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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 20: An Unexpected Invitation



Chapter Twenty
An Unexpected Invitation




“All right, here’s the plan.”

James stood at the foot of his bed, where the Marauders’ Map was splayed out on top of his quilt. He, Sirius, Remus, and Peter had decided on a plan to try and frame the Slytherins, and with only a few days left before Easter holidays, they had also decided that tonight was the night to get it in motion.

“We’ll bring the Cloak and go to Dearborn’s office,” James said, going over everything one last time. “And we’re going to have to search quickly. The candlesticks are probably still in there, since he was complaining that the Ministry was hassling him about giving them back, but there’s a chance they might not be.”

They had concluded that stealing the candlesticks from Dearborn would be the best course, partially because they felt he might be less likely to punish them if he were to catch them—it was unlikely that he would, of course, but still important to consider.

“Remus will watch the Map in case Dearborn starts heading back,” James said. Dearborn had headed off to Dumbledore’s office just a few minutes earlier, and seemed to be settling in for a lengthy visit. “If he does, or if we can’t find them in ten minutes of searching, we’ll try again later. If we do find them, we’ll hide them in the Heads’ office. No one’ll be poking around there.” Lily finding them wasn’t a danger, either, since they neither she nor James were spending much time there at all. “Everyone ready?”

They all nodded and James wiped the Map, handing it off to Remus. Peter took the Cloak and hit it underneath the back of his jacket, and they headed off towards the portrait hole.

It was not very late at night, so there were still quite a few people sitting in the common room. They had thought it better to not add the complication of being out of bed after-hours, given that there were Aurors skulking around the corridors, and besides that, they had been at the mercy of whenever Dearborn left his office. One of the people sitting in the common room was Lily, who waved at him as he walked across the room. For a half-second his steps threatened to veer off in her direction, but Sirius shoved him forward.

“Heard about the Puddlemere United game, Prongs?” he asked, smirking. James rolled his eyes and followed Peter through the portrait hole, glancing back at Lily briefly.

“Can you imagine if this actually works?” Peter asked.

“Of course it’s going to work,” Sirius said, twiddling his wand between his fingers. “It’s practically foolproof.”

“I just hope we get to see them forced out,” James said. A mental image of the Slytherins being frog-marched out at wandpoint by a group of Aurors formed in his brain.

When they neared Dearborn’s office, James, Sirius, and Remus waited around the corner while Peter played the part of a student seeking out his teacher. He knocked on the door pretended to be waiting for an answer while he surreptitiously used his wand to unlock the door and then left it slightly ajar. It was always better to make entries under the Invisibility Cloak as smooth and soundless as possible, especially when there were four of them. Peter rejoined them and they shuffled into the office.

Muffliato,” Sirius said, flicking his wand at the door. “Let’s go to work, shall we?”

James started searching the desk. Considering that Dearborn was the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, his office was very poorly secured, but considering that Dearborn was Dearborn, it was not so surprising. Any drawers that were locked were opened with an easy Alohomora. There did not seem to be much of interest inside the office, in any case, which was perhaps why the security was so lax. Most of the desk drawers that James opened were either bare or held mundane objects like blank parchment or broken quills.

He tried feeling around the sides and bottom of the drawers, thinking that perhaps Dearborn was the type to put secret compartments into his desk, but if they were there, he could not tell. He shut the last drawer and half-heartedly glanced over the surface of the desk, which was covered with an old newspaper, several books, and piles of essays.

“It’s not over here,” Peter said, shuffling a few books back into place on their shelf.

“Not here either,” Sirius said. He stepped back from the large cabinet against the wall.

The black box they were looking for did not seem to be in the room, which left only two possibilities: either Dearborn did not have them in his possession any more, or they were in the sleeping quarters connected to his office. James glanced over at the door that led into the room.

“Moony?” he asked.

“Still with Dumbledore.”

“Let’s do a quick search in there,” James said, and Sirius and Peter converged on the door with him.

Unfortunately this room seemed to be less penetrable than the office. No variation of Alohomora worked, much to James’ frustration.

“Any ideas?” he asked Peter and Sirius, who were standing on either side of him.

“He’s coming back,” Remus said from behind them.

“He’s three floors away, we’ve still got time,” Sirius said, taking a look at the Map.

“About two minutes, and Dumbledore’s coming with him” Remus said urgently. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Peter, try that Muggle thing you learned,” Sirius said.

“I need something thin enough to jam in there,” Peter muttered.

“We don’t have time for this,” Remus said.

“Breathe, Moony,” James said, looking for the pocket knife he had come across on the desk. He found it wedged underneath a stack of parchment. “Try this,” he said, throwing it to Peter.

Peter fumbled with it for a few seconds. “I can’t get it open.”

“Give it here,” Sirius said, grabbing it away from them.

“He’s going to be back in the next thirty seconds,” Remus said. “Oh, and he knows about the shortcut from the fourth floor, brilliant. Make that about fifteen seconds.”

“All right, forget it,” James said. “Just put the knife back on the desk and let’s go.”

They were underneath the Invisibility Cloak and ready to leave when they bumped into the desk and a jar of Pepper Imps smashed all over the floor.

All four of them swore and Remus stuck his wand out from under the Cloak to try and fix it.

“Just leave it!” Sirius hissed.

“He’ll know someone’s been in here!”

“And he won’t know it’s us, will he?”

“He’s right, Moony—”

The door opened a crack and they all froze. James could see a sliver of Dearborn’s left side, and his voice was wafting into the room.

“...but all I’m saying is that I’m not sure there’s enough time left, Albus,” he was saying, and the door opened just a little more. James jolted out of his frozen state and pulled out his wand, hoping that he could successfully perform a non-verbal Reversal Charm. To his immense relief, the shards of glass and small black sweets flew up into the air and back to their original state. He felt everyone else exhale heavily, and they crouched down against the wall so that their feet would be properly covered.

“And you’re still opposed to expanding our prospects? Even though there’s more than a small chance that this won’t work?”

James could hear Dumbledore responding but could not make out what he was saying, probably because his heart was beating too loud to hear anything else. He tried to get control of his breathing before Dearborn re-entered.

“Well, if you’re certain,” Dearborn said, and the door opened further. “I’ll come by later this week and we can discuss it further.”

Moments later, Dearborn entered the office and shut the door behind him. James held his breath completely as the professor crossed the room. As long as he didn’t notice anything out of place...

He did pause for a moment to look for something on his desk, but must have decided that he had misplaced it and went off to his sleeping quarters. James could have died of relief right there, but forced himself to stand upright and move towards the door.

He had already opened the door a half-inch when Dearborn came back into the office and strode over to his bookshelf. They all stood still again, and James tried to push the door as far closed as he could. Dearborn pulled a book off his shelf and then noticed that the door was still open. Frowning, he crossed the room in three strides, stopping centimetres from James’ toes.

Sirius tugged on James’ sleeve and he ducked down, avoiding Dearborn’s outstretched hand. James was certain that they were going to be caught now, for how could Dearborn not sense that four people were standing in front of him? But by some miracle, he simply shut the door and walked away, whistling.

They practically sprinted from the room when he disappeared again. When James pulled the Invisibility Cloak off, all three of his friends looked like they had been hit with a round of Shock Spells.

“I told you,” Remus said.

Sirius laughed hollowly. “Ah, what’s life without a little risk, Moony?”

“I can’t believe we made it out of there,” Peter said, though he sounded slightly excited. “When we were by the door—”

“Let’s not relive it,” James said. “We should go back to the dormitory before Filch comes along.”

They barely spoke as they walked back to their room, but by the time James threw the Invisibility Cloak back in his trunk he was finding the whole incident less horrifying. They hadn’t been caught, after all—in fact, they had evaded capture quite spectacularly.

“Who eats Pepper Imps, anyway?” Sirius asked from his bed, and they all dissolved into laughter.

“I suppose we’ll have to come up with another plan,” Remus said.

“What, you don’t think that went well?” James asked, laughing.

“That was so lucky you fixed that jar before he came back in, Prongs,” Peter said.

They discussed the finer points of the situation enthusiastically for the next few minutes, comparing it to other close calls they’d had in the past and deciding that it probably ranked in the top three. Eventually their laughter and excitement died down and the conversation turned more practical.

“So we’ll try again after holidays?” Sirius asked.

“Are you sure it’s worth the trouble?” Remus asked.

“We’ll have a different plan, like you said, Moony,” James replied. “It wouldn’t have been that much trouble if we’d listened to you, anyway.”

Remus looked slightly gratified at that and was much less critical for the rest of their conversation. They went to bed soon after, and as James was trying to fall asleep, he felt the tiniest bit of guilt nagging at him. He thought—no, he knew—that they were doing the right thing, and that the Slytherins deserved it, but he did feel a little bad about having to lie to Lily. And he really did have to, because he had a feeling his friends had been right, and that she would be appalled if he explained what they were trying to do. Besides that, he also felt guilty about involving himself in yet another situation that would make Dumbledore none too happy.

It wasn’t as if he was about to back out now, though, and he reminded himself a little bitterly that both Lily and Dumbledore were much too forgiving of people that didn’t deserve it. This was justified, even if they had to use questionable means to achieve their ends. And in any case, it wasn’t as if anyone else was ever going to find out that they, and not the Slytherins, were the ones behind it all.



.........




Lily was not the only one not looking forward to leaving Hogwarts for Easter holidays: Anna was far unhappier, or at least more vocal about it. Apparently her entire family was coming home over the holidays and were all staying at their parents’ house.

“I was already going to get enough time with them to last me a few years during her wedding,” Anna said to Mary and Anna as they were packing in the weak sunlight of Saturday morning. “Now I’m going to die of overexposure.”

“Well, at least you don’t have to tell all of your extended family about how well your year at St. Margaret’s School for Girls is going,” Mary said, folding a pair of robes with a flourish of her wand.

“No,” Anna said, “but do you think they’d take me in for the holidays?” Lily smiled and shook her head. “It’s going to be even worse this time, being so close to the end of the school year. Everyone’s going to be badgering me about N.E.W.T.s and what I’m going to do afterward, and then picking apart everything I say, telling me why it’s impossible or not good enough.”

“At least they care, though,” Mary said. Anna laughed derisively.

“She's right, Anna,” Lily interjected.

“My parents have stopped asking anymore. I think they’re hoping that I’ll finish school and then rejoin their world. Make something comprehensible out of my life,” Mary said.

Unlike her friends, it was not the prospect of seeing her family that bothered Lily, but who she was not going to be seeing. It was pathetic, she knew, to be feeling so pained about being away from James for two weeks. That sort of thing was really only supposed to be felt by girlfriends, and she was certainly not that to James.

“I’m going to need to escape,” Anna said, shutting the latches on her trunk, “so don’t be surprised if I show up on either of your doorsteps.”

“Just don’t Apparate within sight or my mother might faint,” Mary said. “Well, I think I’m ready to go. Shall we walk out to the gates together?”

Lily had deliberately drawn out her own packing so that she would get the chance to go say goodbye to James without Anna and Mary waiting on her. Not that she expected it would be some drawn-out affair, of course, and it was possible that he had already left, but she thought it would be better if no one was looking over her shoulder.

“I need a little while longer, but I’ll walk down to the common room with both of you,” she offered.

They said their farewells near the portrait hole and saw Remus and Sirius walking out with their trunks. Much to Lily’s surprise, Mary hardly looked at Remus as he passed by. He had obviously expected a different reaction as well, since he had started slowing his pace slightly as he reached her. When the portrait hole had closed behind her friends, Lily finished packing (at a much quicker pace than before), took her hair out of its ponytail, and walked up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory.

The door was open but she knocked on the frame anyway, feeling a bit like she was intruding. James and Peter were both inside, and Lily found it amusing how messy the room still was when two of its inhabitants had packed up their things.

“Hey,” James said, looking up from his trunk at her. The sight of him brought an immediate smile to her face.

“Just wanted to wish you a happy Easter,” she said. “Leaving soon?”

He crossed the room to stand next to her. “Yeah, Pete and I were going to head out in a few minutes. You?”

She nodded. “Do you have plans for the holidays, Peter?” she asked, looking past James’ shoulder. Peter snapped his trunk closed and shrugged, looking slightly flushed.

“Just going home,” he said. “James’ birthday, too.”

“Oh, of course,” Lily said, as if she had just been reminded. It would have been impossible to forget, really. “Do you have some big, exciting party planned?”

James laughed. “No, can’t say I do. Sirius says he has a plan, but he always talks like that.”

“I saw him and Remus leaving,” Lily said. “I was surprised you two weren’t with them.”

“He said he had to go meet someone about an investment and needed to leave early,” James replied, shrugging.

“Interesting,” Lily said. The idea of Sirius Black investing in something sounded ridiculous. “Anyway, happy early birthday. I’m sorry I won’t be able to say it on the day of.”

“Thanks,” James said. A strange silence descended upon the room. Peter muttered something about looking for some socks and left them. James cleared his throat. “Actually, you should—er—come for tea on my birthday, if you like. Or something.”

Lily felt her eyebrows leap upwards. “Oh! Erm...”

“You don’t have to,” James said quickly. “Just...if you wanted to be able to say it then...”

“No—no, I’ll come,” Lily said, “of course I’ll come.” Her desire to see James had won out over the strangeness of the entire prospect. Going for birthday tea at James’ house? Well, they were friends, and she supposed this was a friendly thing to do, especially considering that he’d been so nice to her on her own birthday. And he did look so excited now that she’d said yes.

“Are—are you sure? You really don’t have to,” he said. Perhaps he too realized that the idea was a bit odd.

“Well, only if you want me to, of course,” she replied. “If you’d rather not...”

“No, I’d love it,” he said. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, though. And you might have other plans already.”

“Not at all,” Lily said, smiling.

A few further minutes of conversation followed as they tried to figure out how exactly Lily was to get to his house, seeing that she had never been there before and he lived a few hours south of her. It was very difficult to arrange, since most of the magical centers like Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade had prohibited Apparition in recent months, and Apparating to an unknown locale could end very badly. Of course, there was no Floo connection to Lily’s Muggle home, and James also seemed quite uncomfortable with the idea of taking a train alone, despite her assurances that it would be perfectly safe. The entire thing seemed like such a bother that each of them suggested doing away with it entirely, which the other quickly brushed off.

“Listen, I’ll just Apparate as best I can,” Lily finally said. “The worst that happens is I end up miles from where I’m supposed to be and then I go back home.”

“Or you Splinch yourself in half,” James said. “I’m not sure if I can live with that on my conscience.”

Lily smiled. “I’ll be fine.” Peter re-entered the room; he seemed to have been unsuccessful in finding his socks. “Just know that if I don’t show up, it’s not intentional.”

“Right,” James said. “I’ll keep that in mind when I’m terribly offended about being stood up.” Lily felt her cheeks getting hot at his choice of words. "Not that—erm—”

“So I’ll see you next Wednesday, around four?” Lily asked, hoping to save him from an embarrassing explanation. She knew he had not meant to make it sound like they were going on a date, though she might have wished otherwise.

“Unless you Apparate into another town,” James said, grinning.

“Exactly. I’ll see you then,” Lily said. Leaving did not seem so bad now that she only had to wait a few days before seeing him again. “Have a good Easter, Peter.”

“You too,” Peter said.

“See you,” James said quietly. Lily nodded, and there was a moment where she simply stood smiling up at him, before she remembered that her feet were supposed to be moving away.

All the way from her dormitory down to the school gates, Lily tried to picture her visit with James. The idea of seeing him outside of Hogwarts was strange, but a little exciting. She would see his house. They would not be distracted by classes or teachers or their friends. She was actually glad now that she was not his girlfriend, because the idea of being introduced to his parents would seem scary, rather than intriguing. She couldn’t imagine what they must be like, with someone like James as their son.

And the fact that he had asked her at all was encouraging, for it must mean that he wanted to see her. He had been happy when she agreed to come, as well. Perhaps she had been silly to ever think that he didn’t like her anymore, and this would give them the chance to talk things over. She couldn’t help but imagine some romantic scene where James confessed his feelings for her and kissed her beside a lake near his house. Of course, reiterated might be a better word than confessed, and she had no idea if there was a lake anywhere around where he lived. But the details were unimportant, really.

Lily pulled off her shoes inside her house and walked into the kitchen, where Petunia was making tea.

“What are you so happy about?” Petunia asked, her eyebrow raised.

“Hello to you too,” Lily replied pleasantly. “I’m just glad to be home.”

“Don’t get too thrilled yet,” her sister said. “Mum’s in a terrible mood because Dad flooded the basement.”

“How did he manage that?”

“Who knows,” Petunia said, picking up her cup of tea and heading for the stairs. “But he refuses to pay for a plumber and meanwhile we haven’t been able to do the laundry for two days. Mum told him she’d make him hand-wash it if he didn’t get it fixed by the end of the day.”

The stairs creaked and their mother appeared in the kitchen doorway a moment later. “Oh, Lily, dear, I thought it was your father coming back,” she said, looking harried. She crossed the kitchen and gave Lily a hug. “Petunia, if that room isn’t clean in an hour’s time—”

“You know, you’d never have to worry about my room if I lived in London,” Petunia called over the creaking of the stairs.

“Don’t start that again! Not today!” Lily’s mother shouted before turning back to Lily with a strained smile. “How are you, darling?”

“Really good, Mum,” Lily replied.

“You do look very cheerful,” her mother said, smiling affectionately. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was because you’re happy to be home.”

“Of course I’m happy to be here,” Lily said, and she was, at least a little. After all, she had started off with an almost-pleasant conversation with Petunia, which happened very rarely. “You know, Mum, I could fix the basement, if you like.”

“That’s very nice of you, dear,” her mother said, “but I think that would make it much too easy for your father.”

Lily took her trunk up to her room and absent-mindedly unpacked her things, singing along to the muffled melody of Petunia’s music floating through the walls. She was trying not to think about seeing James on Wednesday, trying not to get her hopes up and actually expect one of her ridiculous imaginary scenarios to come true. He had just asked her over for tea because they were friends, and it was silly to be thinking about what she should wear three days in advance. But maybe somehow, if everything was just right, she wouldn’t need to worry about being let down.



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