"First lesson is... arrrgggghhhh... potions."
"Sirius if you hate it so much why would you take it as a N.E.W.T?" asked James
"The same reason you did" said Sirius taking a giant mouthful of porridge. "So that I can be an auror."
James nodded in agreement. "Well who is it with?"
"Umm... oh man, it's with the Ravenclaws."
"What's wrong with the Ravenclaws?" said Peter
"It's not so much there is anything wrong with them." began Sirius "The problem is they're better than us at everything. Well that's if you exclude Quidittch and; you know... having a life.
"I like the Ravenclaws." mumbled Remus "At least they know how to eat properly" he said glaring at Sirius.
"I can eat properly." said Sirius purposely dribbling porridge down his chin.
Remus laughed and hit Sirius with the newspaper.
"Hey, hey, hey!" said James loudly.A few people from the Hufflepuff table turned around." What does that headline say?"
"Umm... Bandit strikes again killing muggle family of three" read Peter.
"Oh yeh I've been following this guy all summer." Said Sirius taking a look at the head line. "He's been about a bit. He's robbed wand shops all over but this is the first time he's killed.
"Why would he kill muggles?" asked Peter.
"He's probably from a non magical family, chances are he knew them." Remus said.
"He's really good at magic as well . In every place he's been he performed a memory charm. That's why he is so hard to catch because no one remembers exactly what he looks like."
"How do they know its the same guy?" said James.
"He has been sighted leaving the scene every time."
"Lets just hope he doesn't come around here." Peter said honestly.
"He wont. He has no reason too. Come on we better go or we will be late." Said Remus. They got up and grabbed their books
"See you later Peter" called Sirius.
Remus, James and Sirius walked down the stairs to the gloomy dungeons. The murky green light made it feel as if they were underwater. It was always damp and the smell of mould saturated the air.
"Quick quick boys, your late." Said Professor Slughorn, a tall man with a big round belly and an impressive moustache. "Right, today you will be making a sleeping draft. Please get out your copies of Advanced Potions Making." The class all scrambled around in their bags for a moment. "Now this is a reasonably simple draft for the standard you should be at but I thought as it is your first day back we would start with something simple. Go to your cauldron, you have one hour. Good luck." The students split in a whirlwind of noise.
Sirius was hanging over his book with the look of disgust on his face.
"Alright there Sirius?"
"I hate rat tails." Sirius said glumly.
"They're not that bad." Said James dangling a particularly beaten up tail in Sirius' face.
"Get off. " Said Sirius smacking the rats tail with his potions book. The tail landed next to a Ravenclaw boy who was brewing on the bench opposite.
"Ooops. Sorry." Said Sirius as he quickly grabbed the tail.
"Not at all." Said the boy. He had an odd voice. It was soft and low and it had a slightly eerie tone about it.
"How have you been Nathaniel?" Said James eagerly trying to engage the boy in conversation. Nathaniel Livid was a tall, thin boy with short black hair and pale skin. His family had recently become extremely rich as his father had developed a new brand of Floo Powder which was very popular with mothers because of its no burn guaranty. He was from a long line of intelligent wizards, all of them, of course, in Ravenclaw.
"Alright." He replied "I was named one of Britain's most promising young minds."
"Congratulations" said James awkwardly.
"Yes, it was quite an achievement."
"Your parents must be so proud" said Sirius mockingly
"Oh they are" said Nathaniel. Ignorant to Sirius' unkindness.
All four boys then returned to their potions.
"You're doing that wrong James." Said Nathaniel "You should stir clockwise with the heat at medium."
"Thanks" said James tentatively.
"Righty ho." Said Slughorns booming voice. "Time is up, lets see how far you got" Slughorn slowly made his way around the class and seemed quite happy until he got to Sirius cauldron. "What is this Mr Black?" asked Slughorn
"Its a sleeping draft" replied Sirius.
Slughorn let out a siren of laughter "This is quite possibly the worst sleeping potion I have ever seen." Said Slughorn. The class joined Slughorn in his laughter and Sirius slumped back into his chair and turned a vibrant shade of pink.
"I hate potions!" Shouted Sirius as they made their way back out into the brightly lit entrance hall.
"I think you put in too many rats tails in. That's why it went lumpy" said the familiar hum of Nathaniel's voice
"That probably was the issue" said Sirius as though he was speaking to a four year old and without another word Nathaniel glided off into the Great Hall.
"He's a bit weird.." said Peter who had just joined them.
"He's a vampire." said Sirius knowingly.
"What?" Peter chuckled.
"He's a vampire." said Sirius again as he jumped a flight of stone steps leading down to the lake.
"He's not a vampire." Remus said plainly.
"I'm telling you he is a vampire. It explains why he's so pale and why he's so weird."
"He is not a vampire." Remus repeated a little more forcefully.
"I'm not saying I have anything against vampires. I'm not one to discriminate, my friends a warewolf. How much more laid back can you get?" Sirius added.
"He still isn't a vampire."
"Yeh he is..."
"And how have you come to this ingenious conclusion Sirius?" said James.
"Well I hadn't really noticed him before but I was looking at him all throughout potions and he is definitely a vampire."
"Sirius." said Remus."Let me ask you something" he said very slowly." Does he have fangs?"
"Does he have fangs?" Remus repeated.
"Exactly no fangs; no vampire." concluded Remus.
"Well maybe he goes out every night and grinds then down on the bones of small children"
"Hilarious" Remus said sarcastically.
"I wouldn't be worried Remus. I reckon a werewolf could beat a vampire in a fight any day..."
"That's enough Sirius" said James.
Remus ignored Sirius and turned to face James.
"Do you still have the map?"
"The Marauders Map. Of course it's in my trunk." said James.
"Great. Do you think I could have it tonight." Remus said under his breath.
"Why do you want the map?" called Sirius as he swung down from a tree branch to the edge of the water.
"Non of your business" said James and Remus simultaneously.
"Sure." said James "you can use it"
The four boys sat soaking up the last of the summer sun that was now soaring above them in the midday sky. They walked down the grassy banks listening to the lakes waters lapping against the shore and saw the giant squid waving its enormous tentacles above the surface of the glassy water. Sirius and Peter had fallen back and were discussing the horrible Herboligy lesson that they were about to endure that would involve squeezing the spots of some maturing mandrakes.
"So why do you want the map?" James asked quietly.
Remus sighed. "It's... Well... I couldn't get to sleep last night and so I got up to go to the kitchen, I thought perhaps the house elves could get me some food. As I made my way down there, I heard footsteps. I immediately thought it was Slughorn on one of his night time wanders but I should have realised that the steps were too light and too fast. It sounded like someone was running."
"Running?" said James
"I thought it was odd too and it doesn't end there. When I made my back up from the kitchens I heard a sizable crash by the Hufflepuff Common Room. I'm surprised non of them woke up really. Anyway, as I made my way along the corridor I saw a huge caldron lying on its side with what looked like a really complicated draft spilling from it. I looked around but I couldn't see anyone or hear them. I left the cauldron for the Hufflepuffs to discover but I spoke to Charlie Minhinick this morning and he said that there was nothing when he got up early this morning for Quidditch practise."
"So whoever did it went back and cleared it up."
"And you couldn't work out what was in the cauldron?"
"No it looked like something far beyond O.W.Ls. It would have had to be someone in our year. So who do we know who is good at potions?"
"Lily?" said James eagerly
"I was thinking more...Snape."
"Of course Snape. Or it could be a teacher?"
"What teacher would run around making potions in the dark at 2 in the morning?"
"Good point. Its seems the only thing to do is to see if the midnight brewer does it again tonight. I'll grab the map after supper."
"Ok." said Remus
"Lunch anyone?" Said Sirius as he caught up with Remus and James.
"I think so" agreed James