He hadn't told them anything, but Sirius told Lily that he usually left once a month and came back with odd excuses. "I mean, you can have only so many dead aunts." When Lily was walking along the corridor to Charms, Snape caught up with her. "Lily! Wait a minute."

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Lily whirled around. "Sirius--oh, never mind, it's you. What do you want?" Snape frowned. "Dumbledore told me you should have this for the time being." He dropped the elf-nymph necklace in her bag and headed inside the Charms classroom. That night, Lily sat on the window seat to read a letter from her mother. The full moon was shining on the page, so she didn't need a light. Dear Lily, I got your last letter. You didn't tell me whether you're coming home for Christmas or not. I hope you do and I hope you don't, as Petunia will go through the roof if she has to take the plants out of you room. I suppose your father told you about my potion mishaps? Well, we finally got the smoke out of the house, and Petunia has moved back in. Nothing is going on around here,--oh yes, your father wants a description of the Halloween decorations. He heard they're very good. If you can, send a picture. Your father sends his love, although he doesn't want to admit it, and so do I. Love, Mum Lily smiled and folded her letter back up. She reached over to her owl and chucked her gently between the ears. Alisande nipped her gently on the finger, then took off for the Owlery. Lily looked after her until she vanished in the hooting tower. She smiled and slipped down from the window seat, then heard something to make her freeze on the spot. It sounded like two women screaming for help. Lily ran back to the window, but could see nothing. The screams weren't repeated, and, finally, Lily had to force herself to go to sleep, first making sure to draw the curtains. The next morning at breakfast, Professor McGonagall was missing, and Dumbledore was calling for attention. "If I may have you attention, please! Thank you." Lily slipped into her seat as the Great Hall fell silent. "I have several announcements to make. One is that our Professor McGonagall and Miss Hilton have been forced to leave, due to pressing circumstances." He stopped while the Great Hall buzzed confusedly. "But, on the other hand, we have two new teachers to take their places." He gestured towards a witch rather like the old Professor McGonagall, though she didn't have the graying hairs in her black bun. "Minerva, stand up, please." She rose to applause from the school, then sat down quickly. "Professor McGonagall is your new Head of Gryffindor House, as well as your Transfiguration teacher." He looked down at a rather plump witch on his other side. "This is Madam Pomfrey, your new hospital wing nurse. I assure you we are lucky to have found her." Madam Pomfrey stood up to more applause, then sat back down. Dumbledore did not explain further. "Now, I think I have interrupted your breakfast long enough. Dig in!" Remus showed back up in Charms, with black rings around his eyes. Lily didn't ask where he had been, since he looked dead on his feet. He didn't speak at all that day, and vanished around lunchtime, returning in an hour with an explanation that he had been to see Professor Dumbledore. In Transfiguration, it turned out that Professor McGonagall was the daughter of their

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former teacher. She was a bit stricter with her class, but she wasn't a bad teacher, along with being an Animagus. Later, Lily learned that she had assigned two days' worth of detention to Peter, who had accidentally made her erasers start to bang together and give off clouds of dust. At dinner, James and Peter arrived a bit disappointed. They had sneaked into the hospital wing, trying to find out from Madam Pomfrey why she and Professor McGonagall's daughter had been called in, but Madam Pomfrey, they reported, was a 'twitchy old nut'. She had refused to tell them anything and had threatened to call the headmaster. The Halloween feast was that evening. According to James, Sirius, and Remus, who had sneaked past the magical barriers set in front of the doors, the Great Hall was decorated with all of the trimmings any student could ever have dreamed up, including several thousand live bats fluttering about the elevated candles. The banners draped around the Great Hall were surrounded with black and orange trimmings, and the gamekeeper, Hagrid, had cultivated fourteen pumpkins in the shape of bats, which were placed at each end of the House and teachers' tables and the middle of the House tables. No one was able to work in the common room, on account of the constant explosions of firecrackers, which were undergoing experiments to get back at the Slytherins. Peter had been the butt of a prank Malfoy had played in the hall, involving a set of firecrackers, sparks that refused to go out even when stamped on, an exploding Percoquo Capillatus spell that singed and burned the hair, and a Nail-Growth hex, which caused Peter's nails to grow to a length of three feet, swirly and winding and looking much like curly rotting wood shavings all rolled in one. Peter was in the hospital wing along with Sirius and James, who were still trying to squeeze out information of Madam Pomfrey. So far, they had only succeeded in finding out that they'd get several weeks' worth of detentions of they didn't stop pestering her. Lily was helping Remus with his Transfiguration homework, which, surprisingly, she had no trouble with, even though a lot of third years did. It involved practicing what the second years had done in class; changing a stuffed killer whale into a small goldfish. Professor McGonagall had recommended that the students let the stuffed figure float in a small bowl of water before performing the charm, in case the goldfish died. Lily was getting rather bored, as this was about the fifth time Remus had her demonstrate, and she was amusing herself by giving the goldfish blue streaks and rainbow-colored fins. "Remus, for the last time, watch." She flicked her wand lazily. "Transformo Hippurus." The goldfish, gold this time but exhaling soap bubbles encasing red and gold sparks, started to swim to the surface and stick its tongue out at Remus in a clockwork motion. "Next time I'll have it laugh and point at you. C'mon, Remus, this isn't that hard!" He growled, almost wolf-like. "How is it you can do this and I can't? You're a year below me!" She smirked. "I'm just a genius. And you still aren't pronouncing this right--it's Transformo Hippurus, stretch the o and the u. You try." Remus rolled up his sleeves and pointed at the killer whale, now sopping wet, after being in the bowl of water. "Transformo Hippurus!" He watched eagerly as the whale shrank and turned yellow, morphing into an extremely dissatisfied goldfish. "There! See! I did it!" The fish started to drift to the top. "Remus," Lily murmered exasperatedly, "he hasn't got

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any gills." Before Remus could say a word, a roar form the common room told them it was time for the feast. Caught up in the stream of students, Lily and Remus were pushed out of the portrait hole and down the stairway. The Halloween feast was marvellous, and Dumbledore had the school stand up and applaud the kitchens. Lily noticed that Malfoy and Snape stayed seated. Some of the food had been really imaginative, including a large cake on a platform in the middle of the Great Hall that was a replica of Hogwarts, covered with different shades of black and orange icing. Going back up to the dormitories after the feast, the school was almost too stuffed to move. Professor Zimmermann had performed the Hover charm on several students who refused to budge from the tables. Lily almost joined them, but after one of the bats got into a candle and had a fatal accident involving smoked bat, she, Eva, and Amanda, having had bat remains fall on their plates, desisted from eating any more. They had left the Great Hall early, wanting to avoid the crowds. Up in Gryffindor Tower, Eva had gone to sleep, while down in the common room, Amanda and Lily were touching up the firecrackers. None of the Slytherins had been attacked, as the experimenters had not done so well and were saving their firecrackers for when they were really harmful, and the piles of firecrackers were strewn about down in the common room. Lily was having especial fun with a Goldfish Charmed firecracker, which was the spell she had been practicing with Remus. So far, she had added an automatic fish tank in the shape of a crystal ball under the victim, bubbles that spouted "Gryffindor for the Cup!" in red and gold, and fins made of long, flowing tiger lilies. She had duplicated it five times, and was adding an Expurgo Capillatus charm to a firecracker especially designed for Snape; this one would temporarily clean his hair and let it grow a few inches, just so it touched his elbows. Malfoy had a cracker designated for him, too, and Amanda was touching up the Congestus Acredula Charm, one that James had invented and that caused several birds to come out of the victim's ears, cheeping at him to clean his ears out. It was supposed to be set off every time Malfoy scratched his nose, spelled with a Never-Ending Itch hex. The whole school was drowsy and sluggish the next morning, unfortunately being a Monday. They were pleasantly awakened, though, by two Slytherins sitting on Lily's goldfish firecrackers and swimming around anxiously in their enlarged crystal glass. James improved on them a bit by enlarging the containers and the fish and causing them to hover over the student body. They hung there for about five minutes before Profesor McGonagall turned them back and gave James detention. This sort of crushed Lily's hope that James would explain to her that evening about the locked dungeon door, which he'd been a bit close about. Remus was looking tired again, having vanished and reappeared again three days before Halloween. He wouldn't answer any questions about where he had been, telling them to mind their own business. Two days later, Lily managed to corner James in the common roon, just before he went upstairs to his dormitory. "Hey--in the hospital wing you were going to tell me something about that locked dungeon, then you said you'd tell me later and you never got around to it." James flinched a bit. "I know--hey, is there anywhere we can sit down? Somewhere quiet, I mean." he added as Lily gestured towards the common room.

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She looked at him curiously. "Sure--I've got a letter I want to send to my mom. We can go to the Owlery." In a few minutes, they were heading up to the messenger-filled tower with a thick letter that included the Halloween feast pictures for Lily's father. Lily cleared her throat. "So, what did you want to say?" James looked a bit nervous. "See, I don't know if Snape told you, but--I locked you in there." Lily nodded, her face a bit hard. "He told me. What else? I mean, why?" James tripped on a step, going a bit red. "See, I doubt, I mean, I know he didn't tell you this, but I didn't know you were in there. I've got a good reason for closing that door, though..." He trailed off, then picked up his sentence at catching Lily's raised eyebrow and set mouth. "We had a rowdy crowd of ghosts in the castle my first year here. Actually, it was only about the first month, and they took over out former Potions dungeon. We had to move out, and the teachers told up to keep out at all times, since they were--well, very rough. We kept the door shut, and I saw the door open, and I didn't think for a minute you'd gone in there. I slammed it, and ran into a corridor. I didn't hear you come after me, so I went back upstairs. I didn't really mean for that to happen, I really didn't!" James looked at Lily, almost pleading. She nodded, slowly. "I don't think you did, and I believe you." His pleading face dissolved into a relieved smile, and he half-hugged her. "Thanks. I was so worried you wouldn't!" He let go, a bit awkwardly. They had reached the Owlery by this time, and Lily found Alisande almost immediately. James insisted on tying the letter to the owl's leg, and, not all that talkative, they walked back down to the common room together. Lily walked to her dormitory's stairs. "James-goodnight." She smiled a bit. He smiled back. "You too. See you at breakfast!" Both of them disappeared towards their respective four-posters immediately, a bit shy and silent. Lily was a bit dissatisfied with her and James' conversation, but kept her opinions to herself as Gryffindor Tower threw itself into a large studying session for the mid-terms. Hardly anyone had time to talk, as Professor McGonagall taught all of the students and she had made the exam extra hard to make up for the easy ones her mother used to give. Just a week before the exams, Professor Sinistra had informed them that she would be testing them on their constellations three days before their regular exams, on the top of the Astronomy Tower at midnight. Professor Cauldwell wasn't giving them an exam; he was rather nice, even though he was the Head of the Slytherin House. He'd only taken ten points away from Gryffindor the last time Sirius had toppled Malfoy into his cauldron, causing Malfoy to emerge with a swelling nose and ears, huge hands clamped over his bulging eyes. Lily was spending more time with Eva and Vanessa lately. She didn't know why, but every time she came near her old friends, James and Sirius broke off all conversation and started to rummage in their bags or bury themselves in a book. After a few days of that, Lily gave up trying to talk to them, which was made especially easy, since Slytherin had flattened Hufflepuff and Gryffindor beaten Hufflepuff into the ground with not even their ears showing at the last match of the season. James had been surrounded by admirers ever since, and even if he had been speaking to Lily, it would have been hard to get anywhere near him.

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Their Defense Against the Dark Arts exam turned out to be a long essay. Professor Varla told them that she'd originally wanted to have them do a traditional obstacle course, but as they had just finished werewolves, they should really have exams on them, and she had not been able to find an available werewolf who didn't care about people staying away from him or being attacked, and they couldn't do this at night, as they were holding their Astronomy lesson the night of the full moon. Lily did really well on the essay; Professor Varla told her privately that she had made one hundred and fifty percent on the exam. The Astronomy lesson came far too quickly. Lily was trudging up to the tower with Vanessa at five till midnight, wishing she had taken a nap. Every two students were assigned to a telescope, and Vanessa and Lily moved to one pointing straight at the moon. Vanessa frowned at her parchment. "So what exactly are we supposed to do here?" Lily smiled absentmindedly, moving the telescope for a better glimpse of Andromeda. "We're supposed to draw all of the constellations and label them on that sheet." She squinted a bit. "You draw. Put the North Star in the center of that big circle." Vanessa grinned. "Thanks a bunch for studying so much. I'm really bad at Astronomy." Positioning the telescope again, Lily frowned. "No problem. Listen, measure two inches away from that dot you drew...I think that's the Big Dipper..." An hour later, Vanessa and Lily had a completed chart. Vanessa sighed in relief. "Whew! And I thought that werewolf essay was hard!" Lily giggled. "It wasn't that bad, actually. I--wait a minute." She had turned back to the telescope and was pointing it towards the moon. "We have a full moon tonight." Vanessa raised her eyebrows. "You just noticed?" "No...Hand that in to Professor Sinistra. I've got to go to the library." And without a word, she dashed downstairs, leaving Vanessa on the tower with her jaw practically hanging off the tower's railing all the way down into the lake.

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