In a Time of Chaos

It's the year 1976. The magical community is divided; witches and wizards from all around the globe is disappearing, only to be found dead weeks later. Even the muggles knows that something is terribly wrong and everyone is expecting the worst. The First Wizarding War is at hand.

Even Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry isn't safe from the war. Students as well as teachers dares not to give each other a second glance, because in these times you don't know who's friend and who's foe. And at the school the recruitment has started for a war that someday will be the cause of many casualties - and the soldiers being recruited are for both sides.

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4. Strenght to the lost ones

Strenght to the lost ones   

                   James Potter stepped inside Professor Binns' classroom, ready for two unbelievably boring lessons in the History of Magic, alone. Even though it wasn't entirely impossible to see a Marauder without at least one of the others, it was still a rare sight. The four boys - not completely dependent on each other, though close - did usually seem like a package deal.

                   To be honest, it actually hadn't really been James' plan to show up for class without the others. Actually, his plan had involved not showing up at all. It had been sheer bad luck that the dark haired boy now had to choose a desk to sit down by in the old ghost's classroom. 

                   Earlier that day at the morning table, three of the boys had actually decided to skip the first couple of lessons. Remus had felt ill during the night and the rest of the Marauders had planned to entertain the boy, so that he wouldn't have to sit alone in the Hospital Wing until lunch. James, however, had caught sight of a certain ginger girl and the two others had gone on without him, expecting him to catch up with them later. This had resulted in the unfortunate situation, that had been when James finally was heading towards the Hospital Wing, he had run into a very strict-looking Professor McGonagall. She'd chosen to personally escort him to class, since catching him running the opposite way.

                   So while the other Marauders got to sit together and eat Bertie Bott's every-flavour beans (after promising Madam Pomfrey that they had a couple of free periods), James could look forward to desperately trying not to fall asleep while listening to Binns' endless monologue on Lachlan the Lanky's adventures. Hurrah. James might've been a bit bitter,

                   "Excuse me," sounded a female voice at his side, suddenly, talking with a slight accent. James looked up from his seat and met a pair of pretty pale grey eyes. "Is this seat taken?"

                   "Nope," said James and gestured for her to sit. The girl send him a small smile before slipping into the seat. "You're one of the new ones, right? From the Scandinavian school?"

                   "The girl turned sligthly in her seat to face him, nodding and holding her right hand forward for James to shake it. "Camille Björk," she said.

                   "James Potter," he answered and shook her hand. She had a nice, if a bit shy, smile and her dark wavy hair had been cut in a ruffled bob. "Pleasure."

                   "You too. You're a Gryffindor, right?" said Camille. The word was obviously new to her, as she seemed to make the vocals a bit too long and more pressure on the r's than necessary. 

                   "Yep," said James and pointed towards his maroon-and-gold striped tie, before looking at hers. "And you're a Hufflepuff, then?"

                   She nodded before repeating what she must've been told some time earlier; "The kind, just and hardworking?"

                   "Most of them, anyway," confirmed James. "The whole thing really isn't as accurate as the Sorting Hat claims, you know. It depends."

                   "That makes sense. Most people aren't really simple enough to just split into four houses," she said. "Would you mind sharing your book with me, James? None of us really have any school things meant for Hogwarts students yet. The decision for us to come here was very sudden," explained Camille. "We owe Dumbledore a great lot."

                   "Of course, no problem," said James and pulled out his copy of A History of Magic from his bag, before looking back at her. "If you don't mind me asking, what happened? None of us knew any of it before Dumbledore held his speech shortly before you all arrived, yesterday."

                   Camille shrugged, evasively. "We all met up the usual way to get our floo--, um, to get escorted to the school," she said and James noted that Hogwarts apparently wasn't the only school wanting to keep some things secret. "But no muggleborn could access the chambers. We were all very confused, because our other schoolmates had no trouble, it seemed. Then we all received an owl." Camille's shoulders seemed to collapse a bit along with her smile, and James could feel his own anger starting to boil up. "We'd been kicked out. Expelled. Vi beklager eventuell uleilighet denne informasjonen kan ha medført--, uh, 'we apologize for any inconvenience this decision might've brought you'. We thought it was a joke. Obviously, it wasn't."

                   James clenched his fists, but before he could respond, another voice interrupted. "A letter? On the day?" asked Stebbins, a classmate also from Hufflepuff, that seemed to have been listening to the two others' conversation. Actually, James noticed, they'd gotten quite an audience while Camille had talked. All around them, students who were also curious as to what exactly had seemed to happen, had gathered to listen in.

                   Camille, also noticing the crowd, seemed to look a bit uncomfortable by the attention but nodded none the less. "Merlin, I can't even imagine having to go through that!" exclaimed Stebbins and James remembered that the Hufflepuff himself also were a muggleborn. Around them, a couple other students nodded in agreement. "What did you do, then? How'd you get a hold of Dumbledore?"

                   Camille looked nervously up towards the teacher's desk. Without any of them noticing, Binns had started his teaching. It did, however, seem as though the old Professor hadn't noticed his students not paying attention, either. "Just continue," encouraged Mary MacDonald, a small dark haired girl from James' own house. Her voice was eager, though she kept it low to avoid suspicion. "Binns won't notice if we just keep our voices down."

                   The new Hufflepuff didn't really seem satisfied by this, but chose to continue anyway, "Well, a lot of the younger students tried to get in anyway," Camille said in a low voice. "Our pure- and half blood friends were pretty determined on not leaving us behind, no matter what some letter said. A couple of the older students - the ones' been placed at your seventh year here, I believe - decided that it really wouldn't bring any good, you know, trying to force our way through. The school didn't want us, anyways." Camille paused and for a short moment, James could see the bitterness in her eyes. A Hufflepuff girl, Wendy Slinkhard, carefully out a hand on Camille's shoulder and send her a sympathetic look. Camille looked gratefully at her, before slowly continuing;

                   "The others decided to go to the Ministry of Magic - not yours, of course - to find out what to do now. I stayed behind with some of the others, to watch over the youngest. They were only gone for an hour, before they came back and told us that no-one in the Ministry had wanted to talk to them. They were just told to fill out a form, which they did, but a little bird told us that it could take weeks before that got us anywhere. Instead, they'd been told to go find Dumbledore. Dumbledore would help us.

                   "Our only problem was, that how in the world would we get to him? We considered sending him an owl, but we were all pretty upset at the time and not in the mood to just wait around. One of my friends then mentioned that I, um, had been fooling around a bit with apparation," Camille blushed a bit, "And they all got back to ask if I could take them to the Ministry of Magic in London, since I'd visited it one summer a couple of years back--"

                   "Wait," interrupted Bertram Aubrey, a blond Ravenclaw that James had always thought to be a bit of an cocky prick (him and Sirius had once hexed Aubrey's head to grow twice its size so that it would match the Ravenclaw's ego. While the Marauders, personally, had found it hilarious, Aubrey seemed to hold a grudge now), and looked appalled at Camille. "You didn't apparate all of you into the Ministry, did you?" he said, horrified.

                   "Of course not!" said Camille annoyed, and a bit too loud. The whole group quickly looked up towards Professor Binns, who, luckily, didn't seem to have heard the outburst. Camille continued, keeping her voice low once again; "That would be way too dangerous, I'm not an idiot. I don't even have my licence in Apparation, yet, and there's no way I'm splinching anyone."

                   "Well, how'd you get there, then?" Asked James and suddenly Camille was all red again.

                   "I, um, made a portkey."

                   James wasn't the only one looking wide-eyed at the sixth year. "You made a portkey? You?" he asked.

                   Camille nodded shyly. Aubrey crossed his arms, looking very annoyed; "And that's safer than apparating, how exactly?"

                   A bit of Camilles shyness was replaced by annoyance, as she also crossed her arms before answering. "I've done it before. You don't need to look at me like that, you know, I'd never do it if I hadn't been sure I could. "

                   "You've made a portkey before?" asked Mary, looking at the other girl in awe. "And it worked?"

                   Camille shrugged and red spots appeared on her cheeks again as she looked down. By her side, James made sure to remember that that school really had been for talented witches and wizards, no doubt. "Impressive," he said.

                   "Well, what happened when you arrived at the Ministry, then?" Stebbins wanted to know and Camille looked thankful for the change of topic.

                   "I made sure the portkey would drop us outside the visitors' entrance, first," she told them. Half the classroom - Ravenclaws as well as Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors - were now turned towards her. The Slytherins seemed to be more discreet, but James didn't doubt that most of them were listening in as well. "Since I wasn't sure that it was allowed, if even possible, to just let it escort us directly to the Atrium Hall."

                   "It wouldn't've let you," Slinkhard told her. "That was smart of you, you'd probably just've been thrown back again, if not worse."

                   Camille nodded. "We figured. We went a couple at a time into the phone box, since we were quite a lot of people and wouldn't all fit at once. We then said that we were part of a guided tour since Stefan feared they wouldn't let us in otherwise, and it worked!" She squeaked, still keeping her voice down but was starting to get captured by her own story. And she wasn't the only one. The other students around them, including James, had scooted even closer and was taking in every word with wide eyes. "Well, then we got inside and at first no-one seemed to notice the sudden increase of teenagers around them,"

                   "The Ministry is usually filled with people who think themselves very important and very busy," agreed Mary and Camille shrugged.

                   "In any case we got to ask around for Dumbledore for at least twenty minutes before a nasty-looking dark haired man suddenly errupted and seized Kaia, interrogating her on 'what the bloody hell' we thought we were doing there. I tried to get him to let go, but the man - Rookwood, I believe - just got really angry and started to threaten us. Told us we were idiotic pests, who did't know what we were 'getting ourselves into'. Not a very pleasant man."

                   "Augustus Rookwood?" Asked a Hufflepuff with a long nose covered in freckles (whose name James had forgotten) and Camille nodded. "My dad works with him. There's rumors that he's a spy for... you know who," she told them.

                   "That wouldn't surprise me," said Camille and shuddered. "Even without the, you know, shouting, I can't imagine being comfortable around him. Just the way he seemed to look at us, it was unsettling. We were lucky that the others had found Dumbledore, 'cause he was the one who finally got him off of Kaia. Suddenly he was just there, placing a hand on the guy's shoulder and saying 'Rookwood, I am sure you do not intend to hurt this young girl. Am I wrong?'," Camille made her voice a bit deeper while trying to imitate Dumbledore's calm voice. "That's how I know his name, 'cause Rookwood sure wasn't keen on identifying himself to us while shaking Kaia."

                   "How'd the others find Dumbledore?" asked Stebbins and Camille shrugged.

                   "He just showed up," she said. "I asked the others, but they don't know, either. Must've been told that we were looking for him by one of the witches or wizards we asked in the Atrium Hall."

                   "Dumbledore's a great man," said Mary, her voice filled with the respect most Hogwarts student seemed to have for their headmaster. "He's know for just, you know, knowing stuff."

                   "What did Dumbledore say?" Asked James, but before Camille could tell them, she was interrupted by a high-pitched voice;

                   "Professor Binns," said Emma Vanity with her hand in the air, and the whole class turned towards her. "I can't hear your teaching over all the chattering by James Potter's table."

                   Professor Binns turned away from the blackboard, where he'd been writing what seemed to be an endless paragraph supporting his lecture, and turned towards James, looking slightly confused by the sudden interruption. The group of students that had slowly inched closer towards James and Camille's table while she'd talked, had quickly scattered as soon as vanity had started talking and was now in their own seats. The Professor looked at the two of them left, annoyed. "If the two of you can't keep it down, I'll welcome you to leave my classroom," he said.

                   "That won't be necessary, sorry Sir," said James quickly. By his side, Camille had started to quickly write down what James suspected was notes on a piece of parchment that she'd plucked from her bag while he'd looked away. Binns gave him another pointed glance, before huffing annoyed and turning around to face the blackboard once again. Vanity sent James a gloating smirk that he ignored. "Sorry, Camille, didn't mean to get you in trouble."

                   Camille just waved it off with her free hand, finishing the last sentence on the paper with the other, before pushing it towards James. He curiously took a closer look, since it apparently wasn't History notes as he'd first thought. Instead, it said;

 

                   'Professor Dumbledore seemed very upset when we told him why we'd asked around for him. It was nice to find someone who didn't just brush us off, honestly. He said he promised to fix the situation. None of us would miss any school because of this despicable mindset that seemed to flow around, he'd personally make sure of that, he told us.'

 

                   James quickly gathered his own quill and ink, so he could respond;

 

                   'Did he say what he was going to do? Who he'd contact?'

 

                   James made sure to study Camille's expression while she read his question and so he noticed the quick contemplating look she got, followed by an anxious look, while she quickly scribbled down her answer all the while pushing some of her dark hair away from her face. It seemed as though she did know something, but that was not what James would read, as she pushed the parchment back to his side of the table.

 

                   'No, just that he'd fix everything and make sure we'd have a place to go. I'm not sure he had anyone special in mind, not someone he mentioned to us, anyway.'

 

                   James wasn't sure he believed that. But then again, why would Camille lie to him? A couple of seats ahead, James noticed that an anxious Stebbins was staring intensely at the parchment the two of them had been pushing back and forth between each other. It seemed as though the Hufflepuff wasn't happy that he couldn't be included in this conversation. James turned back towards Camille, who met his eyes with a questioning look on her face. She lightly poked the parchment with her quill and James looked down to notice that she'd added something new, while he'd looked away;

                   'What do you know about Nicolai Mulciber?' it said. James looked at her, surprised. Why? he mouthed to her and she gestured for him to slide over the parchment, which he did. She wrote something down quickly, before pushing the note back. James leaned forward and read; 'Him and his friends has send us - you know, from the Cathedral School - strange looks ever since we arrived. Pretty unsettling, to be honest with you. Then this morning Paul Avery suddenly went up to Adam and asked him a bunch of question. Normally, I wouldn't be as judgemental, but the others from Hufflepuff have warned me to better stay away from students from Slytherin and the others have told me, that their houses have said the same thing to them.

                   Plus,' she'd added underneath, 'They really don't seem like a friendly lot, do they?'

                   James took Camilles words in; what were the Slytherins doing? Quickly, he scrawled down five words; 'What did they ask about?'

                   Camille didn't hestitate; 'The same as you, actually. "Who did Dumbledore contact?". When Adam told them he didn't know, this Mulciber interrupted and asked about us instead. Where we come from, who we were; If we all were mudbloods. Then Villiam had punched him in the nose and got detention.'

                   James frowned. That seemed very forward of Mulciber. It wasn't like the Slytherins weren't known for making their beliefs about muggleborns known, but still James found it... odd, that the Slytherin had just thrown the slur out there. Starting conflict the first day back? He wrote back; 'Listen to your houses; I know I said earlier that it isn't really that black-and-white as the Sorting had says, but keep away from Slytherin none the less. They're known for their pureblood propaganda and some of them aren't afraid to use other's background as an excuse to fire a few hexes around. Evan Rosier, especially, is literally insane. Keep away from him.'

                   While Camille read, James could see her posture fall and she suddenly looked incredibly tired. And, what, melancholy? She only wrote down a few words before pushing the parchment back towards James. 'No place is safe for us, anymore.'

                   James was about to reply, but Camille had turned her attention towards Binns and didn't seem to want to continue the conversation. James also turned towards Binns, but continued to look at her out of the corner of his eye, He would've liked to share some words of encouragement with her, but honestly, he was kind of relieved that he didn't have to now. Because, really? Wasn't she right?

 

*****

 

                   “You know,” he said, absently twirling a lock of her blonde hair between his fingers, “I could get used to this.”

                   “Mh,” she mumbled, not really listening. “Just you keep doing what you’re doing. I’m probably gonna take a nap.”

                   He laughed. “What? Right here, in the common room?”

                   She nodded, cuddling up closer to him. Mira was laying on her boyfriends chest, both of them laying in one of the green couches in the Slytherin Dungeon. If you were to look outside the window, you would have no idea as to what time of the day it was; however, you could possible catch a glimpse of the Giant Squid swimming in the lakes that covered the common room in a matte green colour. 

                   William shook his head, a smile on his lips, as he once again focused on Eldred Worples book in his free hand. They laid there for a while, both quite content with the matters of the world at the moment and would probably had continued this, hadn’t they been interrupted.

                   “Enjoying ourselves, are we?" asked Mulciber as he entered the Common Room. He seemed relaxed enough at first glance, but if you looked closely, you could see the silent anger in his seemingly nonchalant attitude. Behind him was Gudgeon and Wilkes.

                   Mira, who'd gotten more of her usual charm back since yesterdays meeting (and had since also build up some anger towards Mulciber, as well), opened her eyes and glanced annoyed at the Slytherin. "And that's not allowed anymore?"

                   "It just seems that there are more important things to do than lie around the Common Room," said Gudgeon calmly and sounded as though he found the conversation - or maybe just Mira's endless defiance - to be incredibly boring. "I thought we'd made that clear yesterday."

                   "Can't you go bother Snape or something, then?" asked Mira and popped herself up on her elbows. "If you absolutely have to walk around and play Hit Wizards?"

                   "Snape is busy," Mulciber told her. "Doing what he's been told."

                   There was clear judgement in his voice now and Mira looked like she wanted to object, but William - without even looking up from his book - interrupted the conversation calmly. "I've got everything under control, Mulciber. You don't need to worry." Both Mira and Mulciber looked at William in surprise until he finally looked up to meet the latter's eyes. "Yes?"

                   Mulciber slowly shook his head. Wilkes was silently following the conversation, while Gudgeon was staring indifferent ot of the window. "Nothing. Fine. Just be careful, Rowle," said Mulciber, before leading the three of them out the Common Room again, leaving the couple alone.

                   William turned his attention back towards his book, seemingly unaffected by the conversation that had just taken place, but Mira stayed in her half-upright position on his chest with a thoughtful look in her eyes. After a moment, she put her hand on her boyfriend's chest to get his attention, looking worriedly at him. William, feeling her eyes on him, put the book down and then turned his attention towards her, waiting.

                   A moment of silence passed. Mira bit her lip, unsure, before finally speaking. "William, what did you mean by saying you've got 'everything under control'?"

                   William watched her closely, before slowly answering. "That I've got things under control. Like always. What's the problem, Silencia?"

                   She pursed her lips, annoyed, before answering him. "That I don't know what you've got under control. What you're doing. Your mission," Mira started and William sighed. She smacked him annoyed on his chest. "You won't tell me what's happening. What you're to do. It's frustrating to be kept in the dark. Especially in situations like that," she continued. "What is Snape doing? You know, don't you?"

                   William shrugged evasively. "What he's been told."

                   Mira sent him an annoyed look and got up from her lying position, to sit on the couch instead. She send him a frustrated look. "And there's the problem. I don't know what he's been told, William. You do, but you won't tell me. I don't like the secrecy," she told him.

                   "I'm aware," he said and straightened so that he could sit instead, as well. He leaned forward in the seat and started massaging his temples. "But there's a reason you're being kept in the dark about all this, Mira."

                   "And that reason is?" she asked, annoyed.

                   He opened his eyes and send her an annoyed look back. "Don't ask stupid questions. You know why."

                   Mira looked away and William closed his eyes again, continuing to massage his temples, annoyed by the situation he'd gotten in. The words were there, hanging in the air around them, unsaid, and had been there almost from the first day they'd officially started dating, back in December last year. They'd gotten a break from it all over the summer, but now that they were both back at Hogwarts, it couldn't be avoided much longer.

                   "They don't know, do they?" Mira finally asked, after a long silence.

                   William shook his head, but didn't look at her. "They just think you're afraid of making an official decision," he told her and Mira smiled a bitter smile. She didn't enjoy the fact that the only thing currently saving her relationship, was that a bunch of psychotic Slytherins seemed to think she was scared. And still, she had to be thankful. It was nice to hear. Until; "Avery suspects, however. And that means Mulciber will too, soon, if not already. Eleanor Nott, as well. She's clever, but then again, you're not hiding it that well, Mira."

                   "How do you know that Nott suspects?" she wanted to know.

                   "She told me. I ran into her on my way back to the Common Room yesterday evening. I doubt that she'd planned it, but you can't really know with those two. In any case, she made it clear that she'd noticed that you didn't seem to share our view on muggleborns. She'd seen you wince during the conversation earlier that day, when Rosier had called Evans a mudblood."

                   "She threatened you?" asked Mira angrily, but William shook his head.

                   "I'm not entirely sure why she told me, actually. She seemed very indifferent. She gave me some advice," he added slowly. "Said that it would probably be best if you decided soon. We wait too long, it won't be pretty."

                   "Fuck her," said Mira aggressively. "And her petty advice."

                   William shrugged, but did not agree with her. Mira bit her lip again and a fleeting feeling of fear fluttered in her chest. A fear of loss. She looked back at William. "When do you have to complete your mission?"

                   "I didn't get a specific date. I suppose they understood that I wouldn't accept a deadline. I won't wait too long, however." he told her. Mira scooted closer to him on the couch and determinedly placed a hand on top of his, that he'd placed on his lap. William looked at her and finally said: "You know I couldn't care less."

                   She nodded, slowly, and looked down. "I know."

                   "But I can't ignore it much longer."

                   "I know," she just repeated. He took her hand in his and interlaced her fingers with his own. "Fucking arsholes." she then said and even though William didn't say anything, she at least knew that this time, he agreed.

 

*****

 

                   Gryffindors Common Room was a noisy place that evening. It was still only one of the first days back at Hogwarts which meant that the homework load hadn't gotten too bad yet, and people could instead spend their time catching up with their housemates. Multiple groups were occupying the many sofas and the conversation was flowing easily.

                   Also the students on their sixth year had gathered; they'd been lucky enough to snatch the sofa group by the firepace and were now playing Exploding Snap with Peter's cards around a low coffee table (supposedly, there should've been a box of Bertie Botts lying for everyone to share, but Peter had informed James that they'd all been devoured at the Hospital Wing earlier). As it was now, Lily and Remus shared the love seat, Mary MacDonald by Lily's feet with her back turned against the fireplace. In the big sofa sat Marlene McKinnon, a Marauder on each side (James to her left and Peter to her right) and in the armchair furthest away sat Sirius. They all had playing cards in their hands and their fingertips mildly sodded.

                   James had just finished telling the other what Camille had told him earlier (leaving out the last part about the Slytherins - he'd tell the other Marauders about that later) and the mood had dampened to something a bit more serious. James had noticed Lily placing her cards a bit more aggressively on the table than strictly necessary and Marlene kept glancing at her friend, worried. Remus had a wrinkle between his eyebrows and was looking seriously at the others.

                   "I still can't fathom that this is legal," he told them and placed a card on the table. They all waited a moment, staring at it, and when it didn't explode, Marlene continued.

                   "I can't be," she said and pulled her legs underneath herself, so that she was now sitting on top of them. They'd all changed into their casual clothes earlier. "At least not the letters. They got out way too late, that can't be right."

                   Sirius shrugged. "They were probably afraid of what Dumbledore'd do if they'd given him more time. It's your turn, Pete," He then added.

                   "But why hasn't the Ministry done anything?" Said Lily, annoyed. "Have they just given up?"

                   "According to the Daily Profet the schools found 'an unfortunate loophole'," Mary told them.

                   "The Profet is generally taking all this very well, al things considered," said James and placed two cards on top of Peter's, when the latter's didn't explode. "No extensive interviews with Ministry folk, no comments from the headmasters of either the schools that kicked their students out or those who took them in again. I don't even think the story got the front page, honestly. Your turn, Marlene."

                   "It didn't," confirmed Mary. "Only the evening edition and it was very brief, even then."

                   "Well, they're not afraid to show where they stand on this matter," said Lily bitterly and the others nodded. A long silence followed where the group continued their card game, before Sirius started up the conversation again;

                   "Slytherins are attacking the new kids," he told them and placed a card on the table.

                   "What?" Remus asked and send him a surprised look. "What do you mean, 'attacking'?"

                   "He means," answered Lily, "That we saw Crouch Jr. stand by the stairs leading to the Library, casting tripping hexes on all of the new students passing by."

                   "You can't be serious - really?" Cried James and Marlene looked sad. "Well, what did you do about it, then?"

                   "One of the older girls from the school noticed it at the same time as Lily and me," Sirius told them. "She seemed pretty set on fixing the situation herself, but Lily got to it first."

                   "Crouch is a nasty little thing," said Mary and shuddered. "The girls - well, and the guys as well, actually - from his year all have some less than nice stories about what he spends his time on."

                   "I've heard some of them," Marlene confirmed. "Most don't dare to come near him with a ten-foot broomstick."

                   "And rightfully so," said Mary and then looked over at Sirius. "Doesn't Regulus run around with him?"

                   Sirius just sent her a dark look. "I have no idea and couldn't care less. If he wants to piss his life away, spending his time with those kinds of people, for Merlins sake, let him. I'm done trying."

                   "He doesn't look too good, lately," Marlene pointed out, worriedly. "Maybe you should--"

                   "Can we talk about something other than my brother's stupid life choices?" Sirius interrupted her and she bowed her head, letting it go.

                   "Well, while we're on the topic of uncomfortable conversations," said Mary and looked towards the ginger of the group. "Lily, have you talked to Snape since we came back?"

                   Lily rolled her eyes at her friend, then shook her head. "No, but we've only just returned now, haven't we?"

                   "He also seems to have been busy," Marlene pointed out and Lily nodded.

                   "Wait," interrupted James. "So you're going to speak with him? After what happened in may? After he called you a you-know-what?"

                   Lily shrugged. "I don't know. I mean, he tried to talk to me after it had happened, but I was too mad to listen. I spend most of the summer at Marlene's, so he couldn't contact me then, either. I've thought about it and decided that I want to give him a chance." When James looked at her appelled, she quickly added; "Not to be friends. But to let him explain, at least. We were friends for years, you know. He was the first to tell me that I was a witch. I just don't want our relationship to end this way. 

                   "I let you explain yourself," she then said, giving James a pointed look. "It would only be fair to let Severus do the same."

                   The girls nodded, James, however, didn't answer. Instead, Peter asked; "So you're going to forgive him then, Lily?"

                   "That doesn't seem wise," added Remus and Lily also shook her head.

                   "Probably not. But as a muggleborn, don't you think I've got enough enemies as it is? There's no reason for letting Severus go around and hate me, adding another to the pile, when it can be avoided."

                   "Ah, Evans," Sirius grinned. "Always so positive." Lily laughed as well.

                   "Well," said Marlene and stretched. "I think I'm off to bed. You might've gotten through History - even though some of you cheated - but I still have to listen to Binns tomorrow and if I don't get my eight hours, I will fall asleep to than endless droning." She threw her playing cards on the table and got up from the sofa. James moved his legs so that she could get through, while Lily and Mary also got to their feet.

                   "I also have Binns in the morning, so I think I'll follow Marlene's example," Lily told them. Mary waved goodnight as well, and the three Gryffindor girls disappeared up the stairs to their dormitory. Now the Marauders were the only ones left, and James told them the rest of what Camille had told him earlier. Sirius was quickly in on the idea that something seemed fishy, but Peter was questioning it.

                   "I just don't understand what's s'pposed to be strange about it," he said, confused. Remus also shook his head.

                   "I'm with Peter. I don't see anything off, either. Slytherins attack other students they don't like all the time - we do, too. And it's no secret, that they don't like muggleborns. Of course they're after the new students. Not that I condone, of course, but what's off about that?"

                   Sirius sticked with James. "Nah, something isn't right. Prongs is on to something, I can feel it; there's a difference between their usual arse-selves and this obvious provocation. Something's up," he said.

                   James leaned forward in his seat. "Whatever it is, let's just keep an eye on the situation, yeah? And keep an eye on Snape."

                   "On Snape?" said Remus.

                   "Yeah," said Sirius, excitedly. "Didn't you hear McKinnon? 'He's been busy'? I'll bet twenty galleons that Snivellus has something to do with this."

                   "If only I had that kind of money," said Peter in a dreamy voice, and Remus laughed.

                   James nodded. "Snape is definitely involved."

                   Remus sent him a look. "And this has nothing to do with Lily just telling us she want's to fix things with him?"

                   "Moony, don't be such a downer," said Sirius, looking at the others, the thought of the possible adventure giving him a mischievous grin. "James is right. What if we've actually caught on to something big here?"

                   "Let's hope we haven't," Remus said, seriously. "Hogwarts is supposed to be a safe place."

                   James shook his head. "Not anymore."

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