6th Year: April
It was a warm May evening and James Potter was sat on one of the comfy arm chairs by the fire, looking through 'Quidditch through the Ages' for about the millionth time. Peter was on the couch across from him, hastily trying to study for the Charms exam they had the next day, Miriam Rushwood next to him, constantly looking between the book in her hands and James' face.
"Hey Prongs," Peter called out. "Can you show me that wand movement for the Cheering Charm again?"
"Sure, Wormy," James agreed a little hesitantly, a look of annoyance passing across his face. He waved his arm around and did the complicated movement. "There you go." And he turned back to reading his magazine. Miri, having looked up at the exchange, saw the look that had crossed James' face. Concerned for her longtime friend she said,
"James. Why don't you just go and talk to her. She seems to be coming around." She smiled a bit.
James looked up at her. "She made it quite clear that she doesn't want to associate with me. And for the first time in my life . . . I'm listening." He had a slight edge to his voice. Miri sat back against the couch, sighing heavily. Things had been going great all year. Effie had finally gotten the courage to admit that she had feelings for Remus and Remus had finally gotten the courage to act on his feelings and ever since mid December they had been dating. And to the joy of Miri, this had forced The Marauders and her friends to hang around with each other for the past four months. But the other day during lunch, Lily and James had a row about something stupid and now they weren't speaking to each other, both too stubborn to apologize to the other. This made Miri upset. It had seemed like Lily was actually warming up to James and might even consider going on a date with him, but now . . .
Just as Miri was turning back to her book, the portrait hole opened. Hoping beyond hope that it was Lily, she was disappointed to see Sirius. He had a strange look on his face, a cross between fear and glee. He spotted the three of them by the fire and rushed over, flashing a smile at a group of girls as he passed. Finally he reached them.
"Miri, could you excuse us, please?" he asked. She eyed Sirius wearily as she stood up.
"Sure," she said, and then turned to James, "just think about it." And with that said she crossed the room and disappeared up the Girls' staircase.
Sirius sat down on the seat next to Wormtail that Miri had just vacated, put his head in his hands, and sighed.
James looked up from his magazine when he heard Sirius sigh. "What's got your knickers in a twist?" he asked, a playful smile forming across his handsome features, his hazel eyes dancing with merriment at the sudden appearance of his best friend.
Sirius looked up at him, opened his mouth like he was going to say something and then closed it again. James, sensing something wrong with his best friend, threw aside his book and looked Sirius dead in the face. "Padfoot, mate. What's wrong?"
Sirius looked up at James again. "I think I've done something wrong. Terribly wrong," was all he said.
"What did you do?" concern filled James' eyes.
"I told Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow." He said it so low that James had to strain his ears to hear. And when he did, he was not to happy with his best mate, to say the least.
"YOU WHAT?!" he yelled. Everyone in the common room turned to look at the three boys, James red in the face with anger, Sirius white with shock. And Peter with a confused look on his face.
"James, I . . .'
"When?" he asked through clenched teeth.
"After lunch." Sirius hung his head again.
James glared at his best friend one more time. "You stay here. Just wait up in the dormitory for me to get back." He said angrily to Sirius. "Pete, go to Professor Dumbledore. He'll know what to do." The other boy gave him a small nod before rushing out of the portrait hole. Once he was gone, James turned and headed toward the Boys' staircase.
"Where are you going?" Sirius was right on his heels.
"To try and stop Snape."
"At least let me come and help." Sirius pleaded.
James rounded on his best friend. "I've think you've done enough damage, Sirius." He then briskly opened their dormitory door and rushed to his trunk. He pulled out the Marauder's Map. He muttered 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good' and scanned the map for Snape, finally finding his dot walking through the Entrance Hall. James swore silently to himself. He threw the map on his bed, ran out of the room as fast as he could, and stormed out through the portrait hole, nearly knocking over Lily Evans as she entered. He passed her and ran through the halls. Damn you, Sirius, he thought.
Back in the common room, Lily was standing next to Sirius, staring out the portrait hole that James had just gone through, the latter having followed him back down the steps.
"What was that about?" asked a confused Lily.
Sirius swore loudly, causing Lily to give him a warning look. But he didn't care. He had to help James. He started out the portrait after him, running just as fast.
"Sirius?" Lily called. But the boy did not turn around.
Lily looked toward the Girls' staircase. She had a ton of homework that she should be working on, but her curiosity was getting the best of her. She turned around and followed the two boys.
By the time James got outside, he could just make out the silhouette of Severus Snape in front of the Whomping Willow .He cursed some more and ran harder than he ever had before. Just as the Willow came into view he used his wand to pick up a spare branch off the ground to prod the knot on the tree. At once the tree froze and James quickly slipped into the little hole that was made at the base of the tree.
Sirius and Lily made it outside just in time to see James disappear into the Willow.
"Where did he go? What is going on?" Lily asked. She was a little worried now. Whatever was going on was obviously serious.
Sirius ignored her questions and continued to run towards the Willow. When he was just a few feet away from it, he turned towards Lily.
"Lily, you need to get out of here. This is very dangerous."
"And leave you and James to fend for yourselves against a werewolf? I don't think so!" she said stubbornly.
Sirius stared at her with a shocked look on his face. "You know about Remus?"
"Since second year," she said a little shyly.
"Does Effie know?"
"Yes. We figured it out together. But don't tell Remus. She wants him to tell her on his own. You understand, right?" She fixed him with a serious look.
He just shook his head, a bit shocked. Little did they know that as they were talking they had slowly inched forward, toward the tree. Before they could realize their mistake, a long branch came and knocked them both a few feet away. They both felt a sharp blow, Lily to her head and Sirius in his stomach. They fell to the ground where they lay unconscious.
James was running through the tunnel. He knew the tunnel well and moved through it fairly easily. He was hoping that since Snape didn't, he would be able to catch up to the other boy in time. After a few minutes of running, James could finally see another shape making its way slowly up the slope of the tunnel. James realized with dread how close they were to the entrance to the Shrieking Shack.
"Snape!" he called, hoping to get the other boy's attention. Snape turned around and fixed James with a sneering look.
"You're too late, Potter. I already know about your filthy friend and in a few moments I'll have enough proof to throw you all out of the school." His eyes were dancing with merriment as he turned around and rushed through the tunnel, a little faster this time.
"Dammit!" James swore loudly. He ran again to catch up with Snape. As he rounded the next corner he saw Snape standing there, looking shell-shocked. He had wrenched the door to the Shack open and there standing in front of him was the real Moony. Both Snape and the werewolf had shocked looks on their faces.
James knew what he had to do, but he hated the thought of hurting one of his friends. 'I'm so sorry, Moony' he thought as he sent a jet of red light at the werewolf. The impact of the spell caused the werewolf to go flying into the wall behind him. That moment, James grabbed Snape by the arm and pulled him back down the tunnel. Snape was walking in a sort of daze. All of a sudden there was a loud angry howl. James and Snape turned around, both white with fear. 'Damn! I forgot to shut the door,' James thought.
Both he and Snape turned around and ran as hard as they could. But it was no use. James could hear the sound of Moony's paws hitting the ground as he ran and the growls escaping through his teeth. James was shooting hex after hex blindly behind him, hoping that one would hit the wolf and he would stop. Just as the exit by the willow came into view, James felt a white-hot pain shoot across his shoulder. He clenched his teeth and held back the scream threatening to rip through his lips. He saw Snape escape through the hole, he turned around just in time to get a blow from the werewolf's claws across his chest. He fell to the ground. As the wolf was getting ready to strike again, James aimed his wand at the wolf's chest, mustered up all the energy he could, and shot another stunning charm at the wolf. Just as he had in the Shack, the wolf flew through the tunnel and hit the wall behind him. Whimpering and sensing defeat, the wolf turned around and headed back toward the Shack. When the wolf disappeared, James let loose a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. He winced as he picked himself off the ground. Staggering a bit, he headed for the exit.
As James exited the hole, he was met with one of the branches from the Whomping Willow. He was tossed through the air and landed a few feet from a recently awakened Lily Evans, who was rubbing her head gingerly. Peering down into her hands, she noticed blood from a small gash that had been left by the Willow. James landed face-first in the grass, and had broken his fall with his arm, in turn breaking his wrist. Lily looked up, startled at the sudden arrival. A few feet away Sirius was also stirring. Snape still lay on the ground. It seemed as though the shock from his encounter with the werewolf combined with the sudden hit from the Willow knocked him out. Sirius opened his mouth as to explain, but was cut off as a shadow engulfed the four students. They looked up and were met with the electric blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore. There was no amusement dancing in his eyes this time, instead, disappointment and fear was clearly visible. He silently waved his wand through the warm air and conjured a stretcher to carry Snape.
"Miss Evans. Kindly help Mr. Potter here to my office." He then turned and led the students back towards the castle. Lily slipped her arm under James and supported some of his weight. Silently, the three remaining students followed in Dumbledore's wake.
It seemed like only a few seconds to the three students by the time they had arrived at Dumbledore's office. The Headmaster was currently absent since he had taken an unconscious Snape to the Hospital Wing. James was sitting on the floor next to the stone Gargoyle guarding the entrance to Dumbledore's office, the color slowly draining from his face and his shirt stained red. Sirius was slumped against the wall opposite him with his head in his hands as Lily paced the space between the two, mumbling incoherently to herself a nervous look on her face. Every once in a while she would stop and look at either James or Sirius but would then continue her pacing.
A few moments after they arrived, Dumbledore came back. He looked at the three students in front of him and silently turned to the gargoyle and muttered the password. He led the students into his office and motioned for them to sit down. They did so without question.
"I believe we have a bit of a problem." Dumbledore stated calmly. He fixed his gaze on Sirius. "Would you care to explain, Mr. Black?"
Sirius looked miserably at his feet. "Well . . . you see . . . I . . . um." Then he launched into an explanation of what had happened.
"You see sir, a few days ago, one of our friends, Effie Zale, was attacked by some Slytherin's. I came upon them as they were fleeing the scene. I saw Sniv- . . . I mean Snape. I couldn't let him get away with it so I decided that he needed to be scared as much as Effie had been. So I came up with the idea to show him Moon- . . . I mean Remus to give him a scare. I never intended to actually hurt him or anyone else. I'm sorry sir." As he finished, Sirius looked down at his feet. Lily saw the hurt and sympathy that crossed the boy's face and felt a tug at her heart. Dumbledore gave a curt nod, then he fixed his gaze on the other two.
"And where do you two come into this story?"
"Well sir, Sirius came into the common room and told us what he had done. So I rushed off to try and help Snape. No matter how much I dislike him, I couldn't let him meet Remus face-to-face, I knew he would never survive." James said, looking paler than he had out in the hall. Lily felt a rush of pride and affection wash over her at James' statement. Once again, Dumbledore gave a nod of understanding, then turned his attention to Lily.
"I really have no excuse sir," She said, a little ashamed. "just that my curiosity got the better of me."
"Okay, then. Miss Evans, would you please escort Mr. Potter to the Hospital Wing? He's looking a bit peaky and you should have your head examined" He gave her a small smile which she returned without thinking. She then quickly positioned her arm around James again and led him towards the Hospital. Once they were there the nurse swooped upon them like a hawk on prey.
"I don't know what you children are up to. Dangerous and crazy if you ask me," she mumbled to herself as she saw James and Lily enter through the doors. "Put him on that bed." She pointed to the bed farthest from Snape, and for that Lily was grateful. "You should take the bed next to him, dearie. I'll take a look at that nasty cut across your head as soon as I'm done with Mr. Potter here." After making sure that James was okay, Lily sat on the bed next to his. A few minutes later James was asleep and the nurse had healed Lily's head. She wanted to keep both overnight to make sure there was no lasting damage.
The next morning when they woke up they were joined by Remus. Once awake, James explained to him what had happened the night before. Remus was, to say the least, beyond angry. Sirius tried to apologize to him later that morning, but Remus would not even acknowledge him. Sirius then moved over to Lily and James to say his apologies. Lily of course accepted his, saying that he had not made her come and, therefore, it was not his fault. James was a little hesitant at first but in the end had accepted the apology.
Sirius was not expelled, to everyone's surprise. Instead he had a detention every day for the rest of the year and had to personally apologize to Snape, something he wasn't too happy about doing, but felt that he owed it to the other boy. Somehow the whole incident was kept quiet. Dumbledore made Snape promise he wouldn't tell anyone what he had seen, and it shocked everyone who knew, that he kept that promise. No one except Snape, Sirius, Remus, James, Peter and Lily knew what had happened that night. It took the better part of two months for Remus to finally forgive Sirius, but by the end of school he did and everything returned to normal, or as normal as things could be for the nine Gryffindor's. To everyone's relief, James and Lily were friends again. Apparently 'The Incident', which is what they refer to it as, brought them closer together. What scared Lily though were the feelings she had for James that had started to develop as they became friends. Even though she would never admit them to her friends, she couldn't deny them to herself. She was thankful when the summer holidays were on them and she could finally escape to the muggle world and away from James Potter.
A/N: I know, I know. That was a weak ending, but I am sorry. I hope you liked that chapter though. Read & Review please! =)