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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 25: Looking Forward

Chapter Twenty-Five
Looking Forward

After being back at school for several weeks, Lily had concluded that whatever was wrong with Mary was not going to go away on its own. Mary was certainly not making it easy to figure out, however, and though Lily usually considered herself a fairly perceptive person, she could not understand what had made her friend go from cheerful and optimistic to taciturn and discouraged. She was determined to get to the bottom of it, however.

She turned to James, who was sitting next to her on one of the couches in the common room.

“Has Remus said anything to you about Mary lately?” she asked. James did not look like this was a conversation he was interested in having, but he answered her anyway.

“No. Not since...well, probably around Christmas.”

“Really?” Lily said thoughtfully. That meant that there was probably nothing going on between he and Mary, since Remus surely would have mentioned something to his friends over the course of four months.

“What’s on your mind?” James asked, looking at her with an affectionate smile. She felt a little flutter of happiness inside her stomach.

“Oh...well, Mary’s just been acting really strangely,” she said. “I thought maybe...”

She trailed off, as her meaning was fairly clear.

“Well, I’m pretty sure it’s not about Remus,” James said. “Have you asked her?”

“She keeps saying she’s fine,” Lily replied.

“Have you really asked her?”

Lily shrugged a little guiltily. She really had not put much effort into finding out what was wrong, at least not yet.

“Go ask her right now,” James suggested, closing his Transfiguration book. “We’re done here, anyway.”

“I suppose I could,” Lily said, though she would have preferred to wait until she had some time to prepare for it. “What should I say?”

“She’s your friend,” James said, unhelpfully. Lily bit her lip in thought. “Just ask her what’s wrong. If she says she’s fine, ask her again.”

James was right. There was no use putting it off, and no real excuse for it, anyway. Mary was her friend, and it wasn’t right to leave her wallowing like this.

“Okay,” she said, getting up from the couch. “See you at dinner?”

“Good luck,” he replied, and she marched up the stairs without giving herself time for second-guessing.

She pushed open the door to her dormitory and caught Mary in the middle of practicing some spells. Her friend’s cheeks turned slightly pink when she realized Lily was there.

“Hi,” she said, a little breathlessly. “I thought you’d be with James in the common room. What are you up here for?”

“Well, we were working on Transfiguration,” Lily said, sitting down on her bed, “and sometimes I need a break from it.”

Lily felt like he was always looking over her shoulder at what she was writing or bringing things up just so he could explain them to her whenever they studied certain subjects together. Not that it bothered her too much—after all, he and Sirius were undoubtedly the best in their year at Transfiguration, so it benefited her to have his help. But it did wear on her after a while.

“What were you practicing?” Lily asked.

“Erm...Patronus Charms, actually,” Mary said, avoiding eye contact. Lily looked at her slightly quizzically.

“They’re not going to test us on those for our N.E.W.T.s,” she said. “You don’t have to study them.”

“I know,” Mary said.

It was unlike Mary to go out of her way to practice something like Patronuses, and the peculiarity of it strengthened Lily’s resolve to ask the question that she had been asking herself for weeks.

“Are you all right, Mary?”

“I’m fine,” said Mary, a little curiously. “Why do you ask?”

“ haven’t really seemed like yourself lately. I just couldn’t help wondering if something had happened that upset you,” Lily replied.

“No, I’m not upset at all,” Mary said, and it really did seem like she meant it. Just when Lily assumed that the conversation would shift, Mary sat down directly across from her, looking eager. “Lily, if I tell you something, will you promise not to tell anyone else?”

“Of course,” Lily said, a little surprised.

“Especially not Anna,” Mary said, “and not James either.”

Lily nodded, though she felt a slight twinge of guilt in doing so—it wasn’t really fair to promise her that she wasn’t going to tell James, because she probably would end up doing so anyway. It was very hard to not tell him things, she was finding.

Mary was smiling as she spoke again. “I figured out what I’d like to do after Hogwarts.”

“That’s fantastic,” Lily said. She couldn’t see why this was such a big secret. “What did you decide?”

“I want to be a Hit Wizard,” Mary said.

Lily had to try very hard to keep her expression from changing to one of bewilderment.

“Wow,” she said, because it was really the only word that came to her mind. Luckily, Mary seemed to have much more to say.

“I know, I’m so excited,” she said. “I even went to the Ministry to find out about the training, and I just—I signed up, right then and there!”

Lily was at the point of complete horror now.

“You did?” she asked. Though she knew it was technically her job to be supportive, she simply couldn’t smile her way through this. “What if you change your mind, though?”

“I can always withdraw,” Mary said, “but I’m not going to. I really feel like this is the perfect fit for me.”

“Wow,” Lily repeated. She felt a little like laughing and little like shaking her friend by the shoulders. “I...I’m a bit surprised. I’ve never heard you mention this before.”

“I’ve only realized it recently,” Mary said, “but now that I have, it’s just so clear.”

“Well...” Lily said, her brain still catching up, “it’s very brave of you. It’s a very dangerous job, after all.”

“Everything’s dangerous,” Mary said, laughing a little nervously. “I figure it’s better to try and defend yourself than wait for something bad to happen. Besides, I really feel like I’ll have a purpose, if I do this.”

With every second that passed, Lily was having a harder time keeping her thoughts to herself.

“But there are other things you could do that are meaningful,” she said. “You don’t have to throw yourself right into the middle of everything, especially since Magical Law Enforcement has been such a nightmare lately.”

“I think things are really looking up,” Mary said. “There have been a lot fewer deaths in the past couple weeks, so the Ministry must be doing something right.”

There was some truth to what Mary was saying—the Daily Prophet had been filled with optimistic headlines of late, lauding the Aurors for pushing the Death Eaters into submission. Everyone now seemed to be very happy with the way that things were being run, as opposed to a few months previous. Still, it was hard to take these things at face value when you had someone like Anna providing cynical commentary at every opportunity.

“Well—things can change really quickly,” Lily said. “I’d hate the thought of you putting yourself at risk.”

“If everyone thought that way, there’d be no one left to fight,” Mary said. “It’s a really crucial time, too. If things do change, the people who have just recently joined, like me, will make a big difference.”

Now Lily really did feel worried. It sounded like Mary had showed up to the Ministry and been manipulated into signing up for something that she was not prepared to do. Of course they would tell Mary that she was going to make a difference—they probably said that to everyone that walked in like she had, hoping that they would be able to recruit replacements for all the people who had died.

But none of those people knew what Mary was really like. They hadn’t seen how she had changed after getting attacked by Mulciber, hadn’t seen her suffer silently because she was too afraid of what would happen if she sought justice. She was not the type of person suited for fighting Dark wizards, regardless of how much she pretended to be.

“You know, you were the one who inspired me to do this,” Mary said, looking at Lily gratefully.

“How did I do that?” Lily asked, in complete confusion.

“Well, sort of. I had been thinking about being an Auror, actually, but then you pointed out I wasn’t taking Potions, so I started looking for an alternative,” Mary replied.

Great, Lily thought. Though she had never meant to suggest anything like that, she still felt a little guilty. Mary believed that Lily had inspired her decision—a decision which was, incidentally, a very poor one. Now that Lily thought back to that conversation, the offence that Mary had taken after Anna had laughed at the idea of her being an Auror now made much more sense, and Lily wished that she had realized it then.

“It’s okay if you’re concerned,” Mary said. “I know it’s not the type of career that you’d choose.”

Lily was a little perplexed as to what that was supposed to mean, but it really wasn’t important compared to everything else.

“Mary, you should really tell more people if this is what you’re going to do,” Lily said. Maybe if more people found out, they would all be able to convince her to change her mind.

“I will, eventually,” Mary said. “I just want to wait until I’m really secure about it.”

“You seem pretty confident already.”

“Well—I’m a little worried that people might laugh, or something,” Mary said. “You know how Anna can be—how she was when we were talking about me being an Auror. And now that I’m all signed up for training, she’ll be even worse. She can’t be happy for anyone about things like this, because she get jealous that they have things figured out and she doesn’t.”

“Mary, I’m sure she would want to know,” Lily said. “She is your best friend, after all.”

“I don’t think she would support me, and I feel so good about this right now. I don’t want to spoil it,” Mary said. “Please, Lily, you promised you wouldn’t say anything to her...”

“I won’t, I just...” she trailed off. “Do your parents even know?”

“I’m going to tell them,” Mary said, starting to look a little upset. “They won't really understand, must know what it’s like, your parents are Muggles.”

“Of course, but...Mary, this is a huge decision, and it’s good to listen to what other people have to say!”

“You know, I really thought that you were going to be supportive,” Mary said. “I should never have told you at all.”

Lily sighed. As much as she thought Mary was making a bad choice, she also didn’t think any purpose would be served by alienating her. At least if they remained friends, Lily still had a chance at making her see reason.

“I’m sorry,” Lily said. “I really do think it’s—great that you’re so happy about this. And if you’re happy, then...I’m happy for you.”

Mary’s smile returned. “Thanks, Lily. I know that this might seem mad, but I just...I realized that I’m sick of everyone thinking that I’m weak, because I’m not. I can do this; I can...I can think about something other than boys, and stand up for myself—”

“I know,” Lily said, cutting her off, since she seemed to be on the verge of getting slightly hysterical. Now she had an idea of where Mary’s neglect of Remus (and maybe her lack of interest in Lily going out with James) had stemmed from. Lily could not really think of a worse reason to sign up for a highly dangerous job than trying to prove a point, but that could wait to be said. For now she just tried to make Mary feel like someone had faith in her.

“Do you want to practice together?” Lily asked. “Patronuses, I mean.”

“Sure,” Mary said, her eyes shining with enthusiasm. “I’ve been really close to getting it, you know.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever conjured a full one,” Lily said. Mary stood up and gave it a try, and a silver streak burst out of her wand, only to form into a petite little bird, that flittered around her head. Mary laughed gleefully.

“I knew I was going to get it soon!” she said. She hesitated for a moment before lowering her wand, and the bird disappeared. “You want to try?”

Lily sighed. It would be nothing short of a miracle if she could pick out a single thought in her head right now, let alone one happy enough to help her conjure a Patronus. She closed her eyes and figured she might as well try thinking about James, which was likely to make her happier than anything else.

Expecto Patronum,” she said, without much vigour. A large mass of silvery mist whirled in the air in front of her, but did not take any recognizable form, and she lowered her wand.

Mary gave her a look of sympathy. “Don’t worry about it. You’ll get it eventually. I can help you, if you like.”

Lily tried to smile as much as she could. “That would be great.”

Really, though, she didn’t much care about not being able to produce a Patronus properly, at least not right now. She was too busy wondering how she was going to make Mary see sense, and hoping that she would be able to do it before it was too late.


The shock of realizing that it was now May inexplicably allowed James to move past the disappointment of losing the Marauders Map and failing to get any revenge on Snape and the rest of the Slytherin gang. It was that failure that made it sting most—once again, the people who really deserved punishment had not gotten any. At least neither James nor his friends had gotten in any real trouble, but it felt like a very small comfort in the days immediately following.

When the month changed, however, he found that all of the other things going on in his life were more than enough distraction. The Quidditch final was in a few weeks, exams would follow a month later, and within two months they would take the Hogwarts Express home for the last time. Besides that, running around during the full moon seemed to reassure him that they were still Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. They were about to leave Hogwarts, in any case, which would make the Map all but useless to them. James did not say it out loud, but somehow he felt like it was right for it to remain within the school—and maybe Remus, Sirius, and Peter felt the same, for it soon ceased to be a topic of conversation between the four of them.

The looming threat of N.E.W.T.s hardly gave them time to think about anything else, anyway. It never felt like there were enough hours in the day to complete everything they had been assigned by their teachers: essays, spells, potions, diagrams, studying for daily quizzes. On top of that, James and Remus also had to figure out what they were going to teach the fifth-years for their Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.

“I was thinking,” James said to Remus one evening, while they were all working on Potions in the common room, “we should take a look around the castle and see if there’s a Boggart hiding somewhere, for the fifth-years.”

“Good idea,” Remus said, without looking up from his textbook.

“You should put it under one of their beds,” Sirius remarked. “Test how fast their reaction time is.”

James laughed along with Peter.

“Somehow I don’t they’ll test them on that during their O.W.L.s,” James replied.

After a few moments of silence, Peter spoke. “Wait—Mandrake Draughts aren’t used as an antidote to the Draught of Living Death, are they?”

“No,” Sirius replied.

Peter put down his quill and sighed dejectedly. “I think I’m just going learn how to do a really good Confundus Charm, and then maybe I’ll pass.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Sirius mused.

“Yes, it is,” Remus said.

“Don’t worry about it, Pete,” James said. “There’s still eight weeks left before exams.”

“Only seven,” Peter corrected him.

“Can you believe it?” Sirius asked. “We’ll be finished. Completely done. No more classes to go to, no more Filch to chase around after more Hogsmeade weekends...”

“Don’t say things like that,” Remus said. “It’s depressing.”

“Aw, Moony, are you going to miss Filch?” Sirius teased.

James could not help himself from grinning, but he thought he knew what Remus really meant. He had often wondered what it was going to be like for his friend, who was (it had to be said) looking at a difficult future outside of Hogwarts. It was ridiculous, really—anyone with half a brain could see that Remus was smarter and more hard-working than the next person, and it wasn’t right that he should have such grim prospects.

He exchanged a glance with Sirius and knew that he was not the only one thinking such thoughts. Of course, neither of them were about to say anything in the middle of the common room. James looked back to Remus, and then to Peter, and did not like the feeling of sitting there doing nothing while two of his friends were unhappy. Maybe it was because he was feeling quite happy these days himself, after moving past the candlestick failure, and with Lily as his girlfriend. There had to be some way he could cheer them up.

“I’ll be back in a bit,” he said, putting his books and notes down in an untidy stack.

“Where are you going?” Sirius asked.

“I’m going to go drag Lily out of the library so she can help me with this,” James said.

“Oh, come on, we don’t need her help,” Sirius said. “And as if that’s why you’re going to find her, anyway.”

“I’ll be right back,” James said. He was getting the feeling lately that Sirius’ initial willingness to include Lily more was wearing away, and that he was getting slightly resentful about James being drawn away so frequently—but this time, it wasn’t for selfish reasons.

Though he was going to go get Lily, he was also going to go see Professor Dearborn and ask about boggarts. It was likely that if there was one around the castle, the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor would know—after all, it wasn’t as if Filch could take care of it himself. He was going to make all of his friends happy. He was going to help Peter with Potions (or Lily was, rather), take care of some of the planning for the O.W.L. tutoring for Remus, and as for Sirius...well, once Sirius had some sort of problem, he would help solve that, too.

He decided to go see Dearborn first, and headed for his office on the fourth floor. He met Peeves on his way, who delightedly followed after him, throwing insults, until they saw the Bloody Baron floating along the corridor towards them. He was able to walk the rest of the way in peace, and was about to knock on Dearborn’s office door when he heard Dumbledore’s unmistakable voice coming from within. The door was just slightly ajar.

James knew that he ought not to push things by invading Dearborn’s privacy any further, but during their pseudo-detentions over the past few weeks, he had noticed that the professor had an unusual number of meetings with Dumbledore. He had never asked what they were about, but it had made him very curious, and he could not help himself from leaning closer to the door.

“I can’t say that I’m entirely comfortable with it, Caradoc,” he heard Dumbledore saying.

“What other choices do we have?” Dearborn’s gravelly voice responded. “I don’t think we’re in a position to discriminate.”

“Be that as it may, I don’t want to have to convince anyone, especially given the circumstances.”

“Give me the chance to introduce the idea, at least.”

There was a lengthy pause following Dearborn’s statement.

“If you think it’s wise. I should return to my office; I’m expecting an owl from the Minister,” Dumbledore said.

James knocked on the door quickly so Dumbledore would not walk out and see him eavesdropping. Less than a second later, he was face-to-face with the Headmaster himself.

“Ah, James,” he said, smiling. “It has been far too long since we last spoke. I’d grown used to seeing you in my office at least once a week.”

“Hello, Professor,” James replied. “Sorry if I’m interrupting—”

“No, no, not at all,” Dumbledore said. “I really was just leaving. Far be it from me to monopolize your professor’s time when exams are so near.”

He said good night and strode off towards his office, red robes billowing. James stepped inside Dearborn’s office. His eavesdropping had not really been worth it—whatever Dearborn and Dumbledore had been discussing, he had clearly missed the most informative parts. What he had heard was fairly incomprehensible.

“What can I do for you, Potter?” Dearborn asked, seated behind his desk.

“I was hoping you might know where I could find a boggart,” James explained.

“Depends on why you want to know,” Dearborn said. “Going to terrify some Slytherins?”

James’ ears felt hot, but he managed a grin nonetheless. “Actually, it’s to help some fifth years practice for their O.W.L.s.”

Dearborn almost looked impressed. “Well. In that case, I think I remember someone mentioning that there was one hiding out in one of the rooms in the Charms corridor.”

That had been much simpler than James had expected.

“Great. Thanks,” he said. “We’ll get rid of it after we’re done practicing.”

“That’s a commendable thing you’re doing, you know,” Dearborn said. “It shows real dedication, especially as you’ve got your own problems to worry about.”

“It’s a good reminder for us, too,” James said, assuming he meant exams. “We get to practice and revise all the stuff they do.”

“Oh, I have no doubt you’ll do well on exams,” Dearborn said. He paused, and James could not understand why he looked uncertain. “I really meant—I heard your father isn’t well.”

James suddenly had a very hollow sensation in his stomach. He never would have expected the conversation to go in this direction.

“Er—well, it’s nothing serious,” James stammered, hating that he was repeating his mother’s words, words he knew were untrue.


“No, I’m sure everything will be fine,” James replied. “How exactly—”

“I’m sorry, I should have explained,” Dearborn interrupted. “Dumbledore told me he had spoken with your mother.”

James was feeling very disoriented and confused. “I—er—I didn’t know they were in contact.”

“Your parents are fine people,” Dearborn said. “I know they were some of Dumbledore’s favourite students.”

“You didn’t know them at school, did you?” James asked.

“No,” Dearborn said, “but when I started out in the Ministry, your father was very kind to me. He was very high up in the department, and everyone liked him.”

“He mentioned that you worked together,” James said, and hesitated for a moment. “Have you stayed in touch with him?”

“We’ve corresponded from time to time,” Dearborn replied smoothly, but James’ curiosity was piqued too high at this point.

“I think I remember my parents mentioning you last seemed like you’d been in contact with them.”

“I wrote to them to let your father know that I’d be teaching at Hogwarts. In fact, I wrote to most of my old acquaintances, because I’d been abroad for some time previous,” Dearborn explained.

“I see,” James said. Dearborn looked at him with a wry smile.

“You know, Potter, sometimes we look for conspiracies in the wrong places,” he said. “Your father’s an old colleague, and I was very sorry to hear that he had taken ill. That’s the truth.”

James still was not quite sure if he believed him, but he did feel a little chagrined. He knew it was time to stop asking questions and thanked Dearborn again before setting off for the library.

As he walked, he could feel his thoughts swirling around. When he put together what he had just learned and what he had heard from his parents over the holidays, a few things started to make sense. By the time he reached the library doors, he had something coherent in his head, or at least something that felt coherent. Now all he wanted to do was explain it to someone and see if it was equally lucid outside his own head. The first person that occurred to him was Sirius, for he had been there over the holidays and already knew part of the story.

He made a quick decision to double back to Gryffindor Tower without looking for Lily, but she was already there when he walked through the portrait hole anyway.

“Hi there,” she said happily, walking over to him. “I was just asking where you’d gotten to.”

“I was looking for you,” he replied.

“Yes, that’s what Sirius said. We must have missed each other.”

He lowered his voice. “I was actually going to ask if you wouldn’t mind helping Peter with Potions. He’s having some trouble.”

“Oh...sure,” she said, looking a little surprised. “I’d love to.”

James didn’t really know how much luck she was going to have—Peter was still fairly shy around anything female, including Lily, but it at least provided a slight distraction that gave him the chance to talk to Sirius.

“I just heard some third years saying that they’d covered your bed in Bubotuber pus,” he told Sirius. It wasn’t true, of course, but it was a good way of inconspicuously drawing him away from the common room.

“Those bloody twits,” Sirius grumbled, getting up from his chair. James followed him up the spiral staircase. Sirius took one look at his bed and turned around, confused. “What’s going on?”

“I just overheard Dumbledore and Dearborn talking,” James said. “Remember what I heard my parents saying over Christmas?”

He then explained it all, and was not exactly encouraged when Sirius still had a look of consternation on his face by the end.

“I don’t really see how this is any different from what you already knew,” Sirius said. “I mean, apart from Dearborn being connected to this secret group you think Dumbledore has.”

“Well...” James thought about it. Surely there was something more to it, or else he wouldn’t have felt like he had made some great discovery. “I kind of all fits together now, doesn’t it? They’ve both been talking to my parents, and it’s obviously got something to do with however Dumbledore’s fighting Voldemort.”

Sirius seemed to consider this. “All right, I’ll give you that. It makes sense, at least. what?”

“I’ve been trying to figure this out for ages,” James replied.

“Okay, so what are you going to do now? Are you going to ask him about it? Or your parents?” Sirius persisted.

“I don’t know,” James said.

“Listen, whatever you want to do, I’m all for it,” Sirius said. “Like I said at Christmas, we’re Padfoot and Prongs. You’re unfortunately a bit stuck with me. And you know you can’t get rid of Moony or Wormtail, either.”

James laughed. “I’m not planning to ‘get rid’ of any of you.”

Sirius lounged himself back on his bed. “You arse, making me think I was going to have to sleep in Bubotuber pus.”

“Had to be done,” James said, shrugging. After a pause, he said, “I think I’ll have to let you know. About what I want to do, I mean.”

“Fair enough,” Sirius said. “Anyway, I suppose you’d better get back downstairs to your girlfriend.”

“I think I’ll hide out here for a bit,” James said. “She’ll be busy for a while, I expect.”

Sirius grinned. “You’re probably right.”

James felt that his hopes of cheering his friends had worked out better than he had expected.