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Chapter Twenty-Six
James and Lily Sitting in a Tree

“ How could you take his side?”

“ I'm not saying what he did is right, I'm just saying that I'm not going to condemn him for it.  He made a mistake.  Anyone could make one.”

“ A mistake?  You call attempted murder a mistake?  If that's a simple mistake, I'd hate to see your interpretation of a sin.  I cannot believe you.”

“ But Lily…”

“ Don't you `but Lily' me James Potter!  We've been friends for five years, but now I can see I never really knew you.  If you can take his side in this, then you aren't the person I thought you were.”

“ Lily, listen to me…”

“ No, James, I'm through listening to you.  This time, you are going to listen to me.  I know you saved Snape, but that doesn't redeem you.  If you are supporting Sirius in this, then I'm afraid we are though.”

“ Lily, you can't do this to me…”

“ I mean it!  Harry was right to say what he did.”

“ He threatened Sirius!  Said he would put him in a coma, or kill him.”

“ He was just protecting his friend.”

“ So am I!”

“ There's a difference, James.  His friend is innocent.”

“ Hardly!”

“ Oh, so he sent himself under the Willow, did he?”

“ No…”

“ Sirius did, so therefore he is the guilty party.  I can't condone it, I'm sorry.”

“ Lily, you can't break up with me.”

“ I'm sorry James.”

“ But….”

“ No!  James, you just aren't listening.  You've seen what this has done to Remus.  He's never hurt anyone before, and now a friend he trusted with his secret did something like this.  You don't seem to realise that Sirius didn't just put Snape's live on the line, he put his own and Remus' there as well.  What do you think the Ministry would have done if Remus had killed Snape?  The executioner would have been straight around with his big axe before you could say `condemned'.  Remus would have been `put down'.  Sirius would have been sent to Azkaban for murder.  Do you really think he could last five minutes with the Dementors before going mad?”

“ Lily, I know it was stupid of him.  I appreciate that.  But I don't see why this should come between us.  It has nothing to do with us.”

“ James, it has everything to do with us.  Remus is my friend as well as yours.  You saved Snape from him, making you a key player in the whole thing.  Don't say we are not involved.  I'm sorry James, but I can't do this anymore.”

Lily turned away from her boyfriend and left the Gryffindor common room.  The pair had been up late into the night talking over the incident that James had managed to get himself entangled in.  Lily, while not liking most Slytherins, hadn't been raised in a wizarding family where House prejudices were acquired early on in life.  While the Slytherins in general had proven to be rather disagreeable towards muggleborns, she still couldn't condone trying to murder one.  James, while not liking what Sirius had done, wasn't openly opposing his actions either.  That was something she just couldn't accept.  While she loved James, she still had her principals, and wasn't about to abandon them for anything.  Not even love.


When Harry entered the Great Hall the next morning, he immediately noticed something was off.  The atmosphere seemed a little different, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what had changed.  Sitting in the middle of the Slytherin table with his back to the wall, he surveyed the room spread out before him.  It looked the same as ever.  The teachers were sat at the head table discussing whatever it was grown ups discussed.  The students were carrying on their conversations, the same as at every other meal time.  The level and volume where normal, and there didn't seem to be any obvious rumours flying around.  The students seemed to be all present, as did the teachers.  There were no obvious gaps at any of the tables.  The décor was the same, the ceiling as ever showing a view of the sky outside.  Letting out a sigh, Harry lowered his head to eat.  As he did, he noticed Simbi poking out of his sleeve.  Looking at the snake thoughtfully, he started hissing quietly in parseltongue.

*Simbi, is it just me or is there something not right in here this morning?*

*Something is indeed amiss.  The room doesn't smell right*

*Do you feel like going and finding out?*

*Not really, but as you are obviously sooo busy, Harry, I suppose I'd better*

Harry shook his head and watched his snake in amusement as he made his was down from the table and on to the floor.  Simbi and Nirah could always be counted upon to entertain him, even in the most dire of situations.  They were also incredibly useful.  One bite from either of them would be more effective in stopping a Death Eater than Azkaban even could hope to be.  Shaking his head, Harry started to pile food onto his plate as Sev strode in the door, taking his place opposite the older boy.

“ What's up, Harry?”

“ I'm not sure,” he replied, “ But something's not right.”

Sev looked at him in confusion before taking a quick look around the room.

“ Everything seems fine to me.”

“ Maybe.  I'm sure something is amiss, but I can't decide what.  Everything looks normal, but not.  It's weird.”

Sev took another look around the room, this time more carefully, but could not see where the problem was.

“ I see what you mean.  Something's different, but everything looks the same as normal.”

“ I sent Simbi to have a look around, but I'm not sure what he'll come up with.  It might just be my imagination.”

The pair continued their meal, Sev chattering on about the imminent end of year exams, and Harry listening keenly and giving pieces of advice.  After all, this was Sev's OWLs year, and Harry had been through the exams twice before.

“ Sev, just remember not to panic.  They're not as bad as they seem, trust me.  You'll have no trouble with most of them.  Charms, Transfiguration, Defence and Potions should be easy for you after all of your extra lessons.  I even think you'll do quite well in Astronomy and Herbology.  Herbology especially, as you know your potions ingredients well.”

“ But what about History of Magic?  I'll never remember all of those goblin rebellions.”

“ Sev, the more you worry, the worse you'll do.  Seriously, you'll pass them all without any trouble.  You're cleverer than you give yourself credit for.”

“ But…”

Luckily Simbi chose that moment to reappear.  Nipping Harry lightly on the leg to get his attention, he started to climb back up to the table.  As soon as Harry realised the small snake was there, he lifted him the rest of the way and held him up in front of him.

*Did you find anything out?*

*You were right.  Something has happened*

*What happened, Simbi?*

*Your parents aren't sitting together*

Harry looked a little startled and glanced across the room.  Sev, who hadn't understood the conversation, followed his gaze, which rested upon James at the Gryffindor table.  He was sat next to his friends as usual, and the younger boy couldn't see why Harry was so interested in him.  Looking back over at his friend, he noticed his gaze had shifted to the other end of the Gryffindor table.  Once again following the direction Harry was looking in; he spotted Lily Evans sitting with some of the third years.  He suddenly realised that this was unheard of.  James and Lily had been friends for years before they finally got together.  They hadn't sat apart at meal times since their first year.  To now see them at opposite ends of the table was bizarre.

“ Harry, why aren't Potter and Evans sitting together?”

“ I don't know, Sev, but I intend to find out.”

Before Severus could stop him, Harry had stood up and was walking across the room towards the Gryffindor table.  He stopped next to Ron, and dropped into a seat.  Some of the nearby Gryffindors gave him disapproving looks, but as he was seen as one of the most agreeable Slytherins ever to grace the halls of Hogwarts, he wasn't told to leave.  Ron seemed a bit surprised that Harry was there, but turned to talk to his friend regardless.

“ What's up, mate?”

“ Why aren't my parents sitting together?” he asked in Anglo-Saxon.

“ They had a big row last night,” Ron responded in kind, “ Lily blew up at James in the common room.  She doesn't agree with James supporting Sirius after what he did to Snape.”

“ I can see her point, but they can't stay separated.  If they're not together, it would ruin the whole time line.”

“ Harry, don't worry.  We haven't interfered, so they must get back together anyway.  Lily's just a little mad at the moment.  She'll cool off eventually.”

“ But what if she doesn't?  What if I was meant to talk her around?  What if I was meant to, but don't?  What if I do and it pushes them further apart?”

“ Harry, why don't you leave it for now?  Give it, say, a month, and if they still aren't together you can try and patch things up between them.”

“ Sure, if you think that would be best.”

“ I do.  You know, you worry too much for a boy of seventeen.”

“ I don't feel seventeen.  More like seventy.”

“ I know, Harry, I know.”


The exam period was upon the school sooner than the students would have liked.  Youngsters were frantically trying to cram as much information into their brains as humanly possible before the tests started.  Sev was in a frenzy, a state Harry could honestly say he had never seen him in before.  The boy was panicking, and for someone who was always so cool and collected it was a rather surprising change.  The young Slytherin was spending more time in the library than the Ravenclaws, and that was saying something.  Harry had started off going there with him, but when Sev had started asking him things constantly, such as why olbas oil and oak root should never be mixed, or what the name of the commander of the goblins in the last rebellion was, he started to escape to the library at Domus Corvus Corax to revise.  More often than not he was joined by Hermione and Ginny, who were going equally crazy, but for different reasons.  Ginny wanted to get away from the unbearable Ravenclaws, who talked about lessons from dawn until dusk.  Hermione wanted to get away from Hufflepuff, where she was surrounded by people who didn't take the exams seriously.

“ It's like being back in Gryffindor,” she said one day, “ There the people are valued for their bravery, not their brains.  I remember in the early years when I was surrounded by people who wouldn't study.”

“ Like me?” Harry asked.

“ Yes!  Like you and Ron!  But I must admit, Harry, since you were a Ravenclaw you have started to take your studies seriously.  Something Ron still doesn't do.”

“ Give up, Hermione, he may be your boyfriend, but you will never get him to study if he doesn't want to.  Anyway, he does well anyway, thanks to that knowledge transference.  He understands the principles behind the magic we learn a lot better, so his grades have gone up.  I don't think you could ask for more.”

“ I know, Harry, but I just don't like to see him wasting his potential.”

“ He's already more advanced than most people, with all of the ancient magic he knows.  And he had been having extra lessons in healing from Minh and Madame Pomfrey.”

“ True.  He's an amazing healer, I'll give him that.”

The three hid in Harry's castle as much as possible, often joined by a much subdued Remus.  Even Ginny's friendship hadn't been able to bring him out of his glum mood.  He wasn't speaking to Sirius, and Peter wasn't the best company, so he had decided to join their little study group.  No-one minded, as they knew the extra studying took his mind off recent events.

James and Lily had also thrown themselves into their studying.  Both had been deeply unhappy since their break up, but neither would admit defeat.  James wouldn't abandon his friend, and Lily wouldn't agree with him.  Both were fiercely stubborn, and there didn't seem to be an end to the problem.  Harry had been watching the whole thing unfold from a distance, getting inside information from Ron.  He wanted to interfere, but his redheaded friend kept stopping him.  Eventually, he had relented, and agreed to wait to speak to them until after the exams.

Eventually, the 14th June finally rolled around, bringing with it the first of the exams.  Sev met Harry in his room early in the morning, shaking terribly and wringing his hands.

“ Harry, I can't do this,” he said as the older boy opened his door to the frantic knocking.

“ Sure you can, Sev.  Are you like this every year?”

“ No, it's just because it's the OWLs.  If I don't do well, I won't be allowed to train as a Potions Master.”

“ Something tells me you'll get your wish.”

“ Really?”

“ Yes.  Now, come on.  We need to have some breakfast before the first exam.  I have Transfiguration, and you know how hard Professor McGonagall can be on Slytherins.”

Harry was just trying to distract his friend.  He knew Minerva was always fair to him, even if he was a Slytherin.  Order loyalty or something.  Harry knew that if he didn't take Sev's mind off the exams, he would end up in the hospital wing.  The green eyed boy was doing a good job of keeping Sev occupied until he spotted James heading over to him.  Standing up, he told Sev he would be right back before moving to intercept the Gryffindor.

“ I don't think it would be a good idea for you or any of your friends to be seen at the Slytherin table, James.”

The other boy stopped in his tracks and waited for Harry to lead him out of the Great Hall.

“ What is it you want?” he asked as the pair came to a halt in a nearby classroom.  James shuffled his feet for a few seconds before explaining.

“ As you know, I found out on my birthday that I had elven blood.”

“ Yes.”

“ And you seem to know a lot about the elves.  You know their ways, language and magic.  You know as much as my mother, if not more, and she grew up in the elven world.  She's been teaching me about the history and customs of her people, but she won't teach me anything else.  She says the language and magics are only for her people.”

“ Sorry to be blunt, James, but what has any of this got to do with me?”

“ I was getting to that.  I started thinking about it, and figured that you couldn't have that much elven blood, so why did you get to learn and not me?”

“ James, I was taught for a specific reason.  As you no doubt know, not many people still know that the elves exist.  A thousand years ago, and even more recently than that, our two races were friends.  Then something bad happened, and the elves distanced themselves from humans.  Most elves don't trust our people, and haven't for a long time.  Your family is the exception.  While they do not often reveal the existence of elves, and only then to a select trusted few, they wish for our peoples to be friends again.  I was chosen for this task.  I was taught their culture, magic and language.  I know more about the elves than any human ever has, even before the split.  I will one day reunite elf and man, but to do that I have to show both races that we can trust each other.  I was trusted with elven knowledge, and have proven that I can use it responsibly.  One day, I will return to the elves when I have fewer responsibilities, and build some bridges.  You, however you are related to them, are not trusted with such a task.  You have no reason to speak their language or learn their magic.”

“ But I'm part elf!  I have a right to learn!”

“ No, you don't.”

“ I do!  Harry, I would like you to teach me what my family won't.”

“ Sorry, James, I won't do it.  The elves don't share their knowledge lightly, and neither will I.  If Minh, Lolide and Gaerwyn don't want you to learn it, then I won't break their trust.  I keep promises I make to my friends.  I am very loyal to my really close friends.”

“ So am I.”

“ I know, that's one of the reasons I won't teach you.  You have proven in the last few weeks that you value your friends greatly, and nothing will tear you apart.  My answer is no.”

“ But, why?”

“ Nauro.”

“ What?”

“ It's elven.”

“ I guessed that.  What does it mean?”

“ Werewolf.”

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