Chapter 37

"So," Professor Merrythought began, having taken out her own wand and indicated that the class should do the same. "The spell I am going to try and teach you is highly advanced magic, but as you are all Ordinary Wizarding Level students I believe you will do just fine. It is called the Patronus Charm. Can anyone tell me; how does it work?". Remus, sat at the table in front of Ines and Lily's raised his hand. "Well, when it works correctly, it conjures up a Patronus, which is a kind of anti-dementor guardian that acts as a shield between you and the dementor. The Patronus is a kind of positive force, a projection of the very things that the dementor feeds upon hope, happiness, the desire to survive; But it cannot feel despair, as real humans can, so the dementors can't hurt it.". Merrythought beamed at Remus, "Wonderful, Mr. Lupin. Now can anyone tell me what does a Patronus looks like?". This time Lily beat Remus to the catch and was called on. "Each one is unique to the wizard who conjures it.". Merrythought nodded, "Yes, and how Miss Evans do you conjure it?". "With an incantation, which will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory. Now turn to page 217 and read paragraphs one to four, and then we will begin".

While the class read Ines cast her mind about for a happy memory. Certainly, nothing that had happened to her at home with Oberon was going to do, all of the even semi-positive ones were now tainted. Finally, she settled on the moment when she had gotten onto the Quidditch team. It had been a warm September day, and the captain at the time was Edgar Clogg, a seeker, who was reluctant at first in letting a girl, let alone a third year, on the team. After having been paired up with Elias Grimstone, she saw her chance at making the team slowly slipping away so she took matters into her own hand. She slyly stunned him, causing his legs to seize and become paralyzed for only a few minutes to then grab Sirius, leaving an angry Glynnis Griffiths alone, to become her partner. The two of them together shone, working together outstandingly. Once it was announced that they had both made the team she had hugged him for the very first time.

"Right, and the incantation is this —" She cleared her throat, bringing Ines out of her thoughts. "Expecto patronum!" before motioning the class to repeat after her. "Expecto patronum," Ines repeated under her breath, "Expecto patronum.". "Now, let us all come down the floor and practice, whoever succeeds first gets 15 points towards their house." Kids clambered from the slanted rows of seats down to the large floor space and spread out. Ines made her way towards the entrance of the room, followed by Lily, Emmeline, Mary, and the boys. "Concentrating hard on your happy memory?". Ines extended her wand arm and looked around the room to find all her friends doing the same. The boys looked to each other with smug faces, nonchalantly holding their wands out. "Begin!" Merrythought exclaimed.

Ines thought hard, trying her best to place herself back into her thirteen-year-old shoes and spoke the incantation. Something whooshed suddenly out of the end of her wand; it looked like a wisp of silvery gas. It wasn't much compared to that of other students' but she was satisfied all the same. It wasn't for another ten minutes that anything of notoriety happened. Ines watched as James, Sirius, and Remus all shared a glance before exlaiming "Expecto Patronum". Three silver beings flowed through the room before taking a definite shape. A stag, a large dog, and a wolf all flitted around the ceiling as the whole class watched the boys. Merrythought clapped, the sleeves of her large cloak waving, "Wonderful job boys! Forty-Five points to Gryffindor!" the boys all high fived joyously. In her peripheral sight, she saw a whisp form behind her. Emmeline and Mary turned with her to find Lily standing still, staring at the silver forming in front of her. A doe, with high and delicate ears and long legs.

Ines turned away from James, who did not look like he would quit celebrating any time soon, just as the door was closing. With a sinking feeling, she thought he saw a flash of red hair whipping out of sight. She darted forward, sidestepped Emmeline, and pushed open the portrait of the Fat Lady. The corridor outside seemed to be deserted. "Lily?". She found her in the first unlocked classroom she tried. She was sitting on a chair in the back of the room with her head in her hands. "I know you saw it," she said, her voice crackling with every word. "The whole class probably saw it, and now they all … know.". Ines made her way over to Lily, sliding down to sit on the wall she was near. "Know what? Lily?" She removed her hands from her face, tear tracks covering her cheeks. "Don't play dumb Ines, it was in the reading." Ines sat silently, debating how to go on. "You didn't read it," Lily whispered and Ines nodded. "What did it say?" Ines asked, her voice soft.

Lily ran her hands through her hair before reciting the words from the book as if she remembered them all perfectly. "The Patronus often mutates to take the image of the love of one's life, because they so often become the 'happy thought' that generates a Patronus." Ines sat silently, taking in her words. "Don't you get it? Mines a doe and James' is a stag! I… I can't do it as you and Sirius have been I can't just live with the fact that I know there's a connection between us when I haven't come to terms with it myself yet! It's a dangerous time for people like me and I try my best to ignore things … like him … because…". Ines reached up and grabbed Lily's hand, partially to comfort her and partially because she was unsure of how to respond. "Lily if you don't feel ready to confront your feelings thats ok. They aren't always easy, believe me, I know." Lily looked up at her again, giving her a knowing look. "Me and Sirius, I … we're not anything but we aren't nothing and its not anything that we're good at talking about. I'm not sure how I feel about him.".

Lily slid off her chair and slumped onto the ground beside Ines, leaning her head on her shoulder with their hands still intertwined. They ignored the bustle of classes around them being let out. In their silence, Ines pulled out her wand and whispered "Expecto Patronum". Out of her wand materialized a small animal. A silver cat pranced around the floor, its tail stuck straight up. Ines didn't speak, not anything to Lily who had now looked up. Her and Sirius' were different. Lily noticed her shock and rubbed her arm. "You do know what it is right?". Ines spoke softly, "A cat.". Lily nodded, "Yeah, a British Shorthair, a pure one by the looks of it. They're quite friendly… great with dogs.".

Ines tried her best to conceal her smile, and Lily giggled at her struggle. "I told you, I'm not sure how I feel just yet.". Lily nodded again, "Of course, I understand." The truth was, Ines had a pretty good idea of how she felt about Sirius and felt guilty lying to Lily. But as she said, it wasn't something they were very good at talking about. Instead, she repeated her response into her head, over and over, affirming the truth in herself, as she watched her Patronus float around the room.

Every time his hand touches my bare skin I feel an electric wave go through my body. And every time I look at him, I want to push him up a wall and kiss him with a passion the likes of which this damn earth has never seen before. If he were here right now, I would hold him so tight, whisper in his ear, and tell him how much I love him. If he were here right now, I'd wrap my arms around him so tight to make him feel protected, while looking into his eyes, telling him how beautiful he is and I'd lean in and give him kisses all over.