Chapter 28
Marauder Ink?

Author's Note: Time to get this story moving along a bit. This chapter spans an entire week in the story, and skips a few days in between each scene. Pay attention to the dates. A reminder that the dates discussed in this chapter do not match up with the actual calendar dates in real life.

Sunday, November 2nd, 1991

"Pumpkin Pasty," James said.

Rose waited patiently, as the large gargoyle side-stepped to its left, revealing a stairwell beyond. Father and daughter made their way up the stairs. When they reached the door at the top, James merely had to knock once before the door opened on its own. Rose walked into the Headmaster's office, followed closely behind by her father. Professor Dumbledore was sitting behind his grand mahogany desk, and as Rose and her father entered, he smiled and waved his wand, conjuring two comfortable looking chairs on the closest side of the desk.

"Good evening Professor, Miss Potter," Dumbledore said, "Please be seated."

Rose and her father walked across the office and sat down in the conjured chairs.

"To begin this meeting," Dumbledore said, "I wish to congratulate you, Miss Potter, on a fine victory against Slytherin yesterday. It was a very exciting match, one for the ages!"

"Thank you, sir," Rose said.

"Perhaps stories of your performance on the Pitch," Dumbledore continued, "will encourage the House Teams to welcome more first years onto the teams in the future. Rose, if I may call you that, I'm sure your father has explained to you exactly why I asked you to meet with me this evening."

"The prophecy," Rose said.

"Yes," Dumbledore said, "I am going to be completely honest with you, Rose. I was against the idea of you learning about the prophecy at this time. I felt that you are too young to have the burden of such knowledge upon your shoulders. Ultimately it was up to your parents to decide if you were ready to hear the prophecy, and obviously they felt you were indeed ready."

"I believe it was for the best," James said, "I have my reasons why it was necessary to let Rose know at this point in time. One of the most important being that she needed to be prepared. If I were to begin her duel training without giving her a reason for it, she would have likely tried to find out why on her own."

Rose grinned. "He's right."

"I didn't want her to find out about the prophecy from someone aside from Lily and I," James said, "She was able to understand a great deal about it since we discussed it with her. We were able to help her deal with it."

"I would assume you have unanswered questions though, Rose?" Dumbledore asked.

"Yes, sir," Rose said.

"I would be happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability," Dumbledore said, "However, if I may, I would like to ask one of my own first."

"Alright," Rose said.

"Earlier today," Dumbledore said, "Neville Longbottom visited me here in my office. He told me that you told him the prophecy."

Rose stared at the Headmaster for a moment. She had been wondering why Neville had been so quiet all day. It appeared that Neville had visited the Headmaster shortly after leaving Rose and their friends at the edge of the lake.

"That is correct," Rose said, "I'm curious about what the pair of you talked about. You see, he's been quiet all day, and he's been avoiding me."

"Ah, Rose," Dumbledore said, "I'm sure that Neville simply needed time to himself to think about what he learned. As for your curiosity, he wanted to know whether or not his parents knew about the prophecy before the servants of Voldemort attacked them shortly after Voldemort himself attacked you and your parents."

"Did you tell Frank and Alice about the prophecy?" James asked.

"Unfortunately, I did not have the chance," Dumbledore said, "I was still trying to understand the prophecy myself. Back then I was entertaining a theory that the prophecy might not play out at all. I knew that Voldemort had heard the first part of the prophecy, yet he had not done anything about it in the many months he had known about it."

"Is that your theory?" James asked, "Because Voldemort seemed to have a keen interest for me in skirmishes months before that Halloween night, months before we moved to Godric's Hollow."

"That is something I had never thought about, to my surprise," Dumbledore said, "I suppose back then it wasn't something I could have noticed. After all, Voldemort had several targets back then in addition to your family and the Longbottoms. I might have thought it was a coincidence. As I was saying, back then, I was entertaining the possibility that I might be able to defeat Voldemort myself, and that the prophecy would be moot. I was very desperate back then to end the Troubles. It was an old man's mistake that I didn't tell you or the Longbottoms about the prophecy back then. By the time I had a chance, you and your family had left Great Britain, and the Longbottoms were in no great state for a discussion."

"I suppose it wasn't something you could write in a letter," James said, "And my visits to Great Britain were brief and far in between. You said you had a question for Rose, Headmaster?"

"Yes," Dumbledore said, "Rose, I am curious as to whether or not you told anyone besides Mr. Longbottom about the prophecy?"

"I told my three best friends," Rose said, "Susan Bones, Hermione Granger, and Nymphadora Tonks."

"They have my wife's Occlumency Pendants, Albus," James said, "Nobody will be able to snatch the information from their minds. That is a promise."

"Do you have any plans to tell anyone else about the prophecy?" Dumbledore asked.

"No, sir," Rose said, "I'm not as close as I'd like to be with my other two dorm-mates, and I don't think my two pen-pals are ready to hear about that news just yet."

Dumbledore nodded. "Very well. I merely advise caution about telling such information to too many people. The Occlumency Pendant is a fascinating invention, but such protection can only do so much. If one untrustworthy individual were to learn this information, it could be catastrophic."

"I understand, sir," Rose said.

"Good," Dumbledore said, "Now, please, ask me any questions you have, Miss Potter. I'll do my best to answer them."

"Do you have any theories as to what the power mentioned in the prophecy is, sir?" Rose asked. "Ever since Daddy told me about the prophecy, I've been trying to come up with an idea as to what it might be."

"What do you believe it is, Miss Potter?" Dumbledore replied.

"Daddy once told me that it was rumored Voldemort doesn't understand love," Rose said, "But -"

"But?" Dumbledore asked.

"How is love supposed to defeat him, sir?" Rose asked, "I'm not supposed to kiss him, am I?"

James gave a loud cough. Dumbledore's lips twitched.

"I very much doubt it, Miss Potter," Dumbledore said, "I'm afraid I am just as bewildered as you are about the 'power' mentioned. I've had eleven years to think about what it might be, and each idea I have sounds as mad as the one before it."

"Perhaps it is some undiscovered spell," James suggested.

"Perhaps," Dumbledore said, with a nod, "However, Voldemort is a very intelligent man, James. He is well-learned in the knowledge of spells, curses, et cetera."

"I'm sure we'll find something that will defeat him," Rose said, "We won't know unless we try, right?"

"Correct!" Dumbledore said. "Next question, Miss Potter?"

"Why did Voldemort target me and not Neville?" Rose asked, "Why me?"

"Your father did not give you the explanation I gave him?" Dumbledore asked, looking from Rose to James.

"It never came up in our conversation," James said, "Sorry, Rosie."

"No big deal, James," Dumbledore said, "I'm afraid I didn't give you the proper explanation when you asked that same question yourself. Rose, it will probably surprise you to know that Voldemort is a half-blood, much like yourself."

"He is?" Rose asked, shocked.

"Voldemort's real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle," Dumbledore said, "His father was a Muggle, and his mother was a pureblood, though she was considered by her family to be a squib. Tom's mother, named Merope, dosed Tom's father – also named Tom – with Love Potion. Merope stopped dosing Tom, Senior soon after she became pregnant with their son. She either believed he would stay with her because of their child, or because he had actually fallen in love with her. Neither was true. He left her alone and pregnant. When it came time to have her child, she was quite sickly. She went to an orphanage and gave birth to young Tom there. She died soon after, and Tom was raised in the same orphanage."

"How do you know this?" Rose asked.

"Tom Marvolo Riddle attended Hogwarts in his youth," Dumbledore said, much to the surprise of both Potters, "I taught him, as a Transfiguration Professor, when he attended. If you were to search the trophy room, you might find his name there. He received a Special Award For Services To The School at one point during his education."

"His trophy is still there?" James asked, "You never removed it after you discovered what he had become?"

"I did not see a reason to do so," Dumbledore said.

"You didn't know what Tom would grow up to be," Rose said.

"No," Dumbledore said, "Unfortunately I did not. I was the first wizard he ever met. I visited the Orphanage he stayed in. He learned about the wizarding world and Hogwarts from myself."

Rose thought about asking what Voldemort was like at her age. But then she decided she didn't want to know.

"I didn't find out about Tom's family origins until after he finished his education," Dumbledore said.

"I'm going to assume not very many people know that he's a half-blood," Rose said.

"You're correct," Dumbledore said, "He's kept it secret. Can you imagine how his followers would react if they discovered their so-called Master was a half-blood and had a Muggle for a father? Most of his followers are purebloods, and most of them are well associated with the Dark Arts."

"Why don't you just reveal this information to the British wizarding society?" Rose asked. "It would create havoc between Voldemort and his followers!"

"Alas, they would call it rumor-mongering and believe it was a lie," Dumbledore said.

"Perhaps most of them would," James said, "But not all of them."

"While I agree that it could be used as a weapon," Dumbledore said, "I do not think it would be wise to reveal such information at this point in time. It would be best to wait until it could affect Voldemort when it needed to hurt the most."

"I can agree with that," James said, nodding.

"To answer your earlier question, Miss Potter," Dumbledore said, "Voldemort targeted you, not Neville, because I believe he felt that as you are a half-blood, like him, you are his equal."

"How am I his equal, Professor?" Rose asked, "I don't understand that at all."

"I believe that is something only you can answer, Miss Potter," Dumbledore said, "You may not have the answer at this moment, but I'm sure you'll discover the answer in time."

Rose frowned. That was not the answer she expected at all. She was about to reply, when she was interrupted, by a sudden bright orange flash of light which nearly made her jump from her seat. Dumbledore's magnificent phoenix appeared from a ball of bright, orange fire. It flew over Dumbledore's desk, dropping a scroll of parchment from its talons, in front of Dumbledore, then flew over to its golden perch and landed on it.

"Thank you, Fawkes, my old friend," Dumbledore said.

The phoenix, Fawkes, crooned in response.

"Forgive me if interrupt this meeting for a moment to take a look at this letter," Dumbledore addressed Rose and James, "If I am correct, this letter may have some importance to this meeting."

Rose and James waited patiently as Dumbledore read over the piece of parchment. When he finished, a smile upturned his lips.

"Miss Potter," he said, "Last night, your father passed on a request to me and said it came from you. It had to do with the prophecy's whereabouts, yes?"

"Yes, sir," Rose said, "I know there is a physical recording of the prophecy, and I wish to destroy it so Voldemort can never obtain it."

"Yes, indeed," Dumbledore said, "All prophecies made in Great Britain are recorded and placed in glass orbs, and taken to a specific room in the Department of Mysteries in the depths of the British Ministry of Magic. Only those whom the prophecy is about – in this case, yourself and Voldemort – may take the orb from where it resides. This letter is from one Algernon Croaker, an Unspeakable for the Department of Mysteries. He also happens to be Neville's Great Uncle."

"Algie," James said, nodding, "I know him well, through Neville's Grandmother, Augusta, who is Algie's sister."

"Algie is a good friend of mine," Dumbledore said. "I sent him a letter regarding your request. You'll be happy to know that he will be pleased to escort you into the Department of Mysteries whenever you deem it the best time. He just needs to know when."

"We can go during the Christmas holidays, Rose," James said.

"Alright," Rose said.

"I'll send Algie a letter myself," James said. "We can set up the meeting then."

"Very well," Dumbledore said, "Do you have any more questions, Miss Potter?"

Rose took a few moments to think of any more questions that she could think of. When she could think of none, she shook her head.

"No, sir," she said.

"Very well," Dumbledore said, "Please know that if you do have any further questions about anything, I will always be willing to answer to the best of my ability. I asked you here today so I could personally give my own assessment about your reaction to the troubling revelation of the prophecy. We have a long road ahead of us concerning Voldemort. Nobody can know for sure what will happen. I'm sure you believe that you, yourself, will have to defeat him because the prophecy says so."

"No, sir," Rose said, "Not because of the prophecy. Because Voldemort believes in the part of the prophecy he knows. He will continue to pursue me until either one of us defeats the other. Therefore, yes, I do believe that it will be up to me to defeat him."

Dumbledore smiled, his eyes twinkling. "That, young lady, is a very mature response. I believe I may have underestimated you when it came to your maturity level."

"As long as it is Voldemort who underestimates me in the end," Rose said.

"He may very well, we can hope," Dumbledore said. "Please know that, like your parents and your friends, I will do my part in making sure the best possible outcome happens in this war against Voldemort."

"Thank you, Headmaster," Rose said.

"I do believe that our meeting can finish here," Dumbledore said, "I'm sure you have some homework you need to be doing before this week's classes begin, or perhaps some studying for beginning-of-month exams."

"Perhaps a bit," Rose said,

"I would not want to keep you from your education," Dumbledore said, "After all, that is why you are here. Have a good evening, Miss Potter."

"You as well, Headmaster," Rose said, getting to her feet.

"Go on, Rose," James said, "I have something I need to discuss with the Headmaster in private."

Rose nodded, and made her way out of the office. Over the next few minutes, she waited against the wall across the gargoyle statue for her father. When he emerged from the stairwell, Rose could tell her father was rather angry about something. However, she knew well enough not to say anything. If her father wanted her to know whatever was discussed between him and Dumbledore, it would have been discussed whilst she had been in the office.

Even if she wanted to chance asking her father about it, her mind was already full of thoughts regarding her own discussion with the Headmaster. So she bid her father a good evening, and hugged him, before parting ways. Her mind was still swimming with thoughts of the discussion by the time she went to bed that evening.

Tuesday, November 4th, 1991

At a quarter-past eleven on the following Tuesday morning, Lily Potter was preparing one of the small tables on the back patio of Potter Manor, for a small lunch for two. The kitchen-elves were currently preparing the meal itself. The weather in Northampton, England was beautiful for an early November day, and Lily had decided to take advantage of it. The patio was a much better spot for a meal between two people than the large Event Room where most of the meals were usually held.

In just a few minutes, Lily would be hosting Augusta Longbottom, the Lady Regent of the Ancient and Noble House of Longbottom. Madam Longbottom had sent owl post to Lily the previous evening, requesting a meeting. Lily had immediately accepted and had invited Madam Longbottom to Potter Manor for lunch and a discussion, to be held whenever Madam Longbottom decided would be a good date and time. Lily had been rather surprised to find that the 'good date and time' would be the following afternoon.

The three youngest Potter children were currently at Black Manor, as they usually were twice a week for their educational classes taught by Sirius and Amelia Black, and Remus Lupin. They wouldn't return until late in the afternoon, so Lily was quite fine with accepting Madam Longbottom that day.

Half-an-hour earlier, Lily had placed Augusta's name in the Permission Wards, so that the defenses wouldn't harm her when she arrived.. Augusta would be arriving via Floo Network.

Lily wondered what Madam Longbottom could possibly want to discuss with her. Whilst Lily was well-acquainted with Madam Longbottom, she hadn't spoken to the woman in over a decade. Lily had thought it might be about Augusta's grandson – and Lily's godson – Neville. Perhaps the Lady Regent wished to discuss the fact that Lily had done a part in purchasing a wand for Neville? However, that had been done in September, and Madam Longbottom would have definitely contacted her before then if that was the issue. So this was something else. Whatever it was, it made Lily most curious.

At precisely twelve-o-clock sharp, the Head House-Elf of the Potter Family appeared on the patio, leading a elderly, but intimidating woman. She was wearing silver and black feminine dress robes, and she had a vulture-stuffed hat on her head.

"Lady Lily," Melina said, "Augusta Longbottom, Lady Regent of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Longbottom, has arrived."

Lily wasn't at all surprised to hear such formality from Melina. It was one of her quirks she had ever since being named the Head House-Elf the previous summer.

"Greetings, Madam Longbottom," Lily said, smiling warmly.

"Lily, how many years have we known each other?" Augusta asked, "No need for such pompous formality. This isn't a Wizengamot session or a social party."

"Lunch will be served in fifteen minutes, Lady Lily," Melina said, "Would either of you like a drink before lunch?"

"Gillywater, if you have any, kind elf," Augusta said.

"Iced tea, please, Melina," Lily said.

The requested drinks appeared in front of the two women.

"Thank you, Melina," Lily said, "You may be excused."

Melina bowed slightly, snapped her fingers and vanished.

"It is lovely to see you, Augusta," Lily said, "I'm sorry I haven't met with you since my family and I returned to England. Please have a seat."

Augusta sat down at the small table, and set her vulture-stuffed hat in a neighboring chair. Lily sat down across from her.

"Lily, may I say that you are most certainly glowing," Augusta said, "Pregnancy does you plenty of good."

Lily laughed lightly. "I'd hope so, given that this is my fourth time. And hopefully the last. How are Frank and Alice? James and I visited them last summer, and I've been meaning to go for another visit lately, but I've been so busy with the children, my pregnancy and life in general."

"I wish I could say things have gotten better for my son and his wife," Augusta said, "But there hasn't been any change in their behavior or diagnosis in years. I know the ward they're living in is called the Permanent Ward for a reason, but Healers are called Healers for a reason! Sometimes I feel as if the money I am paying St. Mungo's is simply babysitting instead of healing services!"

"I didn't know you felt about this so strongly, Augusta," Lily said, "Forgive me for saying so, but I had wondered if you had just decided it was inevitable that Frank and Alice would never leave St. Mungo's."

"Oh, Lily," Augusta said, sadly, "I am not at all surprised you feel that way. It is true. A couple years ago, you might have never heard this type of talk from me when it came to my son and his wife. But lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking. I'm an old witch, Lily."

"Oh, Augusta," Lily said, smiling, "You're not old, certainly nowhere near as old as Professor Dumbledore."

Augusta snorted softly. "Sometimes it seems as if that old codger is going to live forever. My point, Lily, is this. What if I were to pass away before Neville finishes his education at Hogwarts? If Frank and Alice are still in the current state they're in when if that were to happen, Neville would not only be on his own, but he would take over as Head of the Family officially. I don't think he would be ready for that. It should be Frank's job. Neville needs his parents. My heart breaks more and more every time I see him with his parents. That is what is going to kill me, Lily. A broken heart. You can bet your husband's fortune on that."

"Augusta, I'm sure you're going to be around for a long time," Lily said, "Long enough to see your grandson have his own babies. Long enough that if – Merlin forbid it – Frank and Alice are never cured Neville will take his title as Head of his family and be worthy of it."

"Oh, I do hope you're right," Augusta said, "But on the off-chance -"

"As you are probably aware of," Lily said, "Frank and Alice named James and I as Neville's godparents. If something were to happen to you then you can rest assured that James and I would be here for Neville. Neville is a wonderful young man. My eldest, Rose, is good friends with him."

"Yes," Augusta said, "Neville wrote to me all about meeting his god-sister and godparents. I am sorry I did not contact you after you bought Neville his new wand."

"That wasn't necessary, Augusta," Lily said, "I was quite lax in my role as Neville's godmother, especially when giving him birthday and Christmas gifts. A wand seemed like a good equivalent of ten years of missing out. However, I do apologize if you feel I overstepped my boundaries."

"Nonsense, it was a thoughtful gift," Augusta said. "I had hoped Frank's old wand would have attuned to Neville. It would make Neville feel closer to his father. But that did not happen. And Neville, the poor boy, if he was having trouble with Frank's wand, I don't think he would have ever told me about it. He probably thought he would have offended me."

Augusta frowned and sighed deeply.

"At least," she continued, "That is what I used to expect out of him. Very recently, he's undergone a personality change I did not expect from him for at least a few years."

"Is something wrong with Neville?" Lily asked, in a concerned tone.

"I don't think that is the proper term for it, Lily," Augusta said. "And – forgive me for saying this – I do believe you, your husband and your daughter are to blame for it."

Lily raised her eyebrows. "I see. Why do you say that?"

Augusta pursed her lips. "I received a most curious letter from Neville on Sunday. On Sunday morning, he had a discussion with your daughter. Apparently the discussion had to do with something involving a prophecy."

Lily nodded slightly. So this was why Augusta had wished to meet with her. Rose had told Neville about the prophecy, and Neville had told his grandmother about it. Lily knew that Rose had told Neville the prophecy, as well as Susan Bones, Hermione Granger, and Nymphadora Tonks. Her husband had mentioned this exact thing to her on Sunday evening during a long conversation.

"He refused to share the prophecy in the letter, citing security reasons," Augusta said, "I didn't understand it at the time. But Neville also told me that he had spoken to Albus Dumbledore about the prophecy."

Lily wasn't surprised about this part. James had told her he suspected that Neville might have talked to Dumbledore about the prophecy. She now had confirmation. She just didn't realize Augusta would have found out about it.

"So," Augusta continued, "Yesterday morning, I wrote to Albus Dumbledore, and a couple hours later I was seated in his office, as I learned all about this prophecy."

"That must have been an interesting discussion," Lily said.

"Oh, I ripped the old codger a new one," Augusta said, "He should have told me about this prophecy after those bastards attacked my family ten years ago! I thought the attack had something to do with Charlus Potter's Great Alliance, that Voldemort was simply targeting another member of the Alliance. That bastard was targeting my grandson. My grandson! He wasn't even out of nappies at the time!"

Augusta took a sip of her drink, so Lily took advantage of the elderly woman's moment of silence to speak up.

"Albus revealed the prophecy to my husband in early September," Lily said, "But James didn't tell me until Halloween. We decided to tell Rose the prophecy, and she learned it shortly after I did. We gave Rose permission to tell a few friends about the prophecy, but told her to be cautious about it. Perhaps it was a mistake to allow Rose to tell Neville without speaking to you first about it. Especially given the contents of the prophecy. Augusta, I don't know if Albus made this clear, but the 'one' referred to in the prophecy is my daughter, Rose."

"Oh, Albus made that explicitly clear, Lily," Augusta said. "Neville only escaped fate because Voldemort, the mad bastard, decided he wanted to attack your family first that Halloween night. His Death Eaters didn't attack my family until the following day. So I am sure if Voldemort had succeeded in his attacks against your family – which thankfully he did not – he would have come after mine on his own. I am well aware of the unfortunate fate that has been placed upon your daughter. Please know that I am not upset with you, your husband or your daughter. I did not come here to yell at you, Lily."

"Well, that makes me feel so much better," Lily said, with a smile. "Though I am curious as to the reason for a face-to-face meeting."

"Let me clear this up first," Augusta said, "According to the prophecy, your daughter has some mysterious power that can defeat Voldemort."

"That's what the prophecy says," Lily said, "While James and I want to protect Rose, while we want it to be us who has to deal with putting Voldemort down for good, Rose believes it must be her to do it."

"Do you think she is right?" Augusta asked.

"Unfortunately, yes, Augusta," Lily said, frowning, "As much as I hate it with every fiber of my heart, I do believe it will be Rose who defeats Voldemort. It doesn't matter if the prophecy says that exactly. Voldemort believes in the prophecy, as much of it he has heard at least."

"Therefore he will hunt Rose down to whatever end," Augusta said.

"Rose has defeated him twice now," Lily said, "Even if she wasn't prophecized to defeat him, he wouldn't let that go."

"True," Augusta said, with a deep sigh. "You asked, Lily, why I wished to meet with you. From his letters, I can clearly tell that Neville has become close with Rose."

"They're very good friends," Lily said, "Augusta, I'm not sure if this is where you're going with this, but James and I have no plans to betroth my daughter to anyone in the near future."

Augusta laughed lightly. "Oh, Lily, I apologize if that was how I sounded. I am well aware that Betrothal Contracts are out of the picture for your daughter. I do not wish to betroth Neville to Rose. I am quite pleased that the two of them have become friends. My Neville has obviously become quite close to House Potter recently. In fact, he has told me that he wants to help your daughter with her destiny. According to him, Rose and some of her other friends will be starting dueling training soon."

"James plans to start officially training Rose in dueling as early as next summer," Lily said, "I do believe he is planning on inviting some of Rose's friends to join. Neville is, of course, welcome to join as well."

"I will allow Neville to join," Augusta said, "Since Neville seems so adamant in helping Rose with her apparent destiny, I suppose it is best if I throw my name in the metaphorical hat as well."

"Well, thank you, Augusta," Lily said.

"It would have happened anyway, I am sure," Augusta said.

At that moment, Melina chose to appear near the table.

"Lady Lily, Madam Longbottom," she said, "Lunch is served."

She snapped her fingers, and plates of Yorkshire pudding, along with a few side dishes appeared on the table. Lily thanked the elf, who bowed and vanished once again. Lily and Augusta began to fill their plates.

"Lily, perhaps you can confirm something I've heard amongst the gossip," Augusta said, once her plate was filled, "I've heard that James is officially planning on bringing back the Great Alliance?"

"Yes, he is," Lily said, "As far as I know, he is planning to host a gathering here at Potter Manor the day before the Winter Solstice Session in December. He is planning on inviting the Great Alliance, as well as other Houses and families we've allied with who may be joining the Alliance in the future. He wishes to announce the return of the Great Alliance at the Winter Solstice Session."

"Excellent," Augusta said, "The House of Longbottom will, of course, be happy to take our place in the Great Alliance once again."

"James will be quite pleased to hear that," Lily said. "I do not know exactly what his plans are, but I'm sure we'll all find out during the gathering of the Great Alliance."

"I look forward to it," Augusta said.

With the important issues of the lunch meeting done with, the two ladies enjoyed their lunch with some discussion far more pleasant than the previous issues. Lily had a wonderful time entertaining Augusta with stories of her family's time at Isle Potter, and she also enjoyed listening to Augusta's stories. She considered the entire lunch meeting a great success.

Sunday, November 9th, 1991

Sunday afternoon found James Potter in the enormous Event Room at Potter Manor. He was hosting a small lunch with his wife, Lily and best friends, Sirius and Amelia Black, and Remus Lupin. The Potter and Black children were currently outside playing Quidditch after finishing up with their own lunch. Lily was currently discussing the finer points of her meeting with Augusta Longbottom earlier that week.

"I must admit I am rather surprised Madam Longbottom took the whole prophecy so well," Remus commented, "Having to find out such an important and serious bit of information from her own grandson could not have been pleasant. I imagine she wasn't exactly happy with Albus."

"I wondered why Albus didn't seem his usual cheery self last Monday during dinner," James said, "Having been thoroughly lambasted by Augusta Longbottom would ruin one's day."

"We can speak from experience on that one, can't we, James?" Sirius said, "I still remember when we escorted Frank home after his bachelor party at the Three Broomsticks. Frank was quite pissed. I don't know who was louder: Alice or Augusta. I still don't know what they were so angry about!"

"You kept serving him firewhiskies even after he became drunk, Sirius," Remus said.

"I know that!" Sirius said, "I just don't know why Alice and Augusta were angry."

"Frank and Alice's wedding was the following afternoon," Amelia said, "I do remember Alice being quite upset, thinking Frank wasn't going to be perfectly normal during the wedding thanks to the bachelor party. I distinctly remember the words 'those damned Marauders!' coming from Alice."

Lily laughed. "I remember that. Alice wasn't exactly happy with the groom's side of the wedding party."

"I still remember Augusta's ranting," Sirius said, "I don't know whether to feel sorry for Dumbledore or laugh at him. I'd say he deserves it though. Albus should have revealed the prophecy long ago. Hell, he should have done it long before that Halloween night."

"True," James said.

"So there is something I've been meaning to discuss with all of you," Sirius said. "Amy knows some of it."

"Even then, I don't entirely know what to think about it," Amelia said.

"What's up, Padfoot?" James asked.

"Two words, Prongs," Sirius said, "Marauder Inc."

"Ink?" James asked, "What? Like our own brand of invisible ink? I'm not exactly sure how you could improve on the various products of the same sort."

"Not Ink! Inc!" Sirius exclaimed, "Incorporated! Marauder Incorporated!"

"So... a business?" Remus asked.

"Exactly!" Sirius said, "When we met them last Saturday, Fred and George Weasley told me that they're hoping to open a joke shop after they finish their education. I was rather curious about that. I told them that their opposition would be Zonko's Joke Shop. Obviously they knew that. So I wondered what they were going to have that would make them different and better than Zonko's. They discussed creating their own brand of various products. Things that Zonko's doesn't sell. One of their ideas was something they called 'weaponized jokes'."

"Weapons?" Lily asked.

"They assured me that it wouldn't be anything too harmful," Sirius said. "It would be more like objects of distraction. However, that got me thinking. We all know that before too long, we're all going to be in the middle of another war. People are going to need protection. That is where Marauder, Incorporated comes in. You see, we're anticipating the coming war. There aren't very many out there who are doing that. We can take advantage of it. We could create and sell protection and defensive products. Such as Lily's Occlumency Pendants. Lily, you're amazing with your inventions and spell creations. I'm sure you have several ideas we could use."

"Sure," Lily said, "I've been wondering what I am going to do with everything I'm planning. How to sell it, and such."

"Marauder, Incorporated," Sirius said. "We could also partner up with Fred and George Weasley. They'll have their joke shop, and if they create 'weaponized jokes', it could be part of our business, and they would get much of the profit on that end."

"Marauder, Inc," James said, nodding, "I like it. However, Sirius. I was under the impression that you were going to join the Auror Department."

Sirius shrugged. "If I'm an Auror, I'll be restricted to limitations when the inevitable war against Voldemort begins. With Marauder, Inc, I can dedicate my time to doing things focused on the war, and when the war comes, do my part without being limited."

"What do you think, Lily?" James asked.

"I like it," Lily said, nodding, "I'm sure we can create several products that nobody else would be selling."

"Exactly," Sirius said, "How about a vote. Aye or nay for Marauder, Inc?"

There were five unanimous 'ayes'.

"We'll discuss plans over the next few weeks," Sirius said. "Hopefully, by the new year we'll have something definitive to set up."

"Keep me updated while I'm at Hogwarts," James said, "I'll be happy to do my part when I am finished with my Professor duties. Okay. There is something I need to tell everyone. I figured that now would be the best time to do it. I found out something quite troubling last Sunday."

"I don't remember you mentioning anything too troubling about the meeting between you, Rose and Dumbledore," Lily said, then narrowed her eyes, "You've been keeping something from me again."

"I did this for your benefit, Lily," James said.

"My benefit?" Lily echoed, "What does that mean?"

"It means I didn't want you to do something that might have landed you in Azkaban," James said, "Believe me, it has taken everything I have had in me to be on my best behavior for the past week."

"What is it, James?" Lily asked, frowning as she looked at her husband, "What do you know?"

James cleared his throat again. "After Rose finished asking her questions to Albus, I realized there was something she hadn't asked. Then I realized she might not have asked the question because she didn't want to know. So, after Rose left Albus' office, I remained behind to ask the question that was on my mind..."

(Sunday, November 2nd, 1991)

"Go on, Rose," James said, "I have something I need to discuss with the Headmaster in private."

James waited as Rose stood and left the Headmaster's office. Then he cleared his throat. He had a feeling that whatever answers he was about to get from Dumbledore, he was not going to like it.

"There was one question Rose did not ask, Albus," James said, "One I feel must be answered."

"Ask away, my boy," Dumbledore said.

"I've been thinking a lot about what you said about the night Sybill Trelawney gave the prophecy," James said. "I've been going through some facts in my head. Fact: a Death Eater was eavesdropping on your meeting with Sybill. Fact: the owner and barman of the Hog's Head caught the Death Eater eavesdropping, but the Death Eater only heard the first two lines of the prophecy. Fact: your brother, Aberforth, is the owner and barman.

"Now, I'm not exactly aware of how your relationship is with your brother Albus. But I'm going to assume that Aberforth told you who the Death Eater was. Now, the only way that you could know that the Death Eater heard the first two lines of the prophecy was if you confronted the Death Eater yourself, or Aberforth knew what the Death Eater had heard. I am betting on the former.

"So, here is my conclusion. You know exactly who the Death Eater was. I need to know who it is, Albus."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, James," Dumbledore said.

"You're still protecting them," James said, "For Merlin's sake, Albus, this Death Eater is responsible for Voldemort discovering the prophecy. They are partially to blame for Voldemort attacking my family! Why on earth would you protect a –?"

James stopped mid-sentence as a thought came to his mind. There was only one Death Eater that James knew who Dumbledore would protect. The same man who had been in Dumbledore's employ for several years...

"Albus," James said, "Please tell me it isn't him."

"James," Dumbledore said.

"There is only one Death Eater you would protect, Albus," James said, "Snape, that son of a bitch!"

"James," Dumbledore repeated.

"Don't try to lie to me, Albus!" James growled.

"You cannot possibly know what Severus had to personally endure," Dumbledore said, "When he discovered who Voldemort was going to target, he came to me. Asked me to protect you and your family."

"My family and I," James said, "Or just Lily?"

James was well aware of Severus' feelings for his wife.

"He asked me to protect you, your wife and your child, James," Dumbledore said.

"So that suddenly makes him a good person?" James said, "I could have lost my entire family because of Voldemort that Halloween night. Because of Snape! Lily was pregnant with the twins, Albus! I've already had to deal with one traitor, and that was someone I thought was a good friend of mine. What do you think I'll do to a traitor who has never had anything nice to say about me?!"

"James," Dumbledore said, "You need to let me handle this. You need to know this before you do anything rash: Severus turned away from the Death Eaters after your family was attacked, James. He became my spy. It would be disastrous if something happened to Severus. Especially since Voldemort is so close to becoming a threat once again."

"I don't see how that is my problem, Albus," James said, "I can never forgive Snape for this. Ever. You have one week. One week from today, I'll tell Lily and my friends about this. Then we'll decide what to do about it."

Dumbledore gave a heavy sigh. "Very well. One week."

Sunday, November 9th, 1991

As James finished his story, he looked around at his wife and friends. Sirius looked beyond angry. Amelia looked shocked, and was obviously still trying to comprehend the new information. Remus looked thoughtful, but with a hint of anger.

Lily's eyes were brimming with unshed tears. James could understand what she was going through. Severus Snape had been her very first friend in the wizarding world. They were friends for years before an argument shattered their friendship, and the relationship was never the same. Now she had learned her one-time best friend had played a role in almost killing her and her family.

"I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to endure Snape this past week, James," Remus said.

"It was very difficult," James said, "Of course, I thought Dumbledore would have heeded my warning. I thought Snape would have left Hogwarts sometime in the last week."

"Which means one of two things," Amelia said, "Either Dumbledore has not spoken to Snape about this. Or Snape knows and – hell, I don't know what that could mean."

"I don't think Albus has told Severus yet," Lily said. "Albus knows of my history with Severus. I'm sure he's hoping that I will stop you from doing anything about Severus, James."

"Will you?" James asked.

"No," Lily said, "You were right about what I would do once I heard about this. Tomorrow, I am going up to Hogwarts and I'll be talking to Severus."

"I'll be right by your side," James said, "You can't stop me."

Lily smiled. "I wouldn't dream of it. Sirius, Amy, what do you say about hosting a sleepover for the children at your house this evening?"

Amelia smiled. "I think that sounds like a fine idea."

"Do you want me to come to Hogwarts with you tomorrow, James?" Sirius asked.

"No, Sirius," James said, "I know what you're thinking -"

"I'm thinking I want to jam that traitor bastard's wand where the sun don't shine!" Sirius growled.

"Like I said," James said, with a wry smile, "I know what you're thinking. I can't let that happen. Not yet. Lily and I need to speak to Severus. And if it comes to it, well, I might let you have your fun. Remus..."

"I'll keep an eye on Sirius tomorrow," Remus said.

Sirius huffed. "Some friend you are, Moony."

"Do you want me to babysit you?" Remus asked, "Or have your wife do it?"

Sirius winced as he looked at Amelia who was staring at him with raised eyebrows.

"Don't have too much fun without me, Prongs," he muttered.

"I'll do my best," James said, "Now... we need to discuss options here on how to deal with Severus."

"And maybe Dumbledore too," Amelia said, "It sounds as if he'll do a lot to protect his spy."

James huffed. "He won't cross me. It is mine and Lily's decision on whether Rose remains in England. Dumbledore will likely do anything to make sure Rose does stay."

"Which is why we need to be careful, James," Lily said.

"True," James conceded. "So... what are we going to do?"

Whew, that chapter took forever! But I loved every moment of it. I'm sure when some of you finished the portion of Rose's meeting with Dumbledore, you were angry that James' discussion with Dumbledore was left a mystery. But I thought it would be better at the latter end of the chapter.

Next chapter: James and Lily speak to Snape and Dumbledore. Even I am not sure what is going to happen! And... possibly a time skip to the winter holidays. I have a lot planned for the winter holiday break and I want to get to it!

Hope you liked this chapter!