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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 31: Taken



Chapter Thirty-One
Taken




Lily sighed and looked across her bedroom at the clock on her nightstand, which currently read seven o’clock in the evening. She had been checking the time for hours now, as it inched along toward her time of departure. Ever since Platform 9 ¾, all Lily had had was time—time to sit around her house, time to think about how she shouldn’t be sitting around her house, time to think about all the other places she wished she could be instead.

It was strange, so far, being out of school, but not as much as she might have expected. She still felt as though it were just any other summer. The heat felt the same, her family was the same, the way she filled her days was the same; the one thing that should have been different—Lily herself—still felt the same, even. At least for the most part, that was. She had never experienced missing James during the summer before. That was certainly new.

She pushed a copy of the Evening Prophet away from her on her desktop. It was the cause of her sigh, for she had been looking through the available job postings in the paper without much success. She had been doing the same thing every day since she had been home—five now, though it felt like longer—and each time, she had put it down feeling disappointed. When she had mentioned to James that she might want to move to London, he had taken it as her wanting to be closer to him, and while that was true to some extent, she had also been thinking of herself. It felt like she was so far from the magical world here, and she couldn’t envision her future gaining any momentum while she was sitting in her bedroom.

But it wasn’t the time to be concerned, because now it was finally time for her to go.

“Where are you off to?” her mother asked when Lily entered the kitchen.

“I’m going to meet one of my teachers,” Lily said, before correcting herself. “One of my old teachers.”

“What for?”

“He wants to tell me about some job,” Lily explained, shrugging.

“Is it something you’re interested in?” her mother asked, folding a dishtowel.

“I don’t know. He never said much about it,” Lily replied. “Anyway, I should be back in a couple of hours.”

“You seem very excited about this,” her mother remarked. She was eyeing Lily very shrewdly.

“Well, it might be a good opportunity,” Lily said, “and it’s nice to get out of the house for a bit.”

“If you say so,” she replied, without a trace of taking her daughter seriously. “In any case, it’s nice to see you less miserable for a change. You certainly seem to have left your heart back at that school.”

Lily rolled her eyes even as she blushed, and headed for the back door to Apparate away. Her mother had been dropping these cryptic hints ever since Lily had arrived back at home, making her all but certain that her mother had somehow worked out that she had a boyfriend. She figured that it must have been Petunia who had let it slip—it was just like her sister, sticking her nose into Lily’s business and reporting all of it back to their mother, pretending she was doing it for Lily’s own good.

A haze of twilight still hung in the air as Lily touched ground at the outskirts of the High Street of Hogsmeade. The village seemed like a ghost town to her without groups of other students walking between the shops and gathering in groups along the High Street. The air was warm and heavy in the way that only summer nights brought, and Lily did not miss the irony of the fact that, for all her worries about never seeing Hogwarts again, she was staring up at the castle barely more than a week after last leaving it.

She had agreed to meet with James and Professor Dearborn at the Hog’s Head without feeling much enthusiasm. The reason she was really going was because of James. She had not seen him since they had said goodbye in London, and any excuse to see him was good enough in her mind. She could politely sit through whatever Professor Dearborn had to say, if it meant James sitting next to her.

She turned left down the side alley that led to the Hog’s Head, the sound of laughter and talk emanating from The Three Broomsticks fading as she walked. Lily had never visited The Hog’s Head before, as it was not exactly student-friendly, and she found herself feeling apprehensive. It had probably not been the smartest idea, she realized, to go strolling up to The Hog’s Head by herself when it was nearly nightfall. The sign hanging over the door with the image of the bloody boar’s head did not make her feel any less uncomfortable. She crossed her arms, trying to make herself seem as small and unnoticeable as possible.

Inside, she found the strangest assortment of patrons she had seen anywhere. There was a table of three goblins near the back of the room; at the bar, a creature that looked human but for the horns sprouting from his forehead was ordering a drink from the grey-haired bartender. Those who looked more-or-less like regular people were hooded, and Lily felt very uncomfortable with a head of exposed red hair.

Then she saw James—she briefly registered that Professor Dearborn was seated at the table as well, but all she really saw was James, and she didn’t much care about how shady the tavern was anymore.

“Ah, Lily,” Professor Dearborn greeted her. “So glad you could join us.”

She sat down in the chair at James’ right, wishing that they could have been reunited with a little more fanfare than exchanging smiles with each other. As it was, she settled for returning his hold on her hand as warmly as she could.

“I was just asking James whether you had received your exam results yet,” Dearborn explained.

“Oh?” Lily said, looking between the two of them. “Well, I don’t think we find out until later in the summer.”

“Yes, he was saying as much,” Dearborn replied. “I remember how stressful it was, having to wait—I think they should release the results much sooner, at least for N.E.W.Ts…”

The conversation continued with banal small talk for several minutes. Lily wished they could all just get to the point, and then she and James could leave and spend some time together. She was hardly paying attention to anything being said, and was having trouble keeping herself from staring at James. She had forgotten about the bump on the bridge of his nose, and the scar next to his right ear, in the time they had been apart.

“I don’t want to keep either of you for too long; I’m sure you have other plans,” Dearborn said, “and I have a tendency to put off packing my suitcases until the very last moment.”

“Does that mean you’re not teaching at Hogwarts next year?” Lily asked, finally finding something in the conversation that mildly interested her.

“No,” Dearborn replied, “this year was a strict one-time-only engagement. I have other things on my plate.” He paused for a moment. “I may be going abroad again.”

There was a tone to his words that made them seem significant and invited probing. James, ever-curious, was the one to seize on it.

“What are you going to do there?” he asked.

Dearborn’s hesitated and his gaze followed the goblins, who had just risen from their table.

“I’m taking care of some things for Dumbledore,” he said. It was still clear that he was holding back from them, but not bothering to hide it.

“I didn’t know Dumbledore had business in other countries,” Lily said lightly.

“In a manner of speaking.”

Lily now had her full attention on the conversation. She was confused as to what point Dearborn was trying to make, but he certainly seemed to be trying to communicate something with them. Before she could decide whether to speak or not, he leaned forward, glancing around them.

“That’s actually why I’ve asked you to meet me here,” he said, speaking softer than before. “You see…well, this business we’re speaking of…both Dumbledore and I believe that you two might be well-suited to assisting us.”

Lily was now more confused than ever.

“This is—this is something do with—You-Know-Who, isn’t it?” James said, wisely choosing not to blurt out Voldemort in present company. Lily remained in the dark.

“I thought you had your suspicions, Potter,” Dearborn said, grinning slightly. “You’re right.”

“So—it’s true, then? Dumbledore is in charge of a group that—” James stopped, looking to Dearborn to finish the sentence.

“We do our part in the fight,” Dearborn said, folding the corner of his napkin compulsively. “And yes, Dumbledore organizes it all.”

“Wait,” Lily said, breaking into the conversation, “I’m not sure if I understand…”

“I can’t be very specific now, I’m sure you understand,” Dearborn said. “I just wanted to get a sense of whether either of you would be interested—if you are, I’m sure Dumbledore will—”

“I am,” James interrupted. Lily wondered if she had accidentally fallen asleep and started dreaming—this whole conversation was too strange to be real.

“I had a feeling,” Dearborn replied, looking at James with a pleased smile. He then turned to Lily. “And what about you, Miss Evans?”

Lily was still in surprised silence. It took her a few moments before she had the sense to stop sitting there with her mouth hanging open.

“I…well, I think I’d have to…think about it,” she said lamely.

“Of course,” Dearborn said. “I don’t mean to pressure either of you. And you should give it some thought. I won’t pretend that it isn’t a major commitment.”

It appeared that no one really knew what to say after that. A few moments of silence stretched between them, and Dearborn sat up straight again, slapping his hands on his knees.

“Well,” he said, “I should get back to the castle. My train leaves early tomorrow morning.”

Lily got up from the table and moved toward the exit with him and James. She was still reeling from the conversation, especially how quickly James had agreed to Dearborn’s offer. How had he even known about this ahead of time? And why hadn’t he ever mentioned it to her?

“I should say also,” Dearborn added as they walked through the door, “that whatever you decide, make sure not to put it in writing. See Dumbledore in person at the castle.”

“Of course,” James said. Lily nodded along with him. It took a minute or two, until they had waved goodbye to their teacher and started to walk towards the end of the street, for Lily to understand what he had meant. She refrained from saying anything until she was back in the park at the end of her street, James having offered to accompany her back.

“Well, that was interesting,” she stated. James looked amused. “How did you know what he was talking about before he even said it?”

James shrugged. “I was suspicious for awhile. I overheard my parents talking about some things…and I guess my assumption turned out to be right.”

“You never mentioned it to me,” Lily said. She was trying to keep anything like resentment out of her voice.

“I wasn’t really sure about it,” James said.

Lily nodded. Why couldn’t she help herself from acting like a sullen baby right now? Why did it matter if James had told her or not?

“Are you mad about something?” he asked her.

“No,” Lily said, and she wasn’t lying. She just felt very strange, was all. “I’m just—I’m in shock from that entire thing. I wasn’t expecting that at all. But—” she paused, and looking at him, remembered how she had felt when she first saw him that night. “For right now, let’s just forget that, because I missed you.”

It was a good ten minutes before any type of coherent conversation continued, and the two of them had migrated to sitting together on one of the swings.

“How can you be so sure this is what you want to do?” Lily asked, resting her head on his shoulder.

“I just feel like it’s right,” he said. Lily could feel the vibration of his voice against her face. “It’s what I want to do, only better.”

“How so?”

“Well, I wanted to be an Auror,” James said. “This is the same thing, but I don’t have to bother with training for years.”

“But we don’t even know what it involves,” Lily replied, lifting her head and looking at him. “It could be completely different from being an Auror—it’s not fair, that we have to say yes before we even know what we’re agreeing to.”

“Wouldn’t be much of a secret if they told us everything.”

“No, I know,” Lily said. “It just…it seems like an awful lot to ask, sight unseen.”

James brushed his hand through her hair lightly. “Well, you heard Dearborn. You don’t have to say yes.”

“But you are,” Lily said, biting her lip. James nodded.

She felt like she was standing at a crossroads. If she were to say no, and go on with life as usual while James did the opposite, she could only see them drifting apart. He would see her differently, if she declined.

She wasn’t sure she could stand that. She had told James that she loved him countless times already, but only lately did she feel like she understood what her feelings meant, how deep they went. More than anything else, she didn’t want to lose James. At some level, she wanted to say yes because of the right reasons: helping people, doing the right thing. But part of her was being selfish. She wanted to be with James.



………




It was strange to James that it should be night. He felt alive and full of energy, as if he had just woken after an excellent sleep, even while he sat there in the dark of night with Lily, talking about their meeting with Dearborn.

“Odd, how he told us not to send anything in the post,” Lily remarked.

“Yeah, I never would have considered that someone else might read it,” James replied.

“I wonder how someone would. I mean, if you work at the Ministry, of course—but somehow I don’t think that’s what he was worried about,” she said. “The—the Death Eaters can’t do something like that, can they?”

He shrugged. “Maybe. If one of them worked at the Ministry…or maybe they just Stun post owls for sport.”

He was trying to be light-hearted, but only received a brief and faint smile from Lily.

“It’s all got me feeling a bit spooked,” she said.

“Well, I’ll walk you to your door, if you like,” he offered.

“Oh, you’d better not,” she advised, “unless you’re interested in an interrogation upon arrival.”

“I don’t mind.”

She smiled at him ruefully. “Another time. I can make it to the door on my own for tonight.”

“You haven’t told your family you have a boyfriend, have you?” he asked, trying to keep his tone light.

“Well—not—” she stammered, before changing tack completely. “Have you told your parents?”

She had a fair point, James realized. Somehow it hadn’t seemed fitting to mention it when he was doing his best to avoid them—his own particular revenge for the fact that they still refused to be honest with him about whatever was wrong with his dad.

“It has nothing to do with you,” she said, kissing him on the cheek and standing up. “Promise. I’m just not ready for the parental breakdown that will most likely occur when I tell them.”

“Right,” he said. “Well, I’ll watch from here and make sure you get to your door, at least.”

Saying goodbye took a few minutes, but eventually they parted, this time with plans to see each other as soon as possible. It did not give him a pleasant feeling, to watch her walk away after seeing her so briefly, but he tried to put up a good show, as she seemed even more distressed by it than him.

James kept his eyes trained on Lily’s retreating figure as she walked down the road, back to her front door. He had to admit that he was a little put off by her reluctance to let her parents meet him, and hoped that it was, as she said, nothing to do with him. It was strange that even now, after he had succeeded in making Lily his girlfriend, he still felt like she held the upper hand in their relationship. He could never be completely sure of her feelings for him, it seemed, and it made him frown a little as he scuffed the patchy ground with the toe of his shoe.

He briefly wondered whether it would be too late to pay Sirius a visit, reminding himself yet again that he should get his watch fixed, but his mundane thoughts were slowly replaced by a feeling of paranoia. It felt like someone was standing nearby, far enough away that the darkness kept them from James’ sight, but close enough for him to sense their presence.

Why did his mind jump to the worst conclusions first? It probably was no one who wanted to bother with him, he told himself. There must be teenagers around the neighbourhood who probably frequented this park at night, using it as a shortcut or a place to get some privacy with their boyfriends or girlfriends—in which case, James was quite glad that he couldn’t see them.

He shook himself, trying to calm his nerves. Lily was nearly at her door, anyway, and then he could Disapparate. The more he tried to ignore the quickening pace of his heart, however, the worse it seemed to become, until in a moment of desperate panic, he whirled around to face the trees, determined to pinpoint the source of his discomfort.

He saw nothing. The wind blew through the trees, and the leaves sounded like shivers. His heart began to slow down, but his muscles still felt frozen in tension. Something still wasn't right.

A light appeared in between two of the trees in front of him, like a reflection, and startled him into stumbling backward in panic. He did not even have enough time to wonder what it had been, or reach for his wand, before a figure robed in black stepped out from the trees.

All his imagined scenarios in which he was some kind of heroic dueller were shattered; his only thought was to run, and fast. He tried to, but tripped over part of the swing set, feeling a sharp stinging on his elbow once he slammed into the ground.

It turned out that he was lucky to have fallen: a spell flew over him, and surely would have hit its mark if he had been upright. He knew there would be more coming, and frantically tried to reach his wand in his jacket pocket and stand back up.

He dodged a purple shot of light before managing to set up a Shield Charm; the momentary protection gave his brain the chance to wonder what the hell was happening. Why was he being attacked? And by who? Had they mistaken him for someone else?

The next spell directed at him was strong enough to push him backward a few steps, and his Shield Charm fell. His wand then went flying from his hand toward the edge of the trees.

He was unarmed and being advanced upon quickly; it was only a matter of seconds before he was Stunned, or even killed. He thought of Apparating—but could he, without a wand? And there was Lily, too, she might come back, or the attacker might go after her—

So he dove in the direction of his wand, hoping to retrieve it before any damage was done. He tried to keep from staying still, making himself a moving target, and several curses missed him by inches. Where was it, where was it? He raked his hands across every inch of ground he could, praying that he would make it for just a few more moments.

There. His left hand closed around his wand, and he pushed himself up using a nearby tree trunk, ready to defend himself.

At least, he had been ready to defend himself from spells; he had not been prepared for his attacker to resort to physical contact. A black-robed arm held his neck up against the tree, and the other wrenched his wand from his hand. He could hardly breathe, and his throat was in immense pain; he tried to free himself, but the hold was too strong.

Everything was starting to fade when one sound pierced the consciousness James had left—a voice, frightened and familiar, saying his name. He looked through the stars taking over his vision and saw the outline of another person standing nearby.

The attacker relented, sending much-needed oxygen into James’ lungs. He felt himself being dragged away from the tree, and everything around him came into better focus.

If he had been scared before, it was nothing compared to how he felt when it finally registered that Lily was there. She had come back.

“No—” he said, forcing sound of his restricted throat, “—go—”

She couldn’t be here; she was going to die, and it would be all his fault. He tried to silently plead with her to run, but she paid him no heed and pulled out her wand instead.

“Let him go!” she said. Her voice sounded shaky, but perhaps that was because he was losing consciousness again.

He was being pulled in a strange direction now, and it dimly occurred to him that the robed figure was trying to Disapparate, taking James with him. He tried to struggle against it for a few moments, but he saw a jet of light go toward Lily…if they Disapparated, she wouldn’t be in danger anymore. He hated the thought of it, since wherever he reappeared would probably not be good news for him, but if he could just separate Lily from it, keep her from getting hurt…maybe he could handle himself.

So he stopped fighting.

There was a shriek, and just before he was pulled into the crushing oppression of Apparition, he felt a small, soft hand close around his wrist.

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