The boys stopped as they left the transfiguration classroom behind their peers. Remus had been admonishing Sirius for being so quick to demonstrate his expertise in the field of animagi. Professor McGonagall had been slightly too suspicious for his liking.
James turned around to find Lily standing to the side hesitantly. She bit her lip and searched his face, watching as his lip quirked upwards reassuringly. “Hey Lils.”
Her face fell and she threw herself into his arms. “I’m so sorry.” She whispered in his ear. His arms travelled around her waist and he let out a heavy sigh into her hair. He felt a sense of relief. The rest of the marauders left silently towards the great hall.
“I’m glad I had a chance to meet them. They seemed like wonderful people.” She whispered.
James nodded. “They were. I wish my mum could have gotten to know you further. She would have liked you.”
Lily sniffed as a few tears trailed down her cheek. “It’s becoming real isn’t it? The war?” She stepped back and James caught a flash of fear in her eyes.
He raised her chin gently. “Hey, my parents- they died fighting because they believed our world could be a better place. Someday Lily, it will be, I promise.”
She gave a small laugh and wiped her tears away, annoyed at her show of weakness. “Shouldn’t I be the one comforting you?”
He grinned cheekily. “I’ve had enough comforting this past week. I’ll be okay. They died heroes and all I can do is hope they’re in paradise right now. My parents were and always will be my role models and I plan to make them proud.”
Unexpectedly, Lily stood on her toes and planted a warm kiss on his cheek. “Well you’re my hero, James Potter.”
His face brightened and he gazed fondly at the pretty redhead. “Something tells me you don’t need a hero Evans.”
She laughed. “Maybe, but one day I will, and when that day comes, I know you’ll be there.”
James felt a warm glow fill his heart. “You can count on it.”
Hogwarts was quiet that month. Word of the tragic death of two renowned aurors brought about a mournful period as the students of Hogwarts paid their respects silently. The Marauders were noticeably sombre, no pranks were pulled and no detentions were given and so, as spring came around, it was without celebration.
The first day of April found Melody at the bank of the black lake. The air was warm, but the water was still cool and it felt nice on her warm skin. The girls hadn’t approached her yet so she assumed they couldn’t find her. It wouldn’t take long though, for Chanel to tell James and for James to search the map.
She didn’t have much time.
Looking out at the water, her eyes were pensive as she remembered the conversation she’d had with Sirius a few days after their return to Hogwarts after the funeral.
“Melody, you’re going to have to talk about what you told me at some point.”
“Sirius please, just leave it for now.”
“But why? I don’t understand. You still love him and he obviously still loves you. I don’t even understand why you left him in the first place. Maybe if you tried to exp-
“Sirius I said leave it.”
She’d responded firmly, ending any further discussion on the matter. Hearing approaching footsteps from behind, Melody sighed heavily and turned. Surprisingly, it was only Chanel followed by Anna, looking pale and quite worse for wear.
“Explain, now!” Chanel growled. Anna hovered uncertainly behind her.
Melody was walking towards class in a daze. She’d just received a letter from Healer Rosin, which- meant to be reassuring- in her eyes, only sealed her fate. The date hadn’t been definite, but he’d anticipated a couple of months at most, now however, new results had come through and Healer Rosin had finally given her a concrete answer.
It echoed through her mind repeatedly and it was a wonder that the class she wandered into was hers. Throughout the hour, Melody experienced several different emotions- shock, denial, anxiety, hopefulness and finally acceptance. She’d known this was going to happen, understood her condition and the final outcome of it. It would not do to dwell or stress over it any longer.
The inevitable was the inevitable after all.
So, when Chanel stormed towards her, as she left the classroom after dismissal and made the trek towards her next class- a familiar letter clutched tightly in her hand, her haunted expression a mixture of disbelief, mortification and terrified comprehension- it was only natural that every fear Melody had for herself flew out the window and the familiar feeling of anguish for that of her friends was made known in her heart.
“What is this?” Chanel whispered; her voice quiet and lethal, suppressed emotion laced within every syllable. She held the letter in her clutched fist and bore her eyes into Melody’s.
Melody’s heart fell to the pits of her stomach as she answered calmly. “Where did you find that?”
“Stuffed in your sock drawer. I needed socks because all of mine were dirty... IN YOUR BLOODY SOCK DRAWER!” Chanel was shaking now, out of anger or fear Melody did not know.
“You weren’t supposed to see it. You were never supposed to know.”
When Chanel looked to respond, Melody gently took the paper away and let out a shaky breath. “Not now, I’ll explain at lunch, but right now I have class.”
Before she could argue, Melody turned on her heel and all but ran to Potions.
Presently, she stood warily and bit her lip, taking the wrinkled letter out of her bag. “How much did you read?”
“Enough.” Was Chanel’s curt reply.
Melody nodded. “I was ten years old when my uncle decided to arrange my marriage to Gerard Dubois, one of the French pure blood families. He’d gotten into a lot of debt with the family and he needed some way of paying it off. He knew my parents wouldn’t give him the money, so...he offered me.”
Melody sighed and sat on one of the rocks, avoiding her friends’ eyes.
“My parents were furious, they kicked him out. My father went to France and told them under no uncertain terms would I be offered as a bride to their, or any other family not of my own choosing. It was all well and done until my father’s family disowned my uncle, officially cutting him off from any of the inheritance. He was furious, especially at my father.”
“I don’t see what this has to do with the letter.” Chanel whispered with barely restrained anger.
“I suppose he felt betrayed and wanted revenge. The Dubois’ youngest girl had been diagnosed with a rare magical disease.” She breathed.
“As you grow older and your magic becomes stronger, your body becomes weaker, unable to handle it, slowly shutting down. The Dubois were spurned at the refusal and felt like we’d insulted them in some way. So Gerard Dubois made an arrangement with my uncle. In unusual cases or life and death scenarios, people can perform a transfer of magic. It’s a complicated spell but it only requires skin contact between exchanging parties.”
Anna’s eyes widened as the puzzles slowly fell into place.
“In exchange for letting him off paying his debt, Gerard and my uncle came up with a plan to trick me into the transfer.”
“No! That’s illegal! He couldn’t have- you can’t...” Chanel’s legs gave way and she fell to the floor.
“Gerard tricked my father into thinking that he was apologetic, said that my uncle had made it seem like we all wanted the union between the families. The Dubois’ own many large corporations and so he made a deal with my father to undergo a joint venture. He offered to fly all of us to Paris and while he discussed business with my father, I was introduced to Noel Dubois. She shook my hand and at the time it seemed an innocent gesture. But that was everything the spell required.”
“But couldn’t you have done something?! Taken it to the ministry, made them reverse it!?”
Melody shook her head. “None of us knew besides my uncle and Gerard himself. It was only when my body showed signs of the spell when my parents took me to Mungo’s and I was diagnosed. They checked my birth records over and over but none of it added up. Eventually they figured it out and put two and two together. ”
“Your uncle?” Anna asked faintly.
“My parents have taken him to the Wizenagmot, but there’s no way they can prove without a doubt that he and Gerard did what they did.”
“So I don’t understand- how can this be reversed- what are healers doing?”
“Don’t you get it Anna?! There is nothing! You read the paper!” Chanel wailed.
“No.” Anna breathed.
Melody watched them with heavy eyes. “I have five months before my body gives out completely.”
Anna let out a sob and fell back onto the boulder behind her. “How could you not tell us? Did you plan to just die one day and that was it?!”
Melody’s eyes stung. “I’m sorry; I never wanted to hurt either of you. That’s why I kept it a secret. Why should you have to be burdened by this, by my family issues?”
“It’s not fair!” Chanel cried.
Melody stepped towards her friends and fell to her knees before Chanel, taking her hand and reaching for Anna’s. “It’s not, but that’s life. I’ve accepted it; please, I don’t want to spend my last few months mourning myself. I want to spend them laughing and loving you and my parents and Sirius and Remus and Pete and-
Her voice broke and the tears she’d taken care to hold back fell down her cheeks.
“This is why.” Anna breathed in sudden revelation.
“He’s my world, but I wanted him to hate me, to move on so that when I die, it’s a little easier for him. But now his parents-” She sobbed harder.
Anna joined the girls and together they held each other tightly as they cried with their friend, praying for some kind of miracle.
He turned around and recoiled at the pale and drawn complexion marring Anna’s features. Everything momentarily forgotten, he rushed towards her. “Anna, what’s the matter?”
“Can I speak to you, it’s urgent.” She rasped.
He nodded, sick with worry and led her towards a nearby alcove. Once safely hidden and away from prying ears and eyes, he waited anxiously.
“She won’t tell anyone- forbid us to tell you- you have to know- he has to know-
She continued to mutter apprehensively, her face darkening with every word.
“Anna, stop! Take a breath.” Sirius exclaimed, shaking her shoulders. “Now, tell me what’s wrong.” He lowered slightly so that they were at eye-level.
Without warning, she burst into tears and Sirius gathered her into his arms gently, eyes wide. After a few minutes of whispering soothing words into her ear, she finally calmed enough to form a coherent sentence.
As she headed towards the great hall for dinner, Melody reflected on last night and this morning. Things had been slightly awkward and neither Anna nor Chanel had agreed with her when she insisted they refrain from telling anyone else. She let out a breath and kneaded her forehead. This stress couldn’t possibly be good for her.
So sudden that she lost grip of her bag, she was swung back and pressed against the hard wall. She heard the thud as her bag made contact with the floor but the contents of her bag were forgotten as she looked up to find James’ cold eyes boring into hers.
She gulped audibly and stared back with wide and fearful eyes.
This wouldn’t be good.
A/N DUN DUN DUN- cue dramatic thunder. My cards have been laid out, Melody's condition has FINALLY been revealed. What do you think? Most of you guessed correctly that she was dying from an illness, so pat yourselves on the back :) Anna knows, Chanel knows, Sirius knows and now possibly James knows?
For those of you who have put up with my crazy update hiatuses, just know that I love you. I get many reviews telling me not to give up the story- I promise that will not happen. I may not write for a month, or a year (won't happen!) but I will still finish this story. I couldn't find it in my heart not to. I too need an ending ;)
P.S Can I get a fan girl squee for that Lily-James moment in the beginning? I'll be looking forward to writing them from here on out. ;)
Anyways, enough of my mad ramblings, review if you love me... no pressure. :D