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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 24: The Good Side of Bad



Chapter Twenty-Four
The Good Side of Bad




Over the next few weeks, James had more than a few run-ins with Snape, who seemed to be going out of his way to curse him at every opportunity. James did not usually mind, as any excuse to antagonize Snape was a good one in his mind, but there were occasions where he did not manage to defend himself as well as he might have. It was the sting (sometimes literally) from those encounters that kept him motivated to break into Dearborn’s office and get revenge.

The second-last Quidditch match of the season, between Slytherin and Hufflepuff, was held around the middle of April. Though it was an inconsequential game, since both teams were already out of the running to win the Cup, the stands were still full of supporters and—when it came to the Gryffindors—those who were only too glad to cheer against Slytherin.

James sat in the stands, with his friends on one side and Lily on the other, cheering in satisfaction whenever the Hufflepuffs scored. Though their use of brute force had been frustrating when he was playing against them, he now found it highly amusing. Lily punctuated the match with questions about plays and rules, which was equal parts endearing and annoying. He knew that she was trying to take an interest, but he did miss several good plays while he was answering her—not that he did so with anything but the utmost patience, of course. In the end it was Hufflepuff that emerged victorious, and the Slytherin supporters left the field glowering amidst the gleeful cheers of their opponents.

At dinner, James heard several different people gossiping about Mulciber and Avery, who had apparently taken the Slytherins’ loss as justification to harass some younger Hufflepuffs. Their victims had ended up in the Hospital Wing with painful orange scales all over their skin. Though James could understand the bitterness of losing a Quidditch match, neither Mulciber nor Avery were even on the Slytherin team.

When Lily was busy talking to Anna at the Gryffindor table, James leaned in and got his friends’ attention.

“Tonight, do you think?” he asked. They nodded in unison.

A few hours later, the four of them set out towards Dearborn’s office, confident that their plan would work this time. They huddled together in a small room just down the hall, taking out the Invisibility Cloak and the Map. This time they had thought it best for only one person to go into the office while the others kept lookout and used the two-way mirrors to alert them if Dearborn was returning. They had also decided that Peter’s way of picking a Muggle lock would probably work even against magical enchantment, and was therefore their best chance at getting inside the chamber beyond his office.

“I think you should do it,” Remus said, looking at James.

“Are you sure?” James asked. “I thought Wormtail—”

“No, he’s right,” Peter interrupted.

“You’d better get a move on or we’ll have a situation like last time on our hands,” Sirius said. “Don’t forget to listen for your mirror.”

James pulled the Invisibility Cloak over himself and walked down the corridor to the office door, double-checked that no one was around, and slipped inside as quietly as he could. He headed straight for the inner door and pulled out the hairpin he had stolen from Lily, trying to unlock the door without magic like Peter had taught them.

Despite Peter’s teachings, James was having no luck. He felt like he could hear time ticking away, no matter how much he reminded himself that Sirius would warn him with the mirror if Dearborn were returning. He was nervous, nevertheless, and found himself jumping at the sound of his Cloak brushing against the floor. He wanted to be calm and collected, but he also knew the kind of trouble he would get into if things did not go according to plan.

After a few minutes of failed attempts, he tried to take the hairpin out of the lock, but it was stuck, just to make matters more difficult. He braced his foot against the door and tried pulling, but it would not budge. Sighing, he took out his wand and summoned it, accidentally sending it flying off somewhere into the room.

He pulled off his Cloak in frustration and yanked on the door handle. The door swung open unexpectedly, nearly making him fall down. He just stood there for a moment in surprise, completely forgetting what he was supposed to be doing. Whether he had somehow succeeded in unlocking the door or it had never been locked in the first place, he had no idea, but it didn’t really matter. He stepped over the threshold and began his search for the rectangular black box.

James felt a further rush of triumph when he spotted it in plain sight on top of a trunk—probably the one Remus had seen. Dearborn had obviously not put them away properly, to James’ great luck. He grabbed the box (carefully, as he did not really want to get himself killed), closed the door behind him, picked up his Cloak from the ground, and as he was about to pull it over his head, the door opened, and in walked Professor Dearborn.

He completely froze for a few moments, and Dearborn seemed to be equally shocked. Say something, you dolt, a voice in his head told him. Silence, he had learned from experience, always made you look guilty.

“Hi, Professor,” he said. His voice was not as confident as he would have liked. “Sorry for the intrusion. The door was open, and I wanted to ask you some questions—”

“What do you think you’re doing?” Dearborn interrupted, looking at the box in James’ right hand.

“Oh,” James said. Everything seemed like it was moving much more slowly than usual. “Right. I just couldn’t resist taking a look for myself. Hopefully you don’t mind.”

Dearborn looked very angry, and James started to feel some dread rising in his chest. This was going to end very badly, he could just feel it.

“I wasn’t born yesterday, Potter,” Dearborn said. “What are you doing?”

James really had no idea what to say now. There was no way that denial was going to work, which would have been his first instinct. He was caught in the worst of positions, in a place he was not supposed to be with a dangerous Dark object in one hand and an Invisibility Cloak in the other.

“It’s really not what it looks like,” James said. “The truth is, my friends dared me to come take these, but I was going to put them right back.”

Dearborn strode towards him angrily. “Give me that,” he said, yanking the box away, “and don’t move an inch.”

While Dearborn disappeared into the room behind him, James wondered frantically why his friends had not warned him to get out of there before it was too late. Perhaps his mirror was broken—he didn’t want to test it, though, since it would probably get confiscated. He tried to hide his Cloak underneath the back of his shirt for that same reason, his heart thudding and his palms sweaty.

When his professor returned, he conjured a chair and told James to sit down. It took almost a full minute before he said anything, and James thought it best to keep his mouth shut until he was spoken to.

“You know, I showed you and the rest of the class those candlesticks because I thought you were mature enough to understand the gravity of what I was trying to say,” Dearborn said. “Now I question whether I was right.”

James had been questioning it since it had happened, personally, and he thought it was a bit rich of Dearborn to be disappointed in his immaturity when he had displayed a complete lack of emotion in showing them to the class. Not that he was going to say that, of course.

Another long silence fell, and James felt himself getting more and more uncomfortable under his teacher’s hard stare. This had been such a stupid idea. Why hadn’t he listened to those nagging doubts in the back of his mind, not to mention Remus? Even Peter had been uncertain about this from the beginning, yet James and Sirius had been all too happy to carry on blindly. His parents were going to kill him if he got expelled, and it would certainly be the end of him and Lily. If she didn’t break up with him after this, he was going to have to break up with her—she deserved someone much better than an idiot who had gotten himself expelled.

“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” Dearborn asked.

James opened his mouth but had trouble getting words out. “I don’t really know what I’m supposed to say. I mean…are you going to give me detention, or send me to Professor Dumbledore?”

“I don’t really see what purpose either of those would serve,” Dearborn said, grimacing slightly. “Why don’t you tell me what it was you were trying to do with those candlesticks? The real story, this time.”

Telling the truth seemed like a very foolish thing to do, but James was so miserable that he was finding the idea appealing. At least it would be over with.

“Let me phrase it differently,” Dearborn said wryly, “if you don’t explain yourself, I’ll have to assume you were stealing them for your own personal use, which I imagine will get you into much more trouble than the truth. I’m a reasonable man, after all.”

James exhaled very slowly, realizing that he was backed into a corner. Continuing to lie was only going to make matters worse for him.

“I wasn’t stealing them for me,” he said. “I only took them...because I was going to figure out a way to make it seem like some of the Slytherins had stolen them.”

“You were going to frame someone when they hadn’t done anything?”

“They’ve done enough on their own,” James said, his fists clenching. “All I wanted was for them to actually get in trouble for once.”

“From what I’ve heard, they get their fair share of detentions,” Dearborn said. “Or is it that you don’t think the punishment fits the crime?”

“I don’t know,” James said, shrugging. “Yeah, I suppose that’s it.”

Dearborn sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair. “I’ll say this, Potter: as someone who teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts, I can’t help but respect your morals.”

James could hardly believe it, but it almost sounded like he was not going to get in trouble. Surely, Dearborn could not be that lenient…but now that he looked at him carefully, James noticed that he seemed to be uncomfortable also, as if he wasn’t sure what to do or say. Perhaps if James could just play his cards right, Dearborn would go easy on him.

“You know, the tricky thing about the Dark Arts,” Dearborn said, “is that it’s very hard to draw the line between good and evil. I’m supposed to teach you that, but I couldn’t even explain it to you.” He leaned forward again. “D’you think you know the difference between right and wrong?”

“Sure,” James said. He really didn’t know what this had to do with anything, but if it might get him out of trouble, he would talk about it all night. “I mean, it’s not something you can—explain, really. It’s just something you know.”

“But how do you know?” Dearborn asked. “Did your parents teach you?”

“Yeah, when I was a kid,” James replied.

Dearborn held up a finger in question. “What if other parents teach their kids something other than what you were taught? Does that make it wrong?”

James hesitated for a moment. “I—well, it depends.”

“Exactly,” Dearborn said. “It all depends.”

“Not all of it,” James said. “I can’t see how torture or murder would ever be a good thing.”

“What if you were killing someone who you knew was evil? A Death Eater, for example, or even Voldemort himself. Is it still wrong?” When James didn’t answer, he grinned. “That’s the problem with fighting the Dark Arts, Potter. You end up in situations just like you were tonight—trying to do what you thought was right, but getting there by the wrong means. And that’s not even considering what would have happened if you’d succeeded.”

James’ face went warm at the accusatory note in Dearborn’s voice.

“How could getting the Slytherins out of here be a bad thing?” he asked.

“Well, as I said, different parents teach their children different things,” Dearborn said. “How do you think their parents would have reacted to them getting expelled? Think they would have punished them?”

James’ mind darted to Sirius’ parents, who would have been most concerned with their family’s reputation. They certainly wouldn’t have cared whether one of their sons was targeting Muggle-borns.

“I understand your frustration with Dumbledore,” Dearborn said, before James could reply, “but what you don’t see is that keeping those students in school is the best thing for us all. If they were pushed out into the world right now, they’d be doing much worse than what they have already.”

“Keeping them in school for a couple more months isn’t going to make a difference,” James said.

“You’re right. But it does hold a half-dozen Death Eaters off for a little longer. And it might not be easy to know the difference between wrong and right, but something tells me that’s a good thing,” Dearborn said.

James hated to admit it, but it was possible that Dearborn was right. He remembered all the times Sirius had criticized his parents for supporting Regulus in his goal of joining Voldemort. Until now he had never really believed it, had assumed that it was just Sirius lashing out and exaggerating.

“Now, I am going to have to punish you,” Dearborn said, clearing his throat uncomfortably and tearing James away from his muddled thoughts. “I want to see you in this office for an hour after each class for the next two weeks, and I’ll see if I can’t teach you to not steal from me.”

“It really won’t happen again,” James said. Truthfully, he didn’t mind the punishment at all, and was relieved to have received nothing much worse.

“I’ll make sure of it,” Dearborn said. “Now I think it’s time for you to get out of here and go back to your common room before you manage to break any more rules.”

James felt a little dazed as he left the office and wandered back to where he had left his friends. How he was not sitting in Dumbledore’s office being threatened with expulsion or revocation of his Head Boy badge, he had no idea. The thought of how lucky he had gotten was overwhelming, and he felt like he needed to sit down.

“Prongs!”

James stopped and saw his friends staring at him worriedly from the doorway of the same small room they had hidden in. He had almost walked right past it in his distracted state.

“Bloody hell, we’re sorry,” Sirius said. “We weren’t paying attention for a few seconds and Filch snuck up on us, and then we couldn’t watch the Map anymore.”

“He dragged us off to write us up,” Remus added unhappily. Well, that at least explained why they hadn’t warned him, James thought.

“Did you get detentions?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Remus replied. “But what happened to you? Did Dearborn see you?”

James nodded. His friends all looked aghast; they had clearly not been expecting that response.

“What happened?” Peter asked. There was a long pause as James tried to find the words to describe it.

“Nothing, really,” he said finally. “He lectured me and sort of gave me detention, but…that was it.”

Sirius let out a low whistle. “You are really lucky.”

“He’s never really been one for rules, though, has he?” Peter asked. James just shrugged, though it was true. He was silent until he noticed that all three of his friends were still looking rather anxious.

“What’s wrong?” he asked them. There was a bit of strange shuffling and sideways glancing before any of them responded.

“We…erm…” Sirius stammered, screwing up his face slightly. “Filch…sort of…took the Map away from us.”

James felt himself freeze like he had when Dearborn had entered the office. All of the relief he had been feeling completely disappeared, leaving him with a hollow, empty sensation in his stomach.

“How?” was all he could ask, in a strangled voice. He leaned against the wall next to him, feeling now more than ever that his legs needed a break.

“Well, he didn’t know what it was,” Remus explained, “but he’d seen us looking at it before Sirius wiped it, and he knew we weren’t keen on having it confiscated.”

“We can get it back, though, no problem at all,” Peter said.

James sighed and put his hand over his eyes momentarily. “Just—just forget about it.”

“Come on, Prongs, you don’t mean that,” Sirius said.

“No, I do,” James said. Right now he was sick of scheming, and figuring out a way to break into someone else’s office was the last thing he wanted to think about.

“Let’s not worry about it for now,” Remus said, which James was grateful for. It had looked like Sirius was about to open his mouth to argue some more, but now he stayed silent.

It was always strange to return to the common room after doing something wrong, whether they got away with it or not. The glow of the fireplace and happy faces of their fellow Gryffindors always seemed strangely out of place to James compared to whatever he was returning from, and now, with the Marauder’s Map taken away...well, there really weren’t any words for the way he felt. It was like he had just lost one of his friends, as well as one of the things he was proudest of—he had worked on that map with Sirius, Remus, and Peter for the better part of four years, and had always imagined that their children would use it when they went to Hogwarts.

Now that seemed an impossibility, like the Map had been lost forever. It wasn’t true, of course. Peter and Sirius were right; they could easily reclaim it from Filch. He couldn’t shake the feeling that all of this had been his fault, though, and that losing one of his most prized possessions was a punishment that he had to just accept. Perhaps Dearborn had been right, and that there were certain things that were better kept the way they were.



……..




Lily was, to put it simply, happy—and it was best to put it simply, because she had not yet been able to find the right word to describe the way that James made her feel. She was now convinced that the James of years past had disappeared and been replaced by a completely different person, so much had her view of him and his presence in her life changed over the past year. Now the last thing she wanted was change—she would be perfectly happy if things could just stay this way forever. His presence immediately cheered her if she was not in a good mood, he was impeccably respectful of her, and somehow he was able to tell her that she was beautiful every single day without it ever getting old.

Having James as her boyfriend gave her someone to confide in and spend time with when she might otherwise be alone, and, as an added bonus, someone to go with her places that she was dreading. Though she had managed to get out of several of Slughorn’s gatherings over the last few months, the time before the end of the year was trickling away and the Potions professor seemed to be getting desperate for her to attend. Lily was not really looking forward to it at all—he always seemed to be asking her about what her career plans were and offering to introduce her to people, and it was quite a lot of pressure. Which might have been why she was not exactly hurrying to get there. That, and James had a knack for distracting her.

Going places with him never seemed to be a straight journey from one place to another, and they frequently ended up in empty classrooms pressed up against one another. The walk down to Slughorn’s office was no exception.

“We’re twenty minutes late,” she said, managing to pull her mouth away from James’ for the first time in a while.

“Says who?” James asked.

“Your watch,” Lily answered.

“It’s broken,” James said.

“Liar.”

James grinned. “You’re supposed to be kissing me, not looking at my watch.”

She could not help but acquiesce for a little while longer. When she felt James’ hand on the skin of her back, snaking underneath her shirt, she pulled away again. There was a time and place for that sort of thing, she thought, and it really wasn’t in a classroom, however empty it might be. And it also might be beyond two weeks into dating him, though she hadn’t quite figured out how she felt about that one yet. Either way, they had somewhere else to be.

“We really do have to go,” she said. “At this rate, we’ll miss the entire dinner.”

“I’m not hungry,” James said, kissing her again.

“It’ll only be an hour or so,” she said, “and you saw him earlier; he’ll be so disappointed if we don’t show up.”

He exhaled resignedly. “I guess you’re right.”

“We can always continue this later,” Lily said.

“Now,

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