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Once Defied by pennyardelle

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

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

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 23: Back to Reality

Chapter Twenty-Three
Back to Reality

Lily made the decision to return to Hogwarts as soon as she could, in the hopes that James might do the same, and she was not at all disappointed. She had only to unpack her things and walk down into the Gryffindor common room before she saw him, and they spent the next couple days in a halcyon bubble, knowing that the other was always nearby. Lily was glad for the first time that James had such a thorough knowledge of secret places in the castle, and was quite certain that she would never have to worry about appearing “tacky”, as Petunia had so kindly put it.

In fact, she was so wrapped up in her own happiness that she completely forgot that there were people who did not know that she and James had started going out with each other. She was quickly reminded of that fact when Mary and Anna walked through the portrait hole.

“You haven’t said anything to them, have you?” James said to her in undertones, as her friends approached the couch that they were sitting on.

“No,” Lily said, feeling a little guilty. “I have been a little distracted, you know.” Besides, how would she have told them, even if she had wanted to? Sending them a letter would have been useless, since it likely wouldn’t have arrived until after they were already back at school, and she didn’t have any other easy way of communicating with them.

James smirked at her. “Well, I should go, then.” He took his arm off of her shoulder and walked off toward his dormitory, waving to Mary and Anna as he left.

Lily said hello to her friends, who sat down on some of the free chairs around her.

“Hi there,” Anna asked, taking off her coat. “Good holidays?”

Lily looked from her to Mary and noticed that neither of them seemed to be particularly surprised.

“Er—yes, really good,” she said. “Yours?”

“Oh, you know,” Anna said, “lovely family time. Wedding preparation seems to turn people mental.”

Lily grimaced sympathetically. “How about you, Mary?”

“It was good,” Mary said. A moment of silence fell; Lily was still expecting them to say something about the fact that she had just been sitting with James’ arm around her shoulder. She knew it wasn’t exactly the most important thing on earth, but she hadn’t expected her dating James to be such a non-issue.

“So...” she said slowly, “James and I went out over the holidays. On a date.”

“We know,” Anna said. Lily looked at them in confusion.

How could you know that?”

“Well, I came by your house last...Thursday, I think it was. Anyway, your mum said you were out on a date with some bloke named James and she didn’t know when you’d be back,” Anna explained. “Wasn’t really too hard to piece it together after that.”

Lily sighed. Her mother had never mentioned anything to her about Anna stopping by.

“It was really funny, actually; your mum kept asking me all these questions about James,” Anna continued.

“Like what?”

“Oh, just what he looked like, if he was nice, that sort of thing,” Anna said.

“What did you say to her?” Lily asked.

“I told her that he’s a complete boor that I’d never want anyone in my family to go out with,” Anna said, smirking. Lily knew she was joking even before she said so. “So you’re together now, then?”

Lily nodded. “I know it probably seems strange—”

“What’s strange about it? The two of you were together practically all the time anyway; it’s about time you got a move on,” Anna said.

“You must be really happy,” Mary said. “We should go unpack before dinner, Anna.”

The entire conversation left Lily feeling a little dissatisfied, though she could  not quite put her finger on why. She supposed it was a little self-centered of her to expect them to want to hear all the details...but wasn’t that what friends were supposed to do? It didn’t surprise her that Anna was sparing little enthusiasm, but Lily had really thought that Mary would be happy for her. Instead, Mary seemed to be even more distant than Anna, not just about her and James but all the time.

Not everyone was as unmoved by her and James’ new situation. It only took until their first class, for Lily to start getting a little unnerved by the attention that was being directed at them. She supposed that all she could do was ignore the giggles and stares, but it was a little strange to feel like half the school was looking at her.

She was a little afraid when they arrived in Potions that there might be some sort of altercation between James and Snape. There was always the chance of it—though it did seem to be occurring with less and less frequency—but it had to be said that her going out with James had the potential of causing some bigger problems than before.

She felt quite anxious as she sat in the seat directly behind James. It was lucky that Snape had his head buried in his Potions textbook, since James was holding her hand on top of the table. Perhaps she was overreacting, though. He seemed to have accepted her and James being friends, however grudgingly, and how much worse could he find their new situation? And moreover, why was she even bothering to think about it?

She shook herself from her thoughts and looked across the table at James. He was giving her this private sort of smile and looking at her very intently, like there was no one else around. Clearly, James did not have a care in the world for what anyone else thought about him, Lily, or their relationship. He did not seem to be any less happy than he had been yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that. It made her blush a little, to be looked at like that among a group of people, but more importantly, it made her realize how silly she was being, letting herself get this bothered in such a short time. She liked James more than she had ever liked anyone else, and there was no reason to be anything but thrilled about it.

The entire class went very smoothly. Even Anna and Sirius seemed to be getting along better than usual, though Lily was quite sure that they were forcing themselves into it for their friends’ sake. Still, this was not something that Anna would usually bother with, and it cheered Lily even further.

She thought she might have spoken too soon when the end of class came and they were packing up their things. Snape stalked past and his eyes darted toward her; Lily thought, Oh, here we go. To her surprise, however, nothing much happened, except Snape quickly looked away and James put his arm around her waist rather possessively. It made it slightly difficult to walk from class that way, as did the curiousness of what had just happened. She was very glad that Snape did not seem to care that she was going out with James, as he really had no right to give an opinion on it anyway, but it did seem odd that he had no scathing remarks or even an eyebrow-raise to spare.

It seemed like all of the moments in the rest of the day where she was not with James were a variation on unpleasantness, with people giggling and whispering at her as she walked by. It felt like her going out with James was some big joke in everyone else’s eyes, and she found herself wishing for the few days when it had been just the two of them, without anyone else interfering.

“Just ignore it,” Anna said to Lily, as the two of them and Mary entered one of the girls’ bathrooms after lunch. “Whenever two people at this school start dating it’s like the circus has come to town.”

“Thanks for the comparison,” Lily said.

“You know what I mean,” Anna replied. “They’ll lose interest in a couple of days.” The bathroom door opened and several Slytherin girls from their year walked in. “Well, there goes the neighbourhood,” Anna muttered.

“I mean, it’s really just unbelievable,” Claudia Rowle said, apparently in the middle of a conversation, “the level people will stoop to when it comes to dating.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “Let’s go,” she said to Mary and Anna.

“Well, my mother always says that boys just go through a phase like this when they’re young,” Astrid Nott said. “You know, dating really common girls. Mudbloods, and that sort of thing.”

Lily had pushed the door halfway open when her ears were almost split by a scream echoing off the tiled walls. She looked around—Astrid was staring in the mirror and grabbing her hair, which was now neon green. Lily figured Anna must have hexed her, but to her complete shock, it was Mary who was putting away her wand, looking very pleased.

“Now we can go,” Mary said.

People standing out in the corridor were staring at the bathroom door apprehensively, and Filch was jogging along towards them. Lily could not understand how he seemed to be able to move about the castle so quickly at his age, always appearing seconds after the slightest bit of trouble with a gleam that only the prospect of punishment could put in his eyes.

“What in Merlin’s name is going on in there?” he barked at the three of them.

“Oh, you don't want to know,” Anna said darkly. Filch looked at the door apprehensively, but before he could say another word, Anna and Lily hurried after Mary. She had hardly slowed her pace, probably because she was a little worried about Claudia coming out and explaining what had happened in front of Filch.

“What was that all about?” Anna asked, once they had caught up with her.

“Didn’t you hear the things she was saying?” Mary asked.

“Of course,” Lily said. “I just can’t believe you did that to her.”

“I just wanted to get back at her for once,” Mary said. She frowned slightly. “Do you think she knew it was me?”

“There were only three of us in there, and I’m pretty sure you were the only one with your wand out, pointed at her head,” Anna said. “I think there’s a good chance she knows it was you.”

“Well, I don’t care,” Mary said, though it certainly seemed to Lily that she did. “She deserves it.”

Lily certainly agreed, but she still could not understand why Mary had suddenly decided to stand up to herself. She supposed it was good, though—Mary had spent far too long letting other people walk all over her, and she had obviously reached her breaking point. She had a feeling that Mary wasn't going to be hexing many more people after Professor Slughorn found her before their last class and gave her a detention, though.

Lily knew better than to listen to the likes of Claudia and Astrid, whose life source seemed to be other people’s despair, but it made her forget her determination to be unrestrainedly happy. Usually she was glad to be the type of person who really cared about others’ feelings and thoughts, but now she realized the darker side of empathy. She ended up sitting on one of the couches in the common room next to James and his friends that evening feeling quite frustrated and fed up. The fact that the boys kept making inside jokes that she couldn’t follow from one sentence to the next didn’t make her feel much better.

“Has James ever told you that story?” It took Lily a few moments to realize that Remus was talking to her.

“Erm…no, I don’t think so,” Lily said, though she had no idea what they were talking about. She hadn’t really been listening to their conversation, as it had felt like it wasn’t really necessary for her to be a part of it.

“She doesn’t want to hear that,” James said.

“Oh, I think you does,” Sirius said to her. “Whether he wants you to hear it or not is—”

“It’s not even that great of a story,” James interrupted. He looked at Lily. “Really, it’s not that funny.”

“Well, I definitely want to hear it now,” Lily said.

“You see, Lily, the summer before third year—”

“I’m pretty sure it was second year,” James said, cutting across Sirius.

“No, it was third year,” Peter said. “Nice try, though.”

“Right,” Sirius said, grinning. “So, as I said, the summer before third year, we were all spending the night at James’. Even then we had an uncanny ability to have fun in any circumstance—”

“He means that we always ended up in danger of severe injury,” Remus said, smirking.

“Yes, well, what’s the difference, really?” Sirius asked, which made Lily laugh. “Anyway, we had spent a month building this wooden tree house in the woods behind his house. We’d done it the Muggle way, too, so it took a lot of hard work.”

“Speaking of that, I think I still have a scar from where you cut me with that hammer, Sirius,” Peter said, searching his right arm.

“How in the world do you manage to cut someone with a hammer?” Lily asked, laughing.

“Don’t ask,” James said.

“You know, if people keep interrupting, I’m never going to finish this story,” Sirius said loudly. “James’ parents had this rule about us not going outside after dark. They seemed to think that we were going to get attacked by something, or get lost.”

“Well, you can’t really blame them,” Remus said. “There was that one time Peter fell into the bog and was up to his chest before we could pull him out.”

“My mum never did get the smell out of those clothes, you know,” Peter said.

“Right, moving on from Peter’s smelly clothes,” Sirius said. “We really wanted to go out to visit our tree house, as we’d just finished building it that day, but it was dark.”

He paused for effect, and Lily prompted him, “So, what did you do?”

“Well, we had this brilliant idea—we’d just climb out James’ bedroom window,” Sirius said.

“All right, in my defence, I warned them that I’d tried it before and almost killed myself, but they wouldn’t listen,” James interjected.

“Remus and I managed to get down to the ground without any trouble, and we were standing there waiting for them to join us,” Sirius said, grinning now. “So, Prongs sticks one leg out the window, all confidence, and a few seconds later he’s hanging upside-down.”

Everyone laughed at this; even James was smiling slightly.

“He looked like such a prat, swinging back-and-forth like that,” Remus said.

“I was still standing inside and I was trying to pull him back in, but he was so panicked it wasn’t working,” Peter said.

“The funniest part was—the whole time he’s hanging there—he’s screaming out for his mum, going, ‘Mummy, mummy, help me!’,” Sirius said in between laughter. Lily looked at James, whose face was red, and tried not to laugh too hard.

“We've never let him live that one down,” Remus explained.

"And never will, I'm sure," James muttered.

Maybe it was the laughter, and maybe it was the nice feeling she got from being included, but after that story, Lily felt much better than before. She really didn’t mind sitting with James’ friends, she thought—they all got along so well that it was easy to sit with them, and it did seem to make James very happy to have both them and her with him at the same time. Of course, she didn’t really want to be around them all the time, but at least they weren’t making her feel self-conscious about being James’ girlfriend.

Even though there had been some definite lows to her day, Lily was at least glad that it seemed to be ending on a high note. When she decided to go to bed, James walked over to the foot of the staircase with her.

“You know, Sirius forgot to mention in that story how he collapsed on the ground laughing while I was about to fall and break my neck,” he said. Lily laughed.

“Wouldn’t you have done the same thing?” she asked.

“No,” James said. “Well, maybe.”

“By the way, what’s the deal with the nicknames?” she asked him.

“What nicknames?”

“Well, every once in a while Sirius calls you…something that sounds like ‘Prongs’, I think,” Lily explained. “I was just wondering why he calls you that.”

James shrugged. “Just one of those things that Sirius does.”

“But he must have a reason,” Lily said. “Is there some story about you getting attacked by a fork?”

“No,” James said. Lily looked at him quizzically. His short answers seemed to indicate that there was some background story that he didn’t want her to know.

“Hmmm…is it because your hair sticks up like antennae?” she asked, running her fingers through it so it became messier.

“No,” James said, flattening it out. “And just because some of us have perfect hair doesn’t mean they should lord it over those less fortunate.”

“My hair is far from perfect,” she said. “Have you seen me when it rains out?”

“Well, I think it is,” James said.

He kissed her good night and she went up to bed, feeling that, despite all the things that had happened that day, everything was going to be just fine.


Going out with Lily, James found after the first week back to school, tended to distract him from everything else going on his life. He had really thought for a few hours on the first day of classes that she had changed her mind, which had been—needless to say—fairly alarming, but since then things had been going smoothly. Homework, Quidditch, and his friends all seemed to take a backseat to spending time with Lily. Luckily, his friends seemed to have an understanding of his situation as fellow men, but not everyone else was so accommodating—which was perhaps why he found himself in Professor McGonagall’s office before the week’s end.

“Potter, what is this?” she asked, holding up what looked very much like the essay he had handed in a couple days previous. “I sat down Tuesday afternoon, expecting the excellent work that you usually hand in, and instead find an essay that could have been written by one of my fourth years.”

James though this was rather harsh. He knew it was not his best work, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t that bad.

“I assume you have some excuse,” she continued.

“Well...” James said, shoving his hands into his pockets. “My holidays were really busy.”

Professor McGonagall looked unmoved. “I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that the end of your seventh year is hardly the time to start letting your studies fall by the wayside. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen it happen to good students. You may think that since there are only a few months remaining, you can simply under-achieve the rest of the way, but I assure you that is not the case whatsoever.”

“I know that, Professor,” James said. “It’s just one essay.”

“Oh, well, for now it is,” she said.

He could not understand why he seemed to be getting such abuse for dipping below his usual standard on one measly assignment. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know the material, after all.

“Potter, as your Head of House, you know that the responsibility falls to me to make sure that you are as prepared as possible before you graduate,” Professor McGonagall continued. “And considering how well you have done for the past six-and-a-half years, I would not be able to live with myself if you did not excel both at your N.E.W.T.s and afterward.”

Despite his indignation, he could tell that Professor McGonagall meant well, and he left her office assuring her that she would have no reason to be disappointed again. She was muttering something that sounded to him like, “I told Albus it was a bad idea to put you two together,” which he assumed was some comment about him and Sirius. He couldn’t understand what was so bad about he and Sirius sitting together in classes, though, since they usually did well in Transfiguration, and he hardly had any idea what Dumbledore had to do with that, either.

Though he still thought she had been overly critical, she had succeeded in worrying him about his exams. He had contemplated his future after Hogwarts at different points over the holidays, and he could not help but come back to the idea of being an Auror. It was not an ideal career choice, given the state of things, but nothing else made him feel even the least bit passionate. Even if he did not end up being an Auror, he still thought he would like the option available, which meant that he was probably going to have to study much harder than he had in the past.

Quidditch practice followed that evening. He was glad that the team seemed to be working together much better than before, mainly because Ursula’s attitude improved, but he could tell that there was still some remaining tension over her embarrassing performance in the last match. At the same time, Gareth’s standing on the team had grown by leaps and bounds. Everyone seemed to think he had saved them from defeat, and he was clearly letting the attention go to his head. James could not really blame him—he was a fourteen-year-old on a team where girls outnumbered the boys, after all—but he had already had one team member cause problems with an overinflated ego.

“All right, Gareth,” he said at the beginning of practice, while everyone else was warming up. “Think you’re up for a challenge?”

“Absolutely,” Gareth said.

“Go grab the Snitch,” James said. While he was gone, James pulled out another from his own pocket. Gareth returned and looked at it, puzzled.

“I thought you said—”

“You’re going to catch both of them,” James told him.

“But I only have to catch one of them in a game.”

“All of the world-class Seekers practice like this,” James said. “Josef Wronski could go after four Snitches at a time and catch them all in under half an hour, you know.”

Gareth frowned, but did not argue this time.

“Now this Snitch,” James said, holding up the one in his hand, “is one that I stole in fifth year from the storage cupboard. I’m very attached to it, so if you lose it...”

He left the end of the sentence to Gareth’s imagination, since he really didn’t want to threaten him outright with some kind of punishment. Just as he had hoped, though, Gareth flew around frantically for the entire practice, flailing for the Snitches. He looked far from the polished, heroic Seeker that he had been in the last match, and he landed on the ground at the end looking exhausted.

“So?” James asked.

“Got ‘em,” Gareth said between breaths, holding them up for James to see.

“Good work,” James said, clapping him on the back while he was doubled over. “Wasn’t easy, though, was it?” Gareth shook his head. “Good. It wasn’t supposed to be.”

He felt very happy with the results of the practice as he walked back up to the castle, but his good mood was immediately dampened when Snape seemed to pop out of one of the walls, blocking his path.

“Evening, Snivellus,” he said. “Out looking for someone else to poison, are you?”

He only just saw Snape flourish his wand in time, and jumped out of the way as a jet of light shot by. He was very glad he had, too, since he couldn’t even recognize whatever spell Snape had been trying to use.

“Oh, come on, Sniv,” James said, taking out his own wand. “Do we really have to do this? I always feel so bad when you end up cowering on the ground like a baby.”

He blocked another curse and sent a Stinging Hex of his own, which Snape shielded himself from. It had been a while since he had duelled with Snape, and it felt quite cathartic. They exchanged another few jinxes, but each missed their mark.

“All right, I have more important things to do,” James said. “Let’s just skip to the bit where—”

He was too slow this time, and a Trip Jinx knocked him over. Snape was looking positively gleeful.

“Not so talkative now, are you?” he said with a sneer.

James took advantage of his momentary distraction to send a nearby suit of armour flying into Snape, who crumpled like a ragdoll.

“See, now I just feel so terrible,” James said as he walked by the heap of metal, leaving his victim behind.

As he healed the scrape he had received on his elbow during his fall, he tried to think of what had made Snape start cursing him out of the blue like that. The answer wasn’t really too hard to figure out, of course, but James didn’t really want to consider it. The thought of the way Snape had used to follow Lily around, and her, was repellent, and he did his best to never think about it if he could help it.

“Oi, there he is!” James heard Peter’s voice, and, sure enough, when he turned around he saw him, Sirius, and Remus coming around the nearest corner.

“We were going down to the pitch to look for you,” Sirius said.

“What happened to you?” Remus asked. James was still examining the raw, pink skin on his elbow.

“Snivellus just showed up and started attacking me,” James said. “Mental, as usual.”

“Well, this is perfect timing, then,” Sirius said.

“For what?”

“Getting the Slytherins expelled,” Remus replied. “You know, that thing you were so set on before Lily took over your brain.”

“She hasn’t taken over my brain,” James said. He had sort of forgotten about their plan, though.

“Right,” Sirius said, exchanging glances with Peter and Remus. “Anyway, Remus went to see Dearborn before dinner, and now we know for sure that he still has the candlesticks.”


“He was trying to find his copy of our textbook,” Remus said. “He practically tore apart his office looking for it. He brought this trunk out of the inner chamber, unlocked it, and then I saw the box as he was digging through it.”

“We’ve got to go get them,” Peter said quickly.

James exhaled in concentration. To be honest, the last thing he wanted to do right now was go break into Dearborn’s office again, even though the idea of causing Snape a little more trouble was very appealing. He had been looking forward to stealing Lily away from the common room for a little while, and getting caught up in some scheme would definitely prevent that.

“We’d have to check the Map first,” he said.

“Already did,” Sirius said, pulling the familiar piece of parchment out of his pocket. “He’s up in Dumbledore’s office again.”

“We can’t just burst in there. We’ll have to figure out a way to unlock the door inside the office, and then get the trunk open...”

“Oh, come on, Prongs,” Sirius said impatiently. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

“I don’t want to mess it up like we did last time,” James said. “I’m sick of all the green and silver scum hanging around this place, and we might not get another chance to get rid of them.”

His friends looked a little crestfallen.

“If you don’t want to do it…” Remus said.

“I never said that,” James said firmly.

“You’re right,” Sirius said. “Let’s go up to the dormitory and figure out how to do this right.”

“How did you get rid of Snape?” Remus asked as they walked up to Gryffindor Tower.

“Wasn’t hard,” James said, shrugging. “He always takes too long revelling in his non-victory when he should be finishing me off.”

“Did you Stun him or something?” Peter asked.

“In a sense,” James replied, “although I have to give more credit to the suit of armour than myself.”

His friends laughed, and Sirius said, “Better hope Evans doesn’t find out about that, or she might ditch you.”

“She’s not going to ditch him over that,” Remus said.

“Yeah, she doesn’t like Snivellus anymore either,” Peter said.

James was pretty sure that Lily wasn’t going to be too upset about him defending himself from Snape—if he were to tell her, that is. There were some things better left unsaid.