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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 17: A Little Like Sickness



Chapter Seventeen
A Little Like Sickness




The Quidditch season was heating up. Slytherin was effectively out of the running, having lost to both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. The upcoming match was make-or-break for the Hufflepuffs, who had lost one match already, and if Gryffindor were to lose, it would give Ravenclaw the definitive lead.

Of course, they couldn’t let that happen.

James spent the next week in long, nightly practices, trying to find some way to hammer out the problems that were plaguing the team. They were flying quite well, but Ursula’s bad attitude had the effect of someone casting an Encumbering Hex on all of them. She made James and Alison useless on most plays and distracted the rest of the team, but no matter what James did, she wouldn’t let up. It was downright embarrassing to be openly defied by one of his team members, but with the match so close, he could only hope that she came to her senses before then.

In other matters, Sirius had been taken off commentating by Professor McGonagall after the second match. He had turned it into complete chaos by providing a wildly inaccurate commentary of the match, exclaiming that the Snitch was in view when it was not, announcing fouls when none had been called, and narrating every play so frantically that one of the Ravenclaw Chasers had a breakdown on the side of the field. Sirius, of course, had found the entire thing hysterically funny.

The Hufflepuffs, usually fairly non-competitive when it came to Quidditch, seemed to have embarked a new program of intimidation under their new captain. Jennifer Finch, a short and wiry brunette in James’ year, had a long-standing reputation of toughness and severity. As a first and second year, she had been indiscriminately obnoxious to everyone she met, tripping them in the corridors for no reason or stealing their homework before class. To everyone’s great relief she had found an outlet for her bullying in third year when she was made a Beater on the Quidditch Team, but now that she was captain, she had turned the Hufflepuffs so nasty they seemed more like Slytherins.

True to their reputation, though, the Gryffindor team was of tough enough stock that none of them seemed to be phased in the least by name-calling; even Gareth laughed it all off carelessly. The weather was light and mild, if a little cool, and they all walked out onto the Quidditch pitch feeling supremely confident that they would win. As they kicked off, the stands were filled with Gryffindors chanting the ever-popular, “Get stuffed, Hufflepuff!

Everything seemed to go well for the first minute or so of the match; they kicked off the ground and James took possession of the Quaffle immediately. But as soon as the first couple plays had passed, everything started to go wrong.

James and Alison were both trying to keep Ursula from getting the Quaffle for fear that she would never pass it again, and they turned out to be right. Gryffindor had lost the chance at three goals within the first ten minutes because Ursula refused to pass to anyone else. The Hufflepuffs pulled ahead, bringing gleeful jeers from the yellow-and-black supporters in the stands. James briefly considered whether he should try and steal the Quaffle from his own team mate.

He swore angrily when Ursula fumbled the Quaffle and Hufflepuff took possession again. It was less than a minute before they scored again. A shrill whistle sounded; Jennifer had apparently called a time-out. James ignored the gloating look on her face as they landed.

He had to take a deep breath before he spoke. “All right, everyone, try and clear your heads. We’re not down by that much, and we can make an easy comeback if we all work together.”

“What are you telling us for?” Seraphina asked, glaring at Ursula.

“It’s my fault that you’ve let in six easy saves?”

Everyone else looked like they were ready to attack Ursula, and James felt like she might deserve it, but he also knew that a fracture within the team was the worst thing that could happen right now.

“No one’s blaming anyone,” he said, getting six eye-rolls in return. “We’re a team, let’s just try to remember that.”

He heard the whistle again, and they returned to the air. To his relief, Ursula seemed to have relented slightly and was passing it occasionally, but she also started racking up an alarming number of fouls. James had never seen someone who let their emotions affect their game so much, and he couldn’t understand why he had never noticed in years past.

They were catching up to Hufflepuff, at least; the score was soon ninety for Hufflepuff and eighty for Gryffindor. Alison had just scored another goal, tying them, when James heard Madam Hooch’s whistle. He circled around in the air and exhaled in frustration when he saw that Ursula had fouled someone again: this time it was Jennifer, and she looked absolutely livid.

James had a very bad feeling as play resumed—it seemed like Jennifer was aiming every single Bludger she could straight for Ursula, who, for her part, seemed completely oblivious. He was about to call a time out when Alison passed him the Quaffle, erasing everything from his mind but the drive to the goalposts. He faked left and then sent it soaring through the right goalpost.

Cheers from Gryffindor filled the air and James turned around, feeling buoyed by his goal. They were tied again, and if they could just keep this up until Gareth caught the Snitch...

Hufflepuff missed their next shot and the Quaffle went back to Alison, who passed it over to James. In order to duck a Bludger, he quickly threw the Quaffle towards Ursula, who had to stretch her arm forward to catch it. James heard an unusually loud crack of a Beaters’ bat and winced, thinking it might be coming for him, but then he saw it collide with Ursula’s shoulder with the force of a cannon ball.

Jennifer had hit her mark.

Luckily, Ursula was good enough at flying that she managed to remain on her broom until she could get to the ground. Madam Hooch landed next to her; she was soon joined by the rest of the Gryffindor team.

“How bad is it?” James asked Madam Hooch.

“Broken,” she said quickly. “She can’t continue playing.”

He heard some of his teammates groan.

“No, it’s fine,” Ursula said. “Someone just do a temporary fix, and I’ll keep playing.”

“Absolutely not,” Madam Hooch said. “It’s off to the Hospital Wing for you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” James reassured her, but she only glared at him as she walked off the pitch. Not like you were helping us much anyway, he thought to himself. He turned back to his team, who looked dismal. “Nothing to worry about. We could beat them with our hands behind our backs, anyway. Back up in the air.”

As they flew upward, James glided over to Gareth.

“Gareth—”

“I’ll get it, Captain,” Gareth said stoically.

And he did, less than five minutes later, in a fairly spectacular bit of flying. Jennifer was so angry over losing that she threw her broom at her own Keeper and stormed off the pitch.

The celebrations in the common room were much better than the last. Everyone was excited because Gryffindor had effectively pushed Hufflepuff out of the running for the Cup. Some of the fifth years had brought down a radio from their room and had the broadcast of The Hairy Hearts’ concert blaring through the room. Across the room from where James was sitting with Sirius and Peter, there was a ten-person game of Exploding Snap in progress. Gareth had quickly become the hero of the Quidditch team, and he was sitting near the fire surrounded by a group of third and fourth year girls.

James had to keep reminding himself that it was full moon, and that they would have to make their way down to the Whomping Willow before long, but he allowed himself to forget about it for a little while, to sit down in an armchair and laugh as people threw darts at a hastily drawn, life-size drawing of Jennifer Finch. He felt a little bad for Ursula—after all, breaking her shoulder must have hurt—but at the same time, she had been so thoroughly unpleasant in the past month that he couldn't muster too much sympathy.

He saw Lily come down from her dormitory at one point and start chatting with a couple younger prefects. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail with red and gold ribbons that had come out of the perfectly-tied bow that James imagined they had originally been. She looked happy that they had won, and the thought that she had been cheering him on during the match made him feel giddy.

Naturally, that meant that he ended up acting like an idiot when she was walking toward him. Someone (perhaps Peter) had started a chant of Gryff-in-dor, and James had stood up on one of the armchairs and joined in a little too enthusiastically. Lily’s steps faltered slightly and she went to sit with Mary instead, smiling in an embarrassed way. James’ chanting went hollow and he felt a flush growing in his cheeks. He jumped back down to the ground and compulsively messed with his hair for the next ten minutes.

Apparently he had not driven her away for good though, because a little while later she came and perched herself on the arm of his chair. James did not notice until she tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned and saw how close she was sitting, he nearly spewed up a mouthful of Butterbeer.

“Sorry,” she said, as he coughed. “I suppose that’s what I get for sneaking up on people.”

“S’okay,” he said, clearing his throat a final time.

“Great match,” Lily said. James rolled his eyes. “Well, except for the injury, of course.”

“Was that a bad thing?” James said. Lily smiled, and he could not help but notice that the colour of her lips was Gryffindor red. Which was probably a bad thing to be thinking about—but how was he supposed to help it when she came and sat right next to him?

“Those two seem to be enjoying themselves,” Lily said, looking over at Sirius and Peter. They had enchanted a Gryffindor banner to roar fearsomely whenever anyone passed by it, and they were sitting by and laughing as it scared people senseless.

“They always do,” James said. “But don’t make eye contact with them; they’ll drag us into it.”

“And I’m sure you’d only go kicking and screaming,” she said. “So, is Ursula okay?”

“Oh, she’ll be fine,” James replied. “She’ll probably be back on her feet by tomorrow.”

The next thing Lily said was drowned out by a loud roar.

“What?” James asked. Lily’s face was turning beet-red, and she was about to speak again when there was a loud explosion of yelling from the Exploding Snape game. She smiled nervously and leaned down to speak closer to his ear, putting her hand on his shoulder for support.

“Never mind,” was all she said.

Sirius and Peter seemed to have noticed them and, naturally, could not resist coming over to tease them. They did a particularly unflattering imitation of a lovesick James (this had become one of their favourites over the years), but Lily was a surprisingly good sport about it and only left when they started to sing a very loud song about her sparkling eyes.

“You know, I think she’s warming to us,” Sirius said thoughtfully as she walked away.

“Warming to Prongs is more like it,” Peter said, smirking.

“We were only talking about the match,” James said. Sirius and Peter raised their eyebrows in doubt and continued to bother him for the next half hour with comments like, “Should we go ask her if she fancies you?” and “I dare you to go over there and snog her.”

But James stayed planted in his chair until they left Gryffindor tower for the Whomping Willow. Part of him thought that maybe, just maybe, Sirius and Peter were right. He kept remembering the weight of her hand on his shoulder, and it gave him hope. It was always hard to tell with Lily, though.

A few hours’ run through the Forbidden Forest always managed to clear his head. When he collapsed into bed at four in the morning, he knew that patience was the best course. It was just unfortunate that the best course was something he was so bad at.



..........




Lily was certain that she was becoming sick in the head. She had a constant, nagging desire to spend time with James, but she got flustered and nervous every time she was around him. Her heart did a funny little jump whenever he walked into the room. She thought every joke he told was funny, and she couldn’t stop herself from smiling like an idiot every half-second. Whenever a day passed that she only saw him during class, it felt like a disappointment; whenever she did spend time with him, it gave her this funny feeling, like her heart was humming.

The truth was, she wasn’t sick, and she knew it. She had liked other boys before, and knew herself well enough to realize that the same thing was happening with James.

On the surface, the situation should have been very simple. After all, she was fairly certain that James was still interested in going out with her (although he hadn’t made mention of it in months, which she found slightly suspect), and all that had changed was that she was beginning to have the same feelings. Knowing these things didn’t make their interactions less awkward or tense; in fact, Lily thought it made them even more so.

She sighed and tapped her index finger on her Potions textbook. She was in the library rather than their "office", which was where she usually studied. There were usually less distractions there, but now the opposite was true. James had turned into one big distraction lately.

All she needed was something to distract her from being distracted, then. Homework obviously wasn’t cutting it. It needed to be more significant and more involved than researching the counterbalance to poisonous potion ingredients...

Poison. Well, trying to spy on the Slytherins would certainly occupy her for a little while, and she’d been planning on doing so for a while, anyway. She knew that the only way she’d be able to spy on them would be to hang around the dungeons, so she gathered up her books and walked in that direction.

She was on the second floor when she saw James on his way back from Quidditch practice, headed in her direction. For all the effort she had put into trying to avoid him, her heart lifted when he smiled at her.

“Hi,” she said, squeezing the strap of her bag anxiously. “How was your practice?”

“All right,” James said. “Where are you off to?”

“Erm...” Lily hesitated. She was sure that James would try to dissuade her if she told him the truth. “I was just going to the kitchens...for some tea.”

“I’ll keep you company,” he said eagerly. Lily’s mind raced with thoughts of how this was at once a very appealing and very bad idea.

“No, it’s all right—”

“I insist.”

Well, there goes my plan, Lily thought as they headed towards the kitchens. She didn’t want to spend an hour or so in aimless and uncomfortable flirtation with James, either. She rather liked being able to fall asleep at night, and encounters with him had started to give her insomnia.

She stopped short in the middle of the hallway. “You know, I don’t really feel like tea anymore. I think I’m just going to go back to my dormitory.”

“That was certainly a quick change-of-mind,” James said.

“I can be very indecisive sometimes,” Lily replied. What am I talking about? James was smirking, obviously laughing at her ridiculous babbling. Yes, she definitely needed to get away from him.

“Were you really going for tea?” he asked.

“Of course I was,” Lily said. “What else would I have been doing?”

“No clue,” James said, “but you look very suspicious. All red and flustered.”

Lily almost laughed. He was right about her not going for tea, but so very wrong about why she was flushed.

“I’m fine,” she said.

“You know,” James continued, clearly enjoying himself, “when you’re lying, your eyes get really wide.”

Well, now this was getting even more bizarre than usual.

“They do not,” Lily said, though she had an odd feeling he might be right.

“They do, and your eyebrows go about halfway up your forehead, too,” he said, laughing a little now. Lily tried to force her eyebrows down, and then berated herself for even listening to him in the first place. Surely someone else would have told her about this habit before if it were true.

“Look, I’ll show you,” James continued. “Do you fancy me?”

Lily felt like she had been set on fire and then quickly doused with a bucket of ice water. Her brain had short-circuited. How was she supposed to prove his theory about lying when the answer he expected wasn’t really a lie? And if she did tell a real lie...oh good Godric. Why, why did he have to ask that question? What was she supposed to say?

“No,” Lily said, trying to keep her eyes from widening. She felt horrible for saying it, but she figured it was the answer he was expecting, and he certainly reacted that way.

“There you go,” he said, but she thought his laugh was a little hollow. “And now, since I know you were lying before, you’ll have to tell me where you were really planning on going.”

Lily was so glad to be able to move onto a new topic that she didn’t even mind confessing. “Well, I was actually, erm, going to sort of...poke around the dungeons and see if I could possibly find anything incriminating on the Slytherins.”

Now James’ eyebrows shot up. “Pardon me?”

“You heard what I said.”

“Is...is this something you do often?”

“What do you think?”

“Well, you said it very casually, and I wouldn’t put it past you.”

Lily was ready for him to start telling her off, and had already started thinking of ways to deflect him, but he when he spoke again it was with a thoughtful grin on his face.

“Lily, if you’re going to spy on someone, you have to do it properly,” he said, taking a few steps forward. “Wait here; I’ll be back in five minutes.”

“James, I’m not going to go anymore,” she said.

“Are you scared to?” he asked. Lily glared at him.

“I was just about to go alone. Of course I’m not scared.” She neglected to point out that going alone probably would have been less frightening, given her current situation.

“Good. Don’t move until I get back.”

She seriously considered leaving, but her curiosity won out in the end. It took him longer than five minutes to return, but considering that he had changed clothes entirely, he had obviously sprinted to Gryffindor Tower and back.

“Now,” he said, in between breaths, “I am going to show you how to sneak around this school.”

“What have I gotten myself into?” Lily muttered, smiling.

James reached his arm backwards and pulled forward a shock of silver that tumbled to the ground. Lily first thought it looked like liquid, but quickly realized that it was actually fabric, but fabric unlike she had ever seen before. It was almost like woven mercury. She knew that this must be his Invisibility Cloak, but no description in a book or by a professor had ever explained how exquisite they were.

“It’s very rude to stare,” James said.

“Sorry. I just—” She didn’t know what to say.

“Only joking,” he said. “So, how do you feel about being invisible?”

“Couldn’t—couldn’t we have just used Disillusionment Charms?” Lily asked.

“This is much more fun,” he said. “Trust me.”

Lily paused to take in his appearance: slightly breathless, with a look of pure mischief on his face and an Invisibility Cloak in his hand. This was James Potter the troublemaker, and Lily couldn’t remember why she had ever disliked him so much. In fact, he was downright attractive.

“What do we do now?” she asked, starting to feel a little thrill of excitement.

“Well, if you don’t have any objections, I’d say we should take a walk down to the dungeons and then throw on the Cloak if we hear anyone coming. If not, we can always try to wait by the entrance of the Slytherin common room until we hear someone say the password, and—”

“Hold on,” Lily interrupted. “We’re not sneaking into their common room. That’s ludicrous.”

“It’s not actually as hard as it sounds,” James said lightly, “but no problem. We’ll scratch that and just go with whatever we can come upon easily.”

Lily had never heard him so professional and efficient before, but it gave her some comfort. At least she was breaking the rules with someone who knew what they were doing, although she tried not to think about all the times he had been caught and given detention.

They did exactly as he had suggested, and it seemed like a very fruitless pursuit at the start. The dungeons were deserted, and Lily began to think that they would not need the Invisibility Cloak at all. It was a shame, really; she desperately wanted to try it out. After ten or fifteen minutes of wandering around the labyrinth-like corridors, they decided to give up and return to Gryffindor Tower.

“At least we tried,” James said.

“We never even got to use your fancy cloak, though,” Lily said.

“I’m sure it won’t be the last chance we get,” James replied.

“You ran all the way up to your dormitory for it, though,” she said. “It’s a pity it was all for nothing.”

James grinned as he glanced over at her. “If you want to try it on, you can just ask.”

“Oh, I didn’t—I wasn’t trying to—” He was still smiling. “All right, fine. Can I put it on, just to see it work?”

“Certainly, m’lady,” he said. “Stand still.”

The Invisibility Cloak had the appearance of shapelessness, but as he placed it around her shoulders she realized that it was actually very much like a regular cloak, although a very big one. It had clearly been made to accommodate more than one person. Lily looked down and saw nothing but stone floor where her body should have been. She felt oddly self-conscious, and even more so when she looked back up and found James’ eyes locked on hers.

“It’s really neat,” she said.

“Isn’t it?” he said. “And at least now there was a point to me bringing it.”

“What’s that?”

“I got to show off for you.”

Lily was saved from what would have surely been a pathetic response by the sound of voices ringing through the corridor. She could tell they were students’ voices, although their echoes were hard to distinguish any further. James put a finger to his lips and swooped underneath the Cloak, quick as a flash, pulling it over both of their heads.

A moment later, a group of people rounded the nearest corner. It was almost too good to be true—it was Mulciber and the rest of his gang, including Severus. She felt James pulling her arm and followed him into an empty room across from them, freeing up the corridor for the Slytherins to walk by without bumping right into them.

“Did you see the littlest one’s face? Hundred galleons says he wet himself!”

“Typical Mudblood.”

“I’m still hoping we might actually scare one of them enough to get rid of them for good.”

Lily was not surprised to hear them talking like this, but it still stung. Their voices faded as they walked further down the corridor, and Lily’s concentration was freed enough for her to realize that she was practically snuggled up next to James. She wanted to be professional about using the Invisibility Cloak, so she inched herself away from him slightly.

She and James followed the voices of the Slytherins around several corridors. It was difficult to walk with two people underneath one cloak, but after a few awkward starts, they settled on a pace and Lily got the hang of walking without tripping him or herself up. They didn’t seem to be heading for their common room, but they were certainly heading very deep down into the dungeons. When they finally stopped, it was in a fairly nondescript room off a dead-end corridor. The walls had patches of purple-green sludge on them, and Lily assumed that this area of the castle was rarely visited. It was certainly very cold down here, and Lily was glad to have the Cloak to keep her warm.

She crept as close to the door as she could without them seeing her, then realized that she was invisible. Even still, she preferred to keep out of sight. She was new to Invisibility Cloaks, and it felt like a false sense of security that might disappear at any time. James stood next to her with his hand on her shoulder, as if to hold her back; she ignored him and listened in on the conversation.

“...and that stupid investigator kept pestering me again. I thought you were going to get your dad to tell him to bugger off, Crouch.”

“He will.”

“I want to know who it was that named us in the first place.” Lily recognized the voice as Mulciber’s.

“Someone told me it was Evans and Potter. They saw them coming out of the staff room after talking to him.”

Lily felt another sting as she recognized Severus’ voice, dripping with disdain. She had held back and not said his name to that man from the school governors, yet he was willing to throw blame casually upon her?

She thought it was Rosier’s reedy voice that spoke next. “Figures that it was a Mudblood. Well, she’ll get what’s coming to her, anyway.”

“They all will. They already would have, if Snape hadn’t accidentally diluted the potions,” Mulciber said.

Lily could hear the threat in the statement.

“I already explained—”

“We’ve already heard your excuses. You’re lucky the Dark Lord is still working with us through Black. But she can still kill you if he orders it,” Mulciber said.

“Considering your background, Snape, I’d—”

“Shut up, Avery. You’re no less expendable than him. I heard about your father’s idiotic blunder with that Auror.”

Silence fell for a moment.

“Getting back to the point: we nearly killed off a few with that scheme. I think Black was impressed, if her approval even means anything.”

“We also nearly got caught.” Snape’s voice again.

“There wasn’t any proof, and they wouldn’t have found any. Besides, who cares if we get expelled? Just gets us out there doing his work faster. I say we try it again,” Muciber said.

“It took a bloody long time for that poison to be ready, and it didn’t even work. Let’s just figure out who we’re going to go after next. It’s more fun seeing their faces when you’re torturing them, anyway.”

“Oh, let’s get that Hufflepuff girl who looks like an ogre. I don’t think anyone’d mind if we took care of her.”

“Probably get an award for school beautification.”

“I think the Cruciatus Curse nearly worked the last time I tried it. Shall I give it a go with her?”

Lily was starting to feel slightly sick.

“You know, I keep forgetting to go after that Macdonald girl again,” Mulciber said. “I’ve never seen fear like I did on that girl, and I just can’t leave this school without getting a bit of it again. I think next time I might even try to kill her properly, even.”

The way he said it, with the air of someone who had just remembered that they had not written a letter to an old friend or watered their plants that day, was horrifying. How could people talk like this about their classmates? How could anyone their age discussing killing someone?

She would have stood there and continued to listen, if for no other reason than to prove her own toughness, but James had started tugging her arm away, much to her relief. She followed without hesitation, but no amount of distance could erase the things she had just heard from her memory.

She would have liked to stay invisible for a while longer, until she could force down some of her emotions. She wanted to be able to laugh this off and not overreact, especially in front of James. It wasn’t usually difficult for her to dismiss this sort of hate-mongering, having heard it so many times before, but it was different this time. Something about it was more grisly and certainly much more disturbing.

Staying invisible wasn’t really an option, though, especially as James removed the Cloak as soon as they had reached the Entrance Hall. He did it gently and slowly, but a few extra seconds wouldn’t make a difference. Lily had no idea what she was going to say after that disaster, and judging by the look on his face, neither did he.




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