Lily awoke in the Charms classroom, lying atop a large, plush cushion. She blinked her eyes groggily and looked to her friend Alice who stood several feet away, her face beaming. Around the room students of all ages were practicing a variety of charms, jinxes, counter-curses and minor hexes, supervised by tiny Professor Flitwick in case anything went horribly wrong.
Rising from the cushion, Lily grinned back at her friend. “Great work, Alice! It’s hard to believe that when you cast that jinx on me a couple of hours ago, I felt as though I had drunk an entire pot of coffee.” She stretched luxuriously. “And that magical nap does wonders! I feel like I’ve had a whole hour’s sleep.”
“An hour and ten minutes, actually,” Alice said sheepishly. “It took me half an hour to find the spell to wake you up, and another forty minutes to cast it correctly. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to practice; I promise when we get back from Hogsmeade this weekend I’ll work with you until you can do it, too.”
Alice and Lily parted company on the stairs; that is to say that the stairs parted them, as the gradations were wont to move of their own accord. Lily waved in valediction as the flight upon which she stood swung anti-clockwise from where it had been, and stepped hastily from it onto ground that was, although equally firm, refreshingly less capricious. Dismally she took stock of her surroundings; she was farther from the Gryffindor Common Room than when she’d got on the bloody stairs, drat the luck. Lily sighed and began to walk down the empty hallway, her footsteps echoing eerily off of the stone walls. If she went by way of the Hospital Wing at a quick pace, she might just make it back before curfew.
The light of the full moon caused ghostly silhouettes to sway a macabre dance before her as Lily neared Madam Pomfrey’s infirmary. Within the Hospital Wing voices were conferring in hushed tones, but the great oak doors – usually closed to promote an atmosphere of quiet restfulness – had been shut in haste and one remained slightly ajar, allowing Lily to catch snatches of the conversation.
“…the poor boy might have been killed…”
“…brought him in? The Potter boy?...”
“…ought to be expelled…”
“…sent an owl to the Snapes…”
Lily ran the rest of the way to the Gryffindor Common Room, barely slowing long enough to whisper the password to the portrait of an enormous lady in a pink dress that was the students’ safeguard against unwelcome visitors. Only a few students were still awake studying. Lily nodded a greeting to a girl with whom she was close, but otherwise went straight up the stairs to the sixth-year girls’ dormitory. In bed, after she had drawn shut the canopy that ensconced it, Lily finally relaxed enough to think. She knew James to be a rake and a trouble-maker, but… had he really almost killed that Slytherin boy? To be sure, there was no love lost between James and Severus Snape, but so far their mutual animosity had been limited to hexing each other in the hallways between classes. So far, that she had seen. What had happened that would push James to such new heights of cruelty? Why hadn’t Sirius intervened? Or yet Remus, who had been a prefect in their fifth year?
Her questions unanswered, Lily fell into fitful sleep.