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Once Defied by pennyardelle

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 161,202
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, Pettigrew, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/Lily, Other Pairing

First Published: 06/01/2009
Last Chapter: 04/28/2010
Last Updated: 06/10/2014

Summary:
banner by Alora at The Dark Arts

At the beginning of their seventh and final year at Hogwarts, Lily Evans and James Potter find themselves closer to one another than ever before. With darkness taking over the world around them, they discover that love—the mix of fluttering heartbeats, stolen glances, shared smiles, and squirming stomachs—is the most powerful magic of all.

:: 2012 Dobby Awards Winner for Best Canon ::


Chapter 16: Love Gone Awry



Chapter Sixteen
Love Gone Awry




If Lily did not know better, she would say that the spirit of soon-approaching Valentine’s Day had cajoled Anna into making amends. Of course, it turned out that it was not the good cheer of St. Valentine that had placated Anna—it was Mary’s encouragement.

“She pointed it out that I may have overreacted,” Anna said the next morning, when they were walking back to the castle after Herbology. Mary had made some excuse about asking Professor Sprout a question, and now Lily knew why she had been trying to disguise a smile the entire time.

“It wasn’t your fault,” Lily said, pushing away a chunk of hair that the wind had whipped across her face.

“I know it wasn’t,” Anna replied, a little too quickly for Lily’s liking, “but it probably wasn’t the best plan, to pretend like we’d forgotten. It seemed like a good idea until it all went wrong.”

Lily was having a hard time responding to the apologies that Mary and Anna were giving her. She felt like she should be admitting guilt on her part, but it didn’t feel like she had done anything wrong. It was only that they thought she had, and they expected her to apologize.

“We should just forget about it,” Anna continued. “Best friends fight sometimes, but we shouldn’t let it tear us apart.”

Lily furrowed her brow as they walked up the front steps. Something sounded very strange about this conversation.

“I suppose you’re right,” she said hesitantly.

“Well, I’m glad that’s cleared up,” Anna said, pushing open one of the oak doors to the castle. “Now there isn’t any unpleasantness hanging over us.”

Lily realized what the strange thing was now: these ray-of-sunshine assurances were not coming from Anna. It was clear that she did not really want to apologize, which made Lily feel even worse than she had before their conversation. Well, if pretending was the way Anna wanted to do it, Lily would play along.

A group of third-year Ravenclaw girls emerged from one a bathroom a few feet in front of them.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake,” Lily muttered, spotting an extremely short mini-skirt on one of them. She hated being Head Girl.

“Are you going to say something?” Anna asked. Lily debated approaching the girl, but could not bring herself to do it.

“One of the teachers will tell her,” she said. She found it very difficult to tell people off for breaking the rules; as a younger sister, she had grown up having someone else tell her what to do all the time. It was slightly easier after two years as a prefect, but she often let little things slide.

“Well, it is that time of year,” Anna said. “Everyone’s getting desperate to snag someone for Hogsmeade. Frankly, she’s got a pretty winning strategy.”

The sad truth was that Anna was right: Valentine’s Day always seemed to push the students of Hogwarts into very public and very pathetic displays of affection. They fell into three camps: one, the wan-faced and hopeless victims of unrequited love, the disgustingly happy couples, and those who couldn’t care less but were slightly bitter about the entire thing.

Mary without doubt fell into the first group, and there was no question as to why. In the days leading up to the next Hogsmeade weekend, she looked positively miserable. Her usual optimistic radiance disappeared, replaced by dark under-eye circles and a runny nose that she refused to go see Madam Pomfrey about. Whenever anyone asked her what was wrong, she answered with a blithe comment about being tired, but it was very clear that Remus had once again disappointed her, and she was taking it especially hard.

Surprisingly, Anna would have fallen into the second group, if she weren’t slightly bitter about everything on principle. The Ravenclaw Quidditch captain, Germaine Aucher, had asked her to go to Hogsmeade with him. Lily was surprised mainly because she had only heard Anna mention him once or twice, but on the other hand, she was always playing things very close to her chest. Even though she tried to be very blasé about the entire thing, Lily could tell that she was quite pleased.

Lily supposed she fell by default into the third group. And that was all she was going to say about it.

She considered staying at the castle because the village was sure to be filled with starry-eyed couples, but her desire to escape homework and the fact that it was (she realized sadly) her last-ever Hogsmeade visit motivated her to walk down to the Three Broomsticks with Mary.

As Lily predicted, it was not exactly a pleasant time. Mary kept wincing when she saw people holding hands or kissing. Lily hated to see Mary in this state, especially after James had recently mentioned to her that there was no chance for Mary and Remus, but no one seemed to have been able to discourage her yet. They chose a table near one of the windows in the Three Broomsticks, which was laced with delicate frost. Lily thought it might be a good time to discuss some sensitive subjects without Anna’s cynical input.

“Are you all right, Mary?” she asked gently. Mary quickly plastered a smile on her face.

“Oh yeah, I’m brilliant,” she responded, sounding anything but.

“Why won’t you talk to me anymore?” Lily asked sadly.

“You’re supposed to be my best friend,” Mary said softly. Lily could make neither head nor tail of this statement.

“I am your best friend,” she said. “You know that.”

“Yeah,” Mary said half-heartedly. “Just don’t worry about me, Lily.”

“How can you say that? Don’t you know how much I hate seeing you like this, all broken up over some bloke who’s not even worth it?”

“Do you ever take me seriously?” Mary asked, looking at Lily with contempt.

“What—Mary, of course—why would you think—?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Mary said. “There’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine.”

Lily was completely shocked and could not think of how to respond. Mary was usually so good-natured and kind—what had Remus done to make her so dejected?

“We should go on a trip, this summer,” Mary said finally, breaking the silence. “I had so much fun in Romania. You and Anna and I could pick somewhere, and it would be such a good time.”

“Yeah, that sounds really good,” Lily said, thankful to be on a less-volatile subject.

“We could go to Spain, I’ve always wanted to,” Mary continued. The door of the Three Broomsticks opened and James walked in with Sirius and Peter. Lily was immensely glad that Remus was not with them.

“Sure,” Lily said. James had slid into a booth and was staring at her from across the room, and it was distracting her more than usual.

“So...do you want to go to Gladrags after this? I thought I might get a new scarf; my old one has a hole in it,” Mary said.

“Sure,” Lily replied. James was grinning at her now, and she couldn’t help but smile back at him. Ever since he had given her that wonderful surprise for her birthday, being in his company had become even more pleasing than usual.

“You know, Lily—wait, what’s Anna doing here?”

Lily broke eye contact with James and turned around to see Anna striding across the pub to their table. She pulled her hat off and sat down with them, her hair dishevelled and her face sour. She had gone to Hogsmeade slightly earlier than Mary and Lily, but it still seemed like she had had a very quick date.

“What’s going on?” Mary asked. Anna raised an eyebrow in confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be on a date?”

“Oh,” Anna said, rolling her eyes. “Right. Well, it turns out my suspicions that Germaine had a fairly large ego were unfortunately correct. He went on for about ten minutes about how Ravenclaws were of a far better stock than people from any other house, and he even name-dropped my brothers and sister.”

“Well, that was a mistake,” Lily said. James kept making funny faces at her when his friends weren’t looking, and she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

“No kidding,” Anna grumbled. “Anyway, no big loss. What have you two been up to?”

“Just sitting here. We were thinking of going to Gladrags,” Mary said.

“Can we go to Honeydukes? I’m in desperate need of some chocolate after that sham of a date.”

Lily saw Mary glance over shoulder in the direction of James’ table, and hoped she was not going to become morose again. Perhaps it would be better if they got away from any reminder of Remus, and maybe Lily would get the chance to tell James off for winking suggestively at her at a later point. They might even bump into each other at Honeydukes.

“Earth to Lily,” said Anna. “Are you with us?”

“Sorry,” Lily said, her cheeks heating up. Anna smirked at her.

“Are we interrupting your date with James?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Lily said, sticking her arms into her jacket.

They wandered to Gladrags and then to Honeydukes. Mary could not find a scarf she liked, and Lily spent quite a few minutes lamenting her lack of gold (and lack of occasion to wear them) when she saw a beautiful set of dress robes, but at least Anna was able to buy a sizable chunk of chocolate fudge, which she shared with them on the way back to the castle. The temperature was hovering a few degrees above freezing, just enough that some of the snow had started to thaw.

Lily felt a little pushed out of the conversation, since Mary and Anna were giggling about some inside joke borne of an incident in fourth year that she had not been around for. After Anna’s half-hearted apology, things had returned mostly to normal—it was true what people said about going through the motions. Pretending that everything was normal made everything feel so, except for in situations like these where Lily was vividly reminded of her status as an outsider in their little triangle. Her thoughts drifted aimlessly until they were back inside the castle and Mary and Anna finally addressed her again.

“Lily, I’ve just realized—you should have bought those robes for the wedding!” Mary exclaimed.

“What? Oh,” Lily said, remembering what Mary was talking about. “When is that again?”

“Saturday, May twenty-fifth,” Mary answered quickly. Anna looked at her in bewilderment.

“Have it memorized, do we?” she asked.

“Oh, Anna, don’t pretend you—”

“Miss Evans!”

Mary was interrupted by the unmistakable call of Professor McGonagall. She was hurrying towards them, looking extremely harried. Lily told Mary and Anna to go on without her; she was actually somewhat relieved that she didn’t have to spend another minute being left out.

“Is something wrong, Professor?” Lily asked.

“Miss Evans, were you aware that someone in this school was illegally circulating love potions?”

Lily almost laughed at contrast between how severely Professor McGonagall was addressing her and the silliness of what she was saying, but decided to arrange her face into an expression of concern instead.

“No, or else I certainly would have stopped them,” Lily said, putting on her Head Girl hat (figuratively, of course).

“Where is Mr Potter?” McGonagall asked.

“Erm...still in Hogsmeade, I suppose,” Lily replied. “But I really don’t think he’s responsible for it.”

“I should hope not! I merely wanted to inform the two of you that a dozen students have ended up in the Hospital Wing in the past few days after ingesting poisoned love potions,” McGonagall said sharply.

Lily widened her eyes in shock. “I—I had no idea,” she replied.

“We were originally hoping to keep the news from spreading among students, but it seems to have gone beyond our control.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Lily asked. “And is everyone all right?”

“Thankfully the poison was not a lethal dosage,” McGonagall answered, “but the Headmaster is taking this matter very seriously. If either your or Mr Potter happen to hear anything that might be a clue as to who is behind the distribution of these Potions, you must notify one of the teachers immediately.”

“Of course we will.”

“And do whatever you can to see to it that not one more student is poisoned. The parents are up-in-arms, and the governors are in the process of making a formal investigation...” Professor McGonagall’s brow contracted with worry momentarily. “This information is strictly between us, of course.”

“Absolutely, Professor,” Lily said, nodding.

“Very well. I must go meet with the Headmaster.”

Professor McGonagall swept off in the direction of Dumbledore’s office, leaving Lily with a sinking feeling in her stomach. Who would want to poison someone? And how had they even gotten the love potions into the castle, with all the searches and extra security provided by the Aurors?

As much as Lily hated to admit it, there was one person who must know the answer to her second question. She suddenly realized how very clever Dumbledore had been in choosing a Head Boy who had learned every trick in the book when it came to trouble-making. If anyone could sneak something into the castle, it was James Potter and his friends—she just hoped they hadn’t recently gotten into the trade of love potions.



.........




When James had returned from Hogsmeade, it was not long before Lily leaned across the Gryffindor Table at dinner and told him that a whole group of students had been poisoned by illegally-obtained love potions. He did not like the suspicious look she was giving him as she said it, as if he had somehow been the perpetrator behind it all, and was unusually glad that she left to go sit with Mary and Anna. Why in the world would he be interested in secretly selling love potions to other students?

“I expect there’s good money in it,” Peter remarked.

“Not worth it,” Sirius said flatly. “All these giggly children are bad enough as they are.”

“The real question is whether the person who was selling them was the same person who poisoned them,” Remus mused.

“They probably had no idea,” Peter said. “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to off another student.”

“I can,” James muttered, casting a glance over at the Slytherins.

Much like the news of the Aurors, talk of the poisoned love potions filled the castle for days to come. As usual, the stories became increasingly ludicrous and centered on people who had nothing to do with the incidents. James was not sure he had managed to convince a group of fourth-year Ravenclaws that Sirius was not immune to love potions because he was the descendant of Venus, and had also not been called to the Hospital Wing to heal those afflicted with his demi-god powers.

“I mean, in the name of all things magical,” James said to Sirius in Transfiguration, “where do people come up with these things? They can’t think up simple rumours anymore? It’s got to be off-the-charts on the loony scale?”

“What can I say, Prongs?” Sirius said, grinning. “I just have that effect on people. It must be some kind of animal magnetism.”

He probably wished he hadn’t said that when James Transfigured his robes into a toga during lunch.

For the rest of that day and the day following, James got the distinct impression that Lily was avoiding him, and he couldn’t say that he was trying to seek her out either. He was slightly put off by her unspoken assumption that he had been poisoning people for a laugh. It was very strange, the dynamic he and Lily had going. They could speak more easily and sincerely than before, but it was almost as if they had only recently met for the first time—or at least James felt that way. He had come to realize that he really didn’t know very much about Lily.

Rumours soon stopped swirling, and it seemed the students of Hogwarts had once again forgotten about the temporary tragedy that had stricken the castle. It was for this reason that James was so confused when Professor McGonagall strode into Charms one afternoon and asked him and Lily to accompany her.

They gathered their things and followed Professor McGonagall’s swift footsteps through the corridors. James tried to ignore the fairly accusatory stare Lily was giving him.

“Did you do something to get us in trouble?” she whispered.

“No,” James replied. “Did you?”

Lily grinned, and James felt less irritated.

“Troublemaker,” he said. She shoved his arm lightly.

They walked behind their Transfiguration professor until they reached the staff room, stopping in front of the gargoyles that flanked the door. James thought that she seemed slightly bothered, an impression only concerned by the crease in her brow when she turned around to address them.

“A representative from the board of governors is here, and he wishes to speak with the two of you,” she said.

“Have—have we done something wrong?” Lily asked. James almost laughed: she might pretend to have a sense of humour about getting in trouble, but it really did bother her.

“Not at all,” Professor McGonagall replied. She glanced towards James. “Not that I know of, at least. After the events of the last week, they simply want to question a few students and thought your opinions would be the most reliable.”

James thought that she had said the word “question” with an air of forced lightness, and he was certain that it was not a good sign.

“They have declined my request to be present during the interview,” she continued, making him feel even more apprehensive. “If you feel uncomfortable with any of their questions, you may refuse to answer, however.”

There was a pause and a flicker of compassion in Professor McGonagall’s eyes that reminded him of the particular care she possessed for Gryffindor students. He nodded, hoping to assure her that he and Lily would have no trouble at all.

They walked into the staff room, a paneled room with a large table surrounded by dark wooden chairs which James had only been in a few times before. (The Marauders had, on principle, tried to avoid concentrations of teachers whenever possible.) Sitting on the left side of the large table was a man wearing rather angular navy robes. When he spotted them, he stood up from his chair and walked over to them.

“You must be Mr Potter and Miss Evans,” he said, reaching out to shake each of their hands. He was short, with grey-blond hair and a weak chin. “Very pleased to meet you. I’m Manfred MacDougal. Please sit down, won’t you?”

James sat down across from Manfred, and Lily took a seat to his right. He exchanged a momentary glance with her as they settled in, but her face was expressionless.

“You’ll have to excuse me for calling you out of class, but I hoped to speak with you before I meet with the rest of the governors later today. We just have a few questions that we want to ask you,” he said, in quite a condescending tone. “Before we say another word, I want to assure you that anything said in this room will not be shared with your teachers or your fellow students, and will remain strictly in the confidence of the school governors. Any objections?”

Neither James nor Lily spoke, and Manfred wrote something down on the parchment in front of him.

“Very good. To begin, would you mind telling me how you heard about the poisonings?” Manfred asked, his quill hovering above the parchment.

“Professor McGonagall told me,” Lily spoke up. Manfred wrote this down.

“And can you remember the particular location and timing?”

“It was last Saturday afternoon, while I was walking back to my common room,” Lily answered. James waited while the quill scratched across the parchment, until Manfred looked up at him.

“Er, Lily told me,” he said. Manfred’s right eyebrow rose very slightly.

“You were not notified by a staff member?”

“Oh, no, I was. Professor McGonagall told me as well, later that day, but I heard it first from Lily,” James said. He could tell from the particular vigour with which Manfred was writing that he had definitely given a bad answer to that question, and he hoped it wasn’t going to get Professor McGonagall in trouble.

“Very good. Now, have any of your fellow students discussed the matter with you?” Manfred asked.

“No,” James said, determined to make up for his last answer.

“Not even in passing? Not even among your friends?”

James hesitated. While it was true that he had discussed the subject with Sirius, Remus, and Peter, he had already answered “no”, and he felt it would reflect badly if he changed his answer.

“There have been a lot of silly rumours going around,” Lily cut in. “Whenever James and I hear one, we simply say that it’s not appropriate to talk about it.”

“I see,” Manfred said. “And do you believe that the staff members have handled the matter well?”

If James had only suspected it before, he now knew without doubt that the governors were trying to assign some sort of blame to the teachers. He waited to let Lily speak, since she was answering much more tactfully.

“Yes,” she said. “I do. Everyone’s recovered, and security’s been increased.”

“And do you think they’ve handed out appropriate punishments?”

Lily opened her mouth to speak but then shut it again, her face flushing. James contracted his brow critically.

“Aren’t you here to investigate things and find out who needs to be punished?” he asked. “Why would they punish someone if they didn’t know who was behind it?”

“I—well, I only meant—” Manfred muttered something unintelligible and scribbled something down rather hastily. James looked over at Lily, who smiled feebly.

“Have you heard any information that might aid in finding the perpetrators?”

Lily shook her head, and James did the same.

“Do you have any ideas about who it might be? Any suspicions?” Manfred asked, apparently losing patience with each moment that passed.

This time, James felt even more hesitant. Did he have any suspicions? Well, of course he did, but he suspected the Slytherins of pretty much everything sinister that happened around the castle. He looked over at Lily, who was staring down at her hands, and thought about how she might react if he accused Snape of poisoning people.

Manfred seemed to have picked up on their reluctance, and was now staring at them with great interest.

“As I said before, anything you say will stay within this room.”

“The Slytherins,” Lily said, looking up. Manfred looked absolutely fit to burst; his left eye twitched compulsively.

“You’ll have to be more specific.”

“Erm...Warren Mulciber and Dorian Avery...Evan Rosier, Gregory Wilkes...Barty Crouch...”

She trailed off, and two missing names echoed in James’ mind: one was Snape, of course, the other Regulus. They should have been included in this group, and part of him felt a strong desire to add them. He knew Lily would be mad at him, and he wasn’t even sure that Sirius wouldn’t be upset, but why should they make excuses for some people and not others?

“Anyone else?”

Manfred’s dry voice broke into his thoughts. James looked over at Lily, and he knew he could not do it.

“I think she got them all,” he answered, feeling a little stab from his conscience.

“And just one last question,” Manfred said, clearly encouraged by the information he had gained so far. “Do you think there are certain groups of students that are targeted more than others?”

James furrowed his brow. He was not really sure what Manfred meant, and thought that he probably shouldn’t say that the Gryffindors particularly liked to bother the Slytherins whenever possible.

“We thought—the governors and myself, that is—that you might be able to provide some insight on this topic particularly, Miss Evans.”

Lily looked surprised. “I—I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

“Well, given your background, and the sort of sentiments that students might be picking up on...”

He trailed off, and it still took James a moment to work out what Manfred was trying to say. When he finally did, he almost stood up and left the room. He was not about to leave Lily sitting there by herself, however, so he settled for giving Manfred a look of deep disgust and then turning to Lily, who looked shocked. He tried to swallow his urge to make some sort of grand gesture to come to her defence. One thing he had learned about Lily was that she did not particularly appreciate the chivalrous acts that might make other girls weak in the knees. If only it were that easy.

“I don’t know what you mean,” she said icily. Manfred seemed to judge from her tone that it was unwise to push any further.

He thanked them, and James decided not to say that he was welcome, after he had asked such an insensitive question. While he could understand the governors’ intentions, there was not an excuse for pointing out that someone might be attacked because they were Muggle-born.

“What an arse,” James muttered when he and Lily had left the staff room.

“He was only trying to get to the bottom of things,” Lily said. Sometimes she was much too forgiving for her own good, James thought.

“Well, I don’t see what that last bit had to do with anything.”

“He is right, though.”

James was very surprised to hear her agreeing with someone who had practically called her a Mudblood.

“How’s that?” he asked.

“Oh, come on, James. Let’s not dance around it just because you don’t want to offend me,” Lily replied. James had no idea what she was getting at, and looked at her expectantly. After a sigh, she continued, “It’s true; Muggle-borns do get singled out by the Slytherins.”

It would surely be tactless to agree, but equally churlish to contradict her.

“Well, of course they do. But that Manfred bloke didn’t need to drag you into it as well,” James said. Lily smiled.

“I am a Muggle-born, James.”

He had run out of responses, and was feeling like a bit of an idiot until his mind fell on something else.

“Hold on—why was he so concerned about Muggle-borns?” he asked, feeling, as he always had, slightly uncomfortable about using the term at all. “Not all of the people who were poisoned were.”

“No,” Lily said lightly, “but everyone who bought one was.”

“Well, whoever was selling can’t have expected them to drink them as well. Obviously they were going to give them to other people,” James replied.

“Nothing to impress on a Muggle-born the dangers of over-reaching like poisoning the boy or girl of their choice,” Lily said.

“What does that mean?”

“It means...well, if a Muggle-born gets poisoned, I suppose that’s the best outcome. If not, at least they feel bad enough about almost killing someone. And I would guess that the punishment’s especially fitting if some Muggle-born has had the audacity to try and enchant someone who’s above them.”

She was trying to keep her tone light, but her arms were folded tightly across her chest and she was biting her lip. James grabbed her upper arm and stopped her.

“You don’t really think that, do you?” he asked, looking her straight in the eyes.

“Well, I don’t believe it, of course...but other people do,” she said.

“Lots of people don’t. I don’t.”

“Oh—James, I never thought—I didn’t mean that everyone who isn’t a Muggle-born—” Lily sighed heavily. “I’m probably getting ahead of myself. We don’t even know for sure that it was the Slytherins.”

“Because there are so many other possibilities,” James said sarcastically. Lily laughed quietly.

“Maybe we should get some proof before we begin the accusations,” she said.

Class had ended, and people were starting to emerge into the corridors. Lily glanced over her shoulder.

“I’ve got to go meet Anna and Mary in the library,” she said.

“Well, thanks for being my interrogation partner,” James said, feeling that it might be best to laugh off the entire thing, at least for the time being.

“No problem,” Lily said, grinning. “See you later?”

“Sure,” James replied. Whenever he saw her smile, it felt like he had been punched it the gut.“And Lily?”

“Yes?”

“Just for the record: I wouldn’t mind one bit if a Muggle-born tried to give me a love potion."

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