You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com


I Loved You More by Potteress

Format: Novel
Chapters: 38
Word Count: 135,365
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Lupin, McGonagall, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, Bellatrix, Voldemort, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/Lily

First Published: 05/31/2004
Last Chapter: 07/31/2009
Last Updated: 07/31/2009

Summary:

(Banner by Caren!)
"They recognized the group lounging under the beech tree by the lake. Half of Lily wanted to sprint over to them screaming, “JAMES IS BACK!” while the other half wanted to slow their pace and keep him all to herself."


Chapter 1: Part I: Before the War, Chapter 1: Bottled Feelings
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Author’s Preface


Dear Reader,

Welcome to the new and improved, revamped, reorganized, COMPLETE version of I Loved You More.

I just feel a need to preface this, as a little goodbye to this phase of my life, and as an introduction for new readers. I can’t believe I have actually finished this story. It’s been so fun. I don’t care what people say, fanfiction is the best guilty pleasure out there. There is nothing better than playing with characters you love and making them act out their story the way you imagine it. I’ve really loved taking refuge in my fanfic notebook (make that plural notebooks) throughout these past four years and, above all, have learned so much from the feedback I have received on my writing. As an aspiring author, it has helped me immensely—as anyone who has read this fic from start to finish would be able to tell how much I’ve grown. But now I am moving on from Lily Evans so I can focus on my own characters. As always, I will check up now and then to respond to reviews because I will never stop appreciating them.

I started this story on a whim several years ago when I was just a little fangirl fantasizing about the Marauders. I’d like to think I’ve become more sophisticated since then, both in my writing and everything else, but even through all the editing and scene-cutting, the first part of this story has not changed much. And I’m well aware of it being embarrassingly unoriginal. A zillion other fics start just like it but I don’t care. I couldn’t just cut out these chapters, no matter how much I now roll my eyes at the goofy dialogue, the predictable little plot threads, and the romantic descriptions. BUT this is where the story begins, whether I like it or not.

I promise you, it gets better, deeper, and darker. There’s stuff coming for everybody—action, romance, humor, suspense, a healthy dose of angst and a whole lot of fluff. I mean, it’s rated Mature for a reason…It’s got to get good, right?

Other than tightening the whole thing up, fixing errors, and happily backspacing over a few bad analogies, the biggest change I made is, of course, the move from fifth-year to seventh. So if you happen to be an old reader of mine revisiting, I can guarantee you will still recognize this fic. Also, purely for fun, I added a sort of suggested background song for each chapter. I know, I’m a total dork, but that goes without saying. Each song, I think, fits the mood of the chapter and most of them fit the story line really well. If anything, it’s damn good music.

And finally, I’d just like to thank all my readers. You guys are amazing. Some of you have stuck with me through some ridiculously long periods of no updates. A special thanks to Pumpkinpastie24, who shocked me with my very first review, and Maddison, Sawyer, Shaney, The Fanta Queen, Jamie, and all the others who praised this story so eloquently and gave me confidence as a writer. The fact that any of you bother to read, much less take time to comment on my story, still kind of blows my mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You’ve helped me more than you know.

That is all.

Enjoy.

All my love,

Potteress
(7/31/09)






Part I: Before the War




First posted: May 31, 2004
Suggested music: “Here it Goes Again” by OK Go


Chapter One
Bottled Feelings



The train station was a loud, chaotic mess of people on the first of September. Especially platform 9 ¾.

Lily brushed a curl of hair off her face and tightened her grip on her trolley. The train gasped and hissed, urging the students to hurry. It stood proudly on its tracks, heaving thick clouds of smoke and looking anxious to begin moving. All around it, children clustered around their parents, saying their final goodbyes before the long separation ahead. As the whistle blew again, most of them began filing onto the train.

Lily never let her parents come into the station. It was hard enough to disentangle herself from their smothering grasp and long lectures when she tried to leave the house. She didn’t think they could handle watching her board. It wasn’t an aspiration of hers to be the only seventh-year whose mother and father still bawled like babies as they waved to her from the platform.

She wove her way through the crowd and lugged her trunks into the corridor. The train whistled one last time and began moving, jerking her slightly.

Lily steadied herself and sighed, always a little depressed when the summer came to an end. Plus it was hard not to mull over the fact that her sister had been “too busy” to make time to say goodbye. It was her last year at Hogwarts. Seven years had passed since that fateful letter and Petunia’s bitterness still had not melted. Would they ever be close again? Would they ever talk again?

She jumped when a door flew open and nearly hit her in the face. A boy appeared less than a foot away from her—James Potter. He was always jumping out at her from somewhere, as though he tracked her by radar. The second her brain registered who it was, she leapt away from him: She never liked to be too close to this boy if she could help it, in spite of James’s tendency to make this as difficult as possible for her.

He was rather tall and lanky, with long legs and thin shoulders that she grudgingly noticed had filled out a little over the summer. His hair was jet black and horribly untidy, a trait he seemed to love about himself. (Though, Lily noted, was there anything James didn’t love about himself?) He had cheerful hazel eyes, a smooth white complexion, and wore a welcoming grin on his face that revealed one ridiculously large dimple indented in his left cheek that always made his face look slightly lopsided.

This was Potter, the one person that made Lily’s stomach squirm in disgust. Well, there was one other—Sirius Black—but they were so alike, not to mention practically fused together, that Lily often thought of them as one person. Both were sickeningly popular, effortlessly smart, and annoyingly arrogant. James was the Seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team and Sirius was the school’s heartthrob. Together, they were notorious pranksters.

“Evans!” he cried, with a jerk of surprise as though she was the one who had jumped out at him. “Did you have a good summer? Haven’t been cheating on me with any muggle boys, I trust. Mine was excellent; played Quidditch most of the time, you know, on my new Cleansweep. Bloody Slytherins don’t stand a chance this year—not that I’ve ever let them. The question is, do you think you can handle steering a broomstick alongside me? I mean, I wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone.”

He faked an expression of concern, rumpled up his hair, and looked at her, waiting for a response.

Lily stared at him coldly. “Potter, I didn’t think it was possible for you to become any more of an idiot but, yet again, you prove me wrong,” she said. “Now would you kindly go harass someone else so I can find a compartment?”

“Do I feel some distance between us, darling?” He narrowed his eyes, as though inspecting her wellbeing. “What’s up with all this anger? Let it out. Don’t bottle up those feelings,” he said in a very serious tone. But there was a grin—there was always a grin—as he casually swung an arm around her shoulders. Classic James Potter. “So, uncork that bottle, Evans. What’s the matter?”

“Get off, Potter.” She ducked away from his arm, partly because she could not stand it when he did that and partly to hide the tiny smile that had crept onto her face. “You are the last person I’d “uncork the bottle” near. It would go straight over your head. Anyway, I need to get to the prefect compartment. I really can’t be late—” she couldn’t help but smile as she said, “I’ve made Head Girl.”

She pointed to the red and gold badge pinned to her shirt and made to leave as she heaved up her trunk.

James smirked. “Well, well, well. You’re not the only one around here with a flashy badge,” he said, as he reached into his pocket. “I happen to be the Head Boy to your Head Girl.”

Lily snatched the badge out of his hand and examined it. He wasn’t lying. His badge was identical to hers except instead of “HG,” it said, “HB.” “You’ve got to be joking! Who in their right mind would make you Head Boy?” she demanded. “I bet you just nicked Remus’s badge. I could give you detention for that, you know.”

James simply grinned. “It seems that Dumbledore is in his left mind then, Evans. This is, in fact, my badge so if you don’t mind—” he gently took the badge from her fingers “—I’ll walk you to the prefect compartment so we can hold our first meeting together. Actually, I’ll walk you whether you mind or not.”

Before she could utter a retort, he grabbed her trunk, turned, and walked back into his compartment.

Through the open door, Lily saw Sirius lounging comfortably, taking up a whole row of seats with his long legs. Even Lily had to admit that he was very handsome, with flashing grey eyes and rather long, silky hair that fell in his face in a carelessly attractive way. He was taller than James and had broader shoulders but they shared the same slick demeanor.

He grinned and waved when he saw Lily, causing the other two Marauders to turn in their seats. Remus smiled warmly. He didn’t look as ill as usual but he did look tired. Lily wondered if he ever slept. Maybe he was afraid that James and Sirius would set fire to his bed in the night. It was something they would do; they had a distorted idea of a joke.

Like Lily, Remus was a bit of a bookworm with marks at the top of their class. But his good marks were because he studied hard, unlike James and Sirius, to whom classes came so easily. He was much more polite and humble than his friends, making him the only Marauder she liked. She couldn’t understand why he chose to hang around with the likes of James and Sirius.

“Hello, Lily,” he said. “How was your summer?”

“It was all right. Yours?”

“I reckon it was good,” cut in James, as he stuffed Lily’s trunk into the overhang. “Guess who made Head Girl.”

Remus raised his eyebrows at Lily. “Congratulations. You deserve it.”

Sirius made a gagging noise. “What happened to my best mate? Suddenly he’s Head Boy and actually gives a damn about it!”

“Why wouldn’t he?” said the short, chubby boy, in James’s defense. His name was Peter Something. Lily had never thought much about him. He was just that shy kid who followed James, Sirius, and Remus around like a puppy dog.

“I don’t give a damn about it!” said James. Lily raised an eyebrow at him and he added, “But I do have to go to this stupid meeting right now. I’ll see you trolls later.”

“You’re leaving? Mate, this is our last train ride. We have to make it memorable!” said Sirius, winking at Lily.

“Sorry, Padfoot. I don’t want to go, really, but this one’s breathing down my neck so I haven’t got a choice.” He jerked his head at Lily. “She won’t leave me alone!” he cried, rolling his eyes.

Lily felt herself grow hot with anger and was about to correct him when Sirius opened his mouth to reply.

“Not to mention she’s always begging you to go out with her. What a burden that must be for you, Prongs.”

He shook his head and gave James a sympathetic pat on the back. Lily couldn’t help but crack a smile.

James caught her and grinned. “We’ll be off then. Come on then, my queen,” he said, and walked past her into the corridor. She shot a glare at the back of his head and went to catch up with him.

The prefect compartment was already full of prefects when they arrived, waiting for their instructions. James got their attention with one holler. Lily did most of the talking, explaining the various duties they would have and all of their responsibilities. The whole time, she was wary of James, expecting him to make some snide remark to undermine her or insult the prefects but he didn’t. He stood quietly beside her, nodding and looking altogether more serious than she had ever seen him. When Lily finished, they dismissed the prefects and lingered in the compartment to do some paperwork.

“I don’t know what the big deal is,” said James. “That was so easy.”

“That’s because you didn’t do anything!” cried Lily.

“True, but you did fine without my help.”

“You should try to get a little more involved,” said Lily. “You are the Head Boy now, whether your best mate likes it or not. You can’t really be a Marauder at the same time.”

“Are you kidding me? I will always be a Marauder first and foremost,” he said firmly. “And what’s the point of working when I know you’ll do it for me?”

This brand of “charm” was wearing down her patience. “You are the most—”

“Yes?”

“Why bother? Nothing penetrates that thick skull,” said Lily.

Ouch!” James gasped and put his hand to his chest, pretending to squirm in agony. “Are these the bottled feelings coming out at last?”

Lily snorted derisively and handed him half of the paperwork. “There you go, Head Boy.”

When they finished, they walked back to the Marauders’ compartment. A couple of third-years were standing at the door, peeking through the window and giggling.

Lily glared at them as she walked by to enter the compartment. They turned bright red when they saw James and glared right back at Lily.

“Get my trunk, please, Potter,” she said, ignoring them.

“At your service, mademoiselle,” he replied, with a dramatic bow.

He reached up and brought her heavy trunk down to the floor with ease.

Blimey, he’s stronger than he looks, Lily found herself thinking. Her eyes widened as she checked herself. I need to get out of here.

“Going so soon?” She heard James’s polished voice behind her as she slid open the door.

She turned around and saw him sitting where Sirius’s legs had been, his own leg propped up on the armrest, his hands clasped behind his head.

“Only wish it could have been sooner,” she said. The very way he sat annoyed her.

Then she turned and left, slamming the compartment door behind her.

Lily walked along the corridor in search of her friends’ faces in the compartment door windows. Summer Liem, Tara Jordan, and Diana Kendel were the other seventh-year girls of Gryffindor House as well as Lily’s best friends. She couldn’t count the number of nights throughout the past six years when they had stayed up late in their dormitory, rolling with laughter on the four-posters, helping each other study, and holding deep discussions that lasted far into the night. Lily missed them. She hadn’t seen them much over the summer and the journey to Hogwarts would be no fun without them.

She could picture each girl vividly in her head. Summer, with her bundle of blonde hair, whimsical blue eyes, and masses of freckles on her face. She was strong and clever, constantly spilling over with ideas.

Tara was always bouncing about, singing loud and off-key. She never took anything seriously. Her skin was dark and smooth, her hair was long and black, falling silkily down her back, and her eyes glinted with a spark of audacity.

Diana had curly brown hair and golden brown eyes, round and wise in her seriousness. She was Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team with Lily and although she was beautiful, she was very shy and intensely focused.

The images loomed so clear in Lily’s head as she dragged her feet up and down the corridor, until finally, they came to life, all talking animatedly in one compartment.

There you are!” Summer exclaimed, jumping up and giving Lily a squeeze when she walked in. “We were worried you’d missed the train!”

“Yeah, we were about to go check the prefect compartment—Summer told us you made Head Girl! Congrats, love! Who made Head Boy? Remus Lupin? You know, I saw him in the station and he has gotten to be quite the hottie over the summer, don’t you think? Merlin, can you believe this is the last time we will ever take this train to Hogwarts? Isn’t that sort of sad? Anyway, where on earth have you been? Where’s your stuff?”

Tara had also shot up and grabbed both Lily’s hands, bombarding her with questions without pausing for a breath, not to mention an answer. Lily, a little overwhelmed, didn’t even notice Diana, always the motherly one, leading her to a seat.

“Whoa, Tara, let the girl breathe,” said Summer.

“What? Uh….my…my stuff? Oh, damn. I forgot my trunk in the Marauders’ compartment!” cried Lily, banging her hand against her forehead.

Tara perked up again. “Ooh, the Marauders compartment?”

“Yeah, it’s just Potter again. He hasn’t changed a bit.”

“Let’s go get your trunk, then.” Tara spun Lily around by the shoulders and pushed her back into the corridor.

The two of them walked down the corridor back to the compartment Lily had just left and stepped through the door to find the Marauders still lounging there, looking none too surprised to see them.

“Missed me already, Evans?” smirked James.

“Oh yes! I couldn’t stop thinking about you and your big mouth,” replied Lily sweetly.

“Hey, all! Had a good summer?” asked Tara, whipping her hand about in a wave.

“Great, how was yours?” answered Remus.

“It was glorious. I went on holiday with my parents to Florence. Met a super fine Italian Muggle. Pity it had to end, though,” said Tara matter-of-factly, as she fell into the seat next to him, making herself comfortable.

“We just came to get my trunk and leave, Tara,” Lily said loudly, not liking where the situation was headed.

“She can stay and chat awhile if she wants,” James said indignantly. “It’s a nice change—friendliness. You should try it sometime.”

He flashed her a grin and patted the seat next to him. Much to her own dismay, Lily had to fight a strange urge to accept his offer and sit down.

“As much as I’d like to…” she said in the most sarcastic tone she could muster.

“What a downer,” sighed James. Then he turned to Tara. “So, does Evans drive you stark mad talking about me all the time?”

Lily rolled her eyes and then looked around upon hearing the door behind her slide open. Summer and Di walked in.

“Didn’t bother inviting us to join the party?” Summer raised her eyebrows at them all and then flung herself down next to Sirius.

“Actually, we were just leaving, Sum,” said Lily, growing aggravated.

“No. Just stay and hang out. It won’t kill you,” said Sirius.

“Maybe not, but it will put you in serious danger of falling madly in love with me,” said James, fluttering his eyelashes.

“Good thing I’m immune,” replied Lily dryly.

It looked like she had no choice but to stay. Di had settled herself down next to Remus, leaving only the seat that James had open for her. She sighed, finally surrendering, and took the seat while trying to ignore James’s triumphant smile.

Amazingly, she soon found herself enjoying the boys’ company. She could see how they could be fun, as they all played several entertaining rounds of Exploding Snap. Then the food trolley came around and James surprised Lily with his generosity by buying everyone a round of chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

The girls, including Lily, couldn’t help but be disappointed when the train began to slow. They had to rush back to their compartment to change into their robes before filtering out of the train with the rest of the students. They met up with James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter again to share a carriage on the way up to the castle.

The Great Hall bubbled with the usual excitement of the start-of-term feast and reunion of friends under the sparkling black sky. The eight of them sat down at the middle of the long Gryffindor table, proudly taking their place as seventh-years, and watched the Sorting. When the last new student was Sorted into their house, Professor Dumbledore rose to his feet at the center of the staff table. The buzzing chatter came to an abrupt stop.

“To those who have arrived for the first time, welcome to Hogwarts! To those who are returning, welcome back!” he said in a deep, thundering voice. “I know you are all too ravenous to listen to me so please, without further ado, let the feast begin!”

“Good old Dumbledore!” said Sirius, who was already chowing down on the food that had appeared in front of him while most had barely picked up their fork.

They talked loudly and happily all through dinner, then, after a short speech from Dumbledore, Lily and James led the new first-years to the Gryffindor Tower on the seventh floor. The tiny newcomers looked at them with wide, anxious eyes. As a Muggleborn, Lily felt bad for them, remembering all too well the feeling of arriving at Hogwarts for the first time—her entrance into the wizarding world. James astonished her for the second time that night, cracking jokes to calm their nerves and make them feel welcome.

“Just say Hinkypunk and she’ll let you in. And remember not to tell anyone the password, unless they’re another Gryffindor,” explained Lily, as they came to a halt in front of the enormous portrait of the Fat Lady.

“Don’t let the woman’s size frighten you. Her bulge is worse than her bite,” said James, shaking up his hair and nodding toward the portrait who, to Lily’s great relief, had not heard this remark.

The first-years giggled.

Once inside, they gave the young students a brief tour of the Tower before sending them off to their dormitories. Lily and James, alone in the common room, fell into the coveted fireside armchairs with identical sighs of contentment.

“You’re pretty good with the first-years, Potter,” said Lily.

James smiled. “I’m just getting involved. Can’t let you have all the fun.”

Soon after, the rest of Gryffindor House came tramping into the common room. Summer, Tara, Di, and the rest of the Marauders joined them by the fire, where the conversation picked up right where they had left off at dinner.

After a few pleasant hours, Sirius let a yawn that made them all jump and realize how late it was. The four girls climbed the winding staircase to the very top floor where they had roomed together for the past six years.

Lily changed into her pajamas and flopped down onto her old four-poster, which at the moment, felt like the most wonderful place in the world. She was so sleepy, yet as her thoughts went idly over her day, her fatigue was replaced by confusion.

She hated James, right? It was a well-known fact throughout the school: Lily Evans is the only Gryffindor who cannot stand James Potter. But tonight, he had acted so strange, so different …so nice. How could she possibly start being friends with him after all those years of loathing every hair that stood straight up on his big head?

But the way he had smiled at her….

Lily turned over and gazed through the hangings and out the window.

Maybe he’s changed.







A/N: Please tell me what you think! Any feedback is welcome!


















Chapter 2: Still James Potter
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: July 19, 2004
Suggested music: “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who

Chapter Two
Still James Potter



Morning classes were, for the most part, uneventful.

During Ancient Runes, Alenas, their eccentric professor whose insanity was a joke among the students at Hogwarts, began the class with a long lecture about their N.E.W.T. exams, which made Lily uneasy. As usual, she punctured it with animated reenactments of her crazy personal experiences that never had anything to do with Runes, ancient or otherwise.

Lily found her thoughts wandering to the train ride with the Marauders the previous day as she sat next to Summer, who watched in alarm as their teacher crawled around on all fours during a particularly odd demonstration. If they really had done a little bit of growing up over the summer—“they” applying mainly to James—then she was willing to bury the hatchet, she decided.

She even allowed herself to giggle with the rest of the class as James and Sirius asked Alenas totally irrelevant questions just as she began to actually talk about Ancient Runes which always launched her into another series of weird anecdotes. It was a regular routine of theirs and usually, Lily would roll her eyes at them, wishing they would let the professor teach, but today, she found it a lot more amusing.

There was no sense in holding grudges.

Then they went straight to Arithmancy, taught by a grumpy old wizard with a curling mustache, called Professor Pollock. He, unlike Professor Alenas, never got distracted or gave any visuals whatsoever but droned on and on, hardly looking away from the chalkboard. This was guaranteed to make all his students daydream or doze off, awakened occasionally by Sirius’s sleep talk. The minute he sat down at his desk, he fell into a deep, shameless sleep until the bell that signaled the end of class.

During break, they all lounged on the courtyard benches, chatting away the free minutes of their day.

Sirius was first to notice the lone figure pass by, hunched over a stack of Dark Arts books. It was Severus Snape. He had shared a mutual hatred with the Marauders, James in particular, since the moment they had laid eyes on each other. With a glimmer of excitement in his eyes, Sirius nudged James, who nodded as a mischievous grin smeared across his face like butter. Remus saw the exchange and stopped mid-laugh, shifting uneasily.

James and Sirius fell away from the group and began walking several yards behind Snape. When the rest became aware of the sudden lack of two distinctively loud voices in their conversation, they fell silent. Their eyes strayed, following the owners of the voices. Peter alone seemed excited. Lily looked at Remus, then at the two boys tracking Severus.

“Hey, Snivellus!” shouted James.

Lily’s heart seemed to fall into her stomach. No. No, not again.

Snape jumped and spun around, hastily pulling his wand out of his robe pocket. He twitched compulsively and snarled at the sight of James and Sirius.

“Preservios!” said James, flicking his wand lazily in Snape’s direction before Snape could say a word.

A purple jet of light flew by and Snape’s knees buckled. His legs collapsed under his weight, squishing and wriggling like jelly, no longer in his control. His wand dropped to the ground and rolled out of his reach.

“Potter! You…stupid…idiotic…” Snape tried to say as he struggled to grab his wand.

Almost everyone in the courtyard had turned to watch, captivated. Some of the students had stepped closer to get a better view. Remus had turned his head and was concentrating on a nearby tree.

Lily didn’t want to believe her eyes. Disappointment inflamed her temper as she watched her old friend get attacked by who she had thought was a new friend. But no, she had been wrong. He was no different. He had not grown up. How could she have been fooled so easily? He was still, and always would be, James Potter.

“Nice one, Prongs,” Sirius was saying. Then he looked down at Snape. “Had a good summer, Snivelly? I see you still haven’t bothered to take a shower.”

Several people laughed. Lily cringed at the cruelty. She looked away from Severus. They may not be friends any longer, but she could not watch him get humiliated.

“Has he ever? Bet he’s never touched a bar of soap in his life. If he could sell all the oil in his hair, he’d make a bloody fortune,” sneered James, while more people gathered around for the show. “Is that what you’re going for? Thought you’d make a bit of money?”

More hearty peals of laughter resounded throughout the courtyard. Each one cut a deeper hole in her illusion.

“Shut up, Potter!” Lily yelled as she stood up, her almond-shaped eyes blazing with hot anger.

James turned halfway through messing up his hair, looking surprised at the sound of her voice.

“Why do you always have to go and do this?” she asked in disgust.

“Making me spew my guts with that stench of his is good enough reason, I reckon,” retorted James, smirking.

More laughter. Lily’s eyes wandered back to Snape. He was giving her a look that said, “How can you talk to these people?”

“Yeah, Evans. We’re just concerned with our friend Snivellus’s hygienic issues,” said Sirius. “We all know he can use all the help he can get.”

Then Snape, who had seized the opportunity and snatched his fallen wand, muttered something as he pointed it at James’s back. James flew up in the air and slammed hard into the stone floor of the courtyard.

“Prongs!” cried Sirius, and many girls in the on-looking crowd shrieked and gasped.

In spite of her fury, Lily’s heart stopped in the split second during which James lay there, motionless.

But James quickly raised his wand again and, still lying on his back, shouted a curse just as Sirius said another. The next second, Snape was sprawled on the ground with huge slimy boogers flapping from his face and clumps of his greasy hair were sliding off his skull by the roots.

“POTTER! BLACK! SNAPE!”

Professor McGonagall, looking shocked and dangerously livid, parted the large group of students and hurried toward them. “Come here immediately.”

Sirius helped James, whose head was soaked in blood, to his feet. They walked calmly toward the professor. Snape, on the other hand, couldn’t move. His legs would not hold his weight and he couldn’t see due to the thick layer of boogers that covered his eyes. McGonagall sighed angrily and muttered the countercurse to the Bat Boogey and the Jelly Legs hexes. Still freakishly bald, he stomped over, swearing under his breath.

“I would watch your mouth if I were in your current position, Mr. Snape,” snapped McGonagall. “You’re in enough trouble as it is. Follow me, you three.”


* * *


In Defense Against the Dark Arts, the entire class was buzzing with talk of the duel and speculation about whether the boys would come away from McGonagall alive. The majority had just finished confirming in excited whispers that they had no chance at all, when none other than Sirius Black strode into the classroom, looking very alive and very pleased with himself. Professor Rynda glared at him from her desk, her monstrous eyebrows bearing down upon him.

“Black, you’re late. Detention this Friday and ten points from Gryffindor.”

Sirius merely nodded.

“And wipe that smirk off your face!”

“Yes, Professor,” said Sirius, his grey eyes twinkling, as he slid gracefully into the seat next to Remus.

“We’ve got a week’s worth of detention, each,” he said, leaning toward Remus. “Snape, too, because McGonagall saw what that slimeball did to Prongs. She couldn’t figure out how to reverse that Balding hex that Prongs used on him so now they’re both in the hospital wing!” Remus sniggered. “Oh! And guess what! Prongs made Quidditch captain!

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, McGonagall kept going on and on about how bad dueling in school is and then she said to James that as a leader, the Quidditch captain should learn to behave better.” They both laughed at James’s unfailing good fortune.

Lily wasn’t laughing. It outraged her, how easily they always got off. Somehow, she couldn’t agree that adding more to the list of things for James to brag about was something to celebrate.

She turned in her seat and shot an ominous glare at Sirius.

“All right there, Evans? I think there’s something wrong with your forehead—it looks like it’s pulsing or something,” he said, winking.

“You’re revolting, Black. You think you can get away with anything just because girls throw themselves at your feet and you know a few hexes,” Lily snapped. “But let me tell you something. It’s not going to last long. Soon people will realize what worthless asses you and Potter are.”

Some students around them were staring. Remus looked somewhat surprised but Sirius was fighting back laughter. He whistled, as though impressed, and Professor Rynda deducted ten more points from Gryffindor.

Lily turned back around furiously.

“The team’s going to go downhill fast with Potter as a captain,” she muttered to Di.

At dinner that evening, James smiled at her, apparently fully recovered. Lily threw him her dirtiest look and sat down at the other end of the table. What a difference from the previous night.

The Marauders passed her on their way up to the Tower. James paused and bent down over her shoulder.

“I told you, Evans,” he whispered, his lips horribly close to her ear. “I’ll always be a Marauder, first and foremost.”

Lily spun around in her seat, her fury boiling right back up again, but he was already strutting out the door.

* * *


It was just as though nothing had changed. Lily slipped seamlessly back into her old habit of avoiding James Potter.

She blamed the deep sense of disappointment on herself. He was an arrogant jerk for whom too many things came too easily—how had she let herself be hoodwinked into thinking otherwise? It became a subconscious mission of hers to teach him a lesson. The way she saw it, if she paid him no attention, he would eventually take the hint, change his ways, and come crawling to her with a heartfelt apology for his immaturity, humbled by her frostiness.

Only then, would she be willing to be friends. Only then—and it would have to be bloody heartfelt.

There was a small hole in her brilliant plan. She had overlooked the fact that James was equally stubborn.

Whenever he got the chance—and he found plenty of chances, being a classmate in all her classes, her Quidditch captain, and, as he put it, the Head Boy to her Head Girl—he approached her with a charming joke or pick-up line, polishing it off with his lopsided grin. As much as she tried to make her point, it was as though he was blind to all signs of hatred. His spirit never faltered, no matter how hard she tried to wipe that damn grin off his face.

So on and on it went, a seemingly endless cycle, both unwavering in their fruitless attempts to change the other.

“All right there, Evans?” James said, startling Lily as she made her way to the Gryffindor Tower one morning to fetch her Guide to Advanced Transfiguration.

She glanced at him and kept walking as though she hadn’t heard him. Undaunted, James continued.

“You’ll have to talk to me sooner or later. In case you haven’t heard, I’m the new Quidditch captain. Tryouts for a new Beater are this weekend. I’ll need the entire team there and I believe that includes you, Evans.”

“Got it. Now leave me alone, Potter,” she snapped.

“Oh, I love spunk in a girl,” he chuckled, pleased with himself for finally getting a reaction out of her. “But I wouldn’t talk to your captain that way if I were you. I have the power to control your career as a Chaser, after all.”

Lily rolled her eyes and sped away down the corridor.

“Lovely talking to you, Evans!” she heard him call.

* * *


On Saturday, Lily and Di walked across the dew-glazed lawn and down the sloping path to the Quidditch pitch for the Beater tryouts. The rest of the team, which included James of course, Frank Longbottom, a sixth-year Beater, the Keeper, Anna Linde who was also in sixth year, and the third Chaser, Jamal Brown, a fourth-year, was already in the locker room. There were five or six other Gryffindors, nervously twirling their broomsticks, ready to try for the open Beater position.

“Ah, about time our other Chasers got here!” said James loudly.

“What are you on about? We’re right on time,” said Lily, after checking her watch. “We just have to change and we’ll be right out.”

“Then by all means, take your time…and if you need any assistance while you’re changing, I'd be happy to help—”

Lily swung her broomstick and whacked him before he could finish his sentence. He stumbled but caught himself, rubbing the side of his head with a sly grin on his face. Lily turned on her heel and led Di into the changing rooms.

Why couldn’t I just ignore him? He just loved that, I know it.

“Blimey, Lil, he was only making a joke,” Di said quietly, as they pulled on their Quidditch robes.

Lily sighed and nodded. “Yeah, I know I should have ignored that stupid prat. I don’t know why I did it. It’ll only encourage him. There’s just something about him that gets to me so easily…

Di shut her locked and picked up her broomstick. “He can be pretty obnoxious but he’s just a boy.”

Lily thought about this but chose not to answer. Just a boy. She liked that. She only wished James himself would understand that he was, indeed, just a boy and not the treasure of the wizarding world

They headed out to the pitch with the team, broomsticks over their shoulders. James warmed them up by passing the Quaffle around. When he brought out the Bludgers. Frank hit them at each potential Beater in turn while James looked on, studying their aim and strength.

After awhile, they began to play a match so that James could see if the Beaters could protect their teammates from Bludgers in real situations. By the end, James had narrowed the group down to two options: Ben Rogerson, a fourth-year and a third-year named Andrew Barry.

Frank swung hard, sending a Bludger soaring toward Lily, who was open for a pass and Andrew, hovering several yards away, saw this and sped toward her. He stretched out his club hand and blocked it. James gave a roar appreciation.

“Nice save, Barry!” he bellowed across the pitch.

“Thanks a lot, Andrew. I didn’t see that coming,” said Lily.

He smiled, blushing scarlet.

At the end of the session, James called the team to the locker rooms to discuss the tryouts. Coming to a decision, the captain called in the anxious participants and announced that Andrew Barry was the new Beater.

“Congratulations, Andrew!” said Lily, as they tramped back up to the school half an hour later. “Our team is really fun to play for, you’ll love it. Well, at least it was when Kingsley Shacklebolt was captain last year…I don’t know how it will be now, with Potter in charge…”

“Really? He seems like a brilliant captain to me. Really knows his stuff,” said Andrew, looking a little surprised. “I can’t wait to start! I’ve always loved Quidditch.”

Lily made a noise of disagreement but jumped suddenly when someone spoke up from behind her.

“So, Evans,” said that someone with a familiar slickness. “You think I’m a horrible captain?”

James sped up and fell into step next to her. Judging from the smug grin on his face, his feelings weren’t too damaged.

“I never said that, but considering your character outside of Quidditch…I’d say it’s a safe assumption,” Lily said icily. “We have yet to see, I suppose, but I’m afraid I don’t have much faith in you.”

“I’m afraid you are the only person who feels that way,” he returned. Then he grinned evilly before adding, “I suppose Snivelly might as he’s just beginning to grow his hair back…” He sniggered. “But, apart from you two, people generally think of me as a pretty good guy. So I can’t be that bad…why don’t you go out with me?”

“You disgust me, James Potter,” was all Lily said before marching away with Di.

“That, my young friend,” sighed James, clapping Andrew on the shoulder with a paternal air, “is how to work the ladies.”

His grin faded into a faint smile as he watched her walk up to the castle.

“She fancies me,” he said. “It’s so obvious.”

“Oh, yeah. Totally obvious,” agreed Andrew, as he looked up at his captain.





A/N: Thanks for reading. Please review.






Chapter 3: Black Encounters
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: August 5, 2004
Suggested music: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones

Chapter Three
Black Encounters



Halloween was drawing nearer. The air became wonderfully brisk, the leaves colored, homework stacked ever higher, and the students grew steadily excited about the first Hogsmeade trip on the last day of October.

“Whacha reading?” asked James, flinging himself into the chair next to Lily, who sat buried in a book one dreary Saturday afternoon.

She made no acknowledgment of his presence and continued to stare at the pages, though her focus had shifted elsewhere. Much too accustomed to this treatment to mind, James persisted.

“How would you like the honor of coming with me to Hogsmeade?”

He leaned toward her and propped an elbow on her armrest, grinning cheekily at her. The only response he got was Lily shifting in her chair so that her back was turned toward him.

“Oh, come off it, Evans. I don’t bite, you know,” he said. He scooted his own chair around so that he was directly in from of her again.

“At least not too hard,” piped up Sirius, stepping off the boys’ dormitory stairs. “Still desperately trying to win over Ms. Evans, are we, Prongs?” He plopped himself down on to the floor and took some books out of his bag. “I hate to say it, but you’re getting pathetic.”

“Nah, she’s the one who’s been begging me to go out with her. I was just breaking it to her lightly,” said James. He rolled his eyes and shot a hand through his hair. “She can’t keep her hands off me.”

Lily was about to set this statement right when Sirius replied. “Yeah, I think she’ll finally crack one day and beat you to the ground. Best watch your step, Prongs.” He chuckled and James laughed too.

Lily doubted whether James would have allowed anyone but Sirius to get away with that. She had never known a pair quite like them. Of course, she had good friends...But the two laughing boys in front of her shared an uncommon bond, more natural than brotherhood. Even Lily, partly blinded by her hatred, could see that.

“So what do you say, Evans?” asked James. “You and me in Hogsmeade? Firewhiskey is optional.”

Lily slammed her book shut. She didn’t care what type of friend he was, enough was enough. “No! A thousand times, NO!” she cried.

Sirius fell back onto the floor, laughing.

* * *


“Lily! Hurry up!” Summer’s voice echoed up the staircase.

Lily dashed down the stairs to join Summer, Tara, and Di, who were waiting for her in the common room. She had slept in a little late that morning.

They linked arms and ambled away together, chatting blissfully as they exited the school and crossed the grounds with the other students on their way to the village, looking forward to a day free of schoolwork. And it was a perfect one for a Hogsmeade trip. The sun was bright and warm as it shot waves of radiant light over the lake. A crisp breeze lifted everyone’s spirits with the rustling leaves that whirled around them in the autumn air.

The girls visited all the little shops that lined High Street then headed to the Three Broomsticks to talk over four steaming mugs of Butterbeer.

“So, Potter asked you to come to Hogsmeade with him?” asked Tara, watching Lily closely. “There are loads of girls who would kill to be in you place, you know. He really fancies you.”

“Rubbish. The only person he fancies is himself,” scoffed Lily.

“You are a bit hard on him, Lils,” said Summer. “He’s tries so hard with you. He only wants to be your friend.”

“What? You’re taking his side?” asked Lily, her eyes widening with incredulity. “He needs to grow up before I have anything to do with him…especially if that’s him trying hard! I’ve never met anyone so arrogant!”

“Okay, okay! Don’t flare up at me! I’m not taking his side, you dolt. I was just saying…”

“I know,” mumbled Lily, annoyed at herself for getting riled up about Potter again. “Sorry. Just talking about him makes me angry.”

“We know,” said Tara. “You’ve only told us, what, a million times?” Then, seeing the sharp look she received from Lily, she added, “Not that I’m suggesting anything!”

“Are you lot done with your Butterbeers?” cut in Di. “How about a walk up to the Shrieking Shack?”

Glad to end the conversation, they left the pub, walked to the edge of the village, and hiked up a steep hill where they sat down to rest on a boulder overlooking Hogsmeade.

They had been sitting there for less than ten minutes when they heard voices from down the slope. A moment later, three girls came marching into view. When they saw that they weren’t alone, they immediately stopped talking.

Lily recognized all three of them at once. They were the seventh-year Slytherin girls who had never mixed well with any of the Gryffindors.

The first girl, Nolminta Meliflua, was chubby with squinted dark eyes. Walking beside her was Delilah Avery, a short, scrawny girl with white blonde hair and a long, pointed nose. The third girl had thick, shiny dark hair and heavy-lidded eyes. Her name was Bellatrix Black. She sneered at Lily, Summer, Tara, and Di and began to speak in a high-pitched, leering voice.

“What are you doing here?”

“We have just as much of a right to be here as you do,” said Summer coldly.

“You three might,” she said, her eyes grazing over Summer, Tara, and Di. “But Evans doesn’t belong here and never will.”

“And why is that?” demanded Tara, raising her eyebrows.

“Because she’s not a witch. She’s just a filthy rotten mudblood,” she spat, throwing a disgusted look at Lily. “You think you’re something special because you’re Head Girl who somehow wormed her way to the top of the class but to those of us who know the value of pure blood, you’re nothing more than a worthless piece of scum.”

Lily felt Summer, Tara, and Di stiffen next to her and snatch their wands in her defense. They began to yell, outraged, but Lily cut them off.

“I’d much rather be a ‘mudblood’ than a horrible, stuck-up, pureblooded Slytherin like you,” she said, the inherent spirit she’d been born with speaking for her. “And I couldn’t care less about what people who ‘know the value pure blood’ think of me.”

Bellatrix narrowed her eyes and took a step closer. “If you were as smart as you think you are, you’d start caring and stop acting like you own the place. You’d keep your head down and quit drawing attention to yourself,” she hissed in an oddly knowing way. “If you don’t, you’re gonna wish you had soon. I can promise you that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’ll see. Things are going to start changing and mudbloods are first on the list. So I’d watch your back, Evans,” said Bellatrix mysteriously.

Lily glared back but didn’t answer.

“What are you on about?” asked Tara, looking at Bellatrix as though she was mad.

“As if I’d tell you goody-goodies. You’re all so naïve,” she replied smugly. “Don’t worry. You’ll find out soon enough.”

“Whatever you say, Black,” said Tara dryly, turning away. “Come on, let’s go.”

Lily, Summer, and Di followed her down the winding path. Lily glanced back and saw Bellatrix watching them leave with her arms folded and her lips muttering something to Nolminta and Delilah.

“Do you think she actually meant something back there?” asked Lily, after they had put some a distance between themselves and the three Slytherins.

“No way,” assured Tara. “She’s just jealous of you, Lil. She’s always been full of shit.”

“I dunno,” said Di, who had quietly observed the exchange. “There have been rumors going around about groups of people holding meetings to plot dark magic. The Black family is known to be into that kind of stuff. Someone could have told her and—”

“I highly doubt it, Di,” interrupted Summer. “If it’s something big like that, I don’t think Bellatrix would be told so that she can go around bragging about it. And anyway, little Dark Arts clubs are always making threats against Muggleborns. The Ministry will clear it up in no time. Don’t think on it, Lily.”

Lily nodded but wasn’t totally convinced. Something told her there was something more than rebellious little clubs making threats behind what Bellatrix Black had said.

“If you really want to be sure, Lily, you can ask Sirius,” suggested Di, who seemed to have noticed Lily’s uncertainty. She pointed down the busy little road. “He is part of the Black family after all and he’s coming this way now.”

Sure enough, Sirius and James were strolling down the middle of the road just ahead. Remus and Peter followed—along with a large group of loud, chattering girls fawning over the two leaders.

It made Lily sick. What was it about those rude, egotistical boys that other girls loved? She for one, would never understand it. Remus didn’t seem to either and poor Peter looked like a fish out of water. Remus walked along the edge of the crowd, looking annoyed at the girls, who shrieked with laughter at everything James and Sirius said, whether funny or not.

The latter, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, they were clearly basking in the attention. Sirius kept a sleek, casual attitude, as though he was used to a swarm of adoring girls tagging along with him everywhere—which, Lily reflected, he probably was. Girls had been treating them like celebrities since first year and it had gotten worse since James made captain. James should have been used to it too, but he shamelessly flirted back.

Suddenly, he caught sight of Lily and her friends and his hand, which had been making elaborate gestures as he told some joke, jumped to his hair. His audience looked to see the source of the distraction. When they saw Lily, they all scowled. Lily didn’t notice. She waved politely at them, as they were all friendly with her when James wasn’t around….Funny how that worked.

Sirius! Sirius Black!” Tara yelled over the crowd.

He turned to see who had called his name. She motioned for him to come over. He grinned and walked to meet them.

“What do you want, m’dear?” he asked brightly.

“We want to talk to you about something your lovely cousin said to us a few minutes ago,” she answered.

James, making sure his hair was at its messiest, made his way over, apparently forgetting that he had not finished telling the girls his joke, even though they were now struggling loudly to keep his attention. Remus and Peter followed him, Remus casting a warm smile at Lily.

“My cousin? When did you see Andy?” asked Sirius, referring to Andromeda, Bellatrix’s older sister, a Gryffindor who had graduated the year before.

“No….It was Bellatrix.”

“Who?” He squinted and looked up to the sky, as though racking his memory. “Hmm…must be some sort of mistake. I’m related to no one named Bellatrix.”

He glanced around and smiled absently at the gang of girls, who were growing impatient. Then he looked back at Tara, waiting for her response.

He was so calm, as he stood there pretending not to know Bellatrix that even though Lily knew the truth, she was almost convinced. She knew he didn’t speak to his family and wouldn’t even admit they were related, with the exception of Andy, of course. Lily didn’t quite understand why he seemed to hate them. She and Sirius had never really had an actual conversation.

Lily looked around, scrutinizing each face. Remus was watching Sirius cautiously and Peter seemed uncomfortable, even nervous, about the way things were going. James, on the other hand, wore an expression of pure ignorance, just like Sirius’s. Confused, Lily looked closer. His eyes caught hers and she saw a hint of sadness in them before she turned away. Di and Summer exchanged significant glances but Tara didn’t flinch as she peered up at Sirius.

“Well, then,” she said carefully, after an extended pause. “Do you know of any Bellatrix who happens to have the same last name as you?”

Sirius looked down at her sharply, then smiled. Everyone seemed to relax.

“Let’s see. Bellatrix Black…hideous evil Slytherin? Yes, I suppose I know who you mean, come to think of it. What about her?”

“We were…talking…and she told us some things that we weren’t exactly sure what to make of,” she answered, before explaining everything that Bellatrix had said at the Shrieking Shack.

“She called you a WHAT?!” bellowed James, turning on Lily.

Sirius didn’t look happy either. A frown settled into his brooding face until James broke his reverie when he suddenly stalked off.

“Prongs, where are you going, mate?” Sirius called after him. He wore a small smile, as though he already knew the answer.

“To go hex that bitch, of course,” he said heatedly.

Lily’s eyes flashed dangerously. “I don’t need you to take care of me, Potter!” she spat. “So please contain your manliness for the girls over there—I’m quite capable of handling my own business.”

James stopped. “Yes, I’d forgotten. You are very capable, aren’t you?” He smiled, all remnants of his rampage vanishing and returned to Sirius’s side. “That’s what I like about you, Evans.”

Lily eyed him suspiciously, surprised at his willingness to cooperate for once.

“Anyway, Sirius, do you think Bellatrix meant anything by that?” persisted Summer. “Lily’s a little worried, is all.”

Sirius turned to Lily with a sigh. “I don’t think it’s anything, but your guess is as good as mine. That troll always wants to look like she knows more than everyone else. She’s probably bluffing. I wouldn’t recommend losing sleep over it.”

“All right. Just checking,” said Lily, embarrassed at the scene she had caused.

“Well now, must be getting back.” He nodded his head at the irritated girls he’d left waiting.

He paused as though giving them a chance to convince him to stay, before shooting them a wink and spinning around to saunter back to his fan club. Peter trailed after him, like a faithful dog and his master.

“Yes…duty calls,” grinned James. He tipped an imaginary hat and walked away.

Lily watched as the girls jumped up and down around him in welcome, enclosing him safely back into their crowd. She identified one of them as Mina St. Clair, a ridiculous blonde who played for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. She gave James’s hair a little rumple, much to Lily’s displeasure.

Lily turned away in revulsion and looked at Remus, who hadn’t rejoined his friends.

“Aren’t you gonna go off with them?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.” He rolled his eyes shyly. “I guess they’re just not my type. I mean, if it’s all right, I’d like to stay with you instead.”

Lily beamed.

“Sure!” she exclaimed, turning to her friends, who all nodded. “That’d be great. Want to go to Honeydukes?”

“Thanks a lot,” said Remus, smiling. He turned to call back to the rest of the Marauders. “I’ll see you lot later!”

Sirius and Peter waved indifferently but James shot him a quizzical look and stared as his friend walked away with Lily.

Remus ignored this, a pang of guilt forming in his conscience. It quickly vanished when Lily smiled kindly at him as they entered the candy store—that stunning smile that danced in her eyes. What business did James have, making him feel like a traitor for wanting to be around Lily? After all, she was certainly not his girlfriend. Anyone could see that was never going to happen. James was the one frolicking around in the company of half the girls in their year. He couldn’t have them all.

But, try as he might to justify himself, the tiny stab of guilt persisted. He had an odd, inexplicable gut feeling that he was disturbing something…Something big. Something he couldn’t understand.

Something destined to happen.



Chapter 4: Incredible
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: August 21, 2004



Suggested music: “Don’t Look Away” by Joshua Radin



 



Chapter Four



Incredible



 



“Good morning, Lily.”



 



Lily turned around in her seat at the Gryffindor table.  Remus Lupin was smiling at her as though he was still working up the guts to speak.



 



“Oh hello, Remus!” she said. Her voice rose; a little too cheerful, perhaps. 



 



She wondered what had motivated Remus to approach her alone. Spotting a Marauder without at least one of his cronies at his side was a rare event.  When all Remus did was sit down beside her, she concluded that maybe he simply woke up earlier than his friends. 



 



“Your match is against Ravenclaw, eh?” Remus was saying. “They are supposed to be good now that they’ve got Stanley Abbott as their new Chaser. Do you think the team will be ready by Saturday?”



 



“We should be, the way Potter is working us,” replied Lily. 



 



She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she saw Remus flinch at the name Potter.



 



“He has us practicing every night now since last week,” Lily continued, choosing to ignore whatever she’d seen. “It’s been hectic but if Ravenclaw is as good as they’re rumored to be, I reckon it’s all for the best.”



 



Remus’s eyes darted around the Hall. He caught sight of something that made his uneasiness grow.



 



“Er—see you in class, Lily,” he muttered, and hurried away from the table.



 



Bewildered, Lily looked around. James, Sirius, and Peter were sauntering into the Great Hall. They spotted Remus as he walked away from Lily’s end of the table. When they met at the center, Sirius asked Remus something Lily could not hear over the noise. Remus just shrugged.



 



“I have a very strange suspicion that Mr. Remus Lupin has got a little crush on you!” sang Summer, a grin appearing on her freckled face.



 



Lily turned back to her friends, who had witnessed the entire scene in silence, and picked up her spoon. 



 



Suspicion? Nothing’s ever been more obvious!” laughed Tara.



 



Di giggled. “Except for James Potter’s infatuation,” she said with an unusual slyness.



 



“Lily the heartbreaker!” taunted Tara. “Never thought you had it in you.”



 



Lily laughed, feeling her face grow hot. Secretly, she was thinking about how nice Remus always was. Did he really fancy her? 



 



She glanced down the table at Remus’s brown head as though it would give her an answer. Then she felt herself being watched by a pair of eyes at Remus’s side. For a fleeting moment, she looked into those eyes before they quickly flitted away from hers—not quick enough. Lily had noticed the glimmer of disbelief in place of the laughter that usually inhabited those hazel eyes.



 



Was James wondering the same thing?



 



 



*          *          *



 



The rest of the week flashed by in a blur of classes, Quidditch practices, and homework. Lily didn’t have a spare moment to think. One thing did manage to stand out from the blur. Remus had taken to bumping into Lily a lot more often than necessary. Whenever the opportunity arose, he walked her to class and offered to carry her books, while striking up some small talk. 



 



Rumors began to fly around the school. Suddenly, Lily found herself in the social spotlight of Hogwarts. People she had never spoken to approached her to ask questions like, “Are you dating Remus Lupin?” “What about James?” “What’s it like to kiss a Marauder?” “Why would you want to break up their friendship?”



 



They must have found it a particularly interesting bit of gossip, considering that James had made it clear long ago that he fancied Lily. Any male attention she received from other boys always ended mysteriously as soon as it began. He had seen to it that they never try to defy James Potter again. Fortunately for him, Lily never discovered why she never had a boyfriend.



 



But now the boy giving her the attention was another Marauder. The whole school seemed to be on the edge of their seats, watching and waiting to see what James would do.  They were disappointed when James did not seem to be bothered and Remus failed to make any further moves on Lily.



 



When Quidditch practice ended that evening, she and Di lumbered up to the castle and collapsed into their beds. James had worked them particularly hard that night in preparation for the match the next day. Lily was overwhelmed with exhaustion. She had no trouble following her captain’s strict instructions to get a good night’s sleep. But when she dropped into her bed with a sigh of deep satisfaction, only a few short minutes seemed to pass before she was shaken awake by Summer. 



 



Surely it couldn’t be morning already.



 



She lifted her eyelids with one great effort. Her bed was bathed in bright morning sunlight. Tara had already dragged Di out of bed and was about to advance on Lily.



 



“Rise and shine, my little Quidditch star!”



 



Making a wise decision based upon experience to get up without Tara’s assistance, Lily rose from the luxury of her bed and put on her Quidditch robes.



 



 



*          *          *



 



“Good morning and what a fine one it is for a Quidditch match! This should be a good one— Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw, last year’s opponents for the Cup! Gryffindor may have won that match but from what I hear, Ravenclaw has a good fighting chance now that they’ve recruited their new Chaser, Stanley Abbott. It will certainly be interesting to see who comes out on top.”



 



Rye Jordan’s jovial voice rang throughout the stadium. He was one of Tara’s four brothers, in his sixth year, taking up his usual post as commentator.



 



“The teams have come out onto the field….” He was drowned out by a blast of wild cheers from the crowd, welcoming their teams. “The Ravenclaw team includes the captain and Beater, Brad Pickens; Chasers Mina St. Clair, Stacia Campbell, and Stanley Abbott; the other Beater, Rodney McNeal; Keeper Nellie Murray; aaaand Seeker Ivan Tannus!” 



 



A blue wave of Ravenclaw supporters roared in response.



 



“The Gryffindor team, winner of the Quidditch Cup for four years running, includes the captain and Seeker, James Potter; Chasers, Diana Kendel, Lily Evans, and Jamal Brown; Beaters Frank Longbottom and Andrew Barry; aaaand Keeper Anna Linde!”



 



Another resounding jumble of cheers erupted, this time from the sea of red and gold.



 



“Potter and Pickens shake hands…the players mount their brooms…the Quaffle is released and the match begins! Evans immediately takes charge by grabbing the Quaffle and is now on her way toward the Ravenclaw goal posts. Does not waste time, that one! Murray follows her attempt to dodge nicely…but oh! YES! Evans shoots upward and SCORES! Very tricky! Ten points to Gryffindor! What a way to start the match!”



 



The Gryffindor side was applauding and screaming madly. Most of the other spectators looked disappointed, wanting Ravenclaw, the underdogs, to win.



 



“St. Clair has the Quaffle…she dodges a Bludger hit by Longbottom…passes to Campbell— Evans intercepts it! She passes to Brown…Abbott approaches him and Brown throws it down to Kendel. Kendel’s flying up to the goalposts, Pickens sends a Bludger her way—Oh! That was a close one!  Murray blocks her so she passes to Evans who is wide open! Evans shoots…and…SCORES AGAIN!”



 



The stadium thundered with the passionate whooping and hollering of the Gryffindors.



 



“So far no sight of the Snitch. Tannus and Potter are circling the field looking for action…Abbott has possession of the Quaffle. He dodges Brown…then Kendel, close shave though—he almost lost it. He avoids a Bludger hit by Barry—He is certainly a supreme flyer! He’s made it to the Keeper, swerves past her and…scores on Gryffindor! The score is now Ravenclaw, 10, Gryffindor, 20.”



 



And so it began. The Chasers on both sides played as though fighting for the World Cup. The Quaffle shot back and forth, the scores rising higher and higher. Rye tried, frantically, to keep track.



 



St. Clair scores and ties the game….Evans scores for a third time…Abbott dodges Linde and scores.…Kendel scores despite that Bludger hit by McNeal! Oh no…Campbell scores….Brown passes to Evans who scores AGAIN! Gryffindor now has 50 points and Ravenclaw is down by ten. Blimey, Lily Evans is on fire today!



 



It went on and on, the lead bouncing from Gryffindor to Ravenclaw and back. Ravenclaw stood their ground well at first but were soon worn down by the relentless Gryffindor Chasers, mainly Lily. She was indeed “on fire.” She scored again and again until not even Jamal or Di bothered to keep up. Soon the score was Gryffindor, 240, Ravenclaw, 90, and still, there had been no sign of the Snitch. The Gryffindor supporters had screamed themselves hoarse.



 



Lily took the Quaffle again and passed to Jamal when Abbott came up from behind her. Then she zoomed across the pitch to the Ravenclaw goalposts as Jamal soared up and around the weary Ravenclaws. McNeal shot a Bludger rocketing toward him. Jamal quickly chucked the Quaffle back to Lily to keep from losing it. Lily caught it and turned to face Nellie, who frowned in determination. She swerved left and right but Nellie reflected her every move. Then Lily faked a veer upward but at the last second, dipped down and heaved the Quaffle through the hoop.



 



“Another ten points to Gryffindor…” she heard Rye say, some of the initial enthusiasm gone from his voice.



 



“Wow, Evans! That was brilliant!” James called down to her from where he was hovering.



 



Lily almost blushed as she allowed herself a smile but something caught her eye from the other side of the pitch. Ivan Tannus had suddenly gone into a dive, gaining speed by the second. Lily’s eyes looked in the direction of where he was going and saw a tiny glimmer of gold near the ground.



 



“Potter! LOOK!” she shouted, whipping her arm in the direction of Ivan.



 



But she knew it was too late. James was much too far away to have a chance.



 



James whirled around and was off like a bullet. Lily watched as James sped faster and faster until he had actually caught up with Ivan. All of a sudden, the Snitch jerked a few more feet downward so that it was hardly a yard off the ground. Ivan pulled away to keep from crashing but James didn’t hesitate. A strange silence hung in the air as the spectators gaped at him, sure that he would smash into the ground and yet unable to look away. It would be impossible for him to survive at the speed he was going….



 



But James had no intention of turning away. He was nearly there…Lily slammed her eyes shut in terror.



 



Suddenly a deafening blare of cheers broke out, mixed with amazed ‘oohs!’ and relieved gasps. 



 



Lily snapped her eyes open and was astonished to see James soaring over the crowd, still very much alive. In one hand, he clasped something round and shiny. Lily didn’t dare let herself believe it but when James passed over her, he winked at her and she could clearly see that the thing in his hand was, remarkably, the Snitch. He had done it.



 



James flew back down to the field and landed among his wildly delighted team. Lily recovered from her shock and joined them in engulfing him in an enormous group hug. Gryffindors poured into the pitch and they were soon lost inside the swarm. 



 



When it finally died down a little, many people came to congratulate Lily, much to her surprise. Because of her spectacular performance, Gryffindor would have won even if James hadn’t caught the Snitch. 



 



Summer and Tara wove their way through the throng and embraced her, their mouths stumbling over their praises. Then Sirius, Remus, and Peter found her and Sirius lifted her up and spun her around. She laughed, too happy to remember how much she hated him. Peter shyly commended her and Remus hugged her lightly. 



 



All of this had been wonderful, but at the end of day, when she fell back into her bed with a sigh of contentment after hours of celebrating in the common room, one small part of her thrilling day jumped to her mind, so vivid, it cast Remus’s hug in grey.



 



Di had already gone up to the castle with the rest of the team when Lily finished changing out of her Quidditch robes in the locker room. She sat down on the bench, savoring the only few moments of peace she would have that day—she knew she could count on a rowdy party in the Gryffindor common room. Thinking she was alone, she nearly fell off the bench when she heard a door close behind her. She turned and saw James exiting the captain’s office.



 



His face brightened into a big smile. “Oh hello, Evans!”  There was no slickness behind his words. They were sincere and pure for once.



 



“Er—hi,” she replied, wondering why she suddenly felt shy.



 



He walked across the room and sat down beside her. There was a rather awkward pause.



 



“You were incredible today,” said James.



 



Their eyes met and he smiled again, his dimple deepening. Lily looked down at her lap. Her mind seemed to have been wiped blank.



 



“You really saved my ass…” he continued. “It was too close of a call. If you hadn’t scored all those points, it could have ended horribly. Now that wouldn’t look too good, it being my first match as captain….But, you know”—he grinned—“I got distracted.”



 



She looked at him and laughed.  



 



“Anyway, thanks a lot, Evans. You were the reason we won today.”



 



“Yes, well, you weren’t so bad yourself, Mr. Catch-the-Snitch-or-Face-Fatal-



Consequences,” she said, regaining her voice. “I couldn’t believe it till I saw it in your hand. I wasn’t watching but I’m sure it was an amazing catch.”



 



“You weren’t watching?” he asked, disappointed.



 



“Uh…no, I wasn’t,” Lily admitted slowly. “I shut my eyes because I was so afraid you were going to kill yourself.”



 



“Really?” James peered at her sideways. “I would have thought you’d move up closer to get a better view.”



 



“Why would you think that?” asked Lily.



 



“Oh come on—you always ignore me and you’ve made it quite clear how much you hate me,” he said bluntly.



 



“That doesn’t mean I want to watch you die! Of course you know that.”



 



“I have my doubts at times,” replied James, his voice low.



 



Lily looked away, frowning. “Trust me—though I do get very…frustrated with you, I would never want you to die.”



 



“That’s somewhat of a consolation, I suppose,” said James lightly. His eyes grew soft and wistful as he looked into her face. “It still doesn’t give me much hope…”



 



“What do you mean?”



 



“Isn’t it obvious?” He sighed and stood up.  “Never mind.” He ran a hand through his hair, his cool, offhand attitude returning. “So, what’s up with you and Moony?”



 



Lily was so taken aback by this abrupt question that it took a little while for her to realize what he was talking about. Oddly, she felt a strange surge of anger, as though Remus being in their conversation was intruding on something very pure and delicate. She didn’t want to discuss him at that moment.



 



“I don’t know,” she said shortly.



 



“Hmm…he hasn’t talked to me about it but anyone can see that he likes you,” said James. Lily could not read his tone.



 



A very strange, inexplicable resentment toward Remus came over her. She knew it was unreasonable but talking like this with James made her want to banish anything between herself and Remus. On the other hand, she waited anxiously to hear what James would say next, wondering vaguely why she wanted his opinion so badly.



 



“I think he should just ask you out and have it done with,” was James’s frank remark. Lily’s disappointment caught her off guard. “Enough of this waiting around nonsense. Anyway, I reckon we should go up to the castle. There’ll be a nice party waiting for us,” he said brightly.



 



So they walked to the Gryffindor Tower together in silence, where they were greeted with a wild, cheering crowd that forced Butterbeers and pasties, courtesy of Sirius, into their hands. Soon, they had lost each other in the midst of the celebration.



 



As Lily reflected upon the awkward conversation in the locker rooms, she wondered why she couldn’t get it out of her mind. It was only the second time she had seen James act somewhat decently.  He had stopped being an obnoxious show-off and let her get another glimpse of a different side of him. On both occasions, it was such a brief glimpse that it made her question whether she had actually witnessed it. Maybe she had just seen what she wanted to see in him. 



 



Lily hated the fact that she couldn’t understand him. She thought she had him figured out: a popular, spoiled jock with an overdose of confidence. Then he would hit her with these quiet moments of a kind, funny, intriguing person who had this endearingly self-deprecating manner. The annoying jock would fade into the background and she would find herself consumed with what he meant by it. And, on nights like these, it kept her awake.



 



In the end, she always remembered the times James had been cruel and haughty and decided that they outweighed any opposing behavior. Yes, that was all there was to it. Just because he wasn’t all bad, didn’t mean he was good.



 



However, when she finally nodded off, the words, “you were incredible today,” echoed in her head.









A/N:  What do you think?  I like this chapter for the locker room scene.  I think this is where my story finally takes on a shade of its own that sets it apart from the other fics.
 


Chapter 5: A Custom Rekindled
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: August 24, 2004





Suggested music: “Too Little Too Late” by Barenaked Ladies





 





Chapter Five





A Custom Rekindled





 





(Excerpt of Lily’s diary)





 





5th December





 





It has been almost three weeks since that Quidditch match against Ravenclaw but people are still talking about it. I thought that James would be in his element, with all this attention, but he’s being unbelievably modest. Every time someone compliments him on catching the Snitch, he pulls a Remus and says it was all because of me. When he does this, of course I have the grace to talk to him but I cannot let myself go any further than that because he always goes and hexes someone eventually—usually Severus—and I refuse to be fooled into thinking he’s gone soft again. I can’t trust him. 





 





All in all, not much has changed between us… and it probably never will.





 





Remus Lupin is hanging around with me quite a lot these days. We’ve been studying together on weekends and he goes to meals early and sits with me for a bit until James, Sirius, and Peter come down. I don’t think he wants his friends to see him with me even though I know they realize how much time he spends with me. James made that obvious after the match. Don’t get me wrong, Remus is a great guy but I’m beginning to understand what James meant when he said Remus should just ask me out and have it done with. James doesn’t seem to mind, so what is he so afraid of?





 





I don’t really know what to think of it all. I really like Remus but for some reason when I’m with him, it just doesn’t exactly feel rightI don’t feel right. Maybe I’m crazy but I can’t help it. That’s the only way I know how to explain it. He’s so nice and smart and interesting to talk to, I really don’t know why I’m being so stupid.





 





Anyway…I’ve been extremely busy. Andy warned me about the amount of homework we’d get in 7th year but I was never prepared for this. The teachers are ruthless! And then there’s Quidditch practice three nights a week, sometimes even four. 





 





I swear, Quidditch is the only thing James takes the least bit seriously! I don’t know why he worries so much…our next match is against Hufflepuff and it’s practically a given that we’ll beat them. But I have to admit, he’s an excellent captain.





 





Plus, I’m Head Girl, which is actually a lot more work than it sounds. We have to watch over the first and second-years during break now that it’s too cold to go outside and you’d be surprised at how much they try to get away with. And of course James is no help. He acts like he’s one of them.





 





Professor McGonagall has decided to pull my schedule even tighter. She called me into her office the other day after Transfiguration and told me that the school is going to hold a Christmas dance right before the holiday. Apparently, it used to be a school tradition. Dumbledore wants to rekindle the old custom and McGonagall asked me to be in charge of the dance committee! And get this—I have to actually find a committee. I’m supposed to find all the trustworthy, responsible students, both boys and girls, and get working as soon as possible. How the hell am I supposed to do that?





 





All of the girls I asked to help—Summer, Tara, and Di of course and about ten others— were more than willing, but none of the boys wanted anything to with it. The big idiots. I went to Remus, thinking I could count on him but he said that he wouldn’t be able to because he would be going home to visit his sick mother. The nerve of him! I would have settled for a simple, “no.”





 





I was desperate so I finally asked James and Sirius, though you couldn’t exactly call them trustworthy and responsible. But I couldn’t be picky. They actually said yes! Who would have thought?





 





Our first meeting is this Saturday. I hope everything goes okay.





 





In any case, I’m very excited for the dance. All my friends are going mad about who they should go with. I don’t suppose I’ll go with anyone unless Remus asks me. I doubt he will.  Then his dear friends would know that he fancies me. Oh well, I don’t really mind that much.





 





 





*          *          *





 





“Er— people? Sit down, please!” said Lily, trying to talk over the chatter of thirteen girls, James, and Sirius at the first Christmas Dance committee meeting.





 





She was surprised when the group heard her and obeyed accordingly. They all looked up at her expectantly.





 





“Thank you,” breathed Lily. “Er— as you all know, we’re here to plan the Christmas Dance. I think we should get started by brainstorming ideas. Just say anything that comes to mind and…I’ll record them.”





 





James spoke up first. “Sounds good. I think we should hire a band. How about the Burning Pumpkins?”





 





“No! The Troll Trio!” objected Sylvia McDavid.





 





“We’ll write all our ideas down first and then vote,” interjected Lily quickly.





 





“I think that our decorations should be really original…jaw-dropping!” said Tara. “Like you walk in the Hall and shabam!





 





“Yes, definitely. The decorations are the most important part of the dance!” agreed Marlene McKinnon. “There should be loads of huge Christmas trees and snow falling from the ceiling.”





 





“I was thinking that we could have some sort of a theme…Like a winter wonderland or something,” said Summer.





 





At this, the newly-appointed committee dove headfirst into their work. For hours the group spilled out all their thoughts and ideas. Lily was very pleased at how much material they had to work with for the next meeting.  





 





By then, the entire school had heard of the upcoming dance and people fourth-year and above became obsessed with finding dates. During the following weeks, girls were giggling madly wherever you turned in the corridors.   Guys slumped past them, debating about whether to ask them or not. Everybody was possessed by more than just the usual jolly Christmas spirit but by the excitement of the rare social event. 





 





Lily wasn’t too worried about the date situation but she loved the dance committee meetings. They had fun together, working in their unused classroom late into the night.





 





Her friends were a little more caught up in the frenzy of finding partners for the dance. Tara had been asked by several boys but she “just couldn’t make up her mind.” Summer turned down a few requests for various reasons and even Di had had her share of them. She eventually agreed to go with Edmus O’Connolly, a Gryffindor sixth-year with short brown hair and big blue eyes. 





 





Nobody asked Lily. She assumed that it had something to do with her pale skin or the fact that she was such a bookworm. In reality, many guys would have begged her to be their date but James had a way of strolling around the corner just as one of them thought they’d built up enough courage to ask. One menacing look shooed them away quite quickly, leaving Lily with no offers. Except for one, of course. Actually, she received loads of propositions— but they were all from one person; James. And in her mind, he didn’t count.





 





He sent her notes accompanied by flowers and candy everyday and approached her every time she walked down the corridor.  Spiteful girls were bitter with jealousy but Lily didn’t concern herself with what they thought. It wasn’t her fault James seemed to have made it his life goal to harass her at every opportunity. If she could figure out a way to make him stop, she would.





 





Then one day in the library, her dance partner situation was removed from her hands.





 





Lily, Summer, Tara, and Di were gathered around their usual table by the large window studying when Sirius and Remus joined them.





 





“Good afternoon, ladies,” said Sirius, as he propped his feet up on the table. 





 





“What are you doing here?” asked Summer.





 





“Studying,” shrugged Sirius. “What else?”





 





You? Studying?” asked Lily, amazed. “Do you even know what that is?”





 





“Yes, Evans, as a matter of fact I do,” he said, in an injured tone that no one took seriously. “I happened to be a pro at studying.”





 





He pulled a book entitled, Animagi Gone Wrong, out of his bag and opened it.





 





Animagi Gone Wrong?” queried Summer, looking puzzled. “What are you studying that for? It has nothing to do with our exams…and since when do you study Transfiguration? You and James are the best in our class.”





 





“Speaking of James, where is he? I didn’t think you guys ever traveled alone,” said Tara.





 





Sirius waved aside Summer’s questions and took the opportunity to change the subject.





 





“He’s been reading some Quidditch book his dad sent him all day. He didn’t want to come with us. And Peter’s getting tutored,” he said.





 





“Are you—?” Summer began to say, but Sirius cut her off quickly.





 





“Now that we’re on the subject of Prongs…who are you going to the dance with?”





 





“No one, but why are you avoiding all my questions?  What does James have to do with—?” began a bewildered Summer, but for the second time Sirius wouldn’t let her finish.





 





“Am I supposed to have a bloody answer for everything?” he said. “Anyway…do you want to go to the dance with me or not?”





 





He posed the question as though she had been deliberating the issue for ages. Summer didn’t look very surprised but she did seem sufficiently distracted.





 





“Fine,” she said, with an air of nobility.





 





Sirius leaned back in his chair and began to read with a satisfied sigh.





 





“Now we all have dates except Lily,” declared Tara, with a mischievous smirk and a scheming glint in her eye. “I suppose we can fix that.”





 





“Who have you decided on then?” wondered Lily.





 





“Well, it’s between Ivan Tannus and that sixth-year Hufflepuff, Harvey Rockman,” she said. “But at least I know I’ll have a date. You,on the other hand, need one.”





 





Tara always had a way of being able to say things that, coming from anyone else, would sound shockingly conceited without giving the slightest impression that she was snobby.





 





“No one wants to go with me,” said Lily calmly.





 





Tara snorted. Summer rolled her eyes, Di smiled knowingly and Sirius chuckled from behind Animagi Gone Wrong.





 





“What?” asked Lily, annoyed at being left out of some evident joke.





 





Tara just shook her head. “Nothing, nothing, my sweet, ignorant darling.”





 





“What she means is, we know of…at least one person who wants to go with you,” explained Summer patiently as though dealing with a cranky toddler.





 





Remus glanced up at the girls from behind a stack of books, (all having to do with Transfiguration).





 





Lily raised an eyebrow at Summer. “If you’re talking about Potter—”





 





“We’re not talking about Potter,” said Summer, imitating Sirius by butting in halfway through Lily’s sentence.





 





“Come on, Lil, it’s obvious. We all know Remus here would love to take you to the dance,” said Tara.





 





Remus flushed a little at the baldness of this statement but appeared to be in no hurry to object. He wouldn’t make eye contact with Lily, who also avoided his gaze.





 





“Someone needs to take action…” continued Tara. “Remus, will you go to the dance with Lily?”





 





“If she wants—” he stammered timidly.





 





“She does. So what do you say?”





 





“Yeah, sure.”





 





“Good. Then it’s all settled. Thanks to us, right, Sum?” concluded Tara happily, giving Summer a high-five.





 





Lily finally looked across the table at Remus. There was a wide smile on his face as he looked back down at his book.





 





 












A/N:  Remus and Lily sitting in a tree....


Haha.  My shortest and probably least favorite chapter.  But it had to be done to show the passing of time, you know?  So I've gritted my teeth and kept the dopey thing.
Review, review, REVIEW.


Chapter 6: Dipping and Spinning
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First published: August 29, 2004



Suggested music: “#41” by Dave Matthews Band



 



Chapter Six



Dipping and Spinning



 



The last days of term were always met with a certain amount of anticipation but this year, there was no comparison. No one could concentrate in class, if they even bothered to try, and the teachers were growing weary of attempting to hold their students’ attention for longer then five minutes at a time. Most of them had given up and let them do what they please, with the obvious exceptions of Professors McGonagall and Rynda.



 



Talk of the dance was on everyone’s lips and there was a feverish energy in the air.



 



Finally, the morning of the long-awaited event arrived. Even nature seemed to rise to the occasion: up until that very day, dull shades of brown and gray had coated the grounds and the trees had been bare and skeletal. Not a trace of a snowflake had been seen in the bland gray sky. But at sunrise on the day of the dance, early risers in the school were overjoyed to see big fluffy snowflakes drifting down about the castle, tenderly tucking the dreary world under a fuzzy white blanket. 



 



This was an added bonus to the already festive atmosphere. Anyone who paused for a moment to gaze out a window felt a tingle of youthful excitement, whether they were an old, white-bearded professor or a small, hopeful first year, itching to throw a snowball. 



 



Many of the students did just that. After breakfast, a mob of them rushed outside, resulting in a snowball fight that was sure to go down in history. They spent hours scrambling around, chucking handfuls of snow at each other and hastily building shelters.



 



Lily, Summer, Tara, and Di wisely forged a group of allies with the majority of the Gryffindors and became a major force. They had the biggest fort and for quite awhile, they met no competition. Then a certain group of boys destroyed the thick walls of the fort with a flick of a wand and attacked, tackling everybody with no mercy.



 



At first, there was wild confusion but soon people began fighting back, only to find that these boys had no thoughts of weakening. Most ended up sliding away as stealthily as possible in fear of getting a chunk of snow shoved viciously down the backs of their cloaks. Even brave Gryffindors have their limits.



 



Only Lily, Tara, Summer, and Di were left, gallantly wrestling away with all their strength, the spitefulness toward their enemies empowering them. They were so engrossed in preventing defeat that they were quite oblivious to the hours that had passed. Finally, Lily paused to catch her breath after a long struggle against Sirius and glanced at her watch. 



 



“Damn! It’s later than I thought! We have to get inside and get the Hall ready for the dance!”



 



Summer, who had continued what Lily had started, was in a tousle with Sirius, Di was fighting off Remus and Tara had Peter in a headlock and was been about to give him a nice whitewash when Lily brought them all back to reality. 



 



Lily looked around to see where James had gone and saw him standing behind her holding a giant chunk of snow over her head. Lily slapped at it and it shattered in James’s face. She laughed triumphantly as they all heaved themselves up and trudged back to the school, panting in post-battle exhaustion. 



 



Remus and Peter left them at the dance committee room and headed toward the Gryffindor Tower. The rest of the committee was already there, so they grabbed the plans and materials and walked down to the Great Hall to prepare it for the dance.



 



 



*          *           *



 



“Ready to go blow our dates away with our ravishing beauty?” asked Tara, laughing.



 



The four girls were up in their dormitory getting themselves ready, having finished decorating the Hall. Although they may not actually “blow their dates away,” they all looked very beautiful.



 



Lily wore simple dress robes of a glimmering shade of emerald green. She had pulled some of her red locks away from her face with a clip, revealing her flushed cheeks and shining eyes.



 



Summer was dressed in sky blue robes that matched her eyes. Diana had her curly hair held up in a bun with little spirals of brown framing her face and dangling around her ears. Her robes were pale yellow, thinly lined with white lace. Tara’s robes were a brilliant shade of scarlet, coordinating with her flaming personality.



 



They had rolled their eyes at the girls who had giddily tittered their way through the corridors for the past few weeks, casting not-so-discreet looks at boys through their eyelashes but the truth was, the four of them were thrilled with the prospect of the dance.



 



They skipped down to the common room where Sirius, Remus, and Edmus O’Connolly waited among several other nervous-looking boys. Sirius, looking exceptionally handsome in his dark blue robes, immediately linked arms with Summer and they strolled off together, chatting comfortably. 



 



Tara followed them so she could meet her dates in the Entrance Hall. She still hadn’t been able to decide which one to go with so she had accepted both Ivan and Harvey. Lily doubted they knew that they were going to have to share Tara but she looked forward to seeing their reaction.



 



Edmus looked shyly at Di and mumbled a compliment before they climbed awkwardly through the portrait hole. 



 



Remus, dressed in robes of deep red, gave Lily his warm smile.



 



“Hello,” he said slowly. “You look very pretty.”



 



“You look nice, too,” replied Lily politely. “Shall we go down?”



 



“Yeah, let’s go.”



 



Off they went, following a trail of other Gryffindors, who were talking and laughing loudly ahead.



 



“So, I reckon you’re excited for the dance,” said Remus, after a pause.



 



“Yeah, but I have to admit I’m very nervous about the whole thing. After all the work we put into it, I really hope it goes well,” said Lily.



 



“There’s no doubt that it will with you in charge,” he said kindly.



 



“Thanks, but I won’t be able to completely relax until it’s over,” Lily laughed.



 



They reached the Entrance Hall, where a crowd of students had already assembled, beckoning to each other. Tara had found Ivan and Harvey—they were glaring daggers at the other behind her back. Neither one seemed to want to back out after learning that they weren’t Tara’s only date, preferring partake in a fierce struggle for her attention. Though she didn’t show it, Lily knew Tara was watching them and inwardly rolling with laughter.



 



As Remus and Lily stood waiting to be let inside the Great Hall amongst the bustling throng of students, they were fully occupied with the task of greeting all their friends and their dates.



 



Couple after couple passed by and chatted briefly: Rye Jordan and Gwyneth Stevens, Frank Longbottom and Alice Philips, Anna Linde and Jamal Brown, Jack Spinnet and Marlene McKinnon, Benjy Fenwick and Paulina Barry, Andrew older sister, Sylvia McDavid and Gideon Prewett, Linesa Richards and Gideon’s little brother, Fabian.



 



They also saw some people who weren’t so friendly: Bellatrix Black and her date, Chad Nott, Nolminta Meliflua, and Delilah Avery with two other Slytherin boys. She was vaguely glad not to see any signs of Severus Snape so that James and Sirius couldn’t make a scene and spoil the dance.



 



Lily noticed that Mina St. Clair was with Stanley Abbott, Nellie Murray was paired with Rodney McNeil, and Stacia Campbell was on Nick Farley’s arm but all the girls seemed to be scanning the crowd for someone else and were too absorbed in this to pay much attention to their dates. Lily wondered momentarily who they could be so anxious to see but her thoughts were interrupted by the doors of the Great Hall slowly swinging open.



 



A series of shocked but delighted gasps and met Lily’s ears and she saw many jaws drop—just as Tara had sought after. 



 



The Hall was truly magnificent. The board had voted on the Winter Wonderland theme. Everything was white and glittery in the candlelight, charmed to sparkle like real snow. There were dozens of little round tables decked with silky white tablecloths, big red and white bouquets of flowers, and silver dishes. Giant fir trees lined the walls, decorated with clouds of twinkling snowflakes, shiny blue ornaments, and tinsel. Snowmen placed among the trees and tables sang Christmas carols in unison in merry voices. 



 



Icicles and holly covered everything and enchanted snow fell from the ceiling past flickering candles floating in large clusters above the tables, dance floor, and stage. The dance floor was made to look exactly like an iced pond in the middle of the floor and the stage, where the Burning Pumpkins and their equipment stood preparing to make music, was frosted with glistening flecks of snow. Altogether, it was a breathtaking sight and Lily was thrilled by their success.



 



The students and teachers all settled down at the quaint little tables and enjoyed a very satisfying dinner. Lily and Remus’s table was very tightly crammed because of the large group of people who had squeezed in a chair at odd places. They sat with Summer and Sirius, Edmus and Di, Tara, Ivan and Harvey, Peter, who had failed to find a date, and James. 



 



James had shown up a little late in dark green robes looking cheerful as usual but most definitely alone. Lily was struck by how odd this was when she considered all the girls who would think their life complete if James was their date. She wouldn’t have believed James’s ego would permit him to come alone.



 



Had Lily been one to spare many thoughts on herself, she may have realized exactly why James was single that night. She might have noticed his eyes sneaking longing glances of at her all through dinner. But, as Lily hadn’t a speck of arrogance, she never dreamed that she was the only girl James Potter had any desire to dance with.



 



When they all finished eating, the band began to play the first song. A few people went boldly out onto the dance floor. Sirius led Summer out and Tara brought both Ivan and Harvey with her.  Before the song ended, almost everybody was dancing. 



 



Lily danced in a group with her friends during the fast songs and when a slow song began to play, she would find Remus and revolve slowly in a circle with him, feeling a little dumb but very happy just the same.



 



She was very pleased to see that everything was going according to plan. The only thing that didn’t was predictably due to James and Sirius, who had charmed the snowmen to lob snowballs at passersby. She decided to overlook them and even laughed at the prank, especially when one roguish snowman hit Bellatrix square in the face, causing her to shriek maniacally.



 



The dance was almost over when Lily, Summer, Tara, and Di found their way back to their table for a break. James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Edmus, Ivan and Harvey quickly joined them and they all relaxed for awhile, talking and watching their classmates dance vigorously in their multi-colored robes.



 



“Looks like our dance is a hit,” said Sirius proudly.



 



“The Hall looks brilliant,” agreed Edmus, his big eyes looking at his surroundings with approval.



 



“I think the snowmen are the nicest touch,” averred James solemnly.



 



“Another slow song is starting,” said Summer, turning to her date. “Do you want to sit this one out?”



 



“Never! Let’s go dance, m’dear!” cried Sirius, as he jumped up and seized Summer’s hand.



 



“You danced with Ivan last time, Tara. It’s my turn,” said Harvey earnestly. 



 



“No! It’s definitely my turn!” argued Ivan.



 



“Hmm…I can’t remember. I think it was Ivan. Wait, no, it was Harvey. Actually…” said Tara, gravely contemplating with a twinkle in her eye. “I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to dance with Harvey for the first half of the song and Ivan for the second half,” was her logical solution.



 



She guided Harvey out to the dance floor. Ivan followed closely to make sure he got his turn. Then Edmus took Di’s hand and led her away, leaving Lily, Remus, Peter and James at the table. Lily looked to Remus but it was James who spoke up.



 



“You know, I really like this song. I think I’d like to dance. How ‘bout it, Evans? You don’t mind, do you, mate?” he asked with all his graceful charm and an appealing grin.



 



Remus just laughed and shook his head. James grabbed Lily’s arm and quickly pulled her out of her seat and onto the floor. She sighed but decided not to waste energy objecting. Besides, she wasn’t in the mood to be cold and dignified.



 



Her new dance partner twirled her about playfully and let her fall into a dip. Lily found herself laughing in his arms without really thinking about what was happening. She imagined what people were thinking at that moment when they saw her dancing in such a goofy way with none other than James Potter. What a scandal.



 



Then Lily looked up into his face. He smiled down at her, that big, lone dimple in his left cheek deeper than ever. Everybody else and what they were thinking immediately disappeared from her mind. It was so easy to relax while dancing with James that she just let loose, something Lily didn’t ordinarily do. All of her worries and anxiety slipped away. She became oblivious to the filthy looks she was receiving from girls like Mina St. Clair and immense surprise on her friends’ faces when they saw her. 



 



She amazed even James when she gratefully rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, feeling the music inside of her. He was secretly wondering how this could be happening to him and how she was managing to keep her head from bouncing off his chest when his heart was beating so fiercely.



 



But he didn’t mind. Not at all.



 



James wished the song would last forever so he wouldn’t have to let her go. But, in what seemed like seconds, the song ended and he forced his arms to drop to his sides. Lily seemed to awaken from some sort of dreamlike state. She lifted her head and thanked him, looking a little dazed. Then she walked back to the table and sat down next to Remus. 



 



To be sure, he felt like he must have been dreaming himself. Everybody was acting as though nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. Which was insane—his world was spinning in circles. It didn’t seem right to go on with everyday life after being close so to Lily Evans. Nothing could ever compare that. Would he ever feel content again? 



 



Around James, students continued to dance, not noticing that it was nearing midnight. Nor did they notice when the doors of the Great Hall opened and a man, pale and harried, rushed in. He scanned the Hall, quickly spotted Dumbledore, who was waltzing with Professor Alenas, and wove his way toward him. The mysterious man whispered something in the headmaster’s ear before leading him out of the room. A moment later, Dumbledore returned, his face unreadable, and said something to Professor McGonagall in undertone. 



 



Then he vanished. 



 



McGonagall’s eyes widened and she sat, motionless, for a few minutes after the headmaster’s departure. Then, shaking out of her reverie, she stood up, just as the Burning Pumpkins finished the last song of the evening. 



 



The students, unaware of what their teachers were up to, clapped and cheered for the band. McGonagall waited for the chaos to subside before stepping onto the stage and motioning for her students to take a seat.



 



“I am very pleased about the success of this event and would like to recognize our wonderful band, the Burning Pumpkins,” she said, her voice shaking. “I would also like to thank Lily Evans and the dance committee for working so hard to put it all together.”



 



A roar of applause erupted; Lily’s table in particular went wild. The professor waited for them to quiet down again before continuing.



 



“Now—it is my duty to inform you of some terrible news.”



 



She paused and took a deep breath.



 



“Diagon Alley has been attacked. It cannot be said how many have died yet but the number is looking grave. As of now, I do not know the details of who’s responsible. Professor Dumbledore has just gone to assist the Ministry. I am afraid that the wizarding community is in great danger.”



 








A/N: Like it?  
Thanks for reading!
Review.
It's fun, trust me.
Yours,
Potteress


Chapter 7: The First of Many
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


First posted: September 18, 2004



Suggested music: “The Freshman” by Verve Pipe



 



Chapter Seven



The First of Many



 



A dazed silence took possession of the Hall with the abruptness of a deafening roar that might have occurred in its place. Lily thought she would have preferred noise to this earsplitting stillness that sent an icy current through her veins.



But no one spoke for several minutes—minutes that seemed to drag on for centuries. The students didn’t seem to comprehend McGonagall’s words. The professor had braced for a crowd of terrified children but they neither looked nor acted frightened. When they finally did speak, all they wanted was more information, something she could not give them. They all looked up to her for answers and assurance but McGonagall, with a sickening feeling of guilt, could provide them with neither.



This, if anything, is what scared Lily and probably most of her classmates; The uncertainty, the questions left unanswered. It was all too vague and unfamiliar for their young minds to wrap around. 



Moments before, in blissful ignorance, they had been laughing and dancing, with nothing to care about but the trivial problems that marred their otherwise secure world. Suddenly, they were forced to acknowledge something larger than anxiety about a test or whether or not they would have a date. It cast a haze over their clear, premeditated futures and twisted them till they were no longer recognizable. When, seconds before it was clear, the students could now only guess what the next few days would bring. It was shocking, like a lightning storm after years of flawless weather.



When the Gryffindors returned to the tower, what they had thought would be a night of animated discussions and recounts of the dance, contained nothing but muttered “goodnights” before they trudged quietly off to bed. The stark change in the fervently joyful atmosphere left them all overcome with exhaustion. They didn’t know what to think, much less what to say to each other.



Not much had changed by the following morning. As usual, the students ate breakfast down to the Great Hall, which was back to its everyday appearance. Professor McGonagall, who, Lily noticed, looked very troubled, failed to give them any more details than the previous night. They all looked nervously to the chair at the center of the head table that was still empty.



Then there was the process of last minute packing, riding to Hogsmeade station in the horseless carriages, and boarding the Hogwarts Express. Everyone talked and acted as they would have if they had never heard about the Diagon Alley attack. Lily felt strange going about her day as though nothing was wrong when they all knew that outside of the grounds, miles away, wizards and witches were in danger, possibly losing lives at that very moment. But the people around her seemed to have come to an unspoken conclusion that it had nothing to do with their own lives so they might as well enjoy the last few hours with their friends before the holiday. Outwardly, Lily went along, though it made her feel rather ill.



Lily, Summer, Tara, and Di found an empty compartment toward the back of the train and talked about what they hoped to get for Christmas and how they each planned to celebrate the holiday. The hours passed quickly and they did not notice the darkness stealthily encompassing the train until the lanterns flickered on.



At that point, the compartment door slid open and the Marauders walked in.



“Good evening, ladies,” greeted James, a rare tone of gravity in his voice. “Have any of you seen today’s Daily Prophet?”



“No, why?” asked Summer.



“Because it finally tells us something about this attack,” said Sirius.  “Remus just got his copy. Are you interested?”



He took a folded newspaper from Remus and held it out to Summer, who snatched it. Then he settled himself across from her and stretched out his legs. 



Peter parked himself next to Tara. No one noticed the peculiar look that flashed across James’s face when he saw Remus take the seat next to Lily. Normally, James would have swept into that seat whether he was wanted there or not, but now that Lily and Remus were practically a couple, it didn’t seem appropriate. Instead, he took the seat next to Sirius without another moment’s hesitation. Everyone felt that there was something oddly wrong about this arrangement, but no one said anything.



Summer straightened out the crinkled newspaper in preparation to read and Lily, sitting beside her, saw the big, bold heading and the black and white photo below of a skull with a serpent protruding from its mouth in a starlit sky.



Slowly, Summer began to read aloud:



 



Diagon Alley Under Attack!



 






At approximately 7:30 pm yesterday evening, Diagon Alley was struck by an unforeseen attack. The complex of all-wizard shops was bombarded by about one hundred black-robed wizards Apparating at once among the crowd of Christmas shoppers in the street.



            “One second, people were bustling about, doing their shopping. The next, loads of masked men appear and it turns into a scene of total havoc,” says an extremely flustered Mr. Fortescue, owner of Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. He was fortunate enough to escape harm and was able to give some details to a Ministry official.



            The members of the mysterious party immediately began throwing around the Killing Curse, a severe Unforgivable, to any ill-fated bystander, “as…if they were merely Disarming them,” quotes Mrs. Dorellus to an investigator, who watched from inside Flourish and Blott’s bookstore. “I heard them call themselves ‘Death Eaters.’ It’s no wonder.” She shudders before bursting into a flow of tears.



The so-called Death Eaters continued to raid the stores and alleys, evidently searching for any known ‘muggleborns’ or ‘half-bloods,’ instantly killing the ones they found. Aurors arrived on the scene as soon as they got wind of the attack but for many it was too late.



“Those who weren’t killed or severely injured by other Unforgivables are suffering from severe trauma,” reports Auror Smith Ganders, looking very distressed.



The entire force of trained Aurors appeared as soon as they caught wind of the attack but had no chance to capture any of the perpetrators. As soon as they came, the Dark Wizards Diapparated, leaving the devastated Alley scattered with limp bodies and a bright green symbol (as shown in photo above), floating in the sky above the destruction.



Since then, St. Mungo’s Hospital has been packed with victims of the attack and the Ministry has been working relentlessly to repair the damage.



When asked if this sort of disturbance had been expected at all, the Head Auror gravely admits that they’d heard of a new Dark Arts terrorist club being formed but no, they had never been prepared for anything this extreme.



As of now, the number of casualties ranges from 120-140; the vast majority of them ‘muggleborns’ and ‘half-bloods.’ Never, in at least half a century, has something of this severity and degree of damage taken so many lives from our community. This will undoubtedly leave a scar in wizarding history and in the hearts of those who have suffered losses.



The Ministry, having very limited information concerning the identities or whereabouts of this group called Death Eaters, implores the community to be extremely cautious and aware. The Death Eaters are presently at large and it is unknown where or when they will strike next. They also assure the public that they are doing everything in their power to acquire more details so that justice and safety can reign again.





 



Summer stopped reading at this point and looked up at the seven intent listeners with fearful eyes. Lily met them, her own eyes wide and brimming with tears. She didn’t know what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. The article had provided them with the facts they had craved but it had not supplied the ease or comfort she had subconsciously been hoping for.



She sighed deeply and looking down, saw Remus inch his hand closer toward Lily and fold it gently over her own. Lily squeezed his warm hand in response. 



It was done so discreetly that no else noticed any unusual interaction between the two. At least, that’s what they thought. However, they both underestimated James’s observation skills which were extraordinarily quick to pick up even the slightest details connected to Lily. 



Lily raised her head and faced her friends. “Why did this happen? There was no forewarning at all?” she asked quietly.



“Apparently not,” replied Sirius darkly. “I wonder what my parents think of this… Actually, no, I don’t. I don’t want to know. I’m just glad I’m going to your house, Prongs, so I don’t have to put up with them.”



“Your parents…wouldn’t actually…like the fact that this happened…would they?” Lily asked him tentatively. 



“They probably won’t exactly support all the killing but I’m sure they’ll be overjoyed to know that all those muggleborns are gone now,” he said, with a dull glint in his eyes.



The four girls gasped. Of course they believed him. In spite of his name, Sirius was so rarely serious and on the occasions that he was, you could count on him to be honest. 



Sirius just sighed and looked out the window, a brooding look settling into his dark features. No one spoke for several minutes.



“They can’t possibly get away with this! The Ministry will find out who these Death Eater people are and put them in Azkaban,” said Remus suddenly, shaking his head.



“Yes, they must! How could they just let them all walk free?” cried Tara.



“They better catch those stupid, evil, murdering gits before they do anything else—anything worse,” growled James. His hazel eyes were alight with fury.



“How could it be possible for them to do anything worse than what they’ve already done?” wondered Di.



“Anything’s possible,” said Sirius pensively. “You don’t know how some wizards’ minds work. Blood is the only thing that means anything to them. They loathe muggleborns and some are willing to go to any lengths to get rid of them…and…they think it’s right.”



He uttered the last few words through a disgusted shudder.



“But at least the Ministry will be more prepared if there’s a next time. Which I doubt will happen anyway. The Aurors are sure to catch them soon,” said Tara, though she sounded somewhat hesitant.



“It won’t be easy for them. There were at least a hundred of those Death Eaters in Diagon Alley and it says here that they were all wearing masks,” said Remus, indicating the Daily Prophet that had slid from Summer’s hands to the floor by her feet.



“Yes, it will be difficult to find out who these horrid people are but they’re up against the whole Ministry…a Ministry that has been humiliated, no less,” Summer said emphatically. “Really, how long can they last out there?”



“I don’t have much faith in our Ministry,” replied Sirius contemptuously. “I mean, they were thick enough to let all this happen, weren’t they? They were completely oblivious to any dark plots at all and they couldn’t even catch one of the hundred Death Eaters.”



“Where do you think they’d attack next…if they did?” Peter asked no one in particular.



“Maybe Hogsmeade…anywhere there are muggleborns, I suppose,” answered Lily, not looking directly at anyone.



Remus gave her hand a little squeeze. Then something she had heard awhile ago, long forgotten, sprung to life, replaying inside her head all at once. 



Things are going to start changing and mudbloods are first on the list to go. 



Bellatrix must have known this was coming. Maybe her parents had been under two of those black masks in Diagon Alley. Lily suddenly understood why Sirius had acted the way he had when they confronted him about his cousin that day in Hogsmeade. She shivered involuntarily, imagining a family like that.



Summer noticed her shiver and put a comforting arm around Lily’s shoulder.



“What if they attacked the school?” asked Peter, fearful for his own safety.



James shook his head. “They have no chance of doing that. Dumbledore would never let that happen to Hogwarts.”



They all nodded slightly in agreement. 



Suddenly a burst of giggles broke out from the compartment next-door. They fell silent, listening to the laughter, each wondering how people could laugh while the wizarding world was in peril. Whoever was laughing probably hadn’t seen the article in the Daily Prophet and were blissfully unaware of the true danger of the situation. Their conversation was free from such things as the Ministry’s ability to save the crisis or future attacks. 



At that moment, the train slowed to a stop and slowly, the group was pulled from their dark thoughts that burdened their minds. 



The girls got up to gather their belongings and the Marauders bid them goodbye and left to get their own. Remus, on the contrary, watched his friends depart then turned to Lily, who was bent over her trunk.



“Er—Lily?”



Lily straightened and gave him a confused sort of smile. Summer, Tara, and Di continued with what they were doing, though all three of them had sharpened their ears in interest.



“So. Doing anything special over the holiday?” he asked, clearly trying to be as casual as possible.



“No, not really. Just family stuff, you know. What about you?”



“Yeah, just family stuff…nothing special,” he answered. Then he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and continued. “Um— I was wondering if we could get together some time over the break. Maybe get lunch or something?”



“Sure, that would be nice,” said Lily brightly, a little surprised, but pleasantly so. “Just send me an owl whenever and we can work out a day.”



Lily nodded. Remus exhaled, as though he had been holding his breath for the past few minutes. His tense face relaxed into a big smile.



She looked around and became aware of the absence of her friends, who had taken their things and quietly left the compartment to give them some privacy.



“I guess I’ll see you then,” he said with a grin.



Then, as if struck by a gust of confidence, he bent down and softly kissed her smiling lips in one swift movement. Lily, amazed by his boldness, smiled wider.



“Yes…can’t wait!”



“Well, bye. Happy Christmas, Lily,” said Remus and practically skipped out of the compartment.



Lily jumped around and grabbed her things, feeling much livelier than she had five minutes before. She walked off the train with a bounce in her step despite the heavy trunk she was dragging. Out on the platform, Summer, Tara, and Di found her, their eyebrows raised in anticipation.



So?! What happened?” Tara demanded.



“Well,” began Lily slowly. “He asked to see me over the holiday-”



“Yeah, yeah. We heard that! Then what?” cried Tara impatiently.



“He just said he’d see me then,” shrugged Lily, enjoying the opportunity to tantalize her friends.



“That’s all? He didn’t…do anything else?” asked Summer.



“He did…um…well…” Lily said, loving the effect of suspense had on her friends.



“Just tell us, Lily!” cried Di, who was rarely driven to aggravation.



“Alright! He…kissed me,” Lily said reluctantly, giggling a little.



Summer made a triumphant gesture with her fist, Tara hooted, and Di laughed.



“How was it?” Tara inquired, wiggling her eyebrows playfully as they began to walk toward the exit. “Is he a good kisser?”



“It was just a little kiss. Nothing…long or anything like that,” explained Lily, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “But it was nice.”



“I suppose you’re looking forward to some more of that, eh?” said Summer slyly, nudging Lily’s arm as they emerged from the platform through the steel barrier. “You’ll get the perfect chance when you see him over the holiday.”



Lily blushed.



“Lily!” called a deep, familiar voice. “Over here!”



“Dad!” shouted Lily, and pushed her way though the crowd toward where her parents stood, beaming.



Her father engulfed her in an enormous hug and planted a juicy raspberry on her cheek, something her had done ever since she was an infant.



“Oh, my baby!” exclaimed her mother, and as soon as Lily was released, she was swept up in another strangling embrace.



“What are you looking so happy about…aside from seeing us?” asked her dad with a knowing grin.



“Bye Lil! We’ll talk to over the holiday!”



As Lily turned around at the sound of Summer’s voice, her attention focused on a girl with shiny dark hair and heavy-lidded eyes talking with a woman with identical drooping eyelids. Bellatrix noticed Lily looking at her and shot her a sneering smirk.



Lily went cold as the Death Eater attack came rushing back to her. Perhaps that woman had been part of it. She quickly broke eye contact and waved absently to her friends before leaving the station under her mother’s loving arm.



 



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



 



The air filled with a series of piercing popping noises and as quickly as they had come, the dark masked figures were gone. 



With them went the desperate feeling of utter confusion, turmoil, and terror that had swarmed the scene so thickly that it was suffocating to those in the midst of it. Behind them they left what had been a cheerfully busy street filled with happy families preparing for the holiday as a place where destruction, pain, and loss flooded every corner. 



It had transformed from a source of liveliness and joy to a dark, shadowy grave, poisoned by murder and unmerciful hatred. A deathly silence followed the abrupt departure of those responsible for the transformation. It stung deep into the unfortunate souls who had been so harshly forced to witness it, forever scarring them. The eerie silence screamed with agonizing grief and fear. It deafened the onlookers and the most they could do was stand motionless in shock.



They had watched helplessly as the lives of their friends and loved ones were viciously stolen without as much as a breath of warning. They had watched as people around them fell to the ground, flailing in pain, their eyes pleading to be killed to end the brutal torture. They had watched the beginning of the end of the beloved world they knew.



Then, with sudden realization, safety had temporarily returned, the survivors quickly hustled about the darkened street, tending to victims who had been spared. 



The snow-covered alley glistened with a foreboding, greenish glow. The source of the unnatural tint came from above. A mark hovered high in a deep, black sky scattered with stars that continued to twinkle innocently despite the tragedy below. The mark was comprised of tiny emerald stars, forming a colossal skull with a long serpent hanging from its mouth like a tongue. 



Next to this sinister image was a message engraved into the night sky, the letters of which were made up of the same small green stars. The message read:



 



BEHOLD THE WORK OF LORD VOLDEMORT, THE GREATEST SORCEROR IN THE WORLD



 



The wizarding population was introduced to Voldemort that night. He would soon become known as the Dark Lord as he brought more and more evil into the world, destroying and tarnishing lives without a second thought. It wouldn’t be long before members of the community could not even bring themselves to speak his name. Future generations would be taught to fear him. 



It wouldn’t be until a certain baby boy, unbeknownst to anyone at that time, entered the world blinking his big green eyes, would hope be restored. This newly risen Dark Lord had many years before he would meet his young equal and for now, he planned to rule with fear and hatred.



The world changed that fateful December night when Lord Voldemort left his first mark on the lives of the hardworking and the innocent, on the hearts of the tender and the loving. 



The first mark, of many to come.



 



 








A/N: REVIEW! REVIEW!

Chapter 8: Part II: Revolution, Chapter 8: Better Off
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Part II: Revolution



 



 



First posted: September 19, 2004



Suggested music: “Infidel” by Five for Fighting



 



Chapter Eight



Better Off



 



 



Christmas came and went without anything remotely significant happening. Lily celebrated it quietly at home with her family. She enjoyed spending time with her parents but being near Petunia proved to be very unpleasant as always. 



 



Lily had gone home with a firm resolution to be kind to her sister, hoping she might respond nicely to compassion. As horrible as Petunia could be, Lily didn’t want to lose her completely.



 



When Lily entered the house, Petunia had been sitting at the kitchen table reading a magazine.



 



“Hello, Petunia. How are you? You look lovely today. That hairstyle is very becoming,” Lily had said brightly.



 



Petunia hadn’t show the faintest indication that she noticed Lily come into the room, but continued to flip through the pages of the magazine.



 



Petunia Evans! Your sister is speaking to you! You haven’t seen her in four months!” her mother rebuked, evidently shocked at her older daughter’s behavior.



 



Petunia looked up slowly, and without the slightest change in expression said, “Hello, I was fine, thank you.”



 



The way she spoke the words was so cold she might as well have stated that she wished Lily was dead and it would have given the same impression. Then she stood, picked up the magazine and walked out of the room.



 



Lily’s mother watched her leave, speechless with horror. Lily dropped into a chair. 



 



She felt like she had been slapped in the face. She had truly lost her only sister. It had never been so clear until that moment. She had always believed they would grow out of their differences and be friends again but suddenly, they were grown. And nothing had changed. 



 



“Oh, Lil, I’m so sorry,” said her mother, as she sat down next to Lily and took her hand. “I can’t believe she was so rude. Don’t worry, love. I’ll talk to her and she’ll come around and apologize.”



 



Later that night, Petunia did apologize after a long argument with her mother but her tone was no different. Lily realized with a sickening pang that Petunia would never be sorry. This wasn’t the ordinary sibling rivalry quarrel. Nothing would change as long as she remained a witch. Lily simply nodded after Petunia had finished and went quietly to her room. Even if Petunia had never been the greatest sister, they were still family.



 



Throughout the rest of the holiday, Lily bonded with her mother and father, staying cheerful and trying not to think about the fact that she and Petunia had finally broken the thin strand of connection between them. What could she do about it? When Lily and Petunia had to speak to each other, they were unbearably polite for the sake of their parents but they both knew that behind the words, it was all a show.



 



After a week had passed, Lily was in her room, immersed in a wizarding novel when a brown tawny owl swept through her open window and landed clumsily on her bed. She detached the letter that was tied to the strange bird and tossed it an owl treat. 



 



Lily flattened the letter and read the neat, round writing.



 



Dear Lily,



How is your holiday going? Did you have a nice Christmas?   Mine was quite good. I got an antique chess set from my parents. James and Sirius were over yesterday and they had a very intense chess match. It lasted for over two hours but we still don’t know who actually won.



            Is this Wednesday a good day to meet for lunch? If it is, just Floo over around noon. Then we can walk into town and eat at the café.



            Hopefully I’ll see you soon then.



                                                                           Love,



                                                                               Remus



 



Lily folded up the letter with a small smile on her face. Then she wrote out a quick note, telling him that she could make it, and gave it to the tawny owl.



 



On Wednesday, Lily, dressed in casual muggle clothes, stepped into the green flames of the living room fireplace after scattering a handful of Floo Powder. Her fireplace had been connected to the Floo Network before she had left for Hogwarts in her first year when she had to buy her school supplies in Diagon Alley.



 



Lily stomach flipped over as she whirled amid the blurred emerald flames before falling awkwardly out of a large brick fireplace. She steadied herself, brushing the grey ashes off her clothes, and looked around at what was—hopefully—the Lupin kitchen.



 



It was a very cramped room, plainly furnished with a little round table decked with a tartan tablecloth, a stove, some mismatched cabinets, and an old icebox. Some bright green potted plants sat on the windowsill soaking in the winter sunlight and various dried herbs hung from the banisters on the ceiling. She could tell that someone had worked hard to make sure it was tidy. Everything was scrubbed and clean. 



 



Just as Lily had finished taking in her quaint surroundings, a tall thin woman entered, carrying a basket of vegetables in her arms.



 



Her gray-streaked hair was tied up messily at the back of her head. There were a few wrinkles in her round pale face around her eyes and mouth. She wore faded jeans, smudged with dirt, and a baggy plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows.



 



When she saw Lily, her face brightened into a warm, welcoming smile.



 



“Oh, hello! You must be Lily. I’m Mrs. Lupin. Have you been waiting long? I’m sorry I’m such a mess. I’ve been out in the garden,” she explained, nodding toward the vegetable-filled basket.



 



She put it down on the table and wiped her hands on her jeans before holding out her hand. “Remus was right. You are very beautiful…and your hair is gorgeous! I’ve always admired red hair,” she said kindly.



 



Lily took her hand. She definitely liked Remus’s mother.



 



“Thank you. It’s so nice to meet you,” she said, smiling.



 



“Remus is upstairs. I’ll go get him. You can just wait in there, sweetie. Make yourself comfortable,” Mrs. Lupin pointed to a doorway opening off the side of the kitchen before dashing away.



 



Lily walked slowly through the doorway into a small sitting room. On a round red rug in the center of the room a well-worn couch, heaped with embroidered pillows and an winger armchair faced the stone fireplace. The mantle was crowned with an assortment of wizarding photos. Interested, Lily stepped closer. 



 



The biggest one appeared to be a family portrait. Remus, looking about twelve years old, stood behind Mrs. Lupin, who was seated next to a haggard-looking man with deep brown eyes. Behind him stood a tall, broad-shouldered young man with a protective arm around Remus. He had curly, sand-colored hair and dark eyes, squinted into a smile that took over his entire face. 



 



Lily peered curiously at him. She assumed that he was Remus’s brother, though she couldn’t recall him talking about any siblings. The family smiled and waved brightly at her.



 



Lily’s eyes traveled to the other photos. Most of them were showed Remus at different stages in his life, sometimes with the young man in the portrait or one of his parents. Her focus shifted a photo of the four Marauders standing in front of an apple tree that looked as though it had been taken recently. Peter was munching intently on an apple, Sirius leaned against the tree trunk, casually pointing his wand at Peter’s apple and looking suspiciously like he was putting some sort of hex on it. Remus stood next to him, eyeing Sirius an amused smile on his face, his arms folded across his chest. James was above them, perched on a thick branch, his long legs swinging lazily.



 



As she watched the moving photo, she suddenly became of a large smile that had crept onto her face. Lily shook her head, wondering what was wrong with her, and forced a frown as she stared at James, who continued to grin broadly from his tree branch. 



 



Seeing his face gave her an odd feeling…like she wasn’t supposed to be there, standing in Remus’s living room. She couldn’t explain it. Was it guilt?  Was it shame?  Whatever it was, it had caught her off-guard. Why was she so affected by this stupid photo? 



 



Lily turned away, trying to assure herself of her own sanity by fixing a disgusted look on her face as though she couldn’t stand to look it any longer. After all, the only person in the frame that she even liked was Remus…She absolutely hated the other three. Yes, she hated them—which must be the reason it made her nauseous, particularly when she looked at James. Why else should she feel this way?



 



Remus and Mrs. Lupin walked in, interrupting her confusion.



 



“It was nice meeting you, Lily,” said Mrs. Lupin, beaming. “I better go out and finish with the garden. You two have fun!”



 



She turned and hurried back into the kitchen. Lily looked at Remus, who wore a nervous smile on his face.



 



“Hello, Lily.”



 



“Hi.”



 



A pause.



 



“Well, do you want to start walking? It’s about a mile into town,” he said.



 



“Yeah, let’s go,” Lily replied, and followed him into the hall and out the front door.



 



Outside, the pale blue sky stretched from horizon to horizon and the icy snow frozen to the ground and the roofs of the houses was glistened with jewels of water that had formed in the heat of the sunlight. It was a fairly warm day for January and people were out walking or jogging on the quiet neighborly street.



 



Remus and Lily walked down the long path that connected the Lupin doorstep with the street. They turned the corner and began their journey to the main part of town. As they walked, an awkward silence hovered between them, punctured intermittently by a few attempts at conversation. Their efforts failed and the silence kept returning. For some reason, they just couldn’t keep a dialogue flowing.



 



When the houses began to get closer together and more cars started to whiz by, and they took a left onto Main Street. Lily hoped their walk was almost over, and that lunch would be a little more bearable.



 



Remus opened the door of a small muggle café and motioned for Lily to enter. Inside, there were several booths and dark wooden tables surrounded by leather-bound chairs. The room was dimly lit by the stained-glass lamps hanging over each table.



 



The rosy hostess led them to a small table next to the window and Remus and Lily sat down opposite to each other, glancing uneasily around the room. They both studied the menu and a young waiter took their orders. Then they relapsed into another silence. Lily racked her brain for something—anything—they could talk about.



 



“So, your mother gardens in the winter?” she asked uncertainly.



 



It was kind of pathetic but she didn’t think things could get much worse.



 



Remus, seeming to feel the same way, snatched the opportunity to speak.



 



“She charmed the garden to make it live year-round. I suppose you’ve never heard of that, your parents being muggles.”



 



“Oh,” Lily said lamely, and found herself back in the same position of the moment before.



 



Frantically, she tried to think of something they could discuss that would hopefully run a longer course. The photos in Remus’s living room popped into her mind.



 



“I was looking at your family portrait and I noticed a guy in there next to you,” she said. “Is he your brother?”



 



“Yes,” said Remus, and looked out the window.



 



At this short answer, Lily wondered if he even wanted to talk. Why was he making her do all the work?



 



“I didn’t know you had a brother. What’s his name?” she pressed.



 



“Greg.”



 



Remus looked down at the shiny table.



 



“So…” Lily continued, getting annoyed with Remus’s lack of effort. “Why haven’t you mentioned him before?”



 



“I don’t know,” Remus said quietly.



 



At this, Lily got angry. “Oh, come on, Remus,” she snapped, bitingly. “Am I wasting your time or something? Help me out a little.”



 



 Remus’s eyes finally wandered back to hers. “He was killed three years ago.”



 



Lily froze. She felt like crawling under her chair.



 



“He and his friend were attacked by dark wizards while they were walking home from a pub.”



 



Lily let out a gasp of shock and sympathy, cursing her damn, redheaded temper. She had practically forced him to tell her this! How could she be so insensitive?



 



“Remus! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know—”



 



He stopped her calmly. “Lily. Don’t apologize—you didn’t kill him. I was going to tell you sometime anyway.”



 



Lily stared at him, words escaping her once more, though for completely different reasons.



 



“Were you…were you very close to…him?” she asked, after a pause.



 



“Yeah, I was,” Remus said, fiddling with his napkin. “We were nine years apart, so we never even fought.”



 



Lily waited for him to continue, feeling, instinctively, that he had a lot more to say. 



 



Remus took a deep breath. “He was one of those people who have that personality that attracts everybody…had loads of friends. And he was so funny…could always make me crack up.”



 



Remus laughed softly, as though the laughter was coming from someplace far away from that café. 



 



“One time Mum and Dad dragged us to a Ministry Election rally. I was so bored, so he kept on muttering crazy things in my ear about the speakers,” said Remus, smiling at the memory.  “He mimicked this one poor lady’s entire speech but made a few…adjustments. I managed to keep myself from laughing out loud until she pounded her fist on the podium and said, ‘I have the ideas and potential necessary to improve this community!’ Greg, he whispered to me, ‘I have the biggest mole in this entire community!’ I couldn’t hold it in anymore I just burst out laughing! Right in the middle of this huge meeting.  Everyone turned and looked at me as though I was mad but, damn, her mole was enormous!”



 



Remus was shook with laughter but Lily saw the tears in his eyes. She placed a hand over his without a word. She knew he wasn’t finished.



 



After a moment, he went on. “Greg had everything going for him. He had just finished training to be a Healer and he was just about to start working at St. Mungo’s that fall. That’s why he was out celebrating that night. He was even engaged! I was the only one who knew. He brought me with him to pick out the ring. He was going to tell my parents but…then…” Remus trailed off.



 



Lily squeezed his hand, nodding.



 



He bent his head. “James reminds me so much of him, you know,” he said suddenly. “He’s just like Greg. They used to get along great.”



 



Lily’s hand twitched in his clasp, surprised by this statement.



 



“Surely he wasn’t quite as bigheaded as Potter?” she asked, smiling as though Remus had to be joking.



 



Remus smiled up at her, looking amused. “You don’t know James that well, do you?” He tilted his head to the side. “Well, he does act…different around you, I suppose.”



 



At that moment, Lily was thankful when the waiter returned to the table with their meals. They ate quietly for a few minutes before looked at her and cleared his throat.



 



“What about you? You have a sister, right? I don’t hear you talking about her much.”



 



“Yes…Petunia,” Lily sighed. “There’s not much to sat about her except, well, she hates me.” She laughed bitterly.



 



“Why?” Remus asked, perplexed.



 



“Because I’m a witch.”



 



An expression of grim understanding came over Remus’s face. He knew all too well what that felt like.



 



“There’s so much bloody prejudice in this world! Why do people get the idea that anything different from them is wrong?!” he said in a sudden spurt of anger, surprising Lily. “You’re better off without her.”



 



“I suppose so,” agreed Lily.



 



“My, what a cheery lunch this is,” said Remus, grinning.



 



Lily laughed. “Yeah—I think a change of subject is in order,” she said. “Has anything good happened lately? I need to hear a funny story or something.”



 



“Hmm…” Remus paused, thinking. Then he smiled. “You’ll love this. Prongs was over yesterday and we were heading downstairs. I suppose our conversation was too deep for him because he got so into it that missed the first step and fell all the way down the stairs.”



 



Lily laughed so hard, she rocked slightly in her chair. She was slowly discovering Remus’s flare for story-telling and she found herself liking him more and more.



 



“Thought you would like that,” Remus grinned.



 



“Was he okay?” Lily asked off-handedly after she had recovered. 



 



“He broke his ankle but you wouldn’t have known because he just sat up and continued our conversation,” he said, chuckling. “It was nothing my mum couldn’t fix. That’s just Prongs for you.”



 



“Prongs,” said Lily thoughtfully after another fit of giggles. “What’s up with those nicknames? You all have one. James is Prongs, Sirius is Padfoot, Peter is…Wormtail…and you’re Moony, right? They’re so strange.”



 



Remus’s expression quickly changed at the question that Lily had been wondering about since fifth-year. He stopped grinning and squinted at her as though sizing her up.



 



“You don’t want to know,” he said finally.



 



This, of course, did nothing but intrigue Lily further.



 



“Oh, but I do! Come on, Moony,” she smiled sweetly at him. “Let your best mate in on the secret.”



 



The smile returned but Remus just shook his head. “It’s dangerous information. Let’s just say, that if you knew, you’d be aiding and abetting,” he said. “I couldn’t do that to and innocent girl like you.”



 



“Excuse me,” Lily exclaimed in offense. “I’m very capable of abetting. Plus—nothing about you Marauders could surprise me. Come on, now. You know I’ll take it to the grave.”



 



Remus looked her up and down with a smirk. “Hmm…I dunno…”



 



“Out with it, Remus Lupin!” demanded Lily. “I don’t handle suspense very well. This could end badly for you,” she added threateningly.



 



“I don’t mind if you know but it’s not entirely my secret to tell. I can’t speak for James or Sirius or Peter. We’ve managed to keep it for a long time and I don’t know if they’ll want to give it up just like that. You’d have to get their permission first,” he said. “Dessert?”



 



“You prat! If I get permission from all of them—which will be a piece of cake— you have to promise to tell me,” said Lily. “Deal? Oh—and I’d love dessert. If you’re paying, that is.”



 



Remus chuckled. “It’s a deal.”



 



 



 



 








A/N:  Hoorah!  You made it to Part TWO!  Oooh la la, it starts getting interesting from here on out.  In the words of Scar, "Be PREPAAAARED!!"  (I'm a huge Lion King fan).

Anyway, REVIEW.  You're the best.


Chapter 9: Fellow Gryffindors
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: December 3, 2004
Suggested music: “Out Loud” by Dispatch

Chapter Nine
Fellow Gryffindors



Before she knew it, Lily was back at Hogwarts, attending classes and Quidditch practices and spending endless hours bent over homework in the common room. The work the teachers gave the seventh-years was rapidly increasing in quantity and difficulty as the approaching N.E.W.T. exams pressured them to squeeze everything into their students in time.

Lily was certainly feeling the pressure. There were many nights when all of seemed to rise up in front of her until she fell into despair, wanting to just give up. But Lily, being the person that she was, could never have actually given in to this tempting idea. She cared too much, even in her weakest moments.

After the attack in Diagon Alley, the Daily Prophet continued to report news about the Death Eaters, however minor it was. There were a few small attacks involving three or four Death Eaters torturing or killing muggleborns in their homes, always leaving the Dark Mark hovering darkly over the residence. Still, the Ministry had not yet succeeded in capturing one of them. The community was losing faith in their authorities as their fear grew. Was the Ministry really doing all it could to protect them against Voldemort?

Voldemort. Everyone knew his name by then. Far and wide people discussed him in hushed voices: his mysterious identity, his great powers, his motives, where he would strike next. As the fear spread, so did his control. It had begun with the attack on Diagon Alley, then slowly oozed out until it infected everyone’s minds. There was no one to turn to…no one to clean up the mess the Dark Lord had created. So it continued to grow.


* * *


“Hello, James…Sirius! What are you guys up to?”

They both glanced up and stared at her.

“What?” asked Lily, trying to keep her face blank.

Sirius raised an eyebrow. He looked at James, who looked bewildered and a little scared. Who could blame them? Lily Evans had just waltzed through the portrait hole and gave them, the hated ringleaders of the Marauders, a pleasant greeting.

“What?” Lily repeated after she got no response, a wide smile inching onto her face. She might actually enjoy this.

“Oh, sorry. We’ve just never been sure that you knew our first names,” said Sirius.

“Come off it! We’ve only been in the same house for six and a half years!” said Lily brightly.

Sirius just kept staring at her. “Exactly. This is the first time in six and a half years that you’ve said our first names.”

“You’re being melodramatic. Anyway….” She smiled and turned to James. “James, I was just wondering when you’ve scheduled the next Quidditch practice,” she asked, as though this was how she always spoke to him.

“Huh? Er—Quidditch practice?”

Lily had a wild desire to laugh. The smooth Mr. Potter was stuttering!

“Yeah. You’re the captain. Remember?” she said slowly, her voice tingling with amusement.

“Er— right. This…Friday. No, Saturday,” he blubbered. “This Saturday at ten.”

Sirius rolled his eyes and gave James a nice whack on the side of the head. James seemed to regain some of his senses and he promptly returned the favor.

“Okay, thanks,” said Lily brightly.

She sat down in the chair next to James and casually pulled some books and parchment out of her bag to begin her work. She started her Potions essay, all the while fully aware of the way James and Sirius gaping at her.

“Maybe that Befuddlement Potion we put in the pumpkin juice this morning somehow stuck,” Sirius was muttering under his breath.

“That was supposed to wear off after a couple hours—”

Lily looked up. “So that’s why no one could find their classes this morning?”

They looked at her cautiously and when they saw the smile twitching on her lips, James turned gravely to Sirius. “Do you think she got an overdose?”

Lily rolled her eyes. “I’m not drugged up on your potion!” she cried. “Though I can’t believe you two—how did you manage to get it in all the goblets?”

Sirius smirked. “Easy. We’ve got friends in, er, low places.”

“The house-elves,” said James, clarifying.

Lily leaned her chin on her hand. “Really? I don’t even know where the kitchens are.”

“Pathetic!” scoffed James. “We found them the second day we were here.”

Lily paused for a moment, trying to work up the nerve to express the idea that had just entered her mind.

“Maybe you could show me sometime,” she said, trying to stay casual. “I mean, it’d be a useful thing to know when I feel like a late night snack.”

James and Sirius were gaping at her again.

“What?” she asked. “Quit looking at me like that!”

James grinned, his solitary dimple getting deeper. “How about tomorrow night?” The excitement was clear in his voice.

Lily could see that he was testing her. He didn’t believe that she would really abuse her Head Girl privileges. In fact, she hardly believed it. But she couldn’t show any signs of hesitance at the thought of breaking a rule. They were breaking the law, if what Remus had said was true, and this was her chance to prove that they weren’t the only ones who weren’t afraid of a little risk.

“Tomorrow night it is,” she said, swallowing.

Their talk continued as they attempted to make a dent in the mountain of homework they had been assigned. After awhile, Remus came walking down the boys’ dormitory staircase. He looked mildly surprised at the friendly way that Lily was treating his two best friends but sat languidly down next to Lily with a small yawn.

“Where have you been?” asked Lily, concerned.

“Just taking a little nap,” answered Remus, stretching his arms over his head. “Been a bit tired lately.”

Lily inched closer to him. “Feel better?”

“Yes, I am, thank you,” he said, smiling.

James suddenly started choking. He covered his mouth, coughing violently. Sirius reached over and pounded him on the back until it passed.

Remus looked at them. “So, what have you lot been doing?”

“Talking,” said Sirius. Then he glanced briefly at Lily and leaned toward Remus as though about to reveal a big secret. “With Evans.”

“Wow.” Remus nodded, his lips pressed firmly together. “Madness.”

“Isn’t it?”

“If you say so,” replied Remus.

“Moony, you may not have noticed but she doesn’t usually act like this,” explained Sirius solemnly. “What is with you, Evans?”

“What do you mean? I’ll leave if you want…” said Lily slyly.

“No!” cried James suddenly, after several moments of silence. They all looked at him. He turned red. “You don’t have to—”

“Yeah, I just want to know why you’re here in the first place,” finished Sirius. “I mean, if it wasn’t the Befuddlement Potion…”

“I simply want to get to know some of my fellow Gryffindors,” said Lily, as though she had stolen James’s slickness. “It’s ridiculous, really, being in the same year and house and not knowing anything about each other.”

Sirius shot her a you’re-full-of-shit type of look but James smiled. “Yeah…” he muttered. “Ridiculous.”

They all sat in silence for a moment. The firelight danced on the four pensive faces as they all fell into the meditative trap of fire. It glowed on Lily’s pale cheeks, Remus’s prematurely aged face, Sirius’s clenched forehead and slightly protruding chin, and James, the light gleaming in his hazel eyes—eyes that were squinting faintly as though peering at something too distant to see clearly. They let a comfortable silence fall around them, broken only by the gentle cracks and hisses of the fire.

“Merlin, who died?” Tara’s buoyant voice yanked them suddenly out of their reveries. She was looking around at their serious expressions in wonder.

Summer, Di and Peter trailed behind her, having just entered through the portrait hole and glanced at the circle. Summer and Di frowned, looking from one side of Lily, where Remus was closely snuggled, to the other, where James sat, glancing at Lily from the corner of his eye.

Getting tired of people wondering what was going on, Lily decided to avert their questions. She shut her spellbooks with a thud and said, “We were just studying but I’m sick of it. Anyone up for a game of Gobstones?”

They gathered around a small table and spent the evening playing Gobstones. Lily carefully pretended not to notice everyone’s confusion about her sudden change of attitude toward the Marauders.

But when they parted for the night and climbed up to their dormitories, she knew what to expect. The questions came, but she was prepared.

“I’m going to have to deal with the Marauders now that Remus and I are…sort of together and I don’t want any tense feelings. They are his friends,” she said, shrugging. “Besides, I’m tired of fighting.”

Which was partly true.

The other part of the reason was the deep sense of intrigue that Remus had stirred in her when he had carefully danced around the Marauders’ secret. Lily wasn’t normally so nosy but for some reason, she could not stop thinking about it. She was determined to find out what it was they were hiding. So she had to gain their trust.

She was sure she could do it. The only person she was a little worried about was Sirius. He was clearly not just the pretty face she had always assumed him to be and she knew he was suspicious. It might take some work to ease into Sirius Black’s confidence.

James, on the other hand, she had wrapped around her finger, though the fact that she was about to use whatever it was that drew him to her—what she had always considered a curse—to her advantage made her slightly ill.

But this wasn’t going to stop her. There was something more to Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs than just silly nicknames and she was going to find out what it was.

* * *



Round and round the snowflakes whirled, blurring into one big wave of white that crashed against the walls of the castle, eventually finding its way to the ground where it piled onto the ground below.

Lily was watching the snowstorm through the big glass windows of the Arithmancy classroom as Professor Pollock’s lecture drawled on and on. She leaned her head heavily on her hand, her thoughts drifting and growing hazy. Then, slowly, her surroundings spiraled into oblivion.

She was thinking about Remus and where exactly they stood in relationship terms. He had kissed her a few times and they had gone on one date. Could that lunch even be called a date? What did he think about it? He didn’t exactly make his feelings clear. It was a bit aggravating, really. How was she supposed to know how he felt? Did he consider her his girlfriend or not?

Lily sighed and turned to the open notebook in front of her. Her heart gave a start of surprise. Her quill had suddenly lifted itself off her desk and was writing something in her notebook on its own accord.

Evans—-
Still planning on taking a little tour
of the school, Marauder style? If you
think you have the guts, meet us
outside the common room at midnight.


The quill stopped writing and Lily glanced behind her. She saw James at the back of the room with his quill, also motionless, in his hand. He caught her eye, nodded and winked. Lily gave him a whisper of a smile, feeling a little uncertain. He grinned and ruffled his unruly hair. She turned back around and picked up her wand and tapped her quill, muttering the spell. Then she wrote underneath the message,

You didn’t really think I would back out, did you?
I’ll see you then.


She turned her head again and saw James smiling down at his notebook, his own quill moving across the parchment in front of him.

Summer, who was sitting next to her, looked to see who Lily kept looking at. She furrowed her brow when she saw James.

“What is going on with you, Lily?”

“Huh?” Lily was reading another note her quill was magically composing.

Just checking. You don’t exactly do this on
a regular basis.


“What are you reading?” Summer grabbed the notebook and read all three messages. ‘A tour of the school, Marauder style?’ At midnight? Lily—what the hell?”

She had demanded the latter question a little louder than she meant to and Lily wasn’t the only one who heard her.

“Do you have something to share with the class, Ms. Liem?” asked Professor Pollock sternly.

“No, professor.”

“Then will it be possible for you to continue your conversation after my class?”

“Yes, sir.”

Proudly believing that he had taken care of the problem, he continued with his lecture. Summer, however, was persistent. She turned to face Lily and raised her eyebrows expectantly.

“I’ll tell you about it after class,” whispered Lily.

Suddenly her quill started to write another message.

Don’t worry Ms. Liem, you’re invited
as well. The more the merrier!


This time Summer turned around. James and Sirius were grinning at her.

When the bell finally rang, signifying the end beginning of break, Lily and Summer took a stroll down an empty corridor.

“Well?” said Summer, bearing down upon Lily.

“It’s nothing, really. James and Sirius just promised to show me where the kitchens are. So we’re going tonight,” explained Lily.

“Let me see if I got this. You are willfully going to go out after curfew with the two boys you’ve claimed to hate for the past six years so that they can give you a tour of this school?” Summer asked, her mouth hanging open.

Lily nodded slowly, knowing what was going through Summer’s mind.

“Have you gone mad? First, you dance with Potter at Christmas then you suddenly stop insulting them and start having chat fests by the fire. And now you’re going to go wandering around with them in the middle of the night! I don’t get it! What changed?” demanded Summer.

Lily gazed at her steadily. “Nothing. They just stopped bothering me so much. I think maybe we’re becoming friends now. Which is good because it won’t be awkward while I’m with Remus.”

“Does he know about this little scheme of yours then?”

Lily finally hesitated. “I don’t think so.”

“Why isn’t he going along?”

This one stumped Lily. She really didn’t know. She just hadn’t told him about for some reason. They should probably work on this communication thing…

“He doesn’t know, does he,” guessed Summer. “And do you think he’ll like the fact that you’re going out for a night with Black and Potter?”

“I don’t know!” snapped Lily. “I don’t even know if he’s my boyfriend or not!!”

“I reckon your communication needs work,” remarked Summer.

Lily rolled her eyes and shifted subjects. “So, are you coming with us tonight?”

“I can’t let you go off alone with those two. What kind of friend do you think I am?” asked Summer. “We sure as hell better not get caught, though. My parents will flip.”

Lily smiled. “I’m sure Black and Potter know what they’re doing,” she said, grabbing Summer’s arm and steering her in the direction of the Entrance Hall.


* * *


That night, Lily and Summer went to bed with Tara and Di as usual and pretended to go to sleep. They waited for their friends’ breathing to become regular before dressing and creeping down the stairs to meet James and Sirius.

Lily’s pulse was pumping rapidly and she tripped twice over the rug in the dark common room as they made their way toward the portrait hole. She was so jumpy. Sneaking out was a very new experience to her and so far, she wasn’t sure if her nerves could take it.

Summer pushed open the portrait and they crawled out. They stood for several minutes in front of the Fat Lady’s portrait and Lily grew more and more anxious. Wild thoughts raced through her mind.

Were they even coming? She glanced at her watch and saw that it was only five minutes past twelve. Surely it had been longer than that! It felt like they’d been waiting for hours—What was that noise? Suppose Filch found them here!

“Maybe we should just go back to bed—” whispered Lily.

“No! We just got out here,” hissed Summer. “Give them five more minutes.”

Summer was right. She was being ridiculous. What if they had gone back to their dormitory and Potter and Black came out and found that they had backed out. Then what would they think of her? They would never trust her. She would not—

Suddenly she was grabbed from behind. She was about to scream her lungs out but someone hastily clamped a hand over her mouth. Next to her, Lily could feel Summer struggling in someone else’s hold. Lily, panicking, squirmed like a maniac, trying to free herself. Her head banged against her captor’s head and a pair of glasses was knocked off the person’s face. They clattered to the floor. With one great heave, Lily elbowed the person with all her strength. She was instantly released.

“OUCH! Damn it, Evans!”





A/N:  YIKES!  Who could it be?!?!

Review!  Thanks a million.


Chapter 10: One Night of Gallivanting
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: December 26, 2004



Suggested music: “Hey, Hey” by Dispatch (Two in a row, I know, but I can't help it)



 



Chapter Ten



One Night of Gallivanting



 



Lily whirled around and immediately felt like an idiot. Shades of crimson bloomed across her pale face in the dark.



 



“Bloody hell, Evans! We were just messing around! I thought for sure you’d know it was us!” gasped James. He was doubled over, clutching his stomach.



 



Sirius had been holding Summer’s arms behind her back but he was weakened by laughter as he looked down at James. Summer slapped him and wrung herself out of his grasp.



 



“Oy!” he exclaimed, but only giggled harder.



 



“Sorry, but we were expecting you to come out of the portrait hole!” said Lily, her heart still pounding heavily. “Are you all right?”



 



James finally straightened up. “I think I’ll live, but blimey, you hit hard.”



 



“Why did you guys have to do that?” asked Summer. “We were already twitchy enough without you sneaking up on us!”



 



“You were just standing there…didn’t even hear us coming! It was too perfect to pass up, said Sirius, rubbing his cheek and grinning.



 



“Are we going to go or stand around here all night?” demanded Lily.



 



“You’re not worried, are you, Evans?” asked James with an annoying smirk, seemingly recovered.



 



“No. I just want to get moving.”



 



“Of course.” James winked. “Shall we go then?”



 



He held out his arm to Lily and she skillfully pretended not to see it. She walked close to Summer and they were able to grip onto each other without the boys seeing whenever they went around a shadowy corner. 



 



James and Sirius strolled along in front of them at perfect ease. Lily supposed she shouldn’t be so impressed by them. Sneaking out is what they did. Of course they’d be used to it. Besides, why would they be worried? They didn’t care if they got caught.



 



“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” asked Summer.



 



Lily peered around at the shady corridor. It was so dark that the only reason she knew it was a corridor was because they had been walking in the same direction for quite some time. She felt as though her ability to touch and feel was the only one of her five senses working. Darkness stretched out before her like a world of nothingness and she had never known the castle to be so silent.



 



Sirius’s voice slid through the silent darkness. “We know every inch of this castle. Do not question our expertise.”



 



Summer didn’t reply but Lily could tell that she didn’t trust their self-proclaimed “expertise.”



 



“Aren’t we nearly there? We’ve been walking for ages,” said Lily, as they groped their way around another corner. “Surely the kitchens are somewhere near the Great Hall.”  



 



She immediately bit her lip.



 



All she saw was the flash of a lantern before James and Sirius whirled around and walked straight into the girls to block their way.



 



“Filch,” muttered James as he grabbed Lily and forced her back around the corner.



 



“What was that?” Filch’s voice snapped. “Students out of bed! Come back here, you little varmints!”



 



Damn.”



 



They all turned and ran. The corridor was long and there was nowhere to hide until the very end. Lily cursed herself for her blind stupidity. She, Lily Evans, was about to get caught wandering around the castle at midnight in the company of Sirius Black and James Potter—all to gain their trust! And to think that she was usually the one doing the catching.



 



Still running aimlessly, she glanced back and saw Filch rounding the corner, his grotesque face looking deadly in the eerie light cast by the lantern.  Suddenly, James or Sirius—it was impossible to tell which in the darkness—yanked her to the side and through a doorway. He slammed the door shut and muttered several locking charms. As he turned she could see that it was James by the faint sliver of light reflected by his glasses. He stood back and faced the door with Sirius, Summer, and Lily, waiting breathlessly.



 



Lily, her head spinning, turned on the two boys. She knew it wasn’t their fault but she needed to rant. “Brilliant! Now we’re going to be expelled! Potter—we’re Head Boy and Girl—what are we going to do when opens the door and—”



 



“He can’t get in,” James whispered.



 



“What do you mean? All he has to do is say a few simple countercurses and wahla!  We’re history!” hissed Lily.



 



“Filch, do magic?” scoffed James. “Ha! He’s a Squib.”



 



Lily wasn’t surprised. Why else would he bother with a lantern? Yet somehow, this knowledge did not calm her down.



 



The doorknob suddenly rattled violently. Lily jumped and nearly knocked James over.



 



“Come on out, you pesky brats!” screeched Filch, as he pounded on the door. “There’s no way to escape the belt this time! Don’t worry, my sweet, we’ve got them. They’ve got to come out sometime and we’ll be here when they do, won’t we?”



 



His voice fell to a low mumble as he continued to tell his cat all the things he planned to do to them when they emerged. They didn’t move until they heard him slump against the door.



 



“Oh, no. He’s going to wait there all night. How are we going to get out? You guys are supposed to be the experts!” demanded Summer in a strained whisper.



 



“Once again, you underestimate us. We have a way of knowing any and all routes out of here and whether or not there’s someone out there guarding the door,” said James. “Check the map, Padfoot.”



 



“Map? I thought you knew every inch of this castle. What do you need a map for?” asked Summer, her arms folded expectantly across her chest.



 



Sirius lit his wand and rummaged through his robes. At Summer’s words, he chuckled.



 



“Our Map is not just any old map. It can tell you a little more than how to find your way from the Owlery to the North Tower,” answered James slickly. “Shall we show it to them, Padfoot?”



 



“Perhaps, if I could find it—” said Sirius irritably, digging his hands into his pockets. “I don’t have it.”



 



“What do you mean?”



 



“I don’t have it!” he cried. “It’s not here. Must have left it somewhere.”



 



“What’s so special about this stupid old map anyway?” asked Summer.



 



Stupid old map?” repeated James. “This map is probably the cleverest thing you’ll ever have the honor of seeing—if we ever see it again, that is—” he glared at Sirius “—and it could show us when Filch leaves that door!”



 



“Well, it’s not much help now, is it?” snapped Lily. “How are we going to avoid getting expelled?”



 



“I suggest we inspect our whereabouts,” said Sirius. “See if there are any other exits.”



 



They all lit their wands and looked around. It was a small classroom that hadn’t been used in a few years, judging by the blanket of dust that covered the desks. A lot of dust but no sign of a way out.



 



“Lovely,” muttered Lily. “Filch will eventually get a teacher to open this door and they’ll throw us out. Just wonderful! Nearly seven years of slaving at this school wasted, because of one night of gallivanting around this damn school! One night!”



 



She sat down at a desk and tangled her fingers in her hair.



 



“Maybe not. Filch doesn’t usually bother the teachers this late at night because they always get angry. We’ve gotten away from him so many times that when he runs to a teacher, they accuse him of imagining us!” said Sirius gleefully.



 



“That makes it a hundred times worse!” cried Lily, paling. “We’ll be locked in here all night together! That’ll go over well when they catch us in the morning, I’m sure.”



 



“Well then, we have all night to come up with a good excuse!” replied Sirius, talking a seat across from Lily and reclining backwards in the chair.



 



Lily groaned. Summer sat down next to her and leaned her head on her shoulder in sympathy.



 



“Hey, we didn’t force you to come along,” said Sirius in response to her groan. “In fact, if I remember correctly, this whole thing was your idea.”



 



“That doesn’t matter,” said James quietly.



 



Sirius looked at James. “I know that! It would just be nice if she could stop wallowing in self-pity if we’re going to be spending the entire night stuck in this room together. What’s going to happen will happen, Evans, so shut up or make the best of it.”



 



“Fine then…at least it’s not a broom closet,” retorted Lily dryly.



 



Summer yawned, then shivered. She and Summer wore nothing but thin sweaters, not prepared for the stony chill of the castle.



 



Sirius stood up and began to search the cabinets on the back wall. He pulled out a jar filled with yellowish dust and dumped it out on the floor. With a flick of his wand, he conjured up electric blue flames inside the jar.



 



“There—you know, we could be quite cozy here tonight,” he said, as he placed the jar on a desk in the center of their small circle. 



 



“Thanks, mate,” said James. He sat down next to Sirius and inched his chair closer to the flaming jar. “It’s such a comfort being warm knowing that Filch is freezing.”



 



“Cheers,” said Lily, who hated Filch passionately at the moment.



 



They relaxed around the source of heat, trying to get comfortable in the hard wooden chairs.



 



“I can hear him snoring,” said Sirius in an idly amazed tone. “That git is actually going to sleep in front of that door just to make sure we don’t get out. He really needs some kind of purpose in his life.”



 



“We are his purpose. What is he going to do when we’ve graduated?” James asked Sirius, grinning.



 



“Who knows, maybe he’ll marry that evil cat of his,” yawned Sirius. “Take a little holiday before our kids come in and take over.”



 



“We’ll train them up to be little Marauders so that they can carry on our legacy,” said James, beaming with excitement at the thought.



 



“I pity the kid who gets one of you for a father,” Lily said. Obviously, she was no Seer, or she may have held her tongue. She even added, “One set of Marauders is too much; I can’t imagine the state the world will be in when you reproduce.”



 



“You don’t really think that, do you, Evans?” asked James, looking at her thoughtfully. “How dull would this place would be without us?”



 



“Yeah. We spice things up,” agreed Sirius.



 



“You may make it…interesting but you also hurt a lot of people in the process,” replied Lily.



 



“No.”  James shook his head. “Maybe we get a little carried away on old Snivelly once in awhile but the others are just in fun. They know that.”



 



“I’m not sure being publicly humiliated or spending a week in the hospital wing is what your victims consider fun,” said Lily. “You’ve no idea how many people you’ve hurt…But that doesn’t matter, of course, as long as the Marauders have their laugh and manage to keep the spotlight on themselves.”



 



To her surprise, Lily did not feel any anger bubbling up as she spoke. She had raged to James so many times, leaving no impression. She now saw how blind he really was to the consequences of his pranks and she couldn’t get angry. She just wanted to tell him. 



 



James sat staring at her for a long time after she fell silent. He didn’t look angry either…or upset or even amused. He simply stared. He stared until Lily grew uncomfortable and looked down at her lap. When she thought it was safe to glance back up, he was still gazing at her. She shifted in her chair, not knowing what to do. His face was uncharacteristically solemn, illuminated by the flickering blue light. She desperately wished for him to say something and return to his usual, cheerfully confident self—the one she knew how to deal with.



 



Lily turned to Summer for help, but her head was drooping against her shoulder as she dozed. Then Lily looked to Sirius but he too was sound asleep, with his head resting on his hands as he sat reclined in the old chair. How could anyone fall asleep so fast?



 



“Um—looks like they were, er, tired,” she said thickly, without meeting those solemn eyes.



 



At this, James finally turned his head away.   He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.



 



“Sirius can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. It’s amazing, really,” he said quietly, smiling softly.



 



Very much relieved, Lily looked up at his face from across the desk.



 



“I reckon he and Summer have that in common,” she said, not really thinking about Summer and Sirius’s sleeping habits. 



 



There was another long silence. Lily fiddled with her clothes and ran her hands through her hair, pretending to be getting comfortable, though she just needed something to cover up how nervous James was making her. Eventually, there was nothing more Lily could preoccupy herself with and she gave up. 



 



She cuddled up in her chair next to Summer and chanced a look over the brilliant blue fire at James.   Thankfully, he was fixing his robes and had stopped staring at her.



 



Had Lily glanced up a split second sooner, she would have seen that him turn his eyes away only when he saw her look over. Their eyes caught in one swift gaze when he looked back. They immediately bent their heads so that they both had a nice view of their own laps. 



 



Lily couldn’t understand the fierce tension in the room. Had she gotten through to him at last or was this all just her imagination? Why was she finding it so difficult to make eye contact with him? Why couldn’t she think of anything to say? What was he—?



 



Sirius suddenly gave an enormous snort and Lily and James both jumped.



 



They finally looked at each other. For a moment, Lily was locked in his eyes and everything made sense again. The next second they were rocking with laughter. All the pressure that had been building up poured out of them in a wild stream of giggles. Minutes passed as they sat and laughed before they could find their self-control.



 



“That was the…loudest…snore…I’ve ever…heard,” breathed Lily, feeling slightly tipsy.



 



“My heart…is still going…like mad,” gasped James, glancing over at Sirius, who was oblivious.



 



“I have a new respect for you,” said Lily. “You have to share a dorm with him.”



 



“You get used to it. It’s kind of like falling asleep to some bizarre symphony,” replied James, his mouth twitching.



 



Then they both collapsed into another fit of laughter.



 



Lily felt utterly insane. She hadn’t laughed this hard since...she couldn’t remember when. It wasn’t even that funny, but it just kept coming. And she couldn’t find it in her to care about how ridiculous all of it was, because honestly, it felt wonderful.



 



She slid onto the floor, clutching her stomach. “You should have seen yourself. I thought you were going to jump out of your skin,” she said, sniggering.



 



James collapsed next to her with a laugh. “Kind of like the time you threw a fit when I came up from behind you.”



 



Lily burst into a fresh series of giggles. “I thought you were kidnapping me!”   



 



They rolled around, looking like idiots, on the floor. Everything just kept getting funnier and funnier. For some reason, despite their situation, Lily had never felt lighter.



 



 



*          *          *



 



Lily shivered. It was extremely cold and she was very uncomfortable. Her bed felt as hard as a rock. That was strange. She was too tired to get out of it, though.



 



Without opening her eyes, Lily rolled onto her other side and bumped into something warm and soft. She pressed closer to it, grateful for the heat, and pulled her blankets to her chin. 



 



Then, as she was about to drift back to sleep, something happened that made her heart stop.



 



The warm thing that she was huddled against moved.



 



Lily’s eyes snapped open, and, without blinking once in the blinding sunlight that was streaming through a window, sprang up. Sneaking out. Filch. The classroom. The blue fire—it all hit her in one shocking punch. As her brain revved into motion, she looked down at what had moved, fearing what she would see.



 



There he was, lying next to her. She was tangled in his robes. Lily wished she could wake up again and laugh at this stupid dream.



 



At least he was still sound asleep.



 



She rubbed her face, images of the last seven hours or so moving through her head. Wandering the dark school with James and Sirius, taking refuge in this room, dodging James’s glances, Sirius’s snoring, laughing, insanely, with James. 



 



With James.



 



A smile, the remnant of their fit of laughter, crept onto her face. Had she really done that? Could she really be smiling about it?



 



Then she heard some muffled movement outside the door and remembered how Filch had been keeping guard all night. Her little ray of pleasure suddenly died in the face of her anxiety. The price for her careless fun was too high—She was about to be expelled! 



 



“Lily! How’d you get down there?”



 



Lily twisted around and saw Summer rising from where she had been curled up across three chairs. She looked stunned at the sight of Lily sitting next to James, wrapped in his robes. Sirius was stretched out across a row of five chairs with his face buried in his folded arms, still sleeping. The blue fire in the jar had worn out and it sat on the table, dark and cold.



 



“Oh—” Lily threw off James’s robes. “We didn’t mean to…err...we were…” she faltered, unsure if how to explain the odd situation that nothing in her life had prepared her for.



 



Summer raised a suggestive eyebrow.



 



“Summer Liem! Do not look at me that way! You know it wasn’t anything like that!” Lily cried, squirming away from James as though he was some kind of frightening insect. “We were just laughing at something funny and ended up on the floor. We must have fallen asleep soon after that.”



 



Summer nodded slowly, looking a little skeptical, then checked her watch.



 



“Soon someone will walk by, Filch will send for a teacher, and we’ll be gone before dinner,” she said, her voice void of emotion.



 



James stirred again. He stretched out his long, gangly, arms and rolled onto his back.



 



“Morning, ladies,” he grinned sleepily at them as he opened his eyes. Then he put on his glasses and looked at Summer. “We probably won’t have to leave till tomorrow so we’ll have at least one more dinner here.”



 



“How long were you listening?” demanded Summer.



 



“Oh, you know, I woke up right about when Lily cuddled up against me,” replied James, his dimple deepening.



 



Lily blushed and refused to meet Summer’s gaping look.



 



“Do you think we should wake him?” Lily asked. She nodded at Sirius, eager to change the subject.



 



“Oy!” said James, a grin still wide on his face. “Padfoot!”



 



Sirius grunted and turned his head, still sleeping. Summer stood up and pinched him in the side.



 



He jolted awake. “What the fuck?” he muttered.



 



Summer laughed. “Morning, sunshine.”



 



James stood up and pressed his ear against the door. “I don’t think Filch is out there anymore!”



 



They quickly joined him by the door as he said the countercurses to the locking spells. Holding their breath, they watched him turn the brass knob. Slowly, he cracked it open and peered into the corridor.



 



“No sign of him,” he announced.



 



“Hallelujah,” breathed Summer in relief.



 



James carefully pushed the door open wider and they all stepped out, bracing to jump up in down in celebration. 



 



But something stopped them.



 



Standing next to the door was a girl with her arms crossed and a glistening Prefect badge pinned to her robes. The smirk on her face made Lily want to be sick.



 



It was Bellatrix Black.



 





A/N: Duh duh duh DUUUUUN.

Review.

Chapter 11: Another Nasty Rumor
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: December 31, 2004




Suggested music: “When I Fall” by Barenaked Ladies




 




Chapter Eleven




Another Nasty Rumor




 




 




“Good morning,” she said sweetly. She threw a glare of loathing at Lily. “Fancy seeing you come out of this particular room….Filch told me to guard it because there were students inside who had spent the night there. He’s just gone to get them expelled.”




 




“Woke up early to kiss Filch’s ass, did you?” spat Sirius.




 




Bellatrix ignored him. “I never imagined that those students would be you. Of course,” she said, still looking at Lily, “I always knew you weren’t as innocent as you tried to make everyone think.” Then she turned and grimaced at Sirius. “And as for you, I simply can’t believe a relation of mine would stoop to the level of a mudblood. Could you get any lower?”




 




“How dare you?!” shouted James. “Lily’s so far above you, you couldn’t reach her on a broomstick.” He looked like he was about to slap her




 




She just smiled darkly. “I must be going now.  Filch gave me strict instructions to report back to him immediately after the naughty students came out.” She turned and marched down the corridor leaving Lily, Summer, James, and Sirius, fuming.




 




“That hateful little beast!” cried Lily.  “Why does she hate me so much?!  I’ve never done anything to her!”




 




“Come off it, Evans! You know she doesn’t care about what you’ve done. Being a muggleborn is reason enough for her,” barked Sirius.




 




Lily knew he was right. Still, she could not bring herself to understand it. Why did the “purity” of her blood matter so much to some people? Why did it stir so much hatred?




 




Summer nodded ruefully. “Now she’s going to do everything she can to make you look bad. Jealous bitch.”




 




“Of all the prefects, why did Filch have to choose her to guard the door?” said James, raking a hand through his hair. “If only it had been Moony.”




 




Lily didn’t say anything. She wasn’t sure if she would have preferred Remus to been in Bellatrix’s place to see them emerge from that room, knowing that she had spent the night there with his best friends. 




 




 Then she realized that it didn’t matter. He was going to find out eventually when Bellatrix spread the word around. How could anything go so wrong?




 




After ranting and raving about Bellatrix some more, wandering through the corridors, Sirius suggested they go down to breakfast.




 




“I’m not hungry,” Lily muttered.




 




“Come on, Lily. Just because Bellatrix is trying to get the better of you doesn’t mean you should help her out a bit and starve yourself,” said Summer.




 




“You’ll have to face them sooner or later,” said James. “Might as well get it over with.” 




 




Lily looked at him for a second then sighed. “Fine then, let’s go.”




 




When they entered the Great Hall, it was obvious that Bellatrix had told everyone she saw on her way to find Filch that Lily Evans and Summer Liem has snuck out of their dormitories to sleep with James Potter and Sirius Black and clearly, she had taken the long way. Judging from the pieces of conversation they heard from the other tables as they passed by, the rest of the school was willing to partake in the spreading of this rumor.




 




“—can you believe it?”




 




“—Lily Evans and Summer Liem, of all people…”




 




“—and she always talks about how much she hates him…”




 




“—probably just another nasty rumor…”




 




“—but isn’t she dating Remus Lupin?”




 




“—I always knew those two were nothing but little tramps…”




 




Some of the students, like Bellatrix, were viciously triumphant; some were fair, while others were shocked. As for the people who did not believe the gossip, their minds changed when the four subjects of the rumor walked into the Great Hall together. Lily tried not to listen, to rise above it, but inside, she was tearing apart.




 




But as they approached the table, it seemed that even Bellatrix Black’s amazing rumor-spreading skills had yet to reach the Gryffindors. Remus was sitting with Peter and he beckoned to them. Guilt burned into Lily as she looked at the cheerful smile on his face. It wouldn’t be long before it was wiped off. And he would know that James and Sirius had not gone to bed last night.




 




“Hey, guys!  I’ve been all over looking for you.  Where were you this morning?” he asked.




 




They never got a chance to answer. The doors of the Great Hall burst open with a bang, causing all heads to turn. Professor McGonagall marched in and headed straight for them, her lips compressed so tightly that they disappeared altogether.




 




“You four,” she said icily. “Come with me.”




 




It had never taken so long to cross the hall. Lily stared straight ahead as the doors seemed to move further and further away, unable to meet the eyes of her classmates, though she could feel the heat in her face.  McGonagall led them down the length of the Great Hall and through the double doors, as the rest of the school watched and exchanged looks amongst themselves. 




 




At last, they reached McGonagall’s office. She bustled around her desk and gestured impatiently for them to sit. 




 




They obeyed. As Lily looked up into her professor’s grim face, she felt worse than ever. There was no anger in McGonagall’s face, just profound disappointment. Lily stung with burning self-disgust. The trust her teacher had carefully invested in her was gone and it made her stomach squirm.




 




McGonagall stared at them solemnly for a moment, letting the suspense grow, before speaking.




 




“Mr. Filch has just informed me that you four were out of your dormitories past midnight last night. He said that you ran from him and locked yourself in a classroom to avoid getting caught. And finally, that you failed to come out until this morning.”




 




They all looked down at their laps. James and Sirius didn’t even try to use their infamous smooth talk to lighten their situation.




 




“This is serious even by your standards,” said McGonagall, rounding on the boys. “I thought you two were through with this kind of foolishness. And Ms. Liem, Ms. Evans, I am thoroughly shocked at you both—the two of you being smart, decent students with a flawless record. I never thought I’d be ashamed of you.”




 




That last sentence was excruciating to hear. Lily’s heart kept sinking lower and lower until she was drowning in her own pathetic, guilty misery. She was incapable of meeting her teacher’s eyes.




 




“The Head Boy and Girl of this school, to top it all off! Why, in Merlin’s name, would you pull a stunt like this?” she demanded, putting both hands on her desk and leaning toward them.




 




“Professor, we never planned to sleep in that room,” said James. Lily was shocked to hear him speak so meekly. “We were just—”




“Just as you didn’t plan to get caught?” interrupted McGonagall furiously. “Yes, I suppose that’s the story, right? Poor excuse for being out past curfew. I have half a mind to expel you all!”




 




“Only half?” asked Summer.




 




“Yes, but I am not going to lie,” said McGonagall, with a piercing stare. “I am confident you are well aware that all four of you are among the top students in the school. I could not deny a group of such potential their education and future because of one mistake. Especially since this is your first offense,” she said, looking at Lily and Summer so reproachfully, Lily didn’t even realize she had just received a compliment. “And you two,” she bore down on James and Sirius. “You are very capable wizards. Never have I seen such talent in two young boys before, I’ll admit. If you simply focused even a little of it on your studies rather than creating havoc, you could easily be some of the most successful students to pass through this school...”




 




At this point, James and Sirius looked bored, having heard this lecture many, many times before, not only from McGonagall, but James’s parents, other professors, and Remus. It was all routine for them.




 




“No, I cannot expel you. But you must understand the seriousness of what you have done. You will receive a week’s worth of detentions and forty-five points will be taken from Gryffindor. You may also be sure that Professor Dumbledore, along with your parents, will be informed,” she declared. “You may go back to breakfast now. I expect you here at five o’clock sharp on Monday evening to serve your first detention.”




 




Once the door was closed safely behind them, Sirius sighed and said, “A rotten week of detentions…I’d prefer the expulsion.”




 




“Sirius, don’t say that!” rebuked Summer. “Do you realize how lucky we are?”




 




“Just wait and see what you say after this week…it’s no pleasure cruise, believe me,” retorted Sirius.




 




“Unless they don’t supervise…” said James, grinning mysteriously. Sirius grinned, too.




 




“I don’t want to go to breakfast anymore, how about you lot?” asked Lily, recalling the whispers and stares.




 




“Nah, let’s go to the dorms and clean up a bit,” agreed James.




 




When they scrambled through the portrait hole, they saw that everyone was either at breakfast or still in bed, except for a small group of first-years huddled over a game of Exploding Snap.




 




Lily and Summer said goodbye to James and Sirius and climbed up the stairs to their dormitory. Tara and Di were in the process of getting up, taking their time. They both greeted Summer and Lily with mixed looks of relief and anger. Tara pounced on them immediately.




 




Where have you been?” she exclaimed, placing her hands on her hips.




 




Lily and Summer exchanged a look of silent agreement. Tara and Di better hear the real story from them before they heard the gossip that was flying around the school. 




 




“This may shock you a bit,” began Summer slowly. She poured out a full account of everything that had happened the previous night and she was right; Tara and Di were shocked. Lily and Summer knew they had a right to be, so they patiently answered their questions.




 




“Of course that Bellatrix troll told as many people as she could and now the whole school thinks we’re some kind of tramps who slept with.…” Lily trailed off, the thought she was trying to express so repulsive to her, that she could not voice it aloud.




 




“Why didn’t you tell us where you were going?” asked Di.




 




“I don’t know,” admitted Summer. “It all just sort of happened.”




 




“Who would actually believe you’re a tramp?” demanded Tara doubtfully.




 




“Nearly everyone in the school now,” replied Lily, heaving a depressed sigh.




 




“Well, you didn’t…er…do anything with James and Sirius, right?” asked Tara.




 




Lily threw her a horrified glare. “How could you even ask that?” she hissed.




 




Tara shrugged. “Well, you are telling me that you went out after hours and stay overnight in the same room with them and I never could have imagined you doing that. Who knows what else you’d do?”




 




“How dare you say that!”  Lily snapped; mentally, emotionally, and vocally. “Me…and…and…James Potter?!” she sputtered.




 




Tara folded her arms. “Not necessarily James Potter, Lily. Sirius was there, too.”




 




A simple reminder, but Tara threw an incredible amount of meaning behind it. She raised an eyebrow and stared shrewdly at Lily.




 




“I can’t believe you. I’m not going to stand here and listen to this,” spat Lily. She turned and dashed out of the room.




 




She continued walking straight through the portrait hole, taking no notice of the curious stares that followed her, James and Sirius’s included. 




 




Her mind whirled violently. She was so angry with…everything—Tara, the gossip, Bellatrix Black, herself. She walked faster as the thoughts raged inside of her. Her legs broke into a run and she didn’t stop until she had reached the lake. There, she stopped on the snow-covered bank, looking out across the wide, frozen water. 




 




Lily heaved a sigh of relief, steam billowing from her mouth. Outside, she could finally breathe and think clearly. She tugged her robes tighter around her body, folded her arms across her chest, and leaned against a tree. Then she just stayed there, motionless, trying to forget how much she had screwed everything up.




 




“Are you trying to freeze yourself to death?” 




 




Lily turned at the sound of the voice. Summer was holding out Lily’s cloak.




 




“How’d you know I’d come out here?” asked Lily with a small smile.




 




“Don’t you always?”




 




“Thanks.” Lily gratefully took the cloak and put it on. “You know me too well.”




 




“Good thing, too,” grinned Summer, as she leaned against the tree next to Lily. There was a brief pause before she said, “Tara didn’t mean anything. She was just being Tara.”




 




“I know,” said Lily, stuffing her hands into her pockets. “I’m not really angry at her…I’m just so mad at my stupid self. This entire thing is my fault. All to get James and Sirius to trust me and nobody got anything out of it except five detentions, a new reputation, and a row with Tara.”




 




“Maybe, but,” said Summer. “It was sort of fun. Being adventurous for one night…if nothing else.”




 




Lily grinned deviously as she remembered the thrill of sneaking out and wandering the dark corners of the castle. That night of wild Marauder mischief was the most fun she’d had in a long time. For the first time, she felt like she understood the Marauders and their love of causing trouble. Then she thought of laughing on the floor with James. It made her want to giggle all over again.




 




“Yeah,” she agreed. “It was exciting.”




 




“Plus the pressure of keeping a clean record is gone,” said Summer. “And as for our new, um, reputations, they won’t last. People will see how ridiculous those rumors are and forget all about it. And Tara—Tara, as we all know, will be on her hands and knees begging you to forgive her in about half an hour.” Summer smiled. “So…no worries, right?”




 




“No worries,” repeated Lily.




 




They heard the crunching of snow and turned around. James was running down the hill toward them. He waved happily.




 




“Hey, Evans! We’ve got a prefect meeting to run in about five minutes, remember?” he said when he reached them. “Moony just reminded me. What a waste of a Saturday.”




 




“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I suppose I’ll see you later, Sum,” said Lily.




 




“Is this all frozen?” asked James, looking down at the icy surface of the lake with excitement in his eyes.




 




“I think so— Potter!” Lily shrieked when James hopped off the bank onto the ice. 




 




He turned and looked up at Lily. “What?”




 




“You can’t just jump onto the lake like that! You don’t know if it’s safe!” cried Lily. “What if…it cracks or something and you fall through?”




 




James raised one eyebrow at her, a playful smile on his face. Then turned and sprinted out toward the middle. He let himself slid several feet on his sneakers and did a little pirouette.




 




“Seems safe enough to me!” he shouted back, lifting both his arms over his head. He jumped up and stomped hard on the ice. “See?”




 




James began gliding around, spinning and leaping. 




 




“You’re insane!” yelled Lily.




 




But Summer laughed and ran to join him. Lily looked at the surface, waiting to see tiny cracks stretch across the ice. James and Summer seemed to be enjoying themselves, though, and she really wanted to skip around the lake with them but something held her back. She stared down at the ice, wanting to follow her impulse but unable to suppress her fear of the worst.




 




“Let’s go, Evans.”




 




Suddenly, James was in front of her, grabbing her hand and pulling her onto the ice before she could stop him. Lily tried to step very carefully, afraid of slipping, but James was dragging her along too quickly.




 




He stopped to look behind at her struggle and she slid straight into him. They both went tumbling down onto the cold surface. Summer came and stood over them, shaking with laughter.




 




“Potter! Look what you made us do!” said Lily, rubbing her bruising knees.




 




“You’re the one who knocked into me—Wait!” James froze. “I think I hear…The ice is cracking!”




 




Lily gasped and tried to stand up but fell flatly on her back.  James and Summer began laughed hysterically. Lily spun around and glared at them, realizing that the ice had never cracked but her twitching lips gave in and a loud, ridiculous laugh escaped.




 




“You bloody prat!” She crawled over to where James was still lying and pounded him in the shoulder.




 




The two of them fell into a heap of breathless laughter and neither one of them noticed when someone emerged from the castle and headed purposefully toward the lake. It was Remus, who had been sent to find James. He stopped short when he was close enough to identify the three figures playing on the frozen water. 




 




Without further ado, he turned and strode back up the hill, slamming the doors behind him.




 




 




*          *          *




 




“Uh, oh.”




 




“What’s the matter?” Lily asked James quickly, a smile still playing on her lips.




 




“I completely forgot…We’re fifteen minutes late for that damned prefect meeting!” he groaned.




 




“We are the worst Heads ever!” said Lily, getting to her feet. “See you later, Summer!”




 




James and Lily hurried as fast as the ice would allow them to move off the lake and ran up the snowy hill to the school. They barged into the prefect lounge, panting and flushed.




 




“We…are…so…sorry!” gasped Lily immediately. “We were, uh, busy with something and lost track of time!”




 




“Gee, I wonder what they were so busy with,” said Bellatrix loudly. “You’d think they’d gotten enough of that last night.”




 




Lily’s face burned and even James, who always kept cool, blushed.




 




The prefects stared snidely at them. Lily tried to meet their eyes in an attempt not to look as mortified as she felt. After all the work and dedication she had put into becoming a well-respected student, all of it was forgotten as soon as she did anything suspicious. It made her sick. She turned to James. How could anyone believe that she would do…anything with him? The whole thing was absurd.




 




He was glaring at Bellatrix, despite his red face. “Are you finished?” he asked.




 




Bellatrix smirked. “As long as you are.”




 




“All right, that’s enough,” snapped James. He stared evenly at the group, squaring his shoulders. “It isn’t really any of your business but as long as this one here is spreading lies, I’ll have you all know that nothing has happened between me and Evans. You all can either grow up and get over whatever rumor you heard so we can get down to this meeting or you can leave.” 




 




He waited and the prefects averted their eyes. No one moved. “All right then. First order of business…”




 




The meeting lasted for another half hour. No further comments were made by any of the students. They seemed to balk at James’s ferocious sincerity.




 




When Lily closed up the meeting by reminding them to confiscate all Fanged Frisbees and dungbombs, everyone got up to leave without saying a word to Lily or James. Lily wondered who they would believe, James or Bellatrix. Either way, she could not believe what James had said. After years of trying to get her to go out with him, he was going out of his way to make sure people knew they weren’t. She looked around to thank him. But the room was already empty.




 




Sighing, Lily went to leave but stopped when she saw Remus in the doorway.




 




“You couldn’t have told me?” he asked. His jaw was set.




 




“Tell you what?” asked Lily, edgily. Nice way to start a conversation with the girl who may or may not be your girlfriend, she thought bitterly.   She had hoped he, of all people, would see how crazy the rumor was and show her some sympathy.




 




“Why didn’t you tell me?”




 




Lily narrowed her eyes at him, her frustration quickly growing to a dangerous size. She made an impatient gesture with her hand. “Elaborate please.”




 




“About you hooking up with one of my best friends,” he said angrily. “It would have been nice—”




 




But that was as far as he got.




 




“And why is that?” demanded Lily, her voice rising. “Because you have some sort of claim on me?! Sorry, but you never let me in on that one as you hardly ever talk to me! I didn’t even know if I was your girlfriend or not! So as far as I’m concerned, it’s none of your business who I hook up with, Lupin!




 




Remus’s eyes widened in shock. He had never known this side of Lily. James was the one who was so well-acquainted with her temper.




 




“You really did then?” he sputtered.




 




“ARE YOU NOT HEARING ME?” she yelled. “It’s not your problem! All you had to do was tell me how you felt about me but since you were never man enough, what I do with other guys is none of your concern! Understand?”




 




“It is if it’s with my best friend!” retorted Remus.




 




“How dare you think that for even one second! What kind of girl do you think I am? And can’t you at least—at least—have more a little more faith in James? Even I can admit that he would never do that to you! If you can’t trust me, then at least trust him!”




 




“I did until I saw you two being all cuddly on the lake!” countered Remus.




 




What?! You saw me on the lake with James and Summer so that makes you believe all the lies they’re spreading about us?  What is wrong with you?”




 




“All I’m saying is that it looks bad, Lily. You should really care more about what other people will think than having a little fun,” he said coldly.




 




Lily gaped at him. She was speechless for a moment as the full impact of his words hit her. “Was I fooled about you, Remus Lupin,” she said calmly, when she regained her voice. “You’re even worse than James and Sirius. At least they aren’t cowards. You’re pathetic.”




 




“Yeah, well, you’re not the girl I thought you were either!” said Remus. He rushed from the room without another word.




 




Lily stood rooted to the spot. She brought her shaking hands to her face and covered her eyes.  She was trembling in fury.




 




“Hey.” 




 




Lily looked up. James was standing in the doorway where Remus had been moments before.




 




“Were you eavesdropping?” asked Lily testily.




 




“Yes,” said James matter-of-factly, and strolled into the room. His bluntness irritated her. Why couldn’t he just pretend to be decent like everybody else?  “Don’t flatter yourself, though, I didn’t mean to. I left my cloak here but didn’t feel the need to interrupt your, er, conversation. Does this mean you two are done?”




 




“Do you really expect me to keep hanging around with that…that….” Unable to find a satisfactory word in her vocabulary to describe Remus, she ended with a bitter, frustrated groan that sounded more like a roar.




 




James seemed to bristle slightly. He took a step forward, a rather pleading expression etched on his face.




 




“I know he said some stupid things…but he’s going through a lot right now. He’s not really himself,” he said. “Just try not to murder him.”




 




But Lily still reeked with venomous anger. The dangerous stage had yet to pass and she could not stand there and listen to anything in favor of Remus.




 




“You’re standing up for him? But he even doubted you! Did you hear all those awful things he said?” she snapped. She threw her arms into the air. “I can’t take this! And, you know what? It’s all YOUR fault!”




 




James seemed taken aback. He didn’t try to argue but waited for her to explain.




 




“You got me into this whole mess with your bloody secrets and your mad tours and your…your…”




 




Lily choked back a sob and swallowed fiercely. “Oh, no no no no no…” she muttered under her breath. She began to pace, her fingers dug deeply into her hair. She blinked hard with determined force. She would not cry. Not here. Not in front of anyone…especially not Potter.




 




“Evans, everything’s all right. Don’t stress so much,” said James, gingerly placing a hand on her arm to make her stop pacing.




 




“No!  How can you say that? Remus hates me, Tara’s mad at me, and everyone thinks I slept with you! I have no idea how I’m going to fit five detentions into my schedule—and I have a massive headache!”




 




“You know very well that you’re just having one of those crazy fits and so you’re making this out to be way worse than it is,” said James, the corner of his mouth inching its way upward.




 




“I’m not having a fit!” she yelled stubbornly, whipping her arm out of his grasp and stomping her foot.




 




James grinned and tried to restrain a laugh. Lily tried to glare at him but the look on his face got to her in spite of herself. She dropped her shoulders and smiled reluctantly.   James allowed himself to laugh.




 




“I’m not having a fit,” she persisted quietly.




 




“Of course not,” scoffed James, as though the idea was preposterous. He glanced up to the ceiling and, as he swung around to face the door, he wrapped an arm around Lily.




 




He had done this many, many times before, always ending with Lily pushing him away in disgust. For the first time, she didn’t push him away.




 




James grabbed their cloaks and they walked that way until they reached the Fat Lady’s portrait.  Then Lily turned to face James, without meeting his eyes. He stared at her, waiting. The silence stretched on.




 




“Are you coming in or not?” asked the Fat Lady.




 




James turned toward the portrait, about to crack some wise remark. Lily seized this moment to do something neither of them expected. She reached out and wrapped her arms around his neck. After a split second, she stepped back.




 




“Thanks...for setting everyone straight,” she said, without looking directly at him.




 




James cleared his throat. “Anytime.”




 




Then Lily gave the password to the Fat Lady and climbed through the hole as quickly as possible. James didn’t move, an elated little smile on his face.




 




Lily paused and glanced through the hole at him. “Are you coming in or not?” she asked, mimicking the Fat Lady.




 




James grinned and rushed to follow her.




 




 




 




 




 




 




 











A/N:  I hope you like it, even though Remus acts like a ginormous jerk in it.  But at least Mr. Potter is nice...: ) 

One of my favorite chapters, I think.

As always, review.  Thanks.

Chapter 12: Lily's First Detention
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: January 15th, 2005


Suggested music: “Hourglass” by the Hush Sound


 


Chapter Twelve


Lily’s First Detention


 


 


 


“Look…She’s with him now, the tramp…”


 


“Who would have thought she was such a slut...”


 


“First Remus, then James…”


 


Lily was almost used to it now. Everyone loved to gossip about how she and Remus had broken off whatever they’d had after that fateful night in the classroom with James and Sirius. To add to their interest, she was now seen quite often with one of those two friends. After two days of all the glaring and whispering, she was getting very good at pretending she didn’t notice.


 


James, surprisingly, had made it all easier. He explained to Tara that nothing had actually happened and when Lily was around him, people were afraid to insult her, having seen the way he could duel Severus Snape. 


 


As for Remus, Lily could not concern herself with him anymore. It was simple; he had forsaken her when she had needed his trust…and James—despite all her efforts to repel him in the past— had not. That’s all there was to it.


 


Without a real conscious decision, Lily began to open her mind to James, and, all of a sudden, they were friends. James took care that she did not come to regret it. He kept her mind off the gossip by finding just the thing to amuse her, swiftly weaving himself into her life. It was so seamless, Lily barely noticed. She certainly never stopped to think about what had changed. It felt like he had always been there and in a way, he had, only now, she welcomed him.


 


That Monday, they made their way to McGonagall’s office together for their first detention. Sirius and Summer lagged behind, laughing over something. Lily was absorbed in James’s chatter about his plans for the Quidditch team, forgetting that she was heading toward something as unpleasant as her first detention.


 


When they reached McGonagall’s office, Lily stared at the door. She took a long unsteady breath, wishing she could turn around. James peered sideways at her and winked. She exhaled deeply. James raised a hand and knocked on the door.


 


“Come in,” came the severe voice of Professor McGonagall.


 


James opened the door and they stepped inside. McGonagall was sitting behind her large, tediously-organized desk.


 


“Good evening,” she said, briskly standing up. “You will be doing something useful for your detentions tonight. Mr. Black and Ms. Evans, you will be helping Professor Sinistra tonight in the Astronomy tower. She prefers all her equipment to cleaned the muggle way. Mr. Potter and Ms. Liem, you will be helping Professor Kettleburn on the grounds.”


 


“Yes, professor.”


 


“Don’t keep them waiting,” she ordered.


 


They left the office and went off to their assigned posts; Sirius and Lily in the Astronomy Tower and James and Summer outside.


 


“This will be jolly good fun, I’m sure,” declared Sirius.


 


“Oh well, what can you do?” replied Lily absently.


 


Professor Sinistra, a fresh, young teacher, smiled and taught them precisely how to clean the telescopes and models. Then, she left them to get down to work. 


 


Lily delicately picked up a rag and a telescope from the closet and began to shine it with a resigned sigh.


 


“You better get moving or we’re going to be here all night,” Lily told Sirius, who was pulling something out of his robes. “What are you doing?”


 


“I just want to see what Prongs and Liem are stuck doing,” said Sirius, without looking up.


 


Lily then saw that the thing he was holding was a mirror. She put down the telescope and went to stand next to him so she could examine it closer.


 


Lily smirked. “Why do you have a mirror?” she asked, raising her eyebrows at him.


 


“Oh, Evans, it’s not what you’re thinking…I don’t need a mirror to tell me I’m gorgeous,” assured Sirius. “Got plenty of girls handy to do that. This is a little more useful.”


 


“What do you mean?”


 


“James,” said Sirius.


 


Lily’s expression changed from skepticism to amazement as she watched Sirius’s reflection vanish and James’s face take its place.


 


“Padfoot!” he exclaimed.


 


“Jimmy, mate!” said Sirius. “How’s Kettleburn treating you?”


 


“He’s making us shovel the Nogtail dung out of the pen,” he grimaced. “But he left us alone…”  


 


Summer’s face appeared next to James’s. “Lily! Blimey, where’d you get this thing?” she asked. “You’ve got it easy. This is disgusting!”


 


“Not that easy…Sinistra’s got about a hundred telescopes,” said Lily, groaning. “And you should see how she’s making us clean them.”


 


“You mean you’re really not going to use any magic?” asked James, looking at Sirius with surprise.


 


“She said we had to do it the muggle way—”


 


“Course we are! What, do you think I’m a house-elf or something?” said Sirius.  “Aren’t you?”


 


“Hell yeah. A few simple spells will do the trick. Then we kick back and relax until he comes back,” said James airily.


 


“We are? But—” began Summer.


 


“—Yeah, yeah, we’re not supposed to. So what? They should know better than to tell us not to use magic then leave us alone to do the job,” scoffed Sirius.


 


“Won’t they know?” asked Lily.


 


“Possibly. But they’ve never said anything before. And how many times have we done it, Prongs?”


 


“At least fifty…They love thinking that they’re making us do ‘real labor,’” grinned James. “You girls are welcome to do it by hand if you really want to.”


 


“But please, don’t let me hear you complain about it,” Sirius said to Lily. Then he turned back to the mirror. “We’ve got to get to work then, Prongs. Have fun, you two.”


 


“We will,” James winked, then he and Summer disappeared.


 


Sirius put down the mirror and pulled out his wand. He pointed it at the telescopes lined up in the closet and said, “Scourgify!” Half of them jumped up and shimmered, instantly free of dust. Then Sirius moved across the room and pointed at the grimy shelves solar system models and made half of them sparkle with the cleaning spell. He lowered his wand and smiled at Lily as he blew on the end like a cowboy in the old Western films Lily’s father watched.


 


“I love magic!” he declared. “My half is done. Are you sure you want to do all yours with a rag?”


 


Lily hesitated but finally said, “Fine, do the spell.”


 


“That’s my clever girl,” gushed Sirius, patting her head.


 


Then he cleaned the rest of the telescopes and models with two skilled flicks of his wand.


 


“Don’t worry. They always say that they can tell the difference between the muggle way and magic— but, they never can,” said Sirius, answering her doubtful expression. “Except maybe Dumbledore. Once they made me and James clean the entire Great Hall by hand after we charmed all the plates to mash food into everyone’s faces. Dumbledore inspected our work and he kept going on and on about how fast we could clean.”


 


“Oh yes, I remember when you did that,” said Lily coldly. “I got hot stew shoved into my face.”


 


“Evans, Evans, Evans,” Sirius said wearily, shaking his glossy black head. “Don’t hold a grudges. Besides, you have to admit…it was brilliant.”


 


“I don’t have to admit anything.”


 


“Facts are facts.” He headed for the door. “I’m going to get a little snack. Want to come?”


 


“And get five more detentions?  Not a chance.”


 


Sirius shrugged. “Suit yourself. If Sinistra comes back to check on us, tell her I went to the loo.”


 


He closed the door, leaving Lily all alone. She shook her head and sat down next to the closet with a telescope and rag ready in case Sinistra decided to pop in. She waited there for Sirius to come back, getting so bored she almost wished she had gone with him. 


 


After awhile, she stood up and looked around the room. The winding staircase in the corner of the room that led to the roof appealed to her boredom. Lily climbed it and stepped out onto the roof at the top of the tower. The cold winter wind pushed her hair away from her face as she walked to the edge and leaned against the low wall, looking down across the grounds.


 


The sky around her was already a deep black, dappled with silver wisps of clouds. An enormous glowing moon, perfectly round and full, sailed through the haze above her. Lily watched it with awe.


 


Suddenly, a chilling noise sliced the silence of the night. It was an eerie howl, echoing throughout the grounds. Lily stepped back from the edge of the tower and shivered. She dashed back inside and down the staircase. She returned to her station next to the closet and went back to waiting for Sirius.


 


Sirius’s mirror, lying on a desk, caught the light of the great moon peeking through the window. Lily reached over and picked it up. She looked into the glass and spoke to it uncertainly.


 


“James.”


 


James appeared in the mirror. For some reason, his face eased Lily’s nerves.  


 


He looked surprised but grinned. “Evans!” Summer’s face moved in next to his. “How’s detention going?”


 


“Everything’s clean. What about you? Where are you?” she asked. From what she could see behind them, they no longer looked like they were outside. James appeared to be sitting inside a dimly-lit room.


 


“Hagrid’s. We Wingardium Leviosa-ed the dung then decided it was pointless to stay outside in the cold where it stinks,” he explained.


 


Lily knew Hagrid as the enormous gamekeeper who lived in the hut at the end of the forest but she had never really spoken to him before.


 


“Does he know you’re supposed to be in detention?” she asked.


 


“Sure he knows, don’t you, Hagrid?”  James looked up briefly from the mirror. “We told him the whole story and he thinks that if you can do magic, you should use it whenever you can. He won’t tell anyone…Padfoot and I, we’re his best mates. Speaking of, where is Padfoot?”


 


“He said he went to get a snack,” said Lily. “I don’t know when he’s getting back.”


 


“He left you all by yourself?” James asked, with a sympathetic smile.


 


“I wouldn’t go with him. Imagine how much more trouble we’d be in if we were caught,” said Lily.


 


If’ being the operative word, Evans,” said James, fixing a look of mock wisdom on his face.  “You’re always afraid of the ifs. But they’re never as scary as they seem.”


 


Lily laughed and rolled her eyes. “You’re so deep, Potter.”


 


“It’s a gift,” replied James loftily. “Well, we’d better go.”


 


“See you later, Lil,” Summer said.


 


“Okay,” The next moment Lily was staring at her own reflection.


 


She placed the mirror on the floor next to her and sighed. After a few minutes of agitated waiting, she heard footsteps climbing up the tower stairs and approaching the door. She snatched up the precaution telescope and started wiping it.


 


“I’m BACK!” yelled Sirius suddenly as he thrust the door open. 


 


Skittish, Lily jumped up and banged her head on the corner of a nearby desk. She groaned in pain and put a hand to her forehead.


 


“Ouch,” said Sirius unhelpfully, wincing at her clumsiness. “Did I frighten you, darling? I brought you plenty of warm, gooey pasties and a nice chess set I nicked from some first-year. Are you any good?”


 


Lily’s impulse was a delighted smile at the pasties and cakes he presented to her in a brown paper bag. She had used her dinnertime to get some homework done before detention. Then she remembered the badge pinned to her robes.


 


“You stole it from a first-year?”


 


“I’ll give it back to the kid. What do you think I am?” he asked, flashing her an are-you-crazy smile that she returned with a look of scorn. “Don’t answer that. Just think of it as borrowing without asking.”


 


“Nah, it’s easier just to say stealing.”  Lily smirked as he set up the chessboard in between them and handed her a cake. “I’m rotten at this game.”


 


“So am I, believe it or not. It’s my only flaw.” He grinned. “Prongs and I still try to play just to bug Moony. He loves chess and gets really aggravated when we just sit and insult each other’s pieces.”


 


Lily took a bite of her cake and gave no indication that she even knew Remus. The mere thought of him still infuriated her.


 


“I’m guessing it’s Potter’s only flaw too?” she asked wryly.


 


“Ha…you should hear him try to sing!” said Sirius and Lily chuckled.


 


So they sat on the floor of the Astronomy classroom, arguing over the rules of chess and stuffing their faces with pasties. If someone had told Lily a week prior that is where she would be and who she would be with, she would have said they’d been drinking too much firewhiskey. Yet there she was, in detention and enjoying herself.


 


When they heard Professor Sinistra marching up the stairs hours later, they hastened to hide the bag of cakes and chess set and pretended to be finishing up their chore. Sinistra praised them on a job well done and dismissed them.


 


Lily, amazed and relieved, wanted nothing more than to go to the comfort of the common room but Sirius dragged her off in the other direction. He led her outside, where the moon made the snow glow silver, toward a little hut on the edge of the forest with warm light gleaming from the windows.


 


Sirius knocked on the gamekeeper’s door and Lily waited next to him, listening to the laughter inside.


 


The big door swung open and Hagrid came into view. His beady black eyes crinkled into a smile.


 


“Sirius! Come ter join us, eh? Good, good, the more the merrier!” he said. “And who’ve yeh brought along?”


 


“I’m Lily Evans. Nice to meet you,” said Lily.


 


“So yer Lily Evans, eh? Heard plenty ‘bout yeh! Top of yer class, Head Girl, a Quidditch star…pretty too—James is right,” said Hagrid, beaming.


 


Lily smiled blushingly and liked Hagrid immediately.


 


He beckoned them inside. Lily noticed him send a look of approval at James, who was sitting at a large table with Summer, as he closed the door. 


 


“What would yeh like? Tea? Cake?” he asked them.


 


“Tea’s fine, thank you,” replied Lily.


 


“Yeah, just tea, Ruby.’ Sirius sat down next to Summer as Hagrid turned to get their tea ready. Lily took the chair next to James. “Don’t you want any cake, Evans?” asked Sirius deviously.


 


“I’m not hungry. We ate all those—” Lily protested.


 


“No, Lil,” Summer stopped her. “You made a good decision, trust me. I had some of Hagrid’s cake because someone recommended it,” she said quietly, glaring at James, who gave an innocent shrug. “I think I cracked a few teeth.”


 


They laughed softly and Lily said, “Thanks for the warning, Sum.”


 


“Here yeh are.”  Hagrid set two steaming teacups in front of Lily and Sirius and joined them at the table. “So, how’s school goin’ for yeh, Lily?”


 


“It’s all right….Been sort of tough lately,” answered Lily.


 


“Remus is being a prat to her about this whole thing,” offered James making it was clear that Hagrid had heard about the events that had stirred all the rumors. 


 


Hagrid frowned. “Really?” he asked, surprised. “Ah, well, not ter worry. He’ll come around. Remus is a sensible lad.”


 


“Maybe, but he’s been acting like an idiot,” sighed Lily, taking a sip of her tea. Then she yawned widely. “I’m so stressed out…I have so much work to do and with these detentions every night, I won’t have any time to do it. It’s been a crazy couple of days.”


 


“Try not to let it get ter yer. Marks aren’t e’erythin’,” said Hagrid.  “Just keep yer friends close. Best advice I’ve got.”


 


Lily nodded, inadvertently catching James’s eye. For a moment, they peered at each, before casting their eyes elsewhere.


 


Then Sirius inquired about Hagrid’s latest expeditions in the forest, launch them through a series of stories about Hagrid’s adventures as gamekeeper. Lily listened intently and found herself entranced, enjoying the peaceful time with a newfound friend. She had never imagined that Hagrid was so interesting and from his stories, she could see how caring he was underneath his frightening appearance, equal to all species.


 


“It’s really late,” said Summer  as she checked her watch, breaking a brief silence. “We should go. Thanks so much, Hagrid.”


 


“Yeah, thanks for the tea. I’m sorry we haven’t gotten to know each other before, Hagrid,” said Lily, getting up from her chair. “I hope you won’t mind me coming back for another visit.”


 


Hagrid was about to reply, but a sharp rapping at the door distracted him. He opened the door as Lily, Summer, James, and Sirius exchanged a quick look. Lily’s stomach flipped over when she saw who it was. Professor McGonagall stood on Hagrid’s doorstep, looking impatient and ever intimidating, even in the face of Hagrid’s towering height. 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 







A/N:  Something's a-brewin'...

How do you like this chapter?  Personally I think it could be cut altogether but I kept it in, because we get a glimpse of sweetie pie Hagrid and Lily and Sirius get to spend some quality time together.  Short and sweet--plus there's a cliffie at the end, which I always enjoy.

Anyway, REVIEW.

Chapter 13: Meeting Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: January 21st, 2005



Suggested music: “Wild Night” by Van Morrison



 



Chapter Thirteen



Meeting Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs



 



 



Lily suddenly felt dizzy. Everything was spinning out of control. A ball of nausea was forming in her stomach. She stared at McGonagall with building anxiety, waiting to see what awful thing was about to happen next. Her mind filled with all the worst possibilities yet at the same time, wipe clear. Expulsion was the first thing that came to her mind. They had ruined their last chance. Then it dawned on her that Hagrid would get in trouble too. Dread stabbed at her.



 



“Hagrid, there’s been another attack. Professor Dumbledore has asked for your assistance. You must go to his office immediately,” McGonagall said, worry in her sharp dark eyes.



 



Hagrid was off without another word. Lily watched him bound up to the castle through the doorway. Then Professor McGonagall turned to her nervous students.



 



“It’s nearly past curfew. I want you four to go straight to the Gryffindor Tower! Do not tell anyone what you’ve heard here. They will find out soon enough when we have all the facts,” she told them sternly. “Let’s go.”



 



In a daze, Lily followed Summer, Sirius, and James as McGonagall hurried them out of the hut and marched them to the castle doors. Along the way, James and Sirius pestered her with questions about the attack. She flatly refused to relinquish any information.



 



“What happened?”



 



“Don’t bother, Mr. Potter?”



 



“Did anyone die?”



 



“Mr. Black,” said McGonagall warningly.



 



“Professor McGonagall,” mimicked Sirius. 



 



Lily glared at him. He was really pushing it.



 



 “Where was the attack?”



 



“Mr. Potter! That will do.”



 



“Come on, Professor!”



 



“I suggest you stop now, boys.”



 



Lily was shocked at their nerve. Then again, was it nerve or purely stupidity? They were all on tenterhooks as it was, without the two of them harassing her for information.



 



Once inside the Entrance Hall, McGonagall pointed in the direction of the Gryffindor Tower.



 



“Now go to bed and get some sleep. Remember, keep the news to yourself,” she ordered, looking straight at James and Sirius, whose eyes widened in phony innocence.



 



“Can’t you just tell us how big it was?” asked James sweetly. “How many people were involved?” 



 



“Goodnight,” said McGonagall, with a note of finality.



 



James sighed reluctantly. They all turned to make their way to the Gryffindor Tower as McGonagall flew off in another direction. 



 



“Snidget,” Summer said when they reached the portrait hole. They scrambled inside, where the dying sparks of a fire greeted them wearily. 



 



“Well, I suppose we should go to bed like she said,” said Lily.



 



“No, maybe we’ll hear more news about the attack if we stay up,” whispered James. A few students were looking at them.



 



“Are you just getting back from detention?” Lily turned to see Tara standing up from her chair by the fireplace. She strode over to them, Di following. “How was it?”



 



“It was…” Summer began slowly, looking from side to side at Lily, James, and Sirius, “fun.”



 



Tara and Di’s faces filled with confusion. Tara looked as though she was going to inquire further but she was distracted by Sirius.



 



“Where’s Moony?” he asked.



 



“Remus? He left awhile ago with Peter…Hasn’t been back since,” shrugged Tara.



 



Something dawned on James and Sirius. They eyes sparked with understanding, as though there was something they had just remembered.



 



“Okay, uh, goodnight then,” said James. Then he and Sirius bounded up the boys’ dormitory staircase.



 



The girls exchanged bewildered looks.



 



“Well,” said Tara, apparently deciding it was best to ignore the boys. “I’m going to bed now.”



 



“Yeah, me too…long night,” said Summer, trailing Tara as she headed for the staircase.



 



“Are you coming, Lil?” asked Di, before she ascended behind them. She shot a calculating look at Lily, who still stood, rooted to her spot on the rug.



 



Lily hesitated. “I have some work I want to finish up first. I’ll be up in a bit.”



 



“Don’t work too hard, Lily. ‘Night.”



 



“Goodnight, Di.”  Lily nodded and Di disappeared up the stairs, leaving Lily alone in the dimming common room.



 



Lily did have some work to do. She found her bag and curled up in an extra squashy armchair with a notebook and a quill. She didn’t want to do the work, though. That had been a little lie. What she really wanted to do was watch for anyone sneaking out late from the common room…James and Sirius to be specific. Lily was sure they hadn’t rushed up to their dormitory to go to bed. They had something planned and Lily was determined to know what it was. Wasn’t a week’s worth of detentions enough for them?



 



She waited in the dark, long after everyone else had gone up to bed, the back of her armchair facing the boys’ dormitory staircase and her ears braced for the sound of footsteps.



 



Then she heard it. Slow footfalls, coming carefully down the stairs one-by-one.



 



Lily poked her head around the back of her chair, anticipating James and Sirius to appear in the stairwell entrance.



 



There was a feathery squelching noise and the footsteps stopped.



 



It’s McGonagall!” a whispered voice exclaimed.



 



Lily jerked her head toward the portrait hole. Professor McGonagall had just emerged. Lily froze and watched as her professor headed straight for the opposite side of the common room, taking no notice of Lily, and climbed the girls’ staircase.



 



“What do you think she’s doing?” came the whispered voice again from behind. 



 



“No idea. Let’s wait for her to come back down,” replied a second voice. Lily couldn’t determine which belonged to James and which to Sirius.



 



So the three of them waited.



 



A few minutes passed before they heard someone in the girls’ staircase. McGonagall stepped down and led someone across the common room. Lily’s bewilderment increased when she recognized the curly mop of hair of McGonagall’s new companion.



 



McGonagall and Di exited through the portrait hole, oblivious to the fact that they were being watched.



 



“Wasn’t that Diana Kendel?” hissed James—or Sirius.



 



Lily felt the urge to respond but wasn’t sure if it was the right moment to make her presence known.



 



“I think so…I couldn’t really tell. Wonder what’s going on,” replied his friend.



 



“Let’s get moving.”



 



Lily looked over her shoulder and expected to see James and Sirius walk by on their way out.



 



However, she never did.



 



She distinctly heard the shuffling of their feet passing behind her chair but she never saw them. Lily squinted in vain to see in the dark.



 



The bodiless scuffling was getting closer and closer to the portrait hole. Then the voices became audible again.



 



“Cover up your foot. I can see it.”



 



Lily peered though the darkness and had to restrain a gasp. There was a foot, detached from its body and wearing a long sneaker.



 



“I think we’re getting too big for this thing,” grumbled James or Sirius.



 



“Just make sure you’re all covered!  The last thing we need is to get caught. Wormtail’s alone with Moony.”



 



The foot vanished.



 



“All right.”



 



Then there was some scrambling and the opening and closing of the portrait.



 



Lily’s blankly befuddled mind began racing.



 



They were invisible! How?—an Invisibility Cloak?! Where were they going? Maybe they were going to find out about the attack! Maybe they would find out what was going on with Di! But…Wormtail’s alone with Moony? What did that mean?



 



What could they be doing?



 



Lily flung her notebook onto the floor and flew across the common room. The portrait creaked open and she jumped down into the corridor and stood motionless, waiting for a spark of a sound. The bright gleam of the moon through the windows cast long eerie shadows over the stone floor of the castle.



 



There it was…she heard them from somewhere at the far end of the corridor.



 



“Watch it! That was my head!”



 



“No, that was my head!”



 



The idiots.



 



She crept down along the wall, moving from shadow to shadow and following the sound of their footsteps and occasional whispers. They stole down a staircase, down a corridor and down another staircase. Lily furtively pursued them from a safe distance and wondered why they were heading toward the Entrance Hall.



 



They entered a large corridor and began descending the marble staircase leading to the Hall. Lily was so focused on following them that she almost forgot to skip the trick stair. At the bottom, they crossed the Hall and yanked open one of the double doors. A gust of icy wind burst through. Lily tiptoed closer and slipped out the door before it could shut behind them, her curiosity expanding.



 



Across the moonlit grounds the boys walked, faster now. Lily placed her feet in their footprints, gently making her way after them through the cold. 



 



Lily thought they might be heading back to Hagrid’s but they bypassed the hut and tramped up the slope in the direction of the Whomping Willow. Strange. Lily remembered playing by the tree in her first year with the other students, trying to get as close to the trunk as possible without getting knocked out by one of its thrashing branches. Lily still had a scar on her shoulder where it had whipped her once before it was prohibited.



 



As they got closer, there was no doubt that they were headed for the tree. What were they going to do at the Whomping Willow? She couldn’t have turned back if she wanted to, so strong was her desire to know.



 



The footprints stopped just outside the reach of the flailing limbs. Lily inched near enough to hear them.



 



“Shit.  I forgot about this part,” groaned Sirius, throwing off the cloak, finally making himself and James visible again.



 



“The one thing Wormtail’s useful for and he’s not here to do it,” said James.



 



“Damn it! We could have been on time and gone in with Moony and Wormtail if we hadn’t had detention! Last time I had to do this, I nearly broke a rib!”  Sirius growled, turning to James and saying dully, “I’m going to have to do it, aren’t I?”



 



“Sorry, Padfoot,” replied James matter-of-factly.



 



Lily was raging with curiosity at this point.



 



“Okay,” said Sirius, taking a massive sigh. “Shut your mouth, I need to concentrate,” he ordered, though James hadn’t been making any noise.



 



Silence. They just stood there. 



 



Then Sirius transformed.



 



Lily’s mind whirled out of control as she gaped at the black dog that had, just a moment before, been Sirius. She couldn’t think; she just stared. 



 



James gave the dog’s head an encouraging pat. Then dog slowly approached the tree. He bent his front legs into a crouch, as though bracing to pounce. He waited for several minutes his tail wavering slightly in the air, eyeing the tree. Lily’s heart thudded against her ribs.



 



Suddenly, seeing an opportunity, the dog sprinted toward the trunk. Lily gasped. The animal skillfully dodged a swinging branch and brought a paw up to the trunk. The tree froze but it was too late: James had heard her.



 



He spun around and saw her standing, shocked in the snow.



 



Evans? What are you doing here?!”



 



The dog turned its head quickly, saw Lily, and growled.



 



Lily was trembling rather violently, partly from the cold but mostly because of the bitter anger what she found herself facing.



 



“I…I…th-thought…”



 



“What?” snapped James. The dog’s throat rumbled again.



 



“I thought you…were…go-going to find some-something out about…Di,” Lily finally managed to say. “What…?” She trailed off, weakly, pointing at the black dog standing by the tree.



 



All of a sudden the dog became Sirius again. He was outraged.



 



“Yes, so now you know, Evans! We’re illegal Animagi! Yeah, that’s right!” he shouted viciously.  “Congratulations! Now go run off and tell the first teacher you see so you can get some more brownie points to add to your famous collection. GO!”



 



“I’m not go-going t-tell!” she yelled in return, tears swelling under her eyes.



 



Then she turned and ran.



 



“Evans!”



 



Lily twisted around to look back. A blood-curdling howl erupted from the lake, echoing forebodingly. It was identical to the one she had heard at the top of the Astronomy Tower earlier that night.



 



She screamed and fell into the sharp, jagged snow. It bit into her hands like cold knives.



 



What the hell?!” she heard Sirius shout.



 



She got up and looked back at them. They were peering in the direction of the lake.



 



“That’s a werewolf…” breathed Lily. “…I think.”



 



No, really, Evans?” shouted Sirius, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “That’s REMUS!”



 



Lily didn’t know how to begin process this bit of information. She didn’t have much time to try, anyway. Something scurried by Lily’s feet and halted in front of James and Sirius. It was screeching and whimpering with all its might.



 



“Shut up, just transform already!” yelled James urgently.



 



The rat looked back at Lily.



 



“It doesn’t matter. She knows,” said James, in a tone Lily couldn’t read.



 



It took several minutes but eventually, Peter stood in place of the rat.



 



“W-what’s going on? Why is she here?” he squealed, shaking.



 



“First tell us why Remus isn’t in the Shack!” shouted James.



 



Peter stumbled over his words in fear of James and Sirius’s wrath. “He…he was…re-really wild tonight and—and I…I thought…I thought I could handle…him till you…you got out—”



 



“You what?!” snapped Sirius, taking two aggressive steps toward Peter, as though he was about to hit him. Lily winced as she watched. “You’re nothing but a bloody rat! What made you think—JAMES!”



 



Lily blinked and suddenly James was gone. A stag was charging straight toward her at a startling speed. Lily tried to scream but all that came out was a wispy little gasp. Even in his anger, she could not believe what he was doing. Her mind wiped blank in terror, freezing her ability to tell her legs to run away as the stag closed the distance between them. 



 



“RUN, EVANS!” shouted Sirius in the background. 



 



The stag was inches away. Lily managed to dive out of its path, landing face-first in the painfully crusty snow. With her face buried in the cold, she squeezed her eyes shut.



 



Lily heard James collide with something just a few meters behind where she had been standing. She prayed it wasn’t what she thought it was. Then there was the sound of rumbling and breaking snow as the two creatures rolled around, growling and snaring teeth. Then Lily heard something else bounding toward her.  She glanced up to see Sirius, as the great dog, leaping across the snow to help.



 



She finally dared to look back. Sirius and James were tangled with a snarling, frenzied werewolf, trying to push it in the direction of the forest, away from Lily. The stag had a large gash on its neck but it didn’t seem to notice as it fought to get the werewolf’s jaw off the dog’s shoulder. Blood spattered everywhere.



 



Lily scrambled to her feet and backed away from the battle.



 



“JAMES!” she screamed desperately. “SIRIUS! STOP!  Stop it!



 



She was shaking fiercely as she curled her bleeding hands into fists and her heart something was strangling her heart but all she wanted was for James and Sirius to stop fighting the werewolf before it killed them. Her entire body quaked, the fear was so deep. It constricted her lungs.



 



“STOP!” she panted, hardly breathing. Frantically, she tried to think of something she could do. 



 



But the stag and the dog continued to struggle against the beast and soon they were slowly forcing the werewolf toward the forest. They disappeared into the darkness, leaving a trail of blood behind. Lily could only faintly hear the gnashing and snarling.



 



She stared after them long after they had gone from view, gasping sharply for air. Peter yelled to her but she didn’t notice. 



 



Years seemed to pass before the stag entered the glow of the moonlight so that Lily could see him. At last, she could take a breath.



 



The fur on his neck was soaked in a dark stain that matched the color of the liquid that glistened on the snow around where Lily knelt. She couldn’t remember going to her knees, but her brain gradually began to work again as her eyes watched him move closer. This time, she was not afraid of the animal. He trotted up close to her and then…



 



He was James again.



 



 



 



 



 



 









A/N:  Action is fun. 

Be a dear: REVIEW.  Please and thank you.

Chapter 14: Singing in the Dead of Night
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: January 28th, 2005



Suggested music: “Blackbird” by the Beatles



 



Chapter Fourteen



Singing in the Dead of Night



 



 



“James…” she choked. The sobs swelling in her throat blocked her air passage. She struggled to speak, as sharp, painful intakes of breath broke up her words. “James…I’m so…sorry…I nearly got….you killed. S’all…my fault. I…”



 



“Shh,” James hushed. He grabbed her by the arms and pulled her to her feet.



 



She was shivering, sobbing, and gulping for air and her strength…seemed to have left her somewhere between James charging at her and watching them wrestle the werewolf away.  Her legs collapsed under her weight.



 



James went down to his knees, took off his blood-stained cloak and wrapped it around her. He looked directly into her face.



 



“Lily. You’re hyperventilating. You need to calm down,” he said, slowly and clearly, holding her by the shoulders. “Sirius has Remus under control now. Everyone’s okay, there’s nothing to worry about. Try to get yourself together so I can get you inside the castle before you freeze.”



 



Lily forced herself to concentrate on breathing. It was difficult… the sobs just seemed to keep coming. She swallowed fiercely and tried to focus on what James was telling her.



 



“Wormtail!” James shouted to Peter standing alone by the Whomping Willow, whose branches had returned to their violent state of thrashing. “Bring me the Invisibility Cloak!”



 



Peter ambled over with the cloak and held it out to James. James took it and helped Lily up again, holding her steady.



 



“Go check on Padfoot,” he added to Peter.



 



Peter nodded and scurried away toward the forest.



 



“Come on, Evans.”



 



James pulled her arm over his shoulder and supported her all the way up to the castle. When they stepped into the Entrance Hall, James quickly draped the Invisibility Cloak over them and they walked up the marble staircase and started down the corridor at the top. Lily’s legs were had stopped shaking enough at this point so that she could walk on her own.



 



“I think I’m all right now, James— thanks,” she whispered.



 



“Okay,” he said, and she took her arm off his shoulder.



 



Then Lily heard voices. “Did you hear that?”



 



“No—what?”



 



“I don’t know…hang on…” Lily heard it again and began leading James around a corner. “I think it came from over there.”



 



“Yeah, I can hear it now,” whispered James. “It sounds like someone—”  They turned into another corridor, following the noise, and stopped short.



 



Walking in their direction was Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Diana Kendel, and Di’s little second-year sister, Evelyn, who was in Ravenclaw. Evelyn was bawling, the source of the noise they had heard. McGonagall’s arm was on the girl’s shoulder. Dumbledore walked next to Di, who stared directly ahead of her, her face completely expressionless.



 



Lily tried to go back the other way and almost walked right out from under the Invisibility Cloak. James caught her and yanked her back so that they were both flat against the wall.



 



Lily stared at the group in confusion as they passed. She was so far out of her wits that she could not even make a guess as to what was going on but James was putting two and two together…



 



“Lily,” he said gently, after they were out of earshot. “I think the attack may have been on Diana’s family.”



 



Lily stared at him.



 



“No, of course it wasn’t. No one would attack Di’s family,” she said, brushing the thought away. “That’s absurd. Besides, did you see her? I think she would look a little more upset.”



 



James looked away and sighed.



                                                                                                                               



“Let’s follow them to see what’s going on,” said Lily, beginning to walk.



 



“Come on, do you really want to do that?”



 



Lily kept walking, pulling him along so that they would both stay safely under the Invisibility Cloak.



 



“You call yourself a Marauder? Yes!  Let’s go!” answered Lily, vaguely mystified by James’s behavior.



 



They hurried down the corridor, tracing the steps of McGonagall, Dumbledore, Di and Evelyn. Lily grew even more intrigued when they entered the hospital wing. She urged James to open the door slightly so she could listen to what was happening inside. She peeked through the crack and saw Professor McGonagall talking quietly with Madame Pomfrey.



 



“…The girls will be staying here for the time being to rest before the funeral,” she was saying sadly to the nurse.



 



“Yes, yes, of course. They won’t be disturbed, I assure you,” promised Madame Pomfrey. Then she sighed. “It’s terrible…and so sudden! Does the Ministry know anything yet?”



 



“Not much, I’m afraid,” answered McGonagall grimly. “They believe the Death Eaters wanted the Kendels to join them…but they refused and then…”



 



Madame Pomfrey nodded tearfully.



 



Dumbledore came out from behind a closed curtain, looking troubled.



 



“Keep a close eye on them, Poppy,” he said quietly. “Especially Diana.”



 



“Of course…”



 



Lily looked away then. James gently closed the door and peered at Lily. He placed a hand on her shoulder and steered her down the corridor. Lily was distantly aware of climbing through the portrait hole and letting herself be directed into an armchair.



 



“No,” she said, after a long silence.



 



James looked up at her from his chair and waited for her to continue.



 



“It’s not fair. Di’s never done anything wrong. She’s never hurt anybody! She doesn’t deserve this.”



 



James remained silent, nodding his head slightly.



 



“How could this happen?” Lily went on. “Where are all the Aurors? I mean, it’s so random! Why the Kendels? It could have been anybody! Why Di’s parents?”



 



“It’s Voldemort. You’ve read the news. He kills people at random all the time. It won’t stop until somebody gets rid of him…and who knows when that’s going to happen,” said James gravely.



 



“But…but…someone has to be able to take control of him! It’s mad the way he’s taking over easily— James…your neck!” Lily cried when James turned his head, suddenly noticing of a large gash on the side of his neck.



 



James put a hand to his neck as though mildly interested in what he might find there.



 



“Uh, yeah. I forgot about that. I think it happened when I was trying to hold Moony back. I should probably get back out to him now.”



 



“No!  You can’t! Not with your neck like that! You should really go back to the hospital wing!”



 



“No way!  Evans, you don’t get it. No one can find out about this. Do you understand how much is at stake?” he said, his eyes deeply solemn.



 



“Yes, but your neck is a mess…” Lily countered a little more gently. Then something abruptly sparked in her memory and she jumped back in fright. “Wait…You got bit by a werewolf! That means…”



 



“I was a stag when I was bitten so I’ll be perfectly fine,” assured James and Lily relaxed. He eyed her tentatively. “But, Evans, you can’t treat Remus any differently…he’s still Remus, werewolf or not.”



 



“I’m not one of those blood-obsessed monsters, Potter! I don’t care what he is; I still think he’s a git.”



 



James seemed partly relieved and partly defensive.



 



“He’s not a git—” he began.



 



“—Let’s just not talk about him!” Lily said, holding up her hand. “I have a few questions about all this. How did you all manage to become Animagi? That’s extremely advanced magic.”



 



“I’ll explain everything later. Right now, I have to go back out in case Padfoot needs help,” he said resolutely, standing up. “You should get some sleep.”



 



Lily looked at him and saw that there would be no distracting him or changing his mind. She convinced him to let her put a cleansing spell on his wound, then she handed him back the cloak he had hung around her shoulders and watched him disappear underneath the Invisibility Cloak. The portrait swung open and then shut again, indicating his departure.



 



Lily leaned back in her chair and rubbed her eyes. She rested her head on her hand and sighed, feeling much older than she had that morning. She knew she wouldn’t sleep if she went to bed; she was too worried about everyone—Di, James, Sirius, and, despite her grudge, Remus. She felt so utterly helpless, sitting there in her armchair. They were in trouble and there was nothing she could do to stop it.



 



Poor Di…Sweet, selfless Di who cared about everyone but herself. Lily blinked back stinging tears. She thought of her grieving friend sitting alone with her hysterical sister in the hospital wing and sat up abruptly. That was it—she would go see Di. She had to. Di needed her.



 



She marched across the common room with a set face. She was no longer petrified of being caught …if James and Sirius could save her from a werewolf that they were risking everything for, well then, she could certainly sneak through the school at night.



 



Out of the portrait hole she scrambled, looking in both directions to make sure Filch wasn’t lurking nearby.



 



“Can’t everybody just wait till morning before coming and going and keeping me awake?” grumbled the Fat Lady, as Lily crept down the corridor.



 



Down a few more corridors and staircases and Lily was finally back at the doors of the hospital wing. 



 



Slowly, she pulled the cold handle of the door and peeked inside. It was very dark except for a candle burning behind one of the curtains. All the inhabitants had curtains drawn around them so Lily tiptoed through unnoticed. She poked her head around the shade where the candle was lit. There were two beds behind it. In one, Evelyn was sleeping soundly, the candle on her bedside table illuminating her sad, tearstained face. 



 



On the edge of the second bed sat Di. The bed sheets were still neatly made. Di’s back faced Lily, staring out the window at the moon hanging in the grey clouded sky. If Lily had seen her face, she may not have had the courage to disturb her.



 



“Di.”



 



Di turned slowly and seeing Lily, smiled.



 



“Oh, Di, I know— I heard…” Lily swiftly climbed over the bed and swept Di into a hug. 



 



Lily released her after a few moments and tried to look into her face but Di turned calmly away to gaze at her sleeping sister. Lily eyed her warily. She didn’t appear upset or angry or shocked…she was acting just as though it was any other day. Lily couldn’t understand it.



 



“She wouldn’t let Madame Pomfrey put out the candle…she was afraid to go to sleep in the dark,” Di whispered, still looking at Evelyn.



 



“I would be too…after what happened,” Lily said softly, also looking at the young girl.



 



“The dark isn’t that bad…” Di paused. “But I better stay awake in case she wakes up and gets frightened.”



 



“Di, go to sleep. It’s been such a hard night for you. I’ll make sure Evelyn doesn’t get scared,” Lily said, turning back to Diana.



 



“No, that’s all right, Lily.”  Di shook her head slowly. Then her eyes flickered over Lily’s face and they filled with concern. “Lil, you look exhausted. Are you feeling all right? Go back to bed. I don’t know what you’re doing here…If you get caught, you might get more detentions,” she said.



 



“I don’t care,” Lily said impatiently. “Di, come on. You need to talk to someone. I’m here…Tell me what you’re feeling.”



 



“I’m just worried you’re going to get sick…Are you sure you’re feeling all right?”



 



“Di, stop it. After what happened, you’re worried if I’m feeling all right?” exclaimed Lily. “You have to be wrenching apart…”



 



“Yes, but it won’t help to cry. I’ll be fine but Evelyn is so young…She needs me. Thanks for coming but it’s really late. You have classes tomorrow. Think about your grades, Quidditch…Go get some sleep, Lil.”



 



“Di, come off it. I don’t want to go to bed! I want you to tell me what you need, what you’re thinking,” Lily persisted, tears sliding down her cheeks.



 



Di smiled and reached up to wipe Lily’s cheek, catching a tear.



 



“Lily, I don’t need anything. Please, just go back to bed. I’d breathe easier knowing you were back in the Tower.”



 



Lily sighed resignedly and grasped Di tightly in another hug, whispering, “You’re the strongest person I know.”



 



Then she dashed back out from behind the curtain. As she made her way through the beds, she spotted a familiar potion bottle on a bedside table. On the label it said, “Hasty Healer: Mends cuts in a flash!”  Lily recognized it as the potion Madame Pomfrey used on her when she scraped her leg falling out of a tree in her second year.



 



Lily grabbed it and left the hospital wing.



 



 



*          *          *



 



“Evans…Evans…” a sing-song voice was saying.



 



Lily ignored whoever it was. Her muscles felt dead and she just wanted to be left alone so she could sleep.



 



They poked her in the arm. They were not going to leave her alone.



 



“Get up, Evans! Wild mountain trolls are taking over the school!”



 



Lily jerked away from the poking and blinked.



 



James was standing over her, grinning, and Sirius was snickering behind him. They both looked flushed and tired, their hair and robes disheveled.



 



What?” groaned Lily.



 



“Just a little trick to get you up,” shrugged James. “Have you been here since I left?”



 



Lily realized she was still in the common room, having fallen asleep waiting for the Marauders to return. She still held the healing potion in her lap. Through the window, the sky was paling into a mellow grey.



 



Lily nodded in response to James’s question.



 



“When did you get back?” she asked groggily. 



 



“Just a minute ago. Moony will be back later but he always takes a day in the hospital wing to get his strength back,” said James. “Transforming really drains his energy.”



 



“Oh,” muttered Lily. “How’s your neck?”



 



“Perfect, as always. Why do you ask?” said James, feigning ignorance.



 



“That’s rubbish, Evans,” cut in Sirius. “It split open again while we were heading to the Shrieking Shack and started bleeding all over the place. Prongs nearly fainted from all the blood loss.”



 



Lily scowled at James and James scowled at Sirius. She stood up, showing him the potion.



 



“I got this for you. Sit down…I’m going to put some on your neck,” Lily ordered in a way that rivaled Professor McGonagall. James promptly obeyed. “What do you mean, Sirius? Why were you were heading to the Shrieking Shack?”



 



“Oh, I thought Prongs explained it all to you,” said Sirius, taking a seat across from James’s chair. “You might as well hear the whole thing anyway. The Shrieking Shack is where Moony transforms.” He grinned, and Lily was glad to see that he seemed to have forgotten his anger. “That’s why everyone thinks it’s haunted. The Whomping Willow is planted right over the entrance to the passageway that leads to the Shack. Dumbledore arranged it all so Moony could come to school.”



 



Lily listened, fascinated, as she took a clean towel she had retrieved from the girls’ bathroom and poured some of the potion onto it.



 



“Moony…” she murmured. It dawned on her that this was the secret Remus had mentioned in the little café during the Christmas holiday. Had that really been important to her? It all seemed so stupid now. “That’s where those names come from.”



 



She pressed the towel to the cut on James’s neck. He twitched away and twisted around to look up at Lily.



 



“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” he demanded.



 



“Yes! The directions are on the bottle!” retorted Lily, firmly holding the rag back up to his skin.



 



“Why does it sting so much?” snapped James.



 



“Stop whining…I have to keep the towel here for a whole minute for it to work properly,” said Lily irritably. “Think you can handle that?”



 



Reluctantly, James turned his head back around so he faced Sirius again. Sirius sniggered, obviously at something James was doing that Lily couldn’t see. Lily squeezed the towel harder against James’s neck.



 



James winced. “Not so hard!”



 



“I saw that face you made,” Lily returned.



 



“What face?”



 



“Tell me, Sirius,” said Lily loudly, ignoring James. “Some fully-trained wizards can’t even manage to become successful Animagi. How the hell did you guys do it?”



 



“What can I say? We were no ordinary group of fifteen-year-olds,” said Sirius, smiling smugly.



 



You were fifteen?



 



“We’ve been working on it since we figured out Remus is a werewolf,” James explained. “By our fifth year, we finally got it to work. Sirius and I had it down first but Peter took awhile. He still has trouble with it.”



 



“Where is he anyway?” asked Lily, keeping the towel on James’s cut.



 



“He went upstairs to sleep when we got back. He doesn’t handle the late nights so well,” answered Sirius. He swept a lock of silky hair out of his eyes with an elegant flourish. “So, Evans, I heard you got pretty upset when you thought James and I were going to die.” He raised his eyebrows.



 



Lily glared down at the top of James’s head but chose to ignore Sirius. She still couldn’t believe everything that had happened.



 



“I think it’s been a minute…” She removed the towel and examined James’s neck. “It worked!  You’re good as new.”



 



James lifted a hand to his neck to feel for the wound. The cut had completely vanished, the skin having healed over, and all that was left was some dry blood. Lily wet the towel with her wand and washed it off.



 



“Why thank you, Evans!” Without any notice, he grabbed her hand and kissed it.



 



Lily snatched it back and shot him a slightly surprised look.



 



“You’re welcome, Potter,” she said calmly. “See you guys later. I’m going up to get some rest before class starts.”



 



With that, Lily walked around James’s chair and headed for the girls’ dormitory staircase.



 



“That’s it?”



 



Lily turned back around to face Sirius, who was frowning at her. She flashed him an inquisitive look.



 



“What happened to the yelling? The face pummeling?” he demanded in disbelief. “Prongs just kissed you, Evans. I want some action!”



 



Lily waved her hand offhandedly. “Oh, put a lid on it, Black.”



 



“Yeah, Padfoot, put a lid on it,” added James, grinning broadly.



 



“You too, Potter,” said Lily, before climbing the stairs.



 



 



*          *          *



 



Lily stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel, sighing in relief. She dressed and put on some clean robes, feeling somewhat refreshed after her crazy night.



 



Lily wandered back into the dormitory and saw that Summer and Tara were still sleeping, apparently unaware that their friend hadn’t come to bed until dawn.



 



Lily flicked on her music—the Beatles— which conveniently worked in waking her friends. Lily had always been known in her dorm for her love of music. Ever since she was very little, she had loved listening to her father’s records. When she came to Hogwarts, she didn’t stop listening to the muggle music, but simply added some of the wizarding kind to her collection.



 



“Ah, Lily, it’s so early!” moaned Summer, blinking. She sat up slowly, her eyes squinted and her hair in disarray.



 



Tara, on the other hand, rolled over and sat up without a fuss. Once Tara was awake, she was awake. “Where’s Di?”



 



Lily hesitated, not exactly sure how to explain. “Di’s in the hospital wing,” she said quietly.



 



“Why?” asked Summer, her voice laced with urgency.



 



“The attack that we heard about from McGonagall was on Di’s parents,” explained Lily. “They were killed.”



 



Summer and Tara looked aghast.



 



“No!” gasped Tara disbelievingly.



 



“Poor Di…” whispered Summer.



 



“We can go visit her at break before she leaves for the funeral,” said Lily.



 



“We need to go now! Di needs us, we can’t wait till break!” Tara said, horrorstruck, as she swung out of her bed.



 



“No…I think she’d be overwhelmed,” said Lily firmly. “I talked to her last night and she would want us to go on with our day normally…not skive off classes. I’m not even sure Madam Pomfrey will let her have visitors.”



 



“You went to the hospital wing last night?” asked Summer quickly.



 



“Well, yeah. I was doing some work and I saw Di leave with McGonagall so I followed them later and snuck in to see Di,” explained Lily, carefully leaving out several details.



 



“Fine, we’ll go at break then,” Tara said, giving in. “I still think we should be with her…I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”



 



“I suppose we should get ready for class, then,” said Summer.



 



Lily nodded.  Summer and Di went off to the bathroom to shower and get dressed.



 



Lily curled up on her bed, waiting for them to finish. The Beatles began to sing ‘Blackbird’ on her charmed record player. She looked up at the window, striped with trails of raindrops sliding down the glass.



 



Blackbird singing in the dead of night.



 



Lily thought about her parents at home. She wondered what it would be like if they suddenly weren’t there anymore. Her eyes followed raindrop after raindrop as they fell slowly across the window panes.



 



That was how it was going to be for Di from now on…no mum or dad to welcome her home. One minute she had parents, the next, she was an orphan.



 



The trails of rain criss-crossed and collided…



 



Her parents hadn’t done a thing to provoke it. They had simply lived. But that was enough for Voldemort. Enough for him to kill.



 



More water splattered onto the window. There was now a tangled web of water.



 



It could happen anyone…



 



Harder and harder the rain poured, the pearls of water swelling and swiveling faster and faster. They merged, all heading downward against the glass.



 



Anyone Lily cared about…her family, Summer, Di, Tara, all her friends, even James, Sirius and Remus, ridiculous though they were deeply engraved in her life, whether she liked it or not …



 



They joined together into one giant flow of water, impossible to tell one raindrop from the other.



 



…And she couldn’t imagine it without them. 



 



The rain splashed down the window like a river, distorting the grey background.



 



They were living in this moment, which made them susceptible to the killing. To this war. They could be gone, just as easily as Di’s parents.



 



All at once, the fall of rain weakened. The stream leaked out into separate threads of water, sinking downward, alone, once again.



 



…Whether she liked it or not.



 



Take these broken wings and learn to fly.



 



“Lily? Are you ready?”



 



The song ended. Lily got up from her bed, turning away from the window, away from the truth.



 



 



 



 







A/N: Whew, another chapter...How was it?

The ending part was kind of this weird inspiration I had.  I wanted to show how Lily is starting realize that the rise of Voldemort is actually affecting her life.  That it's not just headlines in the Daily Prophet.  I was listening to the song Blackbird when I wrote it and it really set the tone.  So I decided to weave it in.  If you've heard it, you understand.  If you haven't...Seriously, uh, get on that, dude.

Thank you for reading.  Nothing could flatter me more---except maybe a review.  Yeah, those are pretty cool.


Chapter 15: Right Again
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: January 31st, 2005


Suggested music: “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel   (<this song has always reminded me of Lily and James.)


 


Chapter Fifteen


Right Again


 


 


Lily leaned her head heavily on her hand as she stared at the quill in her hand, as though this would make it write the notes Professor Ryndna had instructed them to take. Around her, the rest of the Defense Against the Dark Arts class was scribbling away, glancing up periodically at the blackboard.


 


Lily blinked and looked up at the board where Rynda had scrawled notes on various blocking spells. Slowly, she wrote a word. She wiggled her quill mindlessly, her hand becoming impatient with the slow pace of her brain. Lily watched the feather of the quill flutter in her hand. 


 


Summer glimpsed up from her work and raised her eyebrows. Lily didn’t notice. Instead she let her head slide down to rest on her arm. Her pen gradually stopped swirling as Lily drifted from consciousness.


 


Lily?  Lily, wake up!” hissed Summer.


 


Lily opened her eyes with great reluctance. It had felt nice to rest…


 


Summer was staring at her with concern and Professor Rynda was bending over her, frowning. Behind them, the class looked on with interest.


 


“Are you feeling all right, Ms. Evans?” asked Rynda.


 


Her surroundings not really sunken in yet, Lily shook her head dazedly without even lifting her head off her arm.


 


Rynda straightened. “Will somebody please escort Ms. Evans to the hospital wing?”


 


Summer stood up automatically but a loud voice spoke up from the back of the room.


 


“I’ll take her, Professor!”


 


“Go on then, Mr. Potter,” said Rynda sharply before striding back to the front of the class.


 


Summer scowled and sat down, dejected. James jumped to his feet and sauntered over to Lily, wrapping a hand around her arm to help her to her feet. Summer raised her eyebrows at Lily once more, clearly waiting for her to protest. Lily ignored her and allowed James to steer her out the door. Secretly, she was relieved that James was escorting her. She knew her best friend would ask unwanted questions and she was too tired to think up excuses. 


 


But on their way out, she heard some whispers among the class and knew that this arrangement was only feeding the ever-hungry gossip.


 


“Let them talk,” said James quietly, causing Lily to stare at him. “What?” he asked after a moment.


 


Lily looked away. “Nothing,” she muttered.


 


There was a short silence as they walked before James said, “All worn out from last night?”


 


“Yeah, I’m exhausted,” replied Lily.


 


“Do you want to forget the hospital wing and just go to your dorm so you can sleep?” asked James. “I’ll cover for you in our next class. No one will know.”


 


That was exactly what she wanted. But this made Lily nervous. She didn’t like it—him knowing her so well.


 


“No, that would be skiving class,” she said. “…Something I don’t do.”


 


“Sure. But you do sneak out after hours and spend the night with a couple of guys…and cheat out of detention…and hang out few illegal Animagi—and steal potions?” asked James, turning to look at her. “That makes a lot of sense.”


 


“Enough, Potter,” snapped Lily. “You think that just because you got me to do all those things once that I’m suddenly a Marauder. Well, I’m not…nor will I ever be! Unlike you, I’m not proud of what I did and I don’t go around bragging about it!”


 


“Evans, lighten up! Skiving off one time because you’re too tired to lift your quill isn’t going to do any harm,” said James. Then he placed his hand back on her arm. “Come on, just let me take you back to the Gryffindor Tower—”


 


“No! Stop telling me what to do, Potter!” spat Lily, shaking him off. “Why are you doing this?”


 


“Because you’re so damn tired you’re making problems that don’t exist,” explained James, only causing her frustration to deepen. 


 


There he went again, being right. Lily was not going to take it.


 


“Since when do you know what I need?” she barked. “That’s not what I meant when I asked you why you’re doing this. I meant why are you always…why are you always around? You know, I don’t need you to take care of me.”


 


“You didn’t object when Moony was about to bite your head off,” said James, his voice tingling mysteriously.


 


Lily peered at him and saw what she had suspected she heard in his voice. His dimple stood out plainly in his left cheek and his mouth twitched. 


 


How dare he?


 


“What is so funny?” she snapped.


 


“Who’s laughing?”


 


“You’re about to!”


 


“But…take note of the decency I’m showing by restraining myself,” said James, wagging a finger.


 


Lily groaned with aggravation. “Not everything is a joke! You can’t take anything seriously. You think that flying around on your pricy broomstick, catching Snitches and impressing girls with your pranks on other defenseless people is all there is to life! Well, that’s not all, Potter!”


 


James looked at her. “You’re right.”


 


“What?”


 


“Something wrong with your ears, Evans? I said ‘you’re right’. Isn’t that what you want to hear?” he asked.


 


“Yes, but I don’t want you to say it just because it’s what I want to hear! I want you to know it,” said Lily angrily.


 


“But I do know it.” He smiled calmly. “You’re right. I know that there’s more to life than Quidditch and pranks.”


 


“And girls,” Lily reminded him.


 


“Perhaps…” said James thoughtfully. “But they are a big part of it.”


 


“Not the way you lead them all on just because you like to hear them tell you how wonderful you are,” retorted Lily.


 


“Mmm…right again.”


 


Potter!


 


“Evans?”


 


Lily didn’t know how to respond to the way he was acting. She had never had an argument where the other person agreed with everything she said.


 


“If…if you know I’m right, then why do you make Quidditch, pranks, and girls your whole life?” she finally asked.


 


James looked pensive for a moment while Lily waited for his answer, her arms folded across her chest. “Because it’s fun.”


 


Lily continued to stare at him.


 


“Your destination, my lady,” said James, bowing.


 


Lily looked up. She had been so caught up in quarreling with James that she hadn’t realized where they were going. She found herself face to face with the Fat Lady; James had led her straight to the Gryffindor Tower.


 


Lily glared at him before spinning on her heel and stalking off in the direction of the hospital wing without another word.


 


 


*          *          *


 


Lily stepped inside the hospital wing and glanced around. There was a boy lying on one of the beds, looking quite green and staring up at the ceiling. Di and Evelyn’s beds were empty. The only other area that looked occupied was a secluded corner, the curtains drawn. Madame Pomfrey came bustling out from behind it, shaking her head disapprovingly. She stopped when she saw Lily and asked, “What’s the matter with you?”


 


“I’m not feeling well…my professor sent me to get some rest,” explained Lily.


 


The nurse nodded and pointed to a bed.


 


“Lie down. I’ll tend to you in a minute,” she said, before disappearing into her office.


 


Lily eyed the office door cautiously before crossing the room and peering around the drawn curtain.


 


“Remus?” she whispered.


 


Remus turned his head to look at her. Lily was shocked to see him so worn and tattered.   Dark shadows loomed under his eyes and his skin was speckled with cuts and green bruises. He seemed too exhausted to even move his limbs.


 


“Lily?” he said, lifting his head slightly. “What are you doing here?”


 


“Not important,” replied Lily shortly. “How are you feeling? Are you all right?”


 


“Come here, I don’t want anyone to hear…” he said in undertone.


 


Lily approached the bed and knelt down beside him.


 


“Lily…I’m really sorry…about everything I said to you. I was horrible. And last night, I could have killed you. If James hadn’t—”


 


“No, Remus.” Lily stopped him. “It was really stupid of me to follow James and Sirius outside. I almost ruined everything you have…If I’d gotten hurt, your secret would have come out and all that work you’ve put in to being normal would’ve been wasted. And you wouldn’t have gotten so beat up if it weren’t for me…I’m so sorry.”


 


Remus shook his head. 


 


“None of this was your fault, Lily. Wormtail let me out and I could have bitten anybody. I’m just disgusted at how I treated you after the prefect meeting. I’m not trying to make excuses but…” he sighed and looked at her somberly. “The day of the prefect meeting had been my brother’s birthday. That day’s always kind of rough for me, plus full moon was coming up and…I just wasn’t myself. I never should have believed a word of that stupid rumor and everything I said…well, I’m sick with myself about it. I couldn’t have acted like a bigger git.”


 


Lily thought back to when she had raged about Remus to James in the prefect lounge and recalled James trying to tell her that Remus was going through a tough time. In her fury, Lily hadn’t given it a thought but now she wished she had listened to him.


 


Why was he suddenly right about everything? It was really starting to irritate her.


 


She smiled kindly at Remus, an intense sympathy for him beginning to build inside her. He had such a difficult life and she had made it even harder for him. Lily cursed her temper.


 


“Remus, let’s just forget about the whole thing. I never want to think about that rumor again. As for last night, well, no permanent damage was done—thank goodness— so we don’t need to worry about it,’ she said, as brightly as she could.


 


“Yeah, Madame Pomfrey will have me fixed up as quick as a wink…she always does. Fortunately James and Sirius got there in time,” said Remus, smiling back at her.


 


Lily hid a guilty face with another beaming smile. 


 


She was already ashamed of her little unreasonable outburst at James.   He had just saved her life. She didn’t want to admit it, but she simply hated the fact that James knew her so well. It frightened her. They had just begun to be friends—how had he already come to understand her? Even on the day of the lake and the prefect meeting he had known exactly why she had acted the way she had….and just what she needed. 


 


Was she really that easy to figure out? 


 


Lily didn’t want all her thoughts and feelings out there for him to see. She wouldn’t be able to take that kind of exposure. To top it all off, James was always so arrogant about it, like it was a simple, and she was stupid for not understanding herself.


 


Privacy wasn’t the only thing that her friendship with Potter had come to cost her. Within the span of five days, it had landed her more trouble and more stress than she had ever experienced in her life. 


 


It’s not worth it.


 


Lily gave Remus a gentle hug.


 


“I have to go before Madam Pomfrey comes back,” she whispered, rising and returning to the bed the nurse had appointed her. 


 


She lay down. Her eyelids drooped, closing with relief, more than willing to let her worries sink into peaceful oblivion.


 


Then she felt someone’s presence hovering over her bed.


 


She forced her eyes open and blinked them into focus. Summer and Tara were casually looking around for something and did not notice Lily staring up at them. 


 


“Why aren’t you in class?” asked Lily, and their heads snapped around to face her.


 


“You’re awake!” said Tara.


 


“Madame Pomfrey said you’ve been sleeping since you got here— classes are over. It’s almost time for our detention,” explained Summer. “Are you all right?”


 


Lily blinked again as she tried to get her brain to process this information. It was an odd feeling; thinking that scarcely a minute had passed when in reality, it had been hours. It took a few moments to adjust.


 


“Lily?” asked Summer. “Are you feeling all right?”


 


“Yes…I’m fine. Blimey, I can’t believe how long I was sleeping…” she said. “I’m bloody starving.”


 


“Are you sure? Why were you so tired?” asked Tara.


 


“Had trouble sleeping last night,” replied Lily, looking around and observing that Remus’s bed was now empty. She sat up and ran her hands through her hair. “Can we go to dinner now?”


 


“I suppose, if it’s quick…and if Madame Pomfrey lets you,” said Summer.


 


As though on cue, the nurse hurried over and looked down at Lily with approval.


 


“My, you slept for ages, dear. You still aren’t looking too well. Do you want me to fetch you some Pepperup Potion?” she asked.


 


“No, thank you,” said Lily, standing up to prove she felt fine. “I just want to go to dinner and get something to eat.”


 


“All right, go on then. I suppose you’re well enough after such a long rest,” Madame Pomfrey said. Then she turned to go attend to the pale boy across the room.


 


“Madame Pomfrey,” said Summer, and the nurse stopped and looked around. “Where did Diana Kendel and her sister go?”


 


Madame Pomfrey’s face softened and she tilted her head to one side. “Are you girls friends of Diana’s?”


 


“Yes, and we know about the…uh…attack,” Summer said uncertainly.


 


“Dreadful, isn’t it?” Madame Pomfrey shook her head. “The girls have gone to stay with some relatives to attend their parents’ funeral and get their affairs in order. They won’t be back till next week or later.”


 


“Thank you.” The three girls left the hospital wing. “We have to hurry if you want to get a bite to eat. We don’t have much time before detention.”


 


They broke into a fast walk in the direction of the Great Hall. The scene that met their eyes when they rounded the corner distracted them from getting to dinner on time.


 


In the middle of the corridor was a large cluster of students, mainly comprised of girls. They were gathered around something that, judging by the way they were all laughing, was very entertaining.


 


Lily, Summer, and Tara moved closer and looked over a few girls’ shoulders. The source of amusement became clear at once. In the center of the group were four boys, James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter standing in front of a fifth…Severus Snape.


 


Remus was looking fully mended and healthy again though he looked tired out by the events around him. He looked on as James dangled Severus’s wand above him, just out of his reach. Occasionally, he tossed it to Sirius to let him take over. Peter laughed ridiculously hard, throwing in a few comments every so often to try, unsuccessfully, and make the swarming girls notice him. Severus was jumping around between James and Sirius, shouting swears and insults as he attempted to seize his wand.


 


Lily’s shoulders fell. Not again.


 


“Prongs…cut it out, mate,” said Remus.


 


“Aw, come on, Moony. We’re all just having a bit of fun with Snivelly here. His britches are always so knotted…He needs some loosening up!”


 


“Potter! Give me my wand or I’ll…I’ll…” yelled Severus.


 


“What are you going to do, Snivellus?” asked Sirius as he caught Snape’s wand and lazily started twirling it. “Hex us?”


 


The girls around him giggled as though it was some twisted circus. 


 


Severus’s lip curled into a snarl.


 


“You—you blood traitor!” he screamed, quivering with rage. “You have no idea who you’re messing with!”


 


Sirius yawned widely.


 


“Oh, hush, Snivelly. Don’t hurt yourself,” he sighed.


 


“Okay, that’s enough,” said Remus, reaching over Severus’s head and plucking the wand from Sirius’s hand. Sirius merely shrugged as Severus whirled around to glare at Remus.


 


“Give me that!” barked Severus, snatching his wand away angrily.


 


“Manners, Snivellus,” said Remus, wiping his hands on his robes with an air of disgust.


 


James and Sirius snickered.


 


Severus’s face suddenly twisted into a sneer.  “Manners? All right, then…Would you please tell everyone why you missed classes again today?”


 


Lily leaned forward to look from Remus to James to Sirius. What did he know?


 


Remus’s cool expression faltered. James and Sirius didn’t move, but narrowed their eyes warily at Severus. Most of the girls seemed confused.


 


“I was sick in the hospital wing,” answered Remus quietly.


 


“Just like last month, right?” said Snape, getting excited. “And the month before that! I find it rather odd how you—”


 


Severus’s mouth continued moving but his voice was cut off. Lily saw that James’s wand was raised.


 


“I think we’re all sick of hearing you talk,” he said calmly. “Why don’t you run off and take a shower or something? Merlin knows you need one.”


 


Severus clenched his fists and tried to yell a curse to send at James but the Silencing Charm stopped it from working properly. Nothing except a few weak sparks wheezed from the end of his wand. He stomped his foot in frustration as the girls laughed. 


 


Severus spun around and marched away, only to have Sirius shoot a Trip Jinx at him. He fell flat on his stomach and dropped his bag, his belongings scattering across the floor. Severus scurried to gather his things before dashing out of sight. 


 


Lily heaved a relieved sigh, glad that Severus had not let anything slip. She watched in abhorrence as the girls doubled over with amusement. None of them noticed Sirius bend down to pick up a piece of blank parchment that had fluttered out of Severus’s bag when he fell.


 


“What is going on here?”  Professor McGonagall came into view as she entered the corridor from the opposite end. She stalked over to investigate the source of disruption. “Come now, get along to where you need to be! Enough loitering!”


 


The crowd of girls hurried away, many of them waving coquettishly at James and Sirius. Lily was about to leave with Summer and Tara but McGonagall beckoned to her.


 


“You four…” she said, indicating Lily, Summer, James and Sirius. “I believe it’s time for your detentions.”


 


Lily groaned inwardly and muttered a “see you later” to Tara before following McGonagall.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 






A/N: There you go!  REVIEW!!  

Please with seven cherries on top (and loads of hot fudge, but that’s a given).


Chapter 16: The Diary of Snivellus Snape
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: February 8, 2005





Suggested music: “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan





 





Chapter Sixteen





The Diary of Snivellus Snape





 





 





“Peeves has taken the liberty of visiting Professor Alenas’s classroom and vandalizing the desks, not to mention set off several dungbombs. She will be supervising while you scrub the desks to get the writing off,” said McGonagall curtly, as they approached the door of the Ancient Runes classroom for their detention. 





 





She led them inside, where Alenas was sitting at her desk, adding another playing card to the top of a tower she was building. The desks covered in scribbles and Lily clamped her hand to her nose, trying to block the powerful smell of dung.





 





“Minerva! I see you have brought my next victims!” said Alenas in a strange, nasal voice, laughing heartily at her little joke. “Sorry if I sound a bit off. I put a Clogging Charm on my nose because of the smell.”





 





McGonagall forced a smile on her face and nodded. “Yes, they’re here to serve their detentions. I’ll leave you to deal with them.”  She swept out of the room.





 





“Hello,” said Professor Alenas, smiling. “I’m so glad you’re going to be getting these dreadful words off my desk…I’ll conjure up some soap and rags…if only I could find my wand….” She felt around her desktop for it, carefully avoiding her castle of cards. Then she placed a hand on her head in exasperation when she didn’t find it. “Where in the name of—Aha!  Here it is!”





 





Her face lit up as she yanked her wand from the bun on her head, letting her hair fall to her shoulders. Lily and Summer exchanged looks of concealed amusement.





 





“Silly me!” Alenas laughed. “Now—” she waved her newly-found wand. A bucket of sudsy water and four rags appeared on a desk in front of Lily, Summer, James and Sirius. “There you go!”





 





Braving the smell, they all picked up a rag and dipped it into the bucket, mentally preparing for a long, dull session of scrubbing. But again, Alenas began talking.





 





“So, I heard about what you did to earn yourselves detention,” she whispered conspiratorially. “It’s never wise to get caught, you know. You may not believe it from the look of me but I’ve had my fair share of similar trouble back when I was a student. I had loads of male friends, if you know what I mean…”





 





Lily glanced up from the desk she was scouring to look at the prattling teacher. Her dark, graying hair was frizzing out in all directions now that she had pulled her wand out of it. Her eyes were wide with wistful reminiscence behind purple-rimmed glasses that tilted crookedly on her pointed nose. Her overall appearance suggested that she was mentally unstable. No, Lily did not believe from the look of her that Alenas had gotten into trouble with her “male friends.”





 





“But even though I understand the wild hormones of you young people, I will not have any lovemaking in here,” Alenas concluded, gazing at them solemnly.





 





Lily turned her head and caught James’s eye. His lips were white from the effort of not laughing and the light dancing in his eyes gave him away. 





 





Lily quickly bent back down over the desk to hide her smirk.





 





“Got it, Professor…no lovemaking,” said Sirius, just as seriously. “We’ll do our best to contain our wild hormones.”





 





Lily wanted to kick him but he was three desks away. Beside her, Summer was viciously scrubbing the word “FANNY,” her face screwed up as though she was in pain.





 





“That’s right,” Alenas went on sternly. “Classrooms are not the most appropriate places for such goings on, let me tell you. Personally, I’ve had better experience with broom closets but behind the Quidditch pitch is probably your best bet.”





 





Lily clenched her mouth shut for fear of a giggle escaping and was forced to breathe though her nose. She wished she could close her ears as well to block out the professor’s voice.





 





“That was probably your trouble. Next time, go for a broom closet. There’s a nice big one on the fifth floor below the Owlery,” she sighed happily. “Many good times in there…”





 





James began coughing violently. Summer let out an odd squeak but Sirius looked gravely up at Professor Alenas, who was still constructing her tower of cards.





 





“I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” he said, without a shadow of a grin.





 





Alenas smiled at him approvingly. “Of course, you boys tend to favor the bushes near the lake…but that can be rather uncomfortable.” The tower suddenly exploded in her face, covering Alenas with dust and making her look twice as insane. “But ladies, be sure to put your foot down. Especially in the winter,” she said earnestly, addressing Lily and Summer.





 





On and on it went…Lily felt as though she was being through some bizarre form of torture. It was the worst detention she could imagine. Professor Alenas seemed to have endless advice on lovemaking. She babbled on intently while they washed away the remnants of Peeves’s handiwork. 





 





Lily, Summer, and James struggled to fight back the laughs that were erupting inside of them but somehow, Sirius kept a composed throughout the whole thing, embellishing the humor of Alenas’s lecture with his own comments. 





 





Lily could not have been more relieved when the last hour of their detention came to an end.





 





“Don’t forget— the broom closet on the fifth floor…”





 





Sirius nodded appreciatively and waved to Alenas before grabbing the doorknob of the classroom door and swinging it behind them. 





 





The second it shut, sealing their escape, they all collapsed onto the floor in laughter.





 





Many minutes passed before they could breathe properly again, during which any the other students who saw them in such a state of madness, ran away in alarm.





 





“I will never be the same again,” gasped James, slumped against the wall.





 





“Me neither! Those were some useful tips,” agreed Sirius.





 





“Don’t tell me you’re going to use them!” cried Summer in horror.





 





“Why not? You don’t think I’m thick enough to throw away such good advice, do you?” said Sirius.





 





“Think about the images you’ll get,” said James and he, Lily and Summer all moaned in repulsion. “No, actually…don’t.”





 





“Oh, Prongs, don’t act like you aren’t pleased to know all that,” scoffed Sirius, lying flat on his back.





 





“Please, mate! Enough!” pleaded James. “I’ve had an overload of trauma for one night.”





 





They sat in the corridor for a while longer, laughing absurdly, until Sirius, out of the blue, said, “Filch is coming.  We should probably get up.”





 





“How do you know?’ asked Lily as they got to their feet. As far as she could tell, the corridor was empty.





 





Sirius simply nodded down the hall. Lily turned around in time to see Filch limping around the corner.





 





“Black! Potter!” he snarled at once. “What are you doing there? Get back to your dormitories!”





 





Lily, Summer, James, and Sirius walked by Filch, who glared suspiciously at them, and headed back to the Gryffindor Tower.





 





“How’d you do that? How did you know he was coming?” Lily asked Sirius again as they entered the fourth floor corridor.





 





“Don’t you know? I’m gifted,” said Sirius nonchalantly. “My powers go beyond you ordinary wizard folk.”





 





“Uh huh,” said Lily, rolling her eyes. “Really?”





 





“Yeah, and…I have the Marauders Map.”





 





James looked at him quickly. “You found it?”





 





“Indeed I did and do you reckon who had it?” asked Sirius, lowering his voice as he slipped a hand inside his robe and pulled out the worn piece of parchment.





 





“Who?” demanded James.





 





“Snivellus,” growled Sirius. “That bag of slime. I doubt he figured out how to use it but he certainly knows it’s more than a scrap of parchment.”





 





“How did that greaseball get a hold of it?” James raged.





 





“I don’t know,” said Sirius quietly. “But we will get back at him for it.”





 





“What are you nutters on about?” snapped Lily, snatching the parchment and examining it. “Who would want this rubbish?”





 





James and Sirius exchanged a look.





 





“Maybe we’ll reveal its wonder and glory to you another time, Evans,” said Sirius slowly, picking the parchment out of her hand.





 





“When we feel you’re ready,” added James, smirking wryly. “For now, we have a lesson to plan.”





 





“A lesson?” asked Summer skeptically.





 





“To teach Snivelly not to meddle in other people’s business. We’re doing him a favor, really,” replied Sirius.





 





Summer snorted. “You’re not exactly certified to teach, you know.”





 





Sirius shrugged. “Never stopped us before.”





 





“Password?” said the Fat Lady as they approached her portrait.





 





“Snidget,” they said in unison and crawled in, one-by-one.





 





Summer went to join Tara and a few other girls studying around a table and Sirius shoved two second-years off a couch and plopped down onto it, stretching lazily. James started to follow him but Lily seized his arm. He turned his head, shooting her a quizzical look and running a hand through his hair.





 





“Does Snape know…about Remus?” whispered Lily.





 





James sighed. “Yeah.”





 





Lily gaped at him. “How did he find out?”





 





“He’s a nosy old sod….He realized something was going on with Moony and he started…spying on us to find out what it was,” explained James, getting angry at the thought. “Why do you think we hate him so much?”





 





“Oh,” said Lily, trying to think about the fact that she, too, had spied on them. They stood in awkward silence for a moment. “Er…what are you going to do to him?”





 





James looked at her closely, then he grinned. “Nothing permanently damaging…if he’s lucky.”





 





“You shouldn’t— you’re Head Boy…” said Lily.





 





“All the more reason to set him right,” retorted James indifferently. “Are you going to try and stop us?”





 





Lily knew what her answer should be, as Head Girl and as an old friend of Severus’s. But something stopped her. Perhaps, if Severus deserved it…Who was she to stop it?





 





Lily settled with shrugging her shoulders and walked away to join Summer and Tara.





 





 





*          *         *





 





Over the next two days, Lily traveled from class to class, focusing completely on her lessons and stretching every minute to fit in as much studying as possible. She had to make up for all the time lost in detention. She made every effort to avoid thinking about anything else. 





 





People continued to stare and whisper about her everywhere she went though the rumor was slowly getting old for most people. Some, on the other hand—girls in particular—still jumped at the chance to spit insults at her. They were actually worse than before because Lily was trying to keep away from James. With him around her, they had been afraid to taunt Lily. That changed as soon as the spiteful girls saw Lily with only Summer and Tara, walking with her head bent over the load of books in her arms.





 





Naturally, Lily didn’t enjoy having the words “tramp” and “slag” barked at her as she went to her classes but figured she had no choice but to endure it for awhile. She didn’t exactly know why, but she felt that it was necessary to start limiting the amount of time she spent around James—or any of the Marauders. They had a way of making everything so much more confusing. 





 





She just couldn’t deal with all the chaos and ambiguity that came with James. Lily was starting to realize how much influence he had begun to have over her and she wasn’t sure how she felt about this change.   Once she had been so certain about what she thought of James Potter, of what she thought of everything. 





 





Now, somehow, all that felt like a lie…as though she had been living it all wrong. The things that normally fulfilled were suddenly turning grey. Ever since she had let her resistance against James come down, her world of straight lines and guarded walls had begun to spin. It had started slowly, then gained more and more speed and before Lily knew it, her life had turned into one big, frightening blur. The night after her first detention, when she discovered the Marauders’ innermost secret, had brought attention to just how much she had lost control. Her world was spinning, too fast for comfort.





 





Helping James with his wound, arguing with him, then sharing a laugh at Professor Alenas…jumbled up her feelings even more. She wanted the confusion to end. Lily was instinctively afraid of her new, tornado of a life but and she did the only thing she knew how: She put a face to the source and sought to avoid it. 





 





And that face belonged to James’s.





 





That is, when she avoided him when she could. There was the fact that they were in all the same classes. And they were on the same Quidditch team. And they lived in the same house. And at the moment, they spent every night together in detention. Despite all of this, Lily, well-practiced, managed to pull it off quite effectively. She steered clear of James until Friday evening, while they served their final detention. That was when James did something she simply couldn’t ignore.





 





“We’re leaving.”





 





Summer twisted around to throw an annoyed look at Sirius, who had made the abrupt announcement.





 





The four of them were in the corner of the library, sorting endless stacks of books onto shelves. Lily sat cross-legged on the floor in front of a pile of tattered volumes, arranging them in chronological order. Summer knelt by a nearby bookcase and dusted off the bottom shelf. 





 





Sirius and James had been carrying boxes jammed with books from the librarian’s office to the bookcases.  Sirius spoke as James straightened up after setting down the last box.





 





“What are you talking about?” asked Summer, while Lily continued to read the dates of the books.





 





“We’re leaving,” repeated Sirius.





 





“You can’t just leave! We’re in detention,” said Summer impatiently.





 





“So?”





 





So? You can’t leave!” snapped Summer, obviously irritated at having to explain this to him.





 





Sirius shrugged. “Well, we’re going to.”





 





“Why?”





 





Sirius turned briefly to look at James.





 





“To get back at Snape,” said James shortly.





 





Lily finally looked up.





 





“You don’t have to do that now. Help me dust these shelves…I don’t know what you think you’re trying to pull,” said Summer, with a dismissive air.





 





“No, we have to do it before dinner ends,” said Sirius.





 





Why?” asked Summer again.





 





“You’ll see.”





 





“What do you want to get him back for anyway?”





 





“For prying on our business,” answered James. “See you later.”





 





“Wait— NO!” Lily spoke up, furious. “We need help here!”





 





“Use your wand, you witch,” Sirius said, undaunted.





 





“The librarian might see us!” hissed Lily. “You are not leaving us!”





 





James made a show of pretending to contemplate it. “Er…no, actually we are,” he said. His voice was smoother than cream.





 





“No!  I can’t believe you two! You can’t just do whatever you want! YOU ARE NOT LEAVING!”  Lily was on her feet now, her temper blazing as though it had been waiting ages for the chance to spark.





 





“Blimey, Evans, don’t have a bloody tantrum,” said James, shoving his indifference in her face. “We’re going to give Snivelly what he deserves and that’s that.”





 





“I’ll tell McGonagall!” shrieked Lily.





 





“Go ahead. She’ll find out sooner or later. You think we care about getting in trouble?” sneered James, before turning. “Goodbye, Evans.”





 





Lily switched to a pleading tone. “Potter! Don’t be stupid. We need your help here.”  





 





James turned back around to face her, leveling her with his eyes. He lowered his voice. “Oh? Now you need me?”





 





Confusion dampened Lily’s anger.





 





“You certainly needed me that night after Hagrid’s. But then you didn’t feel the need to look at me for the past few days,” he continued in his stony undertone. “Only when it’s convenient for you, eh?”





 





Lily suddenly felt a knot in her throat, as though she had swallowed a rock. She looked down at her feet, fighting to maintain her composure. It had not hit her until then that on her quest to stabilize her life, she would hurt James.





 





“James…I…” she began after a moment but when she looked up, he and Sirius were gone.





 





She threw a helpless glance down at Summer, who was bewildered. Lily looked away quickly and dropped down to the floor, trying to concentrate on sorting the books.   She heard Summer return to her dusting after a short silence.





 






 






 





Dinner was ending. Packs of black-robed students drifted out of the Great Hall, feeling full and happy with the prospect of the weekend ahead.





 





When they saw what was outside the Great Hall, they stopped and stared.





 





Levitating in the center of the Entrance Hall was a leather-bound book.  It had been enlarged to the size of an ordinary door. On the cover, the words, “Diary of Snivellus Snape,” were imprinted in silver. 





 





As the students stepped closer, the book opened and the pages slowly began flicking so that they caught glimpses of each scrawled entry. Then an enormous stack of pamphlets appeared on the floor below the giant book. The students hurried forward to pick up a copy of the magnified diary. Everyone began dashing forward and browsing through the pages, laughing and reading select passages aloud to their friends. 





 





The Entrance Hall was in an uproar when Severus Snape, who always went to dinner alone after most of his classmates had finished, came slouching down the marble staircase. There were some who went silent as they watched him descend but many unleashed their laughter, waving and pointing openly.





 





Snape looked up. His face changed when he saw the back cover of his stolen diary. His pallid eyes quickly took in the pamphlets in everyone’s hands and they filled with horrified comprehension. Furiously, jumped to the floor and strode around to look at the front of the book.





 





His pale face froze over with white rage. Several people were shouting quotes from the entries but he ignored them and whipped out his wand. He turned toward the crowd, searching for the culprits with a threatening look in his eye. The students backed away.





 





“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!”





 





Professor McGonagall was thundering at the top of her voice over the laughter as she pushed her way through from the rear of the crowd.





 





“What is going on, Mr. Snape? Who is responsible for this?” she demanded. “The magic is quite advanced—”





 





“POTTER AND BLACK DID IT!” he shrieked, without hesitance.





 





The onlookers fell silent, anxious to catch every word.





 





“Do you have any proof of that, Snape? I can personally attest that they are currently in detention…You cannot jump to conclusions and point fingers at anyone,” said McGonagall severely.





 





Snape shook violently in his fury.  “It was them! I know—”





 





“Yes, professor, we admit it,” said a loud, slick voice.





 





James Potter and Sirius Black strolled into view, seeming to appear out of nowhere. They looked extremely pleased with themselves.





 





McGonagall stared at them, taken aback.





 





“What are you saying, Potter?” she asked, after a moment of speechlessness.





 





“We did it,” said James simply and Sirius gestured proudly at the hovering diary. “It was us.”





 





Many students gasped at their audacity, others merely gaped, McGonagall included.





 





I told you!” screamed Snape. “What are you waiting for?! EXPEL THEM!”





 





McGonagall shook herself out of her state of shock to glare at Snape.





 





“Do not speak to me in such a manner,” she said icily. “I will handle my own students as I choose to. Fifteen points from Slytherin.”





 





James and Sirius grinned, looking as though they were about to dance for joy. McGonagall heatedly shrunk the diary to its normal size with a brandish of her wand. 





 





“Potter, Black…my office this instant. I will be up as soon as I tend to this,” she commanded.





 





The two boys grinned and waved at the mass of students, many of who were laughing and waving in return.





 





Now,” barked McGonagall.





 





They hurried up the stairs with one final bow.





 






 






 





Hours later, Lily was aching and her neck was stiff but the last of the books had been sorted and placed on the clean shelves. They hadn’t spoken much during the rest of their detention. Summer had asked Lily once about what James had meant during their row but Lily evaded answering and Summer had dropped it. 





 





Other than this, they had worked in silence and Lily had yet come to any conclusion of how she felt toward James. Her mind was like a painter’s palette with all colors that when separate, she knew what do to with—guilt, fury, confusion, lust, pain, admiration, resentment, envy, confidence. But now…now, as her world spun, the colors collided and splashed over each, forming new ones.   Colors she didn’t recognize. Colors she was too afraid to use for fear of how they would look on the canvas.





 





As they left the library, Lily knew she should have been relieved as her week of detentions finally ended, but an odd sort of emptiness spilled onto her palette, joining the mixture and leaving her even more confused. 





 





Maybe if things had not been the way they were, she would have talked to James about it, since he, for one, always seems to understand exactly what’s going on in my head. He would know what to do.





 





But she couldn’t. He had saved her life, and in return, she had ignored him.





 





Lily and Summer went their separate ways at an intersection of two corridors, Lily gripping desperately to the one sure feeling she had; hunger. She headed for the Great Hall as Summer headed to the Gryffindor Tower.





 





 






 






 





 





“All finished, professor!” announced James.





 





He and Sirius had spent the past couple hours sitting in McGonagall’s office copying lines and listening to McGonagall lecture them about how despicable their prank was and how shamefully wrong it was to skive off detention and how blah blah blah...





 





“Me too!” said Sirius, adding a period to the end of his hundredth sentence with a flourish of his quill. A thousand lines couldn’t quell the success of their revenge.





 





“Good,” replied McGonagall, collecting their rolls of parchment. “I’ll expect you here every day next week to continue your punishment.”





 





James was about to follow Sirius out the door but stopped short.





 





“Does that include next Friday, professor?” he asked.





 





“Every day next week,” repeated McGonagall, without looking up from grading her papers.





 





“Meaning Friday?”





 





“Yes, Potter, Friday!” snapped the professor.





 





“Could I perhaps move Friday’s detention to tomorrow?” he asked.





 





“Absolutely not.”





 





“But professor! That’s the day before the match against Slytherin!” cried James.





 





“I don’t see the problem,” replied McGonagall.





 





Don’t see the problem?!” cried James incredulously. “That practice will probably be the most important one we have all season! I’m captain! I have to be there!”





 





“Well, now, you should have had that in mind when you decided to try to weasel your way out of detention to pull a prank,” said McGonagall, looking at James harshly.





 





Please, professor! What difference does it make when I serve the detention as long as I serve it?!”





 





“It makes quite a big difference. When you do something wrong, you don’t get to choose when to be punished so it’s convenient for you,” explained McGonagall. “Then, Potter, it wouldn’t be punishment.”





 





“But we need to practice all together! What if we don’t win because of this?!” cried James frantically. “I’ll make it up with a whole extra week!”





 





“I’m sorry, Potter. I would like Gryffindor to win as well. It’s a pity that the team has a captain who does not think through his actions,” said McGonagall. “The answer is no. Continue pestering me and you’ll be in detention till June.”





 





James groaned and stormed bitterly out of the office, smashing the door shut behind him.





 






 






 





As Lily made her way to the Great Hall, she heard a door slam from somewhere nearby. She continued down the corridor, in the direction of the noise. Then she heard someone shouting furiously from around the corner.





 






 






 





James was plowing down the corridor, his blood boiling, when he heard someone mention a name that immediately caught his attention. He slowed, listening to two seventh-year Slytherins James knew as Rab Lestrange and Clive Pritchard, as they walked by him.





 





“Yeah, that girl…Lily Evans…the one who slept with Potter and Black. She must be bloody good. Easy, too. I’d like to fuck her, even if she is a mudblood—”





 





“IMPEDIMENTA!”





 





Rab, the one who had spoken, flew off his feet as James spun around, roaring the curse. Rab slid across the floor. His head hit the stone wall.





 





He gasped, looking around. “What the—?





 





“SHUT UP! Don’t you ever talk that way about Lily Evans AGAIN!” yelled James, looking wildly murderous.





 





You asshole—!” Clive started to growl but James whirled around and pounded him squarely in the jaw with his fist. A sickening crack resounded throughout the corridor.





 





Potter?





 





Lily had rounded the corner to see James viciously pummeling some boy in the face. James looked over his shoulder at Lily, panting.





 





“Potter! What are you doing?!” she cried. “What did he do to you?”





 





James turned his head away from her and looked down at Clive, who was lying on the floor with his face huddled in the crook of his arm.





 





“Nothing,” murmured James quietly.





 





“What?” asked Lily, taking a few steps closer, hoping for a different answer.





 





He turned around to face her. “Nothing!” he shouted.





 





Lily’s eyes widened, unable to believe his blatant cruelty. She stared at him, stricken. His chest heaved and his eyes were alight with rage. She thought she had seen James at his worst whenever he taunted Snape but she never would have believed he could be so utterly violent.





 





“Then why would— why did…?” she stuttered. She rushed over to Clive and kneeled down next to him. He lifted his face from his arm and Lily gasped when she saw him. His face was smothered in blood and there was something odd looking about his jawbone that made Lily’s stomach do a flip. “Oh my…Potter, look what you did! How could you?”





 





She balled up a corner of her robes and pressed it to Clive’s mouth. It immediately soaked through with blood.





 





James looked down at the boy, looking so pitiful, who Lily was so eager to take care of. James put a hand to his neck, his face going blank. He held it there, briefly, then dropped it.





 





“Of course,” he said quietly, with the air of final resign. 





 





His eyes found Lily’s and shook his head in a wild, deranged way. When he saw the revulsion in her eyes, he gave a hollow laugh. 





 





OF COURSE!” 





 





He turned away and began to walk down the corridor. As he passed Rab, who was still lying against the wall, James gave him a swift kick in the stomach.





 





Rab recoiled with a sharp inhale of breath as James walked away and disappeared around the end of the corridor.





 





 













A/N:  BUAHAHA.  This chapter was tremendously fun to write.  It has everything I love...humor, intense dialogue, drama, a switch-up in point of views, deep thoughts, *hem hem* violence.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

You know what to do...


Chapter 17: Disguises
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: February 17th, 2005


Suggested music: “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” by the Beatles


 


Chapter Seventeen


Disguises


 


Lily heaved Rab off the ground and onto his feet. He was moaning and clutching his stomach where James had so carelessly struck. She turned back to Clive, who held some of his own robes up to his mouth to stem the flow of blood.


 


“Yeah…Just keep it there till we get to the hospital wing,” she said, more for the sake of saying something than anything else.


 


He nodded faintly.


 


“Let’s go,” said Lily.


 


She placed a hand on his arm and another on Rab’s shoulder to lead them but quickly removed them, feeling awkward. She walked slowly, without speaking, with the two strangers on either side through the corridors to the hospital wing.


 


Lily explained to the nurse what was wrong with the boys, leaving out the cause of their injuries. She didn’t want to protect James from getting in trouble…She just couldn’t bring herself to think about him, let alone speak his name. If she had to, she would deal with him later but for now, Lily was content with pretending he had nothing to do with the current situation.


 


Madame Pomfrey ushered the boys to some beds and set to work mending their pains. Lily didn’t know what to do, so she stayed and watched. 


 


As she stood there, James forced his way into her mind. The turn of events had reinstalled the walls and everything was clear once again. She knew exactly what she felt toward him; rage, loathing, disbelief. At least he had made things simple. 


 


Even so, something else pulled at her heart, dragging it down like deadweight as she realized that no matter how well he could make her think otherwise, James would always disappoint her. This knowledge gave her a terrible, pained feeling as though James had kicked her in the stomach instead of Rab Lestrange.


 


Madame Pomfrey was trying to perform some complicated spell on Rab but he kept turning away to brace for more pain. The nurse was getting so frustrated that she eventually stunned him so that she could heal his head. 


 


Lily turned to look at Clive, who was staring at his lap. 


 


The blood had been cleared from his face and Lily noticed how intriguing his features were. His skin was smooth and looked soft to touch and his lips were full, curling nicely into a small scowl. The dark brown hair that fell on the back of his neck with a graceful flip reached down over his thick brows, which were pressed low on his forehead, brushing his long lashes. His pointed chin jutted out slightly, making Lily wonder if it was naturally like that of if it was the result of its contact with James’s fist. 


 


He was very handsome in a dark, sullen way and looking at him sent a rush through her body. She forgot about James and the ache of another disappointment…At last.


 


Clive must have sensed her gaze because he tilted his head toward her, lifting his eyebrows. His eyes were deeply set and almost black.


 


Lily felt her face burning under his perceptive stare. She looked shyly down at her hands but found that she didn’t want to stop gaping at this boy. She peeked up at him again. He was still staring at her, without blinking. Lily touched her hair, a feeling of self-consciousness seeping into her.


 


“Ms. Evans?”


 


Lily jolted her head away, breaking the gaze.  


 


Madame Pomfrey was looking at her in a way that made it clear she had been trying to get her attention for some time. “Ms. Evans, you can go to your dormitory now.”


 


Lily nodded and let her eyes flicker once more over Clive, who had a tint of shrewd amusement on his face as he continued to stare at her. Lily blushed deeper and walked through the doors of the hospital wing, knowing that he probably still had his eyes fixed on her back and feeling quite pleased about it.


 


 


*          *          *


 


She did not see James at all over the weekend. Lily was ready to yell at him, ignore him, or perhaps even slap him to punish him for what he had done but he was nowhere to be found. To her own secret mortification, she caught herself deliberately looking for him. 


 


On Sunday, she briefly saw Sirius walking through the common room. When she asked him about James’s whereabouts, he was strangely short with her and, even after Lily pestered him, he refused to tell her anything.


 


It made her get a distant feeling that she should be the one apologizing to James. 


 


But that was crazy.


 


Lily quickly heard about James and Sirius’s choice of revenge on Snape. It was, of course, impossible to be ignorant of what had happened in the Entrance Hall that night—it was the only thing anyone talked about. The students gushed over James and Sirius’s daring and laughed with delight over quotes from Snape’s diary that were particularly embarrassing. Every time someone referenced the prank, Lily’s desire to scream at James only grew stronger. If only she could find him…


 


When Monday arrived, accompanied by classes, Lily finally saw him at breakfast with the rest of the Marauders. There was a crowd of admirers swooning over him, discussing the diary, and he was soaking up the attention in all his glory. 


 


Lily watched him bitterly from the other end of the Gryffindor table. He made a group and his groupies exploded into a burst of hearty laughs. He casually rumpled his hair and suddenly turned to wink at Lily, catching her off-guard.  Was it fifth-year again? He hadn’t done anything like that in ages. She snapped her gaze away and glared at her cereal. Thoughts of James’s shameless arrogance flooded her head, rising like high tide.


 


Another burst of laughter sounded from James’s end of the table. 


 


Lily slammed down her spoon and marched out of the Great Hall. On her way by, James grinned at her.  “Bye, Evans.” 


 


His entire entourage turned to look at her, including Mina St. Clair, the girl beside him who, Lily noticed, had a hand on James’s shoulder.


 


As soon as she was safely out of the Hall, flaming tears began to fight their way out from under her eyelids. She strode away, letting her mind concentrate on the movement of her legs so that she wouldn’t have to think about what had just happened. She walked all the way to her first class, though it was still early. Alenas wasn’t there yet so she sat down, grateful for the moment of solitude. 


 


Lily had been so sure that she would be ready to face him. She had been so prepared to scold him in front of everyone or openly reject him…anything in her power to inject guilt into his conscious make him turn back into the boy who she had laughed himself to sleep with that night in the empty classroom. 


 


Now, it seemed, he was the one with the power over her.


 


Soon, the rest of the class began to enter, taking their seats around Lily. 


 


She hastily wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and bent low over her books. Summer dropped into the seat on Lily’s right and leaned toward her.


 


“Lily? You all right?” she whispered.


 


Lily took a deep breath and turned to look at Summer’s concerned expression. She nodded as she watched James and Sirius stroll into the classroom from the corner of her eye, James laughing loudly at something Sirius was saying. 


 


Lily’s thoughts automatically wandered to the last time they were in this classroom. She pictured Sirius and Alenas earnestly discussing “lovemaking” techniques and felt a grin swelling inside her. She suppressed it with a scowl before it could appear on her face. With a simple curve of her lips, the frown buried her real emotions, her spontaneous thoughts, her natural urge, and stirred the beginnings of deceit. The frown, disguising a mere grin, marked the first of a series of similar lies conducted by the angry rationale of her head. 


 


Sliding her eyes around to meet Summer’s, she concealed her thoughts with a smile. m fine, Sum,” she said, despite the darkness in her heart.


 


 


*          *          *


 


Later that evening, Lily ambled into the library with Summer and Tara. They settled into their usual corner and laid out their homework. Lily stood up to find a book for Transfiguration essay. She grazed through the titles along a shelf, gently touching the spines of the books with the tip of her finger.


 


A hand suddenly swept lightly across the small of her back. Lily twitched a little and somehow knew it was him.


 


She turned around carefully and met the dark eyes of Clive Pritchard, who was standing unexpectedly close to her in the aisle.


 


She shoved a smile on her face. “Hi.”


 


He nodded, his eyes moving up and down her body. She shifted from one foot to the other.


 


“How’s your…?” She pointed to her own chin to indicate his jaw.


 


“Great,” he grunted, his face motionless. “…It’s Evans, right?”


 


“Yeah. Lily Evans,” she said, secretly thrilling at the fact that he had remembered at least part of her name.


 


“Clive Pritchard,” he said gruffly. “So…Lily Evans. You always come to the rescue of helpless Slytherins?” Clive asked sardonically.


 


“Only if it means defying James Potter. You were lucky,” said Lily, knowing this statement would trigger something they had in common; less-than-warm feelings toward James.


 


Clive blinked slowly, a tinge of appreciation forming in his eyes.


 


 “He’s a raving lunatic, that one,” he said, before furrowing his naturally-furrowed brow. “But I thought Gryffindors were such a tight-knit bunch.”


 


Lily snorted and leaned against the bookshelf in an effort to seem relaxed. “Not me and Potter.”


 


“Hmm…people say you two were particularly close,” remarked Clive, peering at her.


 


Lily shrugged, wondering if he believed the rumor. “I’m done with him,” she said for some reason. “Er…do you want to come sit with us?”  She tossed a hand toward the table where Summer and Tara were sitting.


 


He looked briefly at her friends then snapped his eyes back on her with a sneer. “You like studying, I see.”


 


“No, I don’t,” countered Lily, unsure of what exactly she was saying. “Who likes studying? We just have no choice but do it, right?”


 


“I’ll pass.”


 


“Do you come here often?” asked Lily. “To the library, I mean.”


 


“Only to meet sexy redheads,” he said.


 


Lily’s head rushed with excitement. She could feel her face flowing crimson—how sexy.


 


“Having any luck?” she asked timidly.


 


He reached out a hand and took a lock of her hair in his hand.


 


“The best I’ve had yet,” Clive said quietly, with an eloquent lift of his eyebrow. 


 


Lily thought she might faint as she allowed herself to be sucked in by his scowling lips and shady eyes.


 


He tilted his head closer and Lily held her breath, thinking he might kiss her. Instead, he let go of her hair, letting it drop back onto her shoulder.


 


“See you around, Lily Evans.”


 


He turned and disappeared around the corner of a bookshelf. Lily let out a small gasp before tripping back to Summer and Tara, all thoughts of the Transfiguration book gone.


 


“Lily! Who was that?” demanded Tara immediately, with an eager smile on her face. “He was all over you!”


 


Lily bowed her head as she took her seat. “Clive Pritchard,” she mumbled.


 


Clive Pritchard?” repeated Tara in astonishment. “He’s a Slytherin,” she said in a way that seemed to dismiss him from any further discussion.


 


“Yeah, so?” scorned Lily. “Are you prejudiced against other houses?”


 


Lily glanced at Summer, seeking support, but instead found distrust.


 


“What does it matter which house he’s in? He’s really sweet,” said Lily defensively.


 


“It doesn’t matter…” said Tara. “It’s just that Slytherins aren’t known for being ‘really sweet.’ “


 


Lily then felt a weight on the back of her chair. She looked over her shoulder and saw that Remus was leaning on the back of it. He turned his head sideways and looked down at her from the corner of his eyes.


 


“Saw you chatting with Pritchard,” he said. “I didn’t know you two were so close.”


 


Lily rolled her eyes and groaned with aggravation. “Was everyone watching us? So I talked to a Slytherin? Big deal. It doesn’t mean anything!”


 


She saw Remus send a fleeting look at Summer then Tara, as he walked around their table and sat down.


 


“Prongs wanted me to remind you about Quidditch practice. There’s one every day this week from seven-thirty to ten,” he said, balancing his chair on its back legs.


 


“Seven-thirty to ten? That’s so late,” said Lily, frowning.


 


“Yeah. I reckon the Slytherin team booked the pitch during primetime,” replied Remus, pressing his lips together. “Prongs also told me to tell you that he needs you to run the practices.”


 


Lily’s frown deepened. “Me? Why?”


 


“He has detention and he probably won’t get out until after nine,” explained Remus.


 


“Clever captain we’ve got, eh? Landing himself detention the week before a match against Slytherin,” grumbled Lily scathingly. “He’s unbelievable.”


 


“Ah, well, he did what he had to do,” sighed Remus. “Can I tell him you’ll do it?”


 


“Fine, go ahead,” relented Lily. Remus stood up and, with a small wave, he left the library.


 


Summer and Tara watched as Lily went to start her homework but realized that she didn’t have the Transfiguration book she needed. She groaned and threw down her quill before stomping back to the bookshelf.


 


Tara raised her eyebrows. “Someone needs a nap.”






A/N:  *gasp!*  Lily's got a crush on a Slytherin omg!!!

But seriously, the story takes a bit of a darker turn from here on out.  Something that I never expected.  The mood--not so much the plot-- is deeply connected with what was going on in my own life at the time.  I can see that now, looking back.  So the story took on a whole new meaning to me.  I guess writing it was kinda theraputic for me.

So tell me what you think, dear readers.


First posted: March 8th, 2005



Suggested music: “Swiss Army Romance” by Dashboard Confessional



 



Chapter Eighteen



Sinking



 



 



“I’m so sick of studying,” said Summer from where she sat on the rug, staring at her Arithmancy textbook.



 



Tara threw herself onto the couch, letting her head fall into Lily’s lap. Lily’s Potions notes scattered to the floor from the impact of Tara’s ungraceful landing. “Then don’t do it,” said Tara, pushing each of her shoes off with her toes and letting them fall to the floor.



 



Summer yawned. “Of course…and I’ll just stop getting out of bed in the morning because that is such a hassle as well.”



 



“Aren’t you a regular cup of sunshine?” retorted Tara. She stretched out her leg and kicking Summer’s spellbook shut.



 



“Don’t you have any homework, Tara?” asked Lily, reaching down to pick up her notes.



 



“Oh, don’t pester me with that. I’ll do it later,” Tara said, scrunching up her nose at the thought.



 



“I like that philosophy,” remarked a smooth voice from nearby.



 



Lily looked to the side and wasn’t surprised when she saw James smirking down at her.



 



“What do you want, Potter?” asked Lily, turning her focus back to her work.



 



There was a pause before he said, “Hmm…good question?   There are quite a few things on the list, you see. First of all, I want you to go out with me. I want to kick Slytherin’s ass. I want McGonagall to cancel my detentions. I want the Chudley Cannons to win a match. I want—”



 



“Get to the point, Potter,” snapped Lily.



 



“—I want you to look at me.”



 



Tara banged her head significantly against Lily’s lap. Lily let out an exaggerated sigh and turned her head.



 



“What is it, Potter?”



 



James grinned and crouched down, nudging Lily’s elbow off of the arm of the couch so that he could lean on it. He stared directly at her.



 



“I just wanted to tell you what I had planned for tonight’s practice. You all ready, captain?” said James, still grinning.



 



Lily nodded, trying to hold her mouth in a frown. His unfailing grin was beginning to inch its way into her, like sunlight reaching into a shadowy corner…or some kind of infectious disease. She hated how his grin could do that to her.



 



“All right, then. I want the team to really work on their basic flying skills. Do plenty of drills with speed and dodging,” he told her. “Slytherin’s got Chad Nott Chasing and from what I’ve heard, he’s supposed to be quite good at veering. Don’t forget to practice those jabs I showed you last practice. Be sure our back-up Chaser is there in case Diana doesn’t get back in time for the match.”  He lowered his voice slightly. “Have you heard from her?”



 



“We got an owl from her a few days ago,” answered Lily, not sure why she was whispering. “She said she’ll be back by Friday at the latest.”



 



“Good,” he replied. Then his satisfied expression faltered. “But— do you think she’ll be ready…to play?” His eyes widened in worry.



 



“I’m sure she’ll want to get back to her normal life,” said Lily.



 



He nodded and there was a brief silence between them.



 



“About the list of things I want…Any chance I might get that first one?” he asked, grinning hopefully at her.



 



Lily looked at him and had to force herself to squeeze a scowl on her face.



 



“None, whatsoever.”



 



Summer giggled, watching James and Lily’s exchange from where she lay on the floor. James ran a hand through his hair and lifted a corner of his mouth indifferently as if to say, You wait.



 



“Goodbye, Potter,” said Lily briskly.



 



James smiled at her and stood up. “Don’t worry, Evans, I was just leaving. See you girls later.”



 



He slowly meandered out of the common room, failing or refusing to notice a group of sixth-year girls giddily calling his name.



 



“You have to hand it to him, Lil,” remarked Tara. “The kid doesn’t give up.”



 



“Unfortunately,” said Lily.



 



“Do you really want him to, though?” asked Summer suddenly.



 



“What are you talking about? Of course I do,” Lily said quickly, finally looking away from the parchment in front of her to show Summer the disgusted look on her face.



 



“It would be a big change,” muttered Summer, as she took a quill out of her bag.



 



“I would manage to adjust, trust me,” Lily replied wryly. “Anyone want to quiz me on these notes?”



 



Tara obliged and the girls continued working until Lily glanced at her watch in time to leave for the Quidditch pitch. 



 



She walked to the locker rooms with Andrew Barry and Anna and changed quickly so that she would have some time to prepare. The air was brisk and cold and the snow crunched under her feet but a quick Heating charm warmed her up. She found some extra brooms in the shed and levititated them high into the air around the darkened pitch to create an obstacle course. 



 



When the rest of the team was ready, she joined them in several quick laps around the floating brooms. Then Lily began working with them on dodging Bludgers.



 



The practice was nearly over when James arrived. He immediately began bouncing around the pitch on his Cleansweep, whirling and looping impressively as he chased after the Snitch in the dark. 



 



Lily rolled her eyes and thought that it would be nice to see him fall just once to shrink his ego. She was grateful that the usual gang of girls wasn’t there to gush over his Quidditch skills. They probably hadn’t known to follow him from his detention, Lily mused.



 



James whizzed by, waving at her just before he reached out and wrapped his fingers around the Snitch, glinting gold in the starlight.



 



She pointedly turned her broom around and flew in the other direction.



 



 



*          *          *



 



“Lily Evans.”



 



Lily looked around for the source of the cool, sullen voice. Clive Pritchard was standing in the corner of the corridor with Rab Lestrange and Chad Nott. His shadowy eyes grazed over her, beckoning.



 



She fell out of step with Tara and moved toward him.



 



“You know Rab,” he said, arching his eyebrow at Lestrange. Then with his eyes, he led hers over to Nott. “This is Chad.”



                                                                                                                                                                 



“You’re that Chaser for Gryffindor,” said Chad in a snapping voice, sneering at her.



 



Lily loftily considered him, hoping to impress Clive. She could be aloof, too. Then she turned back to Clive and had a difficult time deciding what to say.



 



“Er…How are you?” she tried.



 



He gave a tiny shrug. “Do you want to do something?”  



 



The pattern of his eyes seemed to change from lazy unconcern to the first tint of energy Lily had ever seen in Clive. Or maybe it was simply the light. She couldn’t tell.



 



“Practice is in ten minutes,” said Lily, scowling as though Quidditch was some huge burden she had to bear. “It ends at ten. Meet me then?” She tried to sound casual, as though she always met boys at ten o’clock on a school night.



 



Clive took a step toward her, his face, as always, completely unmoving, and nodded. 



 



Lily felt as though she was being swallowed entirely by his dark, dark eyes. It felt good.



 



 



*          *        *



 



Lily lit her wand to read her watch through the darkness as she floated above her teammates in the pitch. She was sure they had been practicing longer than two hours.



 



Suddenly someone swooped around her from below and leveled his broomstick with hers. It was James…of course.



 



“How’s practice going?” he asked eagerly. “McGonagall let me off a bit early tonight.”



 



“Lovely,” replied Lily. “It’s going fine. Anna’s been doing particularly well tonight…only let the Quaffle in twice, I believe. Jamal is getting good at those fakes and Andrew was—Potter?”



 



James had turned away to peer at something down below.



 



“Who’s that? Some spy from Slytherin, likely,” snarled James, looping downward to get a closer look at the black figure that had wandered into the pitch to sit in the stadium.



 



Lily swept down next to James and followed his gaze. An odd feeling overtook her as she realized who it was. The lights of the stadium stretched out, dimly illuminating the pitch and those seats in the lowest level, where the person was lounging. They cast deep shadows everywhere, embossing Clive’s heavy brow and Lily recognized him, even from such as distance.



 



“What’s that Pritchard creep here for?”



 



…And apparently James did too.



 



He began to head down toward Clive.



 



“Potter! Come on, I think I need more practice on that new move you taught us. Could you help me?” called Lily quickly, though she had mastered the trick weeks before.



 



James looked back at her, sufficiently distracted. 



 



Lily let him show her once more how to bring her legs up and lean forward while keeping the broom even. He watched her imitate him, pretending that she did not know how to do it. Then they all played a short match before heading into the locker rooms. 



 



Taking a peek at James, who was laughing loudly with Jamal, Lily broke away from the group and ambled over to Clive.



 



“That Potter maniac is your captain,” said Clive. His undying scowl deepened slightly.



 



“Yes,” replied Lily, inducing her lips to mimic his.



 



“Rab’s captain for Slytherin,” Clive remarked.



 



“Oh?” said Lily, sensing that he was implying something. “Are you coming to the match?”



 



“If I get to see you in your Quidditch robes again,” he said.



 



Lily reddened and glanced down at her disheveled robes that matched her face. When she looked back up, she saw that his eyes were trailing over her body.



 



“Which side are you going to cheer for?” queried Lily, her eyebrows rising inquisitively.



 



Clive shrugged. “What do you think?”



 



He began to walk away. 



 



Lily watched him leave, disappointed. He was just about to turn out of sight when he tilted his head to the side and raised his hand, jerking it in a brief wave.



 



Lily returned it eagerly, but he was already gone.



 



Anna emerged from the locker rooms and gestured for Lily to come inside.



 



“James wants a team meeting!” she called. “What are you doing still out here?”



 



“Nothing,” murmured Lily, as she descended the steps of the stadium and hurried across the crusty snow toward Anna.



 



In the locker room, James described his plans for the next practice and told them about Slytherin’s antics and tendencies. When he finished, Lily went to change as the rest of the team headed back to the castle.



 



“Evans,” said James, exiting the captain’s office.



 



“Potter,” replied Lily, as she folded her Quidditch robes and put them in her locker.



 



“Were you talking to Pritchard?”



 



Lily paused for a moment, staring at the back of her locker. “Why?”



 



James didn’t answer. She heard footsteps as he came to stand next to her.



 



“I was just telling him not to spy on our practices,” said Lily, looking down at James’s sneakers. “Is there something wrong with that, captain?”



 



She finally looked at his face. His hair dripped over hazel eyes that burned into so intensely, Lily almost took a step back. He frowned, and Lily was sure he knew the truth.



 



“Glad your loyalty is with the team,” said James, his voice uncharacteristically cold. “See you.”



 



With that, he left the Lily in the locker room, suddenly feeling sick.



 



 



*          *          *



 



Lily sat on the large windowsill in the common room, her legs stretched out in front of her as darkness spilled over the grounds. 



 



She was supposed to be writing her Transfiguration essay, but it lay, unfinished and ignored, on the floor, having been pushed out of her mind by daydreams. She leaned her head against the cold glass, wishing she could ignore the heavy feeling side of her as easily.



 



It had been another dreadful day. She had woken up, her mind aching and reeling from the pressure of the amount of homework she had left to pile up for the weekend. She felt as if she carried it all on her head all the time.



 



Then in both Potions and Charms, which were typically Lily’s best subjects, she received low marks on her last assignments. When she left the classroom after talking to Flitwick about it, she had spotted James strutting down the corridor toward her.  He was flanked by the crowd of simpering, giggling, and in Lily’s opinion, altogether disgusting girls. 



 



Lily had started to turn in the other direction but James was at her side, speaking in his smooth, smart way. She cringed when she saw the girls glower at her. James had promptly asked her out, pushing Lily to become so furious that she could not even answer him. She had stormed away, dearly wanting to hex him.



 



“Going to find your little Slytherin chum?” he had shouted after her.



 



Lily then walked swiftly into the girls’ bathroom around the corner and without even knowing why, she burst into tears.



 



“Lily!”



 



Turning to see who had shaken her out of her brooding, she saw Tara looking at her with a face creased in confusion.



 



“Why are you still here? It’s almost eight o’clock! Shouldn’t you be at practice?”



 



It took a moment for Lily to realize that she should get moving. When she finally did, she flew up the stairs to retrieve her broomstick and raced through the portrait hole. Through the corridors, she ran until she rounded a corner and came to a screeching halt, dropping her broomstick in surprise. It clattered to the floor. She didn’t pick it up.



 



There was Clive, standing as if he had been waiting for Lily to come dashing toward him. He looked at her darkly and she became mesmerized by his sensual eyes.



 



Slowly, he reached out and took hold of her wrists. She felt dizzy.



 



“Let’s go.”



 



Lily nodded, forgetting about Quidditch and Charms and James and everything she may have once believed in.



 



Clive pulled her behind a tapestry into a tiny passageway and leaned her against the wall.   Immediately, he pushed his mouth against hers. She was momentarily shocked by the sudden burst of energy but she returned the kiss just as heatedly, trying to disguise her hesitation. 



 



As if possessed by another being, Lily’s arms went around his neck. He moved closer and pressed her into the wall, sneaking his cold hands under her robes as his lips slammed into hers. Lily sunk into him weakly, letting him numb her mind. For the first time that day, she stopped worrying.



 



Suddenly, two more bodies fell through the tapestry and collided with theirs.



 



“What the hell are you doing?” Clive yelled at the intruders. “We’re in here!”



 



Lily dropped her arms. Clive didn’t release her. She looked around him and saw the vague outline of two tall boys facing the other wall of the dark, now very tight passage.



 



“So sorry! We’ll just go the other way…” said one of the boys in a deep, familiar voice. “Carry on.”



Without further delay, Clive turned back to Lily and continued just as vigorously as before the interruption. 



 



The boys began to squeeze their way back out of the passage. Lily couldn’t get back into the snogging; she knew the voice that had spoken too well. Carefully, she moved so that Clive blocked her from view.



 



There was muffled clatter and something landed near Lily’s feet.



 



“Damn! I dropped my glasses,” cried the other boy.



 



“Just get them and get out!” snapped Clive, breathing heavily.



 



“Oh…it’s you,” said James, scathingly. Lily chanced a glimpse over Clive’s shoulder but it was too dark to see anything. “And who’s the poor girl getting her face sucked off?”



 



Lily shrunk back against the wall. She wanted to run away, out the other end of the passage. She would give anything to stop James from seeing her.



 



“I think you know her, actually,” said Clive smugly.



 



Lily’s stomach flipped over. Hastily, she kicked the glasses toward James.



 



“There are your glasses,” she said hoarsely.



 



“Who are you, then?” asked James acidly, ignoring her attempt to make him leave. “And why would you waste your time with this stupid bastard?”



 



Sirius chuckled behind him. When Lily didn’t answer, he pushed the tapestry out and said, “Come on, Prongs. Guess we’ll have to go the long way to the Owlery.”



 



The light from the corridor seeped into the passageway. Lily felt it on her face as James crouched to pick up his glasses.



 



Evans?” gasped Sirius. 



 



James snapped straight up again, jamming the glasses on his nose. He stared at her as Clive complacently bent his head and kissed Lily’s neck. Lily didn’t move, but stared past James, grateful the light didn’t show his face, at Sirius. His expression was changing rapidly from disbelief to rage.



 



“Ah…you do know her,” said Clive, lifting his head. And though it was too dark to see, Lily could sense the first smile she’d ever known to be on his face.



 



In a flash, James and Sirius hurled themselves at Clive. Lily screamed and was knocked to the side. James was punching wildly, flailing his arms in every direction like a madman. Sirius, on the other hand, grabbed James and held back his thrashing arms. 



 



“James! Don’t.”  Sirius forced his friend’s arms securely behind him and spoke calmly over James’s yells of fury.



 



“But—He’s…he’s…that’s….” panted James, too angry for coherency. “Evans!”



 



“Not now,” said Sirius quietly. He shoved James through the tapestry and out of the passageway.



 



Clive laughed darkly. The next thing Lily knew, Sirius had grabbed Clive by the collar, cutting Clive’s odd laugh short.



 



“Sirius, stop!” shrieked Lily, trying to pull him off Clive. He wouldn’t budge. She pounded on his wrists but Sirius merely pushed her away. Lily fell backwards onto the floor.



 



Stay—away— from— Lily,” said Sirius, his voice lethally low as he slammed Clive against the wall with each word.



 



It was then that Lily noticed how tall Sirius was compared to Clive.



 



Then Sirius let go of him, as though he was a piece of garbage. He swiftly grabbed Lily’s hand and pulled her to her feet.



 



“Let’s go, Evans. You have to get to practice,” he said, and dragged her into the corridor.










A/N:  Ahh...I remember this little chappie.  I wrote it in the car one weekend when I had to spend like 13 hours in the car.  I somehow got over my motion sickness and now there's nothing I love better than a long car ride so I can write.  Weird, I know, but it always charges me with inspiration.

Thanks for reading.  REVIEW.


Chapter 19: Despised Addiction
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: March 24th, 2005


Suggested music: “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls


 


Chapter Nineteen


Despised Addiction


 


As soon as they were out in the corridor, Lily ripped her hand from Sirius’s grasp and stormed away without a word, only to return after a second later to retrieve her broomstick, sadly ruining the effect of her dramatic exit.


 


Her teammates were rather irritable when she finally showed up at the pitch and Lily snapped at them when they asked for an explanation. Lily criticized everything they did throughout the practice, putting everyone in too foul a mood to play well.


 


James was furious when he arrived with an owl feather in his hair to see them playing so poorly three days before the match. Much to the entire team’s dismay, he extended practice for an extra hour. 


 


He spoke to them calmly but there was a deep, ferocity behind the glossiness of his voice. He joked around and showed off as usual yet his laugh had a sardonic ring to it that made Lily nervous.


 


He worked them relentlessly until their performance satisfied him.   They were all exhausted by the time they gathered in the locker room at the end of the practice. James dove into a lecture about putting in the effort if they wanted to beat Slytherin. When he finished, Jamal, Andrew, Anna, and Frank bustled around the locker room, talking as they put away their robes, all the while pointedly ignoring Lily.


 


Suddenly James cleared his throat. They all turned to look at their captain.


 


“One last thing…” he said loudly. He lifted his hands in pleading gesture. “Don’t be too hard on Evans. The way this practice went wasn’t entirely her fault. I mean, come on, she had to see her new boyfriend, er…what’s his name again, Evans?” he asked innocently, as though he had simply drawn a blank.


 


Lily narrowed her eyes at him. She felt the curious stares of her teammates and knew exactly what he was doing.


 


“Clive Pritchard,” she mumbled bitterly.


 


“Ah…That’s right! Clive Pritchard…” said James. He locked eyes with Lily for a brief second before addressing the rest of the team again. “See? Now then, you can’t hold a grudge when there’s romance involved, can you?”


 


He smirked at Lily and shook a hand through his hair. Then he turned and walked into the captain’s office, humming to himself.


 


Lily took a tentative glance around the room. Frank was shaking his head and Anna looked disgusted. Andrew stared at Lily, his eyes wide with surprise, and Jamal looked away, muttering, “Traitor.”


 


She averted her eyes and slammed her locker shut before marching out of the room.


 


Mechanically, Lily walked back to the Gryffindor Tower, pausing only to get scolded by Professor McGonagall for being out past curfew. She headed straight up the girls’ staircase and entered the sanctuary of her dormitory.


 


Tara was already asleep but Summer lay on her bed, reading by wandlight. Her eyes darted up to Lily.


 


“What’s the matter?” she asked, staring back down at her book. 


 


Lily dropped onto her four-poster and gazed at the ceiling.


 


“Is it your grades? Surely Flitwick is going to let you make up for that assignment?”


 


Lazily shaking her head, Lily remained silent.


 


“Is it Potter?”


 


Lily frowned at the ceiling for a moment then she turned to look at Di’s empty bed. “He and Black caught me snogging Clive behind a tapestry,” she said in monotone.


 


Summer threw her book aside and ogled at Lily. “You were snogging him?  What, is this a regular thing now?”


 


No,” said Lily quickly. “It just happened today. I ran into him on the way to Quidditch practice.”


 


“And so you thought that was as good a time as any to have a good snog?” demanded Summer icily.


 


“I don’t know,” snapped Lily, trying to remember what exactly had made her do it.   “Anyway…Potter and Black were trying to sneak through the passage behind the tapestry but—”


 


“You and the Slytherin were swapping saliva,” finished Summer.


 


Lily closed her eyes. “Don’t call him ‘the Slytherin’,” she said tightly before continuing. “Sirius saw me and they both went mad. Sirius had to hold Potter back from killing Clive and then he grabbed Clive and told him to stay away from me. It was…bizarre. What the hell does he care? Then he dragged me out of there. Can you believe that?”


 


“Yes! And I don’t blame them! That kid is a creep—” began Summer.


 


Are you kidding me?” yelled Lily. She was outraged at the side Summer was picking. “Sirius isn’t my father! He has no right to boss me around. He and Potter seem to think it’s their duty to control me or something!”


 


“They’re looking out for you!” cried Summer, sitting up. “You constantly complain about how conceited James is but Pritchard is ten times worse. You shouldn’t go snogging him like some slag.”


 


“Oh, not you, too!” hissed Lily. “You just don’t like him because he’s a Slytherin!”


 


“It’s not his house I don’t like,” retorted Summer. “He’s bad news…He manipulates people. Look at his friends, they’re all assholes. There’s even rumors that they’re into Dark magic—”


 


“And rumors are always true, right?” spat Lily. “You don’t even know him!”


 


“And you do? I know enough about him to know he’s not right for you. Just look at what he’s done to you already!” exclaimed Summer. “Ever since he started scowling at you, you’ve been at his beck and call, ignoring me and Tara to run off and see him! You’ve been sulking around like you’re too cool for anything and I know he’s changed that in you. That’s all I need to know! It’s not like you at all, Lily, and I don’t see why you’re suddenly changing for some guy.”


 


Lily listened, shocked, but too furious to really listen to what Summer was saying. “Maybe I’m changing into something I want to be!” she shouted. “The point is, I can make those decisions for myself!”


 


“So you’ve decided you want to be that girl who drops everything for her boyfriend?” asked Summer, her eyebrows arching. “I had no idea how insecure you were.”


 


Lily glared at her. Then she jumped off her bed and strode across the room. “I am not insecure!” she cried, before slamming the bathroom door.


 


Tara rolled onto her side, sleeping soundly, unaware of the turmoil around her.


 


 


*          *          *


 


Lily rose early the next morning and left the dormitory before Tara and Summer began to stir. When she walked into the Great Hall, Frank and Anna were sitting with Ben Rogers and Alice Philips at the Gryffindor table. Lily sat down nearby and meekly reached for some toast. Not one of them gave her the slightest acknowledgement. 


 


She quietly nibbled at the toast but her appetite had vanished. Lily took out her Transfiguration essay and tried to work on it. A few minutes had passed when she heard an eruption of laughter. Looking up, she saw the Marauders taking their seats at the end of the table, as usual talking louder than anyone else in the Hall. Lily tried to focus on her essay, but after crossing out her mistake, she shoved it back into her bag and stood up, heading straight for the doors.


 


“Finished eating already, have you?”


 


Lily didn’t need to look over her shoulder to see who had spoken. “Go away, Potter,” she said curtly.


 


“Not a morning person, eh?” said James. As he rushed to fall into step next to her, he reached down and snatched an apple off the Hufflepuff table.


 


He skipped ahead and opened one of the double doors, holding it open for her. Lily shot him an icy glare and pushed through the other door. She marched toward the marble staircase. James followed.


 


“I am really not in the mood to talk to you, Potter,” she said. Then, after a pause she added angrily, “You just had to tell the team about Clive, didn’t you? You always have to be the big shot.”


 


“What’s wrong with telling the team?” asked James, walking backwards up the stairs, a step ahead of her. “I just wanted to make them understand why you were late. My intentions were purely innocent.”


 


Lily threw him a withering look.


 


A spark of wisdom flickered through James’s eyes. He took a bite of the apple. “Besides, why wouldn’t you want people to know about you and Pritchard?” he asked. “You are dating him, right?”


 


“It’s none of your business,” replied Lily shortly, trying to move around him but he blocked her way.


 


“Pity I never learned the meaning of boundaries then…”  He grinned, pushing a hand through his hair. “But really…why wouldn’t you want the team to know? Is it because they all now think you’re a house traitor?”


 


Lily stopped walking and stared at him. “Potter, you are the most insufferable git I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing.”


 


“—Because if you would only go out with me,” he said, continuing as though she hadn’t spoken, “The team wouldn’t have such a problem, I reckon.”


 


“Well, they would lose a Chaser,” retorted Lily. “Because I would kill myself.”


 


“—And then everyone would be happy we would play brilliantly on Saturday,” said James, talking over her. “So ditch Pritchard, Evans, for the sake of everyone. We all know you’re just trying to make me jealous.”


 


Give up, Potter! Nothing you say is ever going to make me go out with you!”


 


“But he’s such bloody sod!” protested James. “He doesn’t even—”


 


“I wouldn’t have met him if you hadn’t been pummeling him in the first place!” yelled Lily.


 


Then, over James’s shoulder she saw Summer and Tara round a corner and walk toward the staircase. James tracked Lily’s distracted gaze and twisted around to watch them descend on the far side of the staircase. They both glanced fleetingly at Lily but continued on their way to the Great Hall without a word.


 


Lily stared after them, forgetting that she was in the middle of an argument.


 


“Evans,” said James quietly and Lily turned back around to face him. He held her eyes for amount, his face softened. “Did you ever think that Pritchard’s interested in you because I pummeled him?”


 


Lily pushed by him defiantly. He made a grab for her arm but she shook him off.


 


“Leave me alone!” she snapped, before bounding to the top of the staircase.


 


Two passing third-year boys stared at them.


 


“What are you looking at?” barked James. 


 


He lifted his arm and chucked his apple straight at one of the boys’ head. Lily glanced back to see the boy stumble forward as the apple struck soundly, dropping his armful of books in his shock and embarrassment. Books scattered across the landing, some tumbling down the stairs.


 


Lily whirled around and marched back toward the stairs, her heels pounding the stone floor. 


 


James had already begun to head down the stairs toward the sea of black emitting from the Great Hall. Breakfast was ending and students were trailing off to class. The unfortunate target of James’s apple scurried around desperately trying to collect all his things before they were lost under the stampede of trampling feet.


 


“Here you go.” Lily flicked her wand, making all the boy’s books form a neat pile at his feet. 


 


He picked it up and tried to smile at Lily but only managed a beet-red grimace before dashing away.


 


Lily shook her head and strode down the staircase, scanning the throng for James. She spotted his tousled head moving toward the Marauders who were waiting near the doors of the Great Hall. Her mind set, Lily wove through the crowd until he was right back in front of her.


 


She gave his shoulder a fierce shove. “Potter!”


 


Slowly, he turned, an inquisitive look on his face.


 


“Who do you think you are?” Lily asked with great vehemence. “You could have hurt that poor kid! He didn’t do anything to you!”


 


“What are you on about?” asked Sirius.


 


Lily ignored him and continued to glare at James, who was looking only mildly interested. He didn’t respond.


 


“What is your problem?!” demanded Lily. “What makes you think you have the right to bully people whenever it strikes your fancy?”


 


James shrugged. “He was trying to listen in on our conversation,” he said dully. 


 


“We weren’t having a conversation, Potter!” cried Lily. “You were harassing me. He was likely shocked that anyone could act like such an arrogant pig!”


 


“Wait...” said James, motioning for her to slow down. “Which one of us was acting like an arrogant pig? I don’t know about you, but I was just trying to offer a bit of friendly advice…”


 


“I don’t need your advice, Potter!” screamed Lily, clenching her fists and squeezing her eyes shut. She could feel the fuming venom sizzling in her veins.


 


When she gathered enough of her composure to open her eyes again, a blur of faces crowded James’s backdrop, peering in on the scene she was making. She had a blazing urge to slap them all.


 


“I don’t need your advice and I definitely don’t need you!” she spat recklessly. “I—hate— you!”


 


As Lily uttered those last three words, James’s face inert face froze. He stared at her in stillness. There was a moment of dramatic silence. Lily’s eyes darted away from his and looked at the three boys beside him. 


 


Peter’s mouth hung open. Remus was staring anxiously at James. Sirius shot Lily an offended look, as though she had directed her words at him rather than James. The onlookers gazed on in an unnatural silence, as if they were all holding their breath. 


 


They made Lily sick—all of them. Their horrified faces made her words develop a grotesque flavor, rather than one of satisfaction. The moment stretched on and on, their eyes forever burning into her: Not long enough, though. Not long enough for her to realize that the only person she hated was, in fact, herself.


 


James smiled. 


 


Lily glowered darkly, her anger mounting all over again—She had failed once more to have any affect on him.


 


“You hate me?” he said, chuckling like she had told a ridiculous joke. “Well…” He gazed directly at her, smirking. “I think you’re wonderful.”


 


 Some people laughed, including Sirius, Remus and Peter but James stood, piercing his eyes into Lily’s. He seemed to be waiting for something, some kind of hint in her face. But Lily’s glare would not break.


 


James winked at her then turned, nodding at the Marauders, and the four of them began to walk away.


 


“See you in Potions, Evans!” he called back.


 


The group of students dispersed slowly, as though confused by the sudden lighthearted twist the situation had taken. 


 


After a moment Lily followed, feeling vaguely lost. She was supposed to be the one who got to walk away. She was supposed to be able to leave James, wallowing in guilt and humiliation. Instead, she watched James turn his back and walk away with his mates as though he hadn’t a care in the world. 


 


Why was she always left to do the caring? 


 


If Lily had had any hope for the remainder of her day, it was abandoned as soon as she took her seat in the dungeon classroom. Summer sat next to her as always but the only words they spoke were measurements and potion ingredients. Strictly business.  Never had she felt so isolated. 


 


Her pride was weakening. She opened her mouth a few times to say something but shut it each time, her mind fluctuating like a rubber band.


 


Things spun downward from there. The news of Lily and Clive progressed from the mouths of the Gryffindor Quidditch team to the ears of the rest of the school, once more displaying the Hogwarts students’ gossip-spreading skills in all their glory. 


 


It was even worse than before, now that her friends were in on it. The entire house of Gryffindor seemed to have made a pact to shun her. In the heat of the Gryffindor-Slytherin competition, she was nothing more than a traitor. 


 


As difficult as it was to be so rejected, the mere prejudice of their actions enraged Lily and in turn, she ignored them.


 


At lunch, she sat with Clive, Chad, and Rab at the Slytherin table. Clive didn’t talk much, but she felt his shadowy eyes on her as she spoke awkwardly with Chad and Rab. 


 


Sometimes, she lifted her head and met his gaze. That easing sense of relief…of escape would set inside her. In a way, she despised the way he could do that to her. His eyes made her believe that her problems would disappear if she could just forget about them. Clive made her vulnerable enough to surrender to that feeling of release. For this, Lily resented him. But she couldn’t stop herself from going back for more.  She was addicted.


 


Lily tramped back from the library, laden with a heap of books.  Without anyone to talk to, she would, at least, have plenty of chances to read and catch up on homework. 


 


With the heavy books weighing her down, she had a difficulty crawling through the portrait hole. When she finally made it into the common room, her foot caught on the edge of a rug and she was flung onto the floor, her books flying across the room.


 


Lily slowly lifted her head, bracing for the outburst of laughter. But as she looked up at all the students studying at the tables and lounging in the armchairs, no one laughed. No one looked at her, as though they had not heard her come crashing into the room.   Normally, she herself would have loved to laugh at her clumsiness, a little embarrassed perhaps, but mostly amused. The way she was now overlooked, invisible as she lay on her stomach, raised the pain of her humiliation to an excruciating height.


 


She pushed herself onto her knees and gathered her books. Then she rose and strode directly up the girls’ staircase, without glancing back. 


 


Lily opened the door of her dormitory, exhausted and grateful to get away from everybody. When she looked up, however, she saw that she wasn’t alone. Three girls sat on one of the beds.


 


Lily stared for a moment. “Di,” she breathed.


 


 


 


 


 


 






A/N:  Let me just say that your reviews have been incredible!  I really do appreciate it. 

Thank YOU.

Chapter 20: To Be Loved
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: May 2nd, 2005



Suggested music: “Ain’t No Love” by David Gray



 



Chapter Twenty



To Be Loved



 



Lily cautiously approached the four-poster where Summer, Tara, and Diana sat. She dropped her load of books on her bed and turned to face them.



 



“Hi, Lily.”



 



Di smiled softly at her. Lily stared, then looked at Summer, waiting. She was perched next to Di, fiddling with a hole in her sock, her blond hair hanging over her face. Tara was curled up at the foot of the bed, looking from Lily to Summer to Di.



 



After an awkward moment, Lily opened her mouth to say something but Tara interrupted..



 



“Oh, Lily! Come here, love,” she said, slapping the mattress.



 



Di nodded and reached out her arms. Lily flew into them, her heart lifting so high so fast, it almost hurt. Tara threw herself on top on them and then Summer, with a little laugh, joined the embrace. They gripped each other tightly, holding onto the moment when they were finally all together again..



 



When they let go, salty tears flooded Lily’s eyes and washing down her face. The happiness, combined with the inexplicable pain, overwhelmed her.



 



She crawled onto the four-poster. They sat, arms linked, in silence, each understanding without words.



 



“It’s good to have you back,” said Summer at last. She glanced at Lily as she spoke.



 



“I missed you so much,” said Di.



 



Lily smiled, her face still wet with tears. “It feels like it’s been ages.”



 



Tara gave them all another squeeze.



 



They didn’t ask any questions. They didn’t mention the funeral or the dispute between Lily and Summer or any of other things they had been struggling with during Di’s absence. They simply regrouped, slipping for a brief time into their own perfect universe where these things didn’t exist.



 



They lay squeezed onto one bed, entangled in each other’s limbs, chatting. Lily was slammed back into reality when she caught sight of her watch. Quidditch practice had started ten minutes ago.



 



“Perfect,” groaned Lily, sitting up. “I’m going to be late for practice again. Just another reason for the team to hate me even more.”



 



“Don’t even bother going, Lils. You’ve had enough practice,” said Tara.



 



“No…I have to go,” sighed Lily, sliding off the bed. “Are you going to come, Di? Potter’s counting on you to play in the match.”



 



“He is?” asked Di doubtfully. “Does he know I haven’t played Quidditch in almost two weeks?”



 



“Yes, but he still wants you to play! He knows he can’t get a better Chaser. Come on.”



 



So Lily and Di hurried outside to the Quidditch pitch, where icy rain was drizzling the grounds. The team was already soaring around in the air, their robes billowing in their wake.



 



“Oy! It’s Kendel!” shouted Frank from a nearby goalpost.



 



Jamal brought his broom around to look but saw Lily and sneered, “About time,” before continuing to pass the Quaffle around with Anna, Frank, and Andrew.



 



Di shot Lily a questioning look but Lily dismissed it with a shrug. 



 



They quickly changed in the locker rooms and mounted their brooms. The team welcomed Di back with enthusiasm but regarded Lily as though she was a Slytherin sneaking in on their practice. 



 



James arrived later and was overjoyed to see Di back and ready to play. In contrast to his team, he grinned brightly at Lily and offered her praise throughout the entire practice. She tried not to dwell on his odd behavior, fearing that she had gone over the edge at last and it was all her imagination. Why was he being so nice to her after the bitter fight they just had?



 



At the end of the practice, Lily and Di changed and headed back up to the castle in the soggy gloom, ahead of the rest of the team.



 



“You look different,” Di suddenly remarked.



 



Lily turned her head to the side, surprised. “…How so?”



 



“I don’t know….”  Di peered closely into Lily’s face. “You just seem so different from the last time I saw you. You seem nervous about something and…and…tired. You seem so tired.”



 



Lily looked down at her feet and considered what Di was telling her. 



 



Was she nervous? But what had she to be nervous about?  She thought back to how things were before Di left. She seemed to think a lot more now—she was always analyzing—yet, a lot less in some ways. And now she was so…conscious of everything, constantly waiting for other people’s reactions. Why was she nervous about doing the wrong thing? 



 



Now that Di had come from the outside and pointed it out, Lily realized how hard she was always working for the approval, an actress striving for applause. It wasexhausting…especially when the applause never seemed to come, making her want to flee from the stage to hide safely behind the curtain. 



 



Apparently, acting wasn’t her thing.



 



Summer had noticed the change and blamed it on Clive. Di had noticed it almost immediately. How had she missed it? And now that she saw, could she shake herself out of this character? Could she even remember how to be anything else?



 



Lily lifted her head to gaze at the tall shadow of a castle, hazy through the flaming tears that had sprung to her eyes. Di put an arm around her and squeezed.



 



“It’s okay, Lily,” she said, smiling slightly. “You’ll be okay.”



 



 



*          *          *



 



That night, the seventh-year girls of Gryffindor did not sleep much. Instead, they pushed two of the beds together and talked until the horizon began to glow outside their window. At first they discussed classes, professors, boys. Then they dug deeper, revealing feelings that until then, had been solely their own. 



 



They shared their secret fears and hopes and entered the tentative subject of Di’s parents’ death that had been looming between them. Di described her pain, how much she missed them, and the questions she found herself facing. It was slow to come at first but with some coaxing, she allowed her friends in to take some of the burden that she had carried alone for too long.  She cried and they cried for her. 



 



Lily had never realized how much she didn’t know about her friends. For the first time, she saw Tara’s insecurities, Summer’s dreams, and Di’s imperfections. The sun was creeping up from behind the forest when they fell silent at last, finally all talked out. Lily watched the light spread over her friends’ faces. Her attachment to them had never been stronger and at the same time, she had never felt so liberated.



 



The next day, the last day before the match, was wonderful compared to the way her week had gone. She didn’t care if the entire world hated her, much less the house of Gryffindor, as long as she had her friends.



 



As she ate dinner with them that evening, she glanced up and saw Clive sitting at the Slytherin table. Anxiety sank into her. 



 



She didn’t deserve such strong friends when she was weak enough to let someone take control of her. She had thought that feeling of relief, of oblivion, that possessed her whenever she was with Clive was what being in love felt like. She had given into him because he made her feel good, as though nothing mattered. But there were things that mattered, things she’d cared about before Clive had come along. Now, instead of envying him, Lily could see what a truly pathetic person he was for not giving a shit. Her friends had reminded her how being loved really felt like. And there was nothing of that in Clive Pritchard.   



 



She had inadvertently used him to feel good about herself. In the end, he had had the opposite affect on her. 



 



He had used her, too…For fun? For her body? For revenge? Lily found she didn’t really care. He did not matter to her anymore. 



 



She finally realized who did.



 



 



*          *          *



 



By Saturday morning, the rain had graciously stopped. Lily woke rather early, the sunlight blinding after days of dreariness. 



 



Her stomach felt as though it had sprung wings and was flapping about inside of her. She was filled with apprehension about what she had to do, but she was ready.  



 



Lily and Di walked down the staircase. The common room was quiet and occupied only by a few early risers…and James. He was hunched over a table, still wearing the robes he’d worn to practice the previous night, his head lying on a pile of diagrams of the Quidditch pitch. His mouth was slightly open and his glasses had slid off his face onto the floor at his feet.



 



Lily looked at him. A powerful rush of tenderness took her by surprise. She had a strange urge to touch him. A group of second-year boys were clattering down the stairs. Lily wanted to tell them all to shut up!—let him sleep. He’s tired.



 



“He broke his own rule.”



 



Di’s words crashed through Lily’s head, snapping her attention away from James. “Hmm?”



 



“Potter. He’s always telling us to get a good night’s sleep before a match,” explained Di. “Ready to go down to breakfast?”



 



Lily nodded quickly. “Let’s go.”



 



The sky sparkled cloudlessly in the ceiling of the Great Hall. Lily’s glanced up in excitement.



 



“Perfect weather for a match!” said Di brightly. “Are you nervous?”



 



“Er…a little. It is Slytherin,” admitted Lily. “Are you?”



 



“With only two nights of practice in weeks? I’m about to hurl,” said Di, letting her oatmeal drip from her spoon and back into her bowl.



 



“Please don’t,” implored Lily. “You’ve got nothing to worry about. You’re always brilliant on a broomstick…So eat.”



 



Di grimaced and picked up a piece of toast to nibble on. “So…is the Slytherin team really as good as everyone’s been saying?”



 



“I suppose we’ll find out today…and speak of the devils themselves….”  Lily drifted off as she watched the Slytherin team stride into the Great Hall. Chad Nott and their captain Rab trailed at the back of the group with Clive.



 



“Devils?” Di raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that scary-looking one the Clive Pritchard? The one you have a disgusting habit of snogging?”



 



Lily nodded. “That’s him—but I won’t be snogging him anymore.”



 



“Why not?”



 



“There are loads of reasons,” said Lily dismissively. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at Clive slouching in his seat at the Slytherin table. “I’m going to talk to him….” She hesitated, “After breakfast.”



 



“Good for you, Lil,” said Di earnestly.



 



“Yeah. I’ve been…stupid lately.”   Lily stabbed her bacon with her knife. “About him.”



 



“Even you are allowed to make mistakes.”



 



Lily sighed. “It’s just…Now I should probably say something to Potter and Black.”



 



“Something? How about ‘sorry’?” suggested Di wryly.



 



“Along those lines…” said Lily, tilting her head to the side and giving her poor wrinkled bacon another stab. “I just really hate it when they’re right.”



 



“Ah, cheer up. They’ll let it go…” consoled Di. “Eventually.”



 



Lily lifted an eyebrow at her.



 



“Maybe?” said Di, trying to sound optimistic.



 



“In a few million years,” said Lily bitterly.



 



Suddenly, the Slytherin table broke into loud cheers and shouts.



 



“Hey, he’s getting up with the team…meaning breakfast is over,” announced Di. “Time to tell him who’s boss, right?”



 



Lily looked over the tables across the Hall as Clive walked out the doors with the Slytherin team.



 



“All right,” muttered Lily, readying herself.



 



She and Di stood up and followed them into the Entrance Hall.



 



Di gave her an encouraging little shove. Lily marched over to Clive, who was leaving the Slytherin team as they headed outside for the pitch. She didn’t notice the group of people descending the marble staircase, all donned in red and gold.



 



“Clive,” Lily called to his back. “Clive!” 



 



Slowly, he turned to see Lily approaching him.



 



“Hello,” he said fluidly, a dark smile on his face. 



 



He was looking past her as he swiftly stepped closer and snaked his arms around Lily, pushing his face against her.



 



Lily, stunned, took a few seconds to realize what was happening. Still, his kiss could not numb her anymore. Before she could push him off her, someone grabbed her arm and ripped her sharply away. Dazedly, she caught a glimpse of Clive’s horrible smirk before someone much taller stepped in front of her.



 



What did I tell you?” shouted Sirius. “Can’t you follow a simple instruction? Keep your bloody hands off her!”



 



Whoever had yanked her away was still holding Lily’s arm protectively. She didn’t need to look over her shoulder to see who it was. 



 



The Slytherin team stopped at the door to look back at who was yelling.



 



“She can do what she wants,” said Clive lazily.



 



Di had jumped to Lily’s side. “You’re not what she wants!” she yelled. Lily stared at her in shock. She had never seen her so angry.



 



“Funny how she’s never the one to say it,” retorted Clive.



 



James released her arm and pushed past Sirius, extracting his wand from his pocket.



 



“Potter!” warned Lily.



 



He turned his head and caught her gaze. There was a tauntingly careless expression on his face. At the same time, with astonishing speed, he lifted his arm and pointed his wand at Clive. “Rotallus!



 



Clive flew into the air, spinning rapidly. He landed hard on the stone floor.



 



Potter!” Lily screeched again.



 



Roars of anger erupted from the cluster of Slytherin Quidditch players. They came charging over, spells flying from their wands.



 



Lily ducked in time but James and Sirius stumbled. She heard a rumble of more furious footsteps and glancing up, she saw the rest of the Gryffindor team, plus Remus, Peter, Summer, and Tara rush over from the base of the staircase, holding out their wands.



 



Lily pulled her wand out of her pocket and turned to face the Slytherins, alongside the people who mattered.



 



 



 


Chapter 21: Unforgiving Marks
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: May 12th, 2005


Suggested music: “Desperately Wanting” by Better Than Ezra (though I like Howie Day’s acoustic version)


 


Chapter Twenty-One


Unforgiving Marks


 


Lily’s curses mingled with the dozens of others being shot back and forth like a lightning storm. The two Quidditch teams were vicious—the enmity between the released at last. People were falling, flying and growing horns left and right. Other Slytherin and Gryffindor students quickly joined in, while others circled around to watch and cheer, as though the battle was the pre-match show. 


 


Lily dodged a blast of light sent by Rab Lestrange and straightened immediately to throw a hex back at him. She was about to aim but his wand was still trained on her. His mouth shouted an incantation but the noise of all the chaos drowned out his voice. A jet of silver light blasted from the tip of his wand, rocketing toward her.


 


She braced herself but had no time to react. 


 


All of a sudden, there was a whirl of scarlet robes blocking her from view. The curse struck and somebody tumbled backward onto Lily.


 


She squirmed out from underneath and crawled to her knees. Lying there on the floor was James. He gasped and clutched at his neck, as though an invisible rope was tightening around it. He writhed helplessly, clutching his eyes shut in pain.


 


Lily’s head was screaming. She didn’t know what to do. She wanted to rip whatever was choking him off his neck but there was nothing there and she didn’t know the countercurse to such dark magic. James was going to strangle to death if she didn’t find a way to get the curse off him.


 


Panicking, she wrapped an arm around him and hoisted him up. She dragged him across the floor, away from the turmoil and out of reach of the hexes. 


 


“Hang in there, James!” she cried shakily. She gently leaned him against the wall.  “I’ll be right back!”


 


Lily flew through the doors of the Great Hall and dashed up to the head table as fast as her legs could move. 


 


“Professor!” she screamed to Professor McGonagall, who stood up instinctively at the urgency in Lily’s voice. 


 


“What is it, Ms. Evans?” she asked, alarmed. 


 


She had caught the other teachers’ attention too. They jumped to their feet, looking at Lily. 


 


“I need your help!” squeaked Lily. “Hurry!” She jerked her hand for them to follow. “There’s a big fight…and….”


 


“Lead the way, Ms. Evans,” said Professor Dumbledore calmly.


 


Lily ran back through the doors, heedless of all the confused stares she was drawing from the students still eating breakfast. The teachers hurried after her. They burst into the Entrance Hall to behold the havoc. It had grown even in the minute Lily had run into the Great Hall. The air was thick with curses, arching over the students in a gleaming rainbow.   


 


“A spell hit James…and he just started...he’s…he stopped breathing!” Lily explained feverishly as she led Dumbledore to James. 


 


She turned to James and nearly collapsed to her knees. He had slid to the floor and lay there, motionless. There was a rushing sound in her ears; she felt like she was falling, falling…


 


Dumbledore touched her shoulder briefly. “He’s unconscious.”


 


Lily exhaled, stunned relief hitting her as though she had just barely managed to land on her feet.


 


The other teachers rushed to tend to the battle. The firing of spells was beginning to die down as the students noticed who had entered the Hall. But James was the only person Lily saw. In an instant, she was at his side. Large blue bruises were forming on his neck and his face was a frightening shade of red, gradually advancing to purple. 


 


Dumbledore bent over him and flicked his wand. Lily watched in painful anxiety.


 


James’s eyes sprung open and he took a long, hoarse gulp of air. His entire body shuddered rigidly as he coughed and gagged. Lily kneeled next to him, finding it difficult to breathe as well, her relief was so overwhelming.


 


“Take deep, slow breaths, James,” instructed Dumbledore, taking hold of his shoulders and sitting him back up against the wall. James struggled to take control of his ragged gasping. Dumbledore beamed at him. “That’s the ticket. You weren’t going to make it that easy, were you?” Dumbledore smiled at Lily. “You did have Ms. Evans quite worried. I’ll trust her to take care of you from here.”


 


He gave Lily an appreciative nod and swept away.


 


James heaved a long, shaky breath through his gaping mouth. Then another series of coughs erupted from his throat.


 


Lily put a hand on his moist forehead and pushed back the torrent of wild hair. She didn’t realize what she was doing until James looked up at her, dazed. But she didn’t pull away. It would have been her with the ring of bruises around her neck if James hadn’t stepped in the path of the spell.


 


Lily smiled at him. Slowly, he grinned back.


 


 


*         *          *


 


The damage was greater than anyone expected.


 


The teachers had to conjure over a dozen stretchers for the wounded and other students followed them to the hospital wing with weird deformities and nursing other minor injuries. The rest, including Lily, were sent to their common rooms.


 


Lily sat with Summer, Di, and Remus, who had also managed to escape unharmed, around a table playing a very dull game of Exploding Snap. James was in the hospital wing with Sirius, who had a long, deep gash along the length of his arm.  Peter, his face splotched with green dots and his eyebrow hairs reaching down to his chin, Tara, whose limbs were sprouting leaves, were also in the crowded infirmary with all other impaired Gryffindors and Slytherins.


 


For hours, Lily, Summer, Di, and Remus sat in the common room, waiting for the rescheduled match to be announced. Clearly they wouldn’t be able to play when most of the players were casualties of the pre-match battle. No one knew how the duel would be dealt with, as no one had ever witnessed one of such a grand scale ignite at school. 


 


“This is just brilliant,” groaned Summer, lazily flicking a card with her index finger.


 


“I wonder how they’re plotting to punish us,” mused Remus.


 


Lily sighed and rested her head on her arm.


 


“Lil, you’re really clever and all but you do not have good taste in guys,” declared Di, shaking her head.


 


Remus tipped his head, giving her a mildly offended look. “Thanks, Di,” he said, nodding matter-of-factly.


 


Di shrugged. “It’s true.”


 


Midway through their sniggers, James stomped into the common room. 


 


Lily stared at him closely, not quite grasping the fact that he was walking toward her, making his usual crashing entrance into the quiet common room. His neck was still black and blue but he didn’t seem to notice in his evident fury.


 


“Guess what they’ve done!” he yelled, waving his arms bitterly at them as he approached the table. Lily instantly noticed the hoarse quality of his voice, subtle though it was. “Guess!


 


The other students in the room turned to look.


 


Lily had an idea but she didn’t dare say it out loud.


 


“What?” asked Remus.


 


“They’ve cancelled the match!” cried James. “And neither Gryffindor nor Slytherin can play for the rest of the season! We’re disqualified from the final!”


 


Summer, Di, and Remus exclaimed in horror. The other students joined in, having been eavesdropping …Not that James had made it difficult. He was outraged.


 


Lily, however, wasn’t surprised; she had predicted this.


 


“Yeah! Can you believe it?” continued James. “Instead Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff will automatically play for the cup! And we could have beaten them so easily!


 


The other Gryffindors stood up and moved closer to their table.


 


“They can’t do that!” shouted Jamal. “Gryffindor and Slytherin fight all the time! It’s no big deal!”


 


“It’s never been this big, though,” sighed Remus.


 


“But still!” Jamal moaned sulkily. “They can’t do this.”


 


Lily took a cautious look around at everyone crowded at the table. They weren’t glaring at her. They weren’t even making a point to ignore her existence, as they had been doing for the past week. All their anger was focused on the Slytherins, just like hers, and they seemed to forget her betrayal. They didn’t seem to care—or perhaps they didn’t know—how the fight had started in the first place.


 


“Is that all?” asked Sylvia. “They didn’t take any house points away?”


 


“They took twenty,” said James. Some people breathed a sigh of relief. “For each person involved.”


 


“What?” yelped Edmusshrilly. “Twenty points for each…”  He couldn’t seem to repeat it.


 


“Oh, no. How many do we have now then?” asked Jason.


 


“Dunno,” answered James dolefully, ruffling his hair in an agitated way. “But we’re definitely in the negatives. There were at least fifty people from both Gryffindor and Slytherin fighting by the time the teachers came. At least Slytherin isn’t going to win the House Cup either.”


 


“Are they crazy? We were in the lead!”


 


“McGonagall seemed to think she was being generous,” snorted James.


 


“Well, it was a serious fight,” reasoned Lily. ‘You almost died, James,’ she wanted to add.


 


“Yeah, just look how many people got hurt,” agreed Summer.


 


Several people shook their heads stubbornly.


 


“What else could they do?” added Remus, though he looked very depressed. “There were so many people—they couldn’t just forget it happened.”


 


“Come on, think about it,” said Lily. “We got off pretty easy.”


 


If you hadn’t been kissing that bloody jackass…” mumbled James under his breath.


 


Lily’s head snapped around to stare at him. He had turned his back to her and begun pacing distractedly. Her stomach turned over at the sight of the bruised skin on the back of his neck.


 


No one else seemed to have heard him. They were too busy complaining about the injustice of the consequences they were facing.


 


After ranting for awhile longer, they sulkily dispersed around the common room. Many others returned from the hospital wing after James, including Sirius and Tara, fully healed, while the rest had to spend the night under the watchful eye of Madam Pomfrey.


 


Late that night, as the students started heading up to bed, Lily lounged with her feet kicked up on a chair in front of her, absently doodling on her homework. Summer was sitting across from her, playing chess with Tara. Di was immersed in writing an essay, trying to make up for all the work she had missed while she was away from school. 


 


For the hundredth time that night, Lily glanced up to gaze at the three boys by the fireplace. They had their books out but from what Lily could tell, not much work was being done. Remus was laughing at something Sirius had said and was consequently hit with a wad of parchment James had chucked at his head. In no time, all three boys started throwing more balls of parchment and flinging ink at each other, taunting and cackling gleefully. 


 


“What are you smiling at?”


 


Lily jumped in her chair. Tara was watching her from across the table with a smirk. The smile that had snuck onto Lily’s face slid right off.


 


“Nothing,” she said quietly.


 


“Uh huh…” said Summer shrewdly, as she moved her knight.


 


“Have you talked to him yet?” asked Di.


 


“Who?” asked Lily, feigning ignorance.


 


Di rolled her eyes and waved her quill in the direction of the Marauders.


 


“No…” said Lily weakly.


 


“No?” repeated Tara. “You better get to it! Now he deserves an apology and a thank you from you. You can’t afford to put it off anymore.”


 


“Yeah,” nodded Summer, grimacing as she watched Tara’s queen destroy her knight. “He practically saved your life. You can’t hate him anymore.”


 


Aww…” cooed Tara. “He’s so in love with our wittle Lily blossom.”


 


“Okay!” snapped Lily. “I’ll talk to him.” She let her hair drop in front of her face as she returned her attention to her homework.


 


“When?”


 


“Soon.”


 


“When?”


 


Soon!”


 


“Tonight?”


 


“Fine!”


 


Tara grinned in satisfaction.


 


Lily busied herself with homework until the sound of Summer groaning interfered with her concentration.


 


“Checkmate,” pronounced Tara happily. “I think it’s about time for bed, eh, ladies? We’ll leave you to do your apologizing and thanking, Liloo.” She nodded toward the fireplace.


 


James and Sirius were still there, calmly relaxing now. It looked like Remus had gone to bed.


 


“Good luck,” said Di and she, Summer, and Tara, who patted Lily’s head as she passed, went off to the dormitories.


 


“Goodnight, Lily!” called Summer.


 


Lily watched them go with a slight feeling of longing. She looked toward the Marauders. She was dreading the moment when she had to walk over there and apologize to James. 


 


She had thought he understood what had gone on with Clive when he smiled at her as she watched him steady his breathing in the Entrance Hall. But from what he had said earlier, it was clear that he had only been dazed from waking up from his state of unconsciousness. He was angry. She had cost him the match and the Cup.


 


 “Blimey, Prongs, that looks painful,” she heard Sirius say, indicating James’s neck.


 


“Yeah…” said James, gingerly touching it. “Because it is.”


 


Lily stood up so suddenly, her chair tipped over and clattered to the floor. James and Sirius stared at her. She took a deep breath. She had been struck by a sudden bolt of courage and she couldn’t let it go to waste.


 


“James, I want to talk to you.”


 


James continued to stare at her and Sirius grinned. Lily crossed the floor in a few long strides. 


 


“Uh…” She shot Sirius a meaningful look.


 


Sirius nodded. “I know when I’m not wanted.” He stood up and Lily thought he was going to leave but instead, he perched himself on the arm of James’s chair. “But that doesn’t mean I’ll leave.”


 


“Fine,” she said. She knew James wasn’t going to tell Sirius to give them some privacy and besides, he too deserved an apology. She fell into the chair Sirius had just left. 


 


She cast her eyes down and her hands folded in her lap. She couldn’t stand to look at James’s neck and their staring was making her uncomfortable.


 


“I think it’s important that you know this,” Lily began. She paused, looking intently at a hangnail on her thumb. “You’ve been right all along about Clive. He’s really…er…not my type. So today I went to tell him out in the Entrance Hall and he just…grabbed me. I didn’t want to….” She trailed off.


 


“That bloody creep,” snarled Sirius.


 


He grabbed you? I thought—” said James, slowly. Anger ignited in his eyes. “He’s sick.”


 


Lily looked up at them and was a bit startled at how visibly angry they both were. Underneath that, she was glad. Glad they were willing to stand up for her, knowing she needed it, even when she couldn’t realize it herself. Whether or not their motives were out of any real affection for her or simply driven by competitiveness, pride, and their need to feel strong, they made her feel valued…cared for.


 


“Yeah, so…Sorry for giving you such a hard time about this whole thing. I was being an idiot,” she said, quietly returning to her hangnail.


 


“Glad you finally came to your senses, Ev.”  Without any notice, Sirius was bent over her, squashing her into an enormous brotherly hug. Lily grinned into his shoulder, warmth saturating her. “Any more problems with that worthless rat’s ass, you know who to call.”


 


He straightened and yawned widely, stretching his arms to their full extent. “Always…remember…” he said through the yawn, “this moment and know…Padfoot and Prongs are always right.”


 


“Got it.”  Lily smiled. “So, Mr. All-Knowing, don’t you know when you should go to bed? I’ve never seen a bigger yawn.”   


 


“I think I’ll do just that,” he said, heading leisurely for the boys’ staircase. “Long day, you know?  Risking my life to save you from Pritchard…I know I make it look easy but—”


 


“Just go to bed, Padfoot!” barked James, smiling in an exasperated way.


 


Bonne nuit!” Sirius waved his hand with a flourish and disappeared up the staircase. 


 


James rolled his eyes.


 


Lily laughed. Suddenly it dawned on her how long it had been since she had really laughed. She liked how it felt so she did it again. Then she couldn’t stop, giddiness swelling inside her. She felt so warm and light. James’s face crinkled into a smile as he watched her. Then threw his head back, his laughter fusing with hers. 


 


When they managed to calm down, they both emitted a loud, simultaneous sigh. Their eyes met and they hurled into another cascade of giggles. 


 


“What are we laughing about?” asked James, after he could gather enough composure to talk.


 


Lily snorted. “I don’t even know!”


 


“That seems to happen to you a lot,” remarked James, the dimple in his cheek setting his face off-balance.


 


“No, it really doesn’t. It’s actually quite odd. When I’m with you, I just….” Lily cut her rambling short as she realized, with some embarrassment, how her words would sound.


 


James’s smile lingered on his face. A hint of deep interest had crept into it. Lily thought she detected a trace of hope, too.


 


“I mean…uh…you know….” Lily stared back down at her lap as she stumbled through her mind for a way to explain, but the connection between laughter and James loomed there, plain and clear.


 


“Yeah?”


 


“Never mind.” 


 


She struggled to recall why she was with him in the first place; a safe subject. Then she remembered. Images of James lying deathly still on the floor shattered the warmth she had felt. Her physical temperature seemed to drop. Desperately, she lifted her head to let the sight of James living and smiling shine through the dreadfully clear memories. Instead, the smears of bluish skin glared at her, blinding. She shuddered.


 


“You all right?” asked James, with a sincere concern that jolted Lily’s stomach. “You’re looking a bit peaky.”


 


“Yeah…no,” said Lily uncertainly. “It’s freezing in here.” She folded her arms across her chest, trying to suppress her shivering.


 


“You’re cold? That’s odd…I’m really warm.” He squinted at her. “Are you feeling okay?”


 


She couldn’t stand his concern.


 


“No. I’m fine. I’m just gonna go to bed,” Lily said firmly.  


 


She stood and rushed up the staircase without another word.                 


 


 


 


 


 


 






A/N: Yes...I know you all wanted more to happen between Lily and James. Don't we all?  But it wasn't right for this particular chapter. Lily needs to sort herself back out before she can deal with anything like that. And she does have quite a few issues to work on, doesn't she?

And of course, review. : )





Chapter 22: Ready to Fly
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: May 30th, 2005



Suggested music: “Call and Answer” by Barenaked Ladies



 



Chapter Twenty-Two



Ready to Fly



 



 



The sun had long been in the sky when Lily left the dormitory the next day.



 



She had gotten up late to go to breakfast because she knew James usually ate early…No, it had just happened that way, Lily started to tell herself. Then she shook these thoughts away. She had to stop lying to herself, stop hiding from her own feelings. She was going to be honest, even inside her own head. Especially there.



 



Lily had indeed stayed in bed longer on purpose. The purpose was James. Although she didn’t want to avoid him. 



 



Then again, she didn’t want to face him either.



 



Lily padded down the winding staircase and emerged in the common room. She crossed the room, without glancing at any of the students sprawled about in case James was among them. She had pushed the portrait open and was almost safely outside when she heard her name.



 



“Evans! Hold it, would you?”



 



Lily quickly looked over her shoulder, glad to recognize the voice as Sirius’s and not…someone else’s. Honesty, Lily rebuked herself. When had it grown so difficult for her? She sighed wearily.



 



“If it’s so much trouble you can close the thing on my face if you’d like,” he said, bending to enter the hole.



 



Lily grinned. “As appealing as that sounds, I wasn’t sighing because of that.” She hopped out and waited for him to follow.



 



“So what’s the matter, then?” asked Sirius, as they began strolling down the corridor.



 



“Oh…” Lily wondered what she should say. “As if you really care.”



 



“I’ll have you know I’m a very caring person,” said Sirius, shooting her an offended look. “There’s nothing I’d love more than to shoulder all your troubles, Evans. Lay ‘em on me.”



 



Lily peered at him closely as she chuckled.   Was he serious beneath all his joking? How could he understand the fear she had of facing James?  How James was brave enough to jump in front of a possibly fatal curse yet she couldn’t even bring herself to look at him? She had never thought of Sirius as a confidante. In fact, she had never really thought much about him at all. He was a constant in her life—always mocking, always laughing, always making the situation lighter. She had always taken it for granted that there was nothing else to understand about him yet she was getting the feeling there was much more.



 



“I don’t know…” she said.



 



He threw her a flashing grin.   “Come on, Ev. Tell old Padfoot everything.” 



 



Lily looked at him. She was surprised at herself for even considering it, but she had an inexplicable urge to trust him. He was, after all, James’s best friend.



 



“Well, I have a problem…” Lily hesitated, “…with this friend of mine. Actually, we’re not friends. At all. But I owe this person a lot and I just can’t get around to talking to him. Every time I even look at him, I—”



 



Sirius scowled. “Oh, Evans,” he scowled. “Please. You’ve got a ‘friend’ but you’re really not friends at all? Cut the rubbish and tell me what the hell is going on with you and James.”



 



Lily glared at him from the corner of her eye.



 



“What? Did you underestimate my intelligence?” He raised his eyebrows, achieving a thoroughly insulted look.



 



“You make it easy enough,” Lily retorted. “Fine. But…it’s nothing, really. It’s not like I’m stressing out about it or anything. It just happened to cross my mind.”



 



“Mmm…all right, then,” he said, tilting his head to the side. “James has been stressed about it. Did you know that?”



 



“What? No…” Lily hadn’t expected this. “Uh, what exactly is he stressed about?” she asked, careful to make her voice sound apathetic.



 



“I don’t know…whatever it is that’s going on between you two. I can’t keep track.”



 



“How do you know, then?” pushed Lily.



 



“James is my best mate. I just know him,” said Sirius simply. “He was really torn up about that stupid thing you had with Pritchard.”



 



Lily shook her head, a slight twinge of disappointment tugging at her. Sirius wasn’t saying anything she hadn’t already understood. “He was just feeling threatened for once. He needs to stop thinking of me as his personal property.”



 



“No, Evans.” Sirius shook his head adamantly. “Don’t you get it? Sure, he fancies you and wasn’t exactly thrilled to see you with another guy but he’s used to you rejecting him. No…I reckon he knew you were being used. He didn’t act up like that with Remus, did he?”



 



“Because he’s James’s friend….”



 



“No,” Sirius said firmly again. “Something has been off with you…ever since you met seeing that bastard. I suppose he was worried.”



 



Lily looked down at her feet, letting the words soak into her. Sirius was speaking with such a rare sincerity. Was she really hearing all this? She wasn’t sure how to respond. Again, she chose defense. She had to hurl out anything that proved James was wrong. It was second nature to her, after spewing it out so much in the past.



 



“I never would have met Clive if I hadn’t caught James pummeling him silly…and for no reason!” she said, still staring at her feet. She had to take long strides to keep up with Sirius.



 



When he didn’t answer, she looked up, expecting him to take his usual stance and boast about James’s amusing antics. Instead, he looked irritated.



 



“What?” asked Lily with exasperation.



 



“Could you be any thicker?” Sirius growled in frustration. “Evans, James was defending you!”



 



“Oh, come off it, Sirius. What would he have been defending me for?” sneered Lily.



 



“From those grimy Slytherins!” cried Sirius. “They were being the disgusting creeps they are, talking about you like some loose ‘mudblood’ they’d like to have a go with.”



 



Lily gaped, confused. She didn’t want to believe it. How could she have been so wrong? Why hadn’t James said anything?



 



That horrible, dragging feeling that had been residing in her stomach was rapidly spreading itself through her like a plague, rooting itself into her heart. The look on James’s face after she had yelled at him for hitting Clive flashed before her eyes, alternating with the sight of him being choked by the strangling curse. The guilt was so powerful Lily felt like it was beating her, knocking her around. It was disconcerting.



 



Sirius eyed her as she gazed into those images. She seemed lost.



 



“Evans?”



 



Lily blinked, slowly coming to focus on the present.



 



She looked into Sirius’s earnest face. 



 



Underneath all her overwhelming misconceptions, she realized that she was right about one thing: Sirius was more than the teasing, haughty boy that he seemed, smoothly reciting jokes for his adoring crowd. 



 



Lily felt as though she were floating somewhere above, looking down at herself as she listened to him. From the higher angle, she could see more. Sirius’s arrogance and selfishness—the things that had earned him so much resentment from Lily and so much admiration from everyone else—were still there but other things were visible. Now she saw that Sirius was admired for all the wrong qualities. He was intuitive, more aware of other people’s feelings than she could have imagined. There was also the strongest, most commanding loyalty in him that Lily had ever seen. 



 



And now she could see that she had always missed that part of him…ignored it. It had always been there for her to see, all those times she had spent with him throughout her entire life at Hogwarts. She had just never bothered to look before this moment.



 



It made Lily wonder…Who else was she not seeing right? What else had else had she been shutting out?



 



“Please just talk to him,” said Sirius quietly. “James doesn’t deserve to be ignored anymore.”



 



Lily nodded vaguely, her floating self and her stationary self merging together. Her eyes were finally open. “Where is he?”



 



*          *          *



 



Lily hurried down the sloping path, slipping on the sporadic patches of ice. She kept her eyes cast to the sky, the vibrant, endless blue contrasting radically with the dreary grey grounds.



 



James swooped into view from behind the towering seats of the Quidditch stadium. He flew straight into the sky at full speed, sunlight gleaming on his wild hair. Lily paused, her eyes following him closely. He soared deep into the air, flipped backwards and dropped back down. He let out a long whooping yell, gaining reckless speed as he fell back out of sight.



 



Lily resumed her journey to the pitch, her nerves subsiding. She quietly crept into the pitch and took a seat in the stadium. James was looping and twisting with the breeze, diving up and around, and shouting with excitement. She watched him silently, not wanting to disrupt his joyful solitude.



 



He zoomed over the pitch, oblivious to Lily, and flung sideways suddenly to evade a goalpost. His broomstick tilted, causing his legs to slide off completely but he swung back around gracefully. As he turned around to head back to the other side of the pitch he pushed a hand through his hand and he slammed right into the goalpost.



 



Lily couldn’t suppress her laughter. James, still recovering from the shock of his collision, snapped his head in the direction of the noise.



 



“Evans!” he cried in surprise. He leaned forward to sail down to where Lily sat. “What are you doing here?”



 



Lily’s eyes followed him as he moved closer. His eyes held that look he always got when he flew; bright with energy and vitality. His cheeks were flushed and his shining black hair was as uncontrollable as ever. However, the bruises that still smeared his throat were what drew her attention.



 



“I don’t know…felt like getting some fresh air,” Lily replied.



 



“You’ve been spying on me,” he said, his lips curving into a smirk as he hopped off his broom to stand in front of her. “Admit it, Evans.”



 



Lily shrugged, smiling absently. 



 



James squinted at her in suspicion. “…What?”



 



“Nothing,” Lily said lightly.



 



He shot her a mystified look. “Er…Do you want to join me?” he asked uncertainly, spinning his broomstick around his wrist.



 



Lily stared at the twirling broom. This weight that had attached itself to her heart was much too heavy. She could never get off the ground.



 



“No, I’ll just watch,” she said softly.



 



James stared at her blankly. “Watch?” he asked, as though he wasn’t familiar with the word.



 



“Yes, it’s okay. Go ahead.”



 



One of James’s eyebrows shot up. “Evans?”



 



“Yes?”



 



“What is wrong with you?” asked James in a bewildered, somewhat urgent tone.



 



“What do you mean? What’s wrong with watching?” asked Lily, frowning.



 



“Why would you watch when you can fly? That’s mad.”



 



“I just don’t feel like it right now, okay? You can keep flying.”



 



James dropped his broom and sat down next to her, crossing his long legs.   “That’s all right,” he said. “I think I feel like watching with you.” 



 



“What?” Lily furrowed her brow. “There’s nothing to watch if you’re not flying, Potter.”



 



James shrugged as though he couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities. “We’ll watch the sky then.”



 



Lily smiled and he leaned back in his seat, gazing upward. After a minute of silence, he started tapping his fingers in a rhythm on the armrest. His knee bounced slightly. Lily could see how restless he was, unable to be content with mere watching. He wanted to be in the sky.



 



With his chin pointed up, Lily had full view of the horrible blue blemishes that marred his pale skin. They continued to leer at her. The dragging sensation made her chest feel like lead, and she heaved a long heavy sigh for breath. James glanced at her.



 



“Still watching me, eh?” he said, a spark of light glimmering in his eyes.



 



Lily wanted to let out a sarcastic laugh in response but all she could do was sigh again. There was another small silence between them before she cleared her throat. “Do you want to go for a walk?”



 



James sprung to his feet. “Sure.”



 



Lily lifted herself out of her seat and they headed for the exit of the pitch. Without thinking, Lily steered them toward the lake where the ice floated in chunks on the surface. 



 



She forced herself to speak up.



 



“So, Potter,” began Lily resignedly. “I’ve got a few things to say to you.” She glimpsed sideways at James, who seemed calm.



 



“Go on.”



 



“Well, first…remember the day of our last detention? When you skived off and played that prank on Snape?” she asked, trying to remain conversational.



 



James smirked at the memory and nodded.



 



“Yeah…then I’m sure you remember quite well what happened afterward,” she pushed on, still eyeing him vigilantly. His face didn’t move but his eyes clouded over. “Why didn’t you tell me you actually had a reason to hit Clive and Rab?”



 



“You mean those disgusting things they were saying about you?” said James flatly, staring out at the lake. “You want to know why I didn’t tell you? Evans, I could have told you that Pritchard was Voldemort himself and you wouldn’t have paid any mind.”



 



“That’s not true!” cried Lily angrily. “You should have told me what really happened. I would have listened!”



 



James turned his head to look at her straight on. “You didn’t listen when I told you that Pritchard was a creep, did you?” 



 



“No…but only because you were so arrogant about it! If you had just been a little more mature, I would have listened to you!”



 



“My ass, you would have!” scoffed James. “Even your best friend was telling you to stay away from him.”



 



Lily groaned in aggravation. “Fine! I wouldn’t have listened, all right?” she barked. “But that’s beside the point! I don’t care about that anymore. The point is that I’m sorrrrr—”



 



Midway through, Lily’s apology turned into a screech as her foot slipped on the icy bank, having been too aggravated to pay heed to where she was stepping. Her legs flew out from under her, arms flailing.



 



“Evans!” Somehow, Lily felt her arms fall into James’s grasp before she could hit the crusty snow. He laughed loudly as he yanked her to her feet. Lily slapped him away impatiently, jumping away from the perilous ice.



 



“The point is…I’m SORRY!” she yelled crossly over his laughter. “Potter! Listen!”



 



But James just doubled over, laughing harder. 



 



“Did you hear me?! Potter! I’m trying to apologize! Okay?! Sorry—Stop laughing!” 



 



James continued and Lily’s frustrated voice cracked, as laughter broke through her tone.



 



“Okay…All done,” James said, taking a deep breath and sobering up.  “Well done, Evans. That was, by far, the smoothest apology I’ve ever heard. Is that all you have to say?”



 



“Actually…no. One more thing,” she said, as they continued on their way along the lake. She inhaled slowly. “Rab’s curse could have killed you. It almost did!  You shouldn’t have stepped in front of it.”



 



“Who said I did it on purpose?” asked James quickly, taking Lily aback.



 



“Well, no one, but I just assumed…I dunno…” Lily drifted off weakly. “You didn’t?”



 



“Yeah, I did,” admitted James. His tone was indifferent. “But you should really be more careful. You might sound arrogant.”



 



Lily rolled her eyes. “You’re a git.”



 



“Fine way to treat your savior.”



 



“Oh, you’re my savior now?” Lily said wryly. “Don’t forget...You would have snuffed it if I hadn’t gone for Dumbledore.”



 



James shook his head. “Ah, you were just saving your own conscious, Evans.”



 



“How could you say that?!” burst Lily. “I wasn’t going to let you die!”



 



Then she shoved him in the arm when she saw that the laughter had returned to his face. He looked at her from the corner of his eye, tousling his hair with his hand. “I know. I saw how frightened you were…You must really love me, huh?”



 



“I wasn’t that scared, Potter,” said Lily, her hands flying about in big, defensive gestures. Anyone would have been frightened! You don’t watch someone almost choke to death every day. It’s not exactly pleasant!”



 



James suddenly snatched her wrist to stop her frantic waving. Lily lifted her head in surprise and was immediately surrounded by his eyes, caught inside a whirl of glinting green and gold. Distantly, she felt James’s hand slip up her arm, squeezing her to his side.



 



He tilted his head forward slightly. A spark of mischief flashed in his eyes. “No, you just love me.” 



 



 



*        *        *



 



By the time Lily and James returned to the castle the sun was approaching the horizon, ready to tuck itself in behind the mountains. They had talked senselessly by the lake for hours before the rumbling of Lily’s stomach grew too ferocious to ignore. She hadn’t eaten anything all day, having gone straight to find James before breakfast, so the two hiked up to the school and stepped into the warmth and light of the Great Hall.



 



They took no notice of all the heads that turned when they ate their dinner together. Neither one of them cared. They were too busy talking. In fact, they were still caught up in chatter when they stood up to leave.



 



“Hang on a second,” Lily told James as they passed the Slytherin table. 



 



She walked away from him, in Clive’s direction. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say; she just knew what she had to do.



 



When she was standing over him, she tapped his shoulder. He turned around lazily.



 



“Lily Evans…” he drawled. “Back for more?”



 



“Come here. I need to talk to you.” Lily waved her hand for him to move away from the table and the eavesdropping ears of the other Slytherins.



 



He looked at her hand, his eyebrows arched haughtily.



 



“Fine, we’ll talk right here,” snapped Lily. She clenched her lips together for a moment before speaking. “We aren’t going to do…this anymore.”



 



Clive simply stared at her, apparently undaunted.



 



“So…we’re done,” added Lily. 



 



He stood up suddenly and faced her directly. “Done what?” He looked down at her and snuck his hands around her waist.



 



“Done this!” Lily snatched them and shoved them back at him. “Done this!” 



 



She began to turn away when Clive snatched her arm. Swiftly, he whipped her back and replaced his hands.



 



“You might think that,” he said quietly, his dark eyes looking down at her smugly. He seemed amused. “But when I want something, I get it, Lily Evans.”



 



Lily ripped herself away from Clive and pushed him as hard she could. He was thrown back onto the table into the plates of food. Clive gawked up at her. It was the most emotion she had ever seen on his face.



 



“Unfortunately for you, I’m not ‘something,’ so keep your fucking hands to yourself,” she said loudly. “Goodbye.” Lily spun on her heel and strode away. 



 



Wordlessly, James fell into step with her quick gait and they walked straight out of the Great Hall, without a single glance back. When the doors closed behind them, Lily took one look at James and they broke into a fit of laughter.



 



“Did you see his face?” squealed Lily. 



 



She jumped up and down, dancing in triumph. She was so light and free.



 



James nodded, following her little dance with his eyes. "That was brilliant!" His smile was bright and strong but as he watched her, a quiet warmth filled his eyes.



 



“You know what I want to do now?” said Lily, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Fly! Right now! Come on.”



 



She clapped her hand around his arm and dashed toward the doors. She threw them open with a shrieking laugh, spilling light into the darkness, and yanked James out after her. Her legs stretched longer with each stride as she pulled him along toward the Quidditch pitch.



 



“What’s the matter, Potter? Can’t keep up?” she mocked giddily.



 



James laughed and immediately sped up so that they were running at the same pace. He caught up her hand. They ran faster. The wind snapped around their bodies and hummed in their ears. Lily was sure it would lift them right off the ground and into the night.  



 



If it did, she and James would fly with it. She was no longer afraid.



 



 



 



 



 


 







A/N:  This is probably another one of my favorite chapters.  I dunno...it's sorta comforting, yet uplifting.  It's the perfect place to end Part Two. 

I just noticed--it was first posted exactly one year after I posted the very first chapter of this fic.  I think I came a looong way since then.  That's what I love about fanfiction.  It really motivated me to write a lot and often, which helps more than anything.


What do you think?   Review.
Merci beaucoup!!  (that's thank you very much, for all you non-French speaking people)













Chapter 23: Part III: Sacrifice, Chapter 23: Those Spring Nights
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Part III: Sacrifice



 



First Posted: July 15th, 2005



Suggested music: “Drops of Jupiter” by Train



 



Chapter Twenty-Three



Those Spring Nights



 



Delighted to feel the first hint of spring in the warm breezy air, Lily stepped outside and started down the damp hill. She breathed in deeply, wanting to taste the sweet promise of flowers and sunshine. She looked happily at James, walking next to her with his treasured Cleansweep over his shoulder and his face tilted into the wind.



 



They were off for another few hours of flying. It was something they had been at for nearly a month, after the long study sessions they crammed in before and after dinner with Summer, Tara, Di, and the other Marauders in the common room. Lily and James started wandering down to the Quidditch pitch, quickly falling into a new routine.



 



 Lily was diligently preparing for the approaching N.E.W.T. exams and as always, kept a very organized study schedule. James, on the other hand, had never studied for an exam in his life. This changed as soon as Lily found out. She scolded and coaxed him into studying and oversaw all the homework he was slowly adjusting to do with her around. She had yet to convince Sirius to pick up a book.



 



“These are your N.E.W.T. exams, Sirius! You can’t just ignore them. And look at the good marks James has been getting!”



 



“How hard can they be? All the fuss they make about them…load of rubbish. I’ve passed all my other exams without studying,” Sirius said stubbornly. “And you’re turning Prongs into a monster!  Soon we’ll have another Moony on our hands. No…You keep away from me.”



 



The ongoing struggle with Sirius aside, Lily was having an unusually easy time at dealing with all the work. She no longer felt the desperation for an escape or the overwhelming desire to give up. Flying each night with James cleared her mind of stress, relaxed her. A fresh new energy stirred in her every morning, something she had never experienced before. 



 



Since the day Lily had severed any connection to Clive Pritchard, something had changed. She had stopped acting. She was freer—to laugh, smile, scream, even cry, whatever she felt in order to express herself. A light had flicked on in her brain that first night she had flown with James.  Lily saw that although James had pushed for the riddance of Clive, he had stood back and let her make the decision for herself, knowing it was what she needed. She could now see that, like Sirius, she had been blind to certain parts of James. He was wiser than he seemed.



 



Lily and James entered the pitch where the tips of the grass stretched hopefully toward the sun. They mounted their brooms and kicked off. Lily spun upward and soared around the edge of the field, making a loop around each goalpost. She looked around for James. He was coming up from behind her. He swerved, just missing her, and continued down the pitch. Lily was surprised when he didn’t stop and flew straight over the stands.



 



“Where are you going?” she called.



 



James dipped around to face her. “Come on! Aren’t you bored of the pitch?”



 



Lily smiled and went to catch up. Surpassing him, she directed her broom toward the lake. She descended slowly, brushing her toes along the smooth surface.



 



She pulled upward and whirled around suddenly. “Let’s race!” A thumping excitement was beating in her veins. Lily looked at James, who was doing flips around the branches of a large beech tree that stood on the bank.



 



“You sure you’re up for that, Evans?”



 



“I am if you are!” dared Lily, doing a little somersault in the air.



 



James stopped his flipping and sailed closer to where she hovered over the water, the thrill of a challenge glowing in his eyes.



 



“Around the edge of the lake and the edge of the forest…We’ll start at Hagrid’s house. The first one around wins,” said Lily, gesturing toward the hut.



 



“All right,” replied James, leading the way. When they were floating over Hagrid’s roof, he paused. “Hey, Evans…d’you want to make this interesting?”



 



Lily peered at him. He smirked.



 



“If I win, you go out with me.”



 



Lily gave a sarcastic laugh. “I don’t think so, Potter. If you win, I’ll do your Charms essay for you—”



 



“Ha! I already did it!” said James triumphantly.



 



“You did not. I tried to get you to do it tonight and you wouldn’t,” retorted Lily complacently. James looked as though he was about to argue but Lily cut him off. “And if I win, I—”



 



“Get to go out with me?”



 



“Potter,” said Lily in warning.



 



“What?”



 



“Potter.”



 



“If I win, you come to Hogsmeade with me,” said James grudgingly. “That’s fair!”



 



“Fine. And if I win, you have to stop asking me out,” declared Lily.



 



James looked genuinely startled. “Forever?”



 



Lily considered for a moment. “All right. ‘Till the end of term.”



 



“Evans,” said James, mimicking Lily’s tone of warning.



 



Lily couldn’t help but grin. “Okay. You can’t ask me out for two weeks. Now can you stop stalling already?”



 



“Ready when you are.”



 



Lily pulled herself up to James’s level and bent over her broom. “All right….Ready…set…GO!”



 



They set off, ascending into the air to skim the branches of the trees along the edge of the forest. James’s broom had better acceleration and he sped off ahead of Lily at first. She ducked lower and was soon neck and neck with him. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw James grinning at her. Lily smirked and urged her broom to go faster. Then she swerved in front of him, deliberately cutting him off.



 



“Oy!” she heard James cry in surprise. 



 



Lily laughed loudly as she curved around the north corner of the grounds.



 



“So that’s how you want to do it!” yelled James. He sounded excited.



 



Suddenly Lily’s broom was forced around, spinning. She saw James flash by, having rammed into the tail of her broom. Lily struggled to regain control. When she was back to facing the right direction James was several yards ahead. She rose high above the treetops as they rounded another corner. 



 



“Come on,” muttered Lily, willing her broom to speed up. 



 



She kept her eyes on James. His hair was whipping about. He glanced back briefly with a smile on his face.



 



Lily bowed low against her broomstick, tightening her hold. She gradually advanced on him as they soared around the side of the Quidditch pitch. Beyond, was the lake, glistening brightly in the light of the dying sun.



 



“Looks like you’re coming to Hogsmeade!” bellowed James, laughter in his voice.



 



But Lily was right behind him. They veered around the edge of the lake. Hagrid’s hut was in sight. Lily moved right up next to James. He stared, unwaveringly, at the little house, his forehead creased in concentration.



 



They turned around a final bend, moving steadily faster. Lily inched closer to James and then, swinging her weight, hurled herself into him. He rolled over the handle of his broom and Lily threw him a fleeting smile before shooting away, coming to a halt after passing over Hagrid’s roof.



 



She swiveled around and saw James trying to recover. Lily let out a long, whooping cheer and began to laugh, loud and gleefully. She flew back toward the lake and began circling James.



 



“HA HA! Didn’t see that coming, did you, Potter?!” she shouted, punching the air victoriously. “Look who beat the famous Quidditch star!”



 



“That’s no common accomplishment, mind you, so go ahead and have your little celebration,” said James.



 



Lily ignored him and mouthed, “I beat you!” because she was too breathless with laughter to speak.



 



James gave her a haughty wave of his hand.  



 



Lily flew up and around the perimeter of the lake, singing at the top of her lungs, “I beat James Potter! I beat James Potter!



 



When she finished her victory lap, she returned to James, hovering in the middle of the lake, still singing.



 



“Okay, enough’s enough!” snapped James finally. But he was trying to restrain a grin.



 



Lily leaned into his face. “I BEAT JAMES POTTER!”



 



James lunged at her, and Lily, caught off-guard, toppled off her broom, landing with a large splash in the water below.



 



Lily sunk under, then bobbed up again, gasping in the shock of the ice cold water. 



 



She glared up at James, who was roaring with laughter. “Potter!” 



 



Lily grinned when she saw his foot dangling a few feet over her head. She reached up and yanked it down. In mid-laugh, James slid off the side of his broomstick and fell headlong into the water.



 



His head popped up through the surface and he gaped at her speechlessly for a moment, his glasses sitting crookedly on his nose.



 



In response to the look on his face, Lily splashed him. “Not a very good loser, are you?”



 



James slammed his fist playfully into the water, spraying fat droplets into Lily’s eyes. “Well, it is my first time…”



 



The next few minutes were a muddle of splashes and a great deal of wild arm waving. Their shrieks and yells echoed across the lake. Lily strained her legs to stay above the water, though the cold was quickly numbing them.



 



“S-stop…” she panted at last through her chattering teeth. “Let’s…g-get out.”



 



James nodded and lifted his arm. His broom lowered into his hand and he pulled himself out of the water, swinging his leg over the handle. Lily stretched her arm out and caught her own broom before mounting it, trembling. Her robes sagged around her.



 



They flew right up to the oak doors of the castle, the wind chilling their wet skin. Lily wished they had their wands to perform a drying spell. Her hands were shaking so violently, she could hardly steer her broom.



 



Lily and James hopped off to the ground and hurried into the castle, quivering from head to toe. They dashed up the staircase, leaving a trail of water on the marble steps.



 



“We b-better not r-run int-to Filch,” said James, as they hurtled along a corridor, rushing in their eagerness to reach the warmth of the common room fire. Part of his hair was smoothed down on his head in odd directions while the rest was standing on end.



 



Lily let out a nervous laugh.



 



They leapt up another staircase and started down the corridor at the top. They were almost at the end when they heard a door close behind them and a surprised voice call out their names.



 



“Potter? Evans? What on earth are you doing?”



 



Lily and James skidded to a halt and turned around slowly. Professor McGonagall was standing outside her office door, staring at them with an extra-severe look on her face as she took in their flushed cheeks and sopping robes clinging to their skin.



 



Lily shot a worried look at James. But he seemed calm.



 



“We fell in the lake, Professor,” he said evenly.



 



“And how did you manage that?” demanded McGonagall.



 



“We were flying,” replied James, in a tone laced with sincerity. “It’s really windy out, Professor.”



 



“Is that so?” said McGonagall skeptically. “The wind blew you right out of the pitch and into the lake, Mr. Potter?” 



 



James nodded. “That’s right.”



 



“Is this true, Ms. Evans?”



 



Lily clutched herself and nodded. She was amazed to see McGonagall just shake her head in an amused sort of way. “Maybe you should stay on the ground when it is particularly windy out,” she said. “Now move along to the Gryffindor Tower and dry yourselves off.”



 



“We’re on our way, Professor!” called James with a cheerful wave as he and Lily turned to continue down the corridor.



 



He began to snigger once they had rounded the corner.



 



“Oh, come on.” Lily grabbed a handful of James’s robes and dragged him along.



 



They made it, trembling and soaked to the bone, to the Fat Lady’s portrait without any further delays. They scrambled into the common room and rushed to the fireplace.



 



“Where have you two been?” asked Sirius from where he was stretched out in an armchair. He looked them over with a grin. Remus also turned to stare at them in curiosity. “Swimming?”



 



James cast an amused glance at Lily. “Something like that,” he answered. “Do you have your wand?”



 



Sirius tossed James his wand. James caught it and pointed it at Lily. A jet of steam hissed out of the end and Lily felt a pleasantly warm sensation as her robes dried. Then he did the same for himself before handing it back to Sirius.



 



Faintly pleased by James’s thoughtfulness, Lily settled into the couch next to Remus, who had been immersed in writing his Charms essay. He glanced up at James with a look that was strikingly similar to Professor McGonagall’s.



 



“Isn’t it a bit cold to go swimming?” he inquired.



 



“James pushed me in the lake!” explained Lily reproachfully.



 



James simply smiled and threw himself down next to Lily.



 



Sirius let out a bellowing laugh. “You pushed her in the lake? Couldn’t handle another rejection, Prongs?”



 



“No! He was angry because I beat Captain James Potter in a flying race!” retorted Lily. She inched closer to the fire. Cold chills were still prickling her body.



 



Sirius laughed even harder at this. James leaned his head against the back of the couch and rubbed his face with his hands.



 



“No way!” Sirius cried in disbelief. “You let her win, didn’t you? Oh, Prongs! I know you like her but you’ve got your own pride to think about!”



 



“He did not let me win,” said Lily firmly.



 



“I could still beat you, Evans. I was miles ahead of you till you knocked me off my broom.” He shook his head and mumbled, “Just because I fly with a little class…”



 



Lily rolled her eyes, smiling.



 



“So you pushed her in the lake?” asked Remus, smirking. “Then how come you were wet, Prongs?”



 



Lily giggled in delight and James had scrunched up his eyebrows in a pained way, as though bracing for the worst.



 



“I pulled him in,” Lily declared proudly.



 



“Poor bloke.” Sirius groaned in sympathy. “You are slowly destroying my best mate, Evans. Studying…losing a flying race…getting knocked into the lake…”



 



Lily grinned at James. “It’s good for him.”



 



“I don’t know about that.” James sighed. As Lily shivered again, he moved closer and discreetly wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “You’re slowly stealing all my dignity. Is that what you want?”



 



Lily turned sharply to give him a reproving glare, her eyes wide in warning, but he refused to look at her.



 



“Dignity?” Remus snorted.  “You’ve got enough of that to spare, I reckon.”



 



Lily delicately picked James’s hand off her shoulder and ducked underneath his arm. She looked over him at Remus and smiled. “Amen to that.”



 



 



*          *          *



 



“You are stark mad, you know that?”



 



Lily emitted a blissful sigh and turned to Tara with interest.



 



“And why is that?” she asked patiently. 



 



She was curled up on her four-poster, working on homework due the next day for Professor Pollock. Tara, as her partner, was supposed to be helping but instead, she was sprawled out on her back, lazily doodling in the air with a ribbon of tiny pink stars streaming from the tip of her wand.



 



“You’re throwing away a perfect chance for happiness,” explained Tara, tossing her head, letting the soft candlelight glimmer on the long black strands.



 



“I am happy,” said Lily absently. She flipped through some pages of her Arithmancy notes.



 



“And you couldn’t be any happier? Not one bit?” pressed Tara. “Everything is perfect in the Land o’ Lily?”



 



“I don’t need perfection to be happy, Tara,” Lily said as she labeled her diagram.



 



“But when the opportunity comes for even more happiness, you should take it. It’d be ungrateful not to,” retorted Tara.



 



“All right. You let me know when that opportunity comes.”



 



Tara didn’t speak for awhile and Lily scratched away on the parchment with her quill, believing the conversation to be over.



 



“I’m letting you know.”



 



Lily lifted her head to look at Tara, who stared back having abandoned her aerial squiggles. It took Lily a moment to remember what she was talking about.



 



“Tara, out with it. What exactly are you saying?”



 



“I’m saying James Potter is your opportunity! Stop turning him down and take it already!” blurted Tara.



 



Lily smiled. “I don’t want to.”



 



“Why the bloody hell not?” demanded Tara. “It’s been over a month since the Pritchard fiasco.”



 



The smile slid from Lily’s face. “That doesn’t have anything to do with this.”



 



“Yes it does.”



 



“It can’t! Because ‘this’ is nonexistent!” Lily’s voice rose as a drop of anger swirled around her temper. “I wish you would just stop talking about it!” 



 



At that moment, the door swung open and Summer and Di flounced in.



 



“Stop talking about what?” asked Summer flippantly, glancing from Lily to Tara.



 



Lily glowered at Tara but Tara never seemed to notice meaningful looks— or perhaps she just always chose to ignore them.



 



“About how Lily should stop turning Potter down,” she promptly supplied.



 



“She can do what she wants,” Summer shrugged, bouncing down onto Lily’s bed.



 



“Thank you,” said Lily, nodding to Summer. “And what I want is for you to stop imagining romance where there isn’t any, Tara. Now please leave me alone so I can finish this up.” She bent over her work with a dismissive air.



 



An unexpected silence followed and Lily glanced up again suspiciously. She saw Tara pointing at her and mouthing the words, “stark mad,” at Summer.



 



Lily shook her head in exasperation and pretended she hadn’t noticed. They didn’t get it. Things were so good right now, especially with James. All she wanted to do was enjoy it while it lasted, hoping that nothing changed. She stood up, deciding to move down to the common room to work. She wound her way down the twisting staircase and entered the fire-lit room.



 



“Hello, James,” she said brightly, her conversation with Tara leaving her mind as she settled down in her favorite armchair.



 



James turned his head slowly from where he was perched with his legs stretched out on the large windowsill. Behind him, a pinkish glow tinted the dark sky. He gave her a strangely dull look, looking unusually pensive in a dazed sort of way.



 



“What’s up?” asked Lily, frowning. “Why do you look so broody?”



 



“Just thinking.”



 



Lily tilted her head, leaning it on the back of her chair. She fixing her eyes on him attentively. “Care to share?”



 



James considered, tapping his toe against the window frame. He swung his legs off the sill and paused with his hands on his knees, frowning at the floor. He opened his mouth, then quickly closed it again. Suddenly, he turned and replaced his legs under the window.



 



Lily stood up and moved quietly toward him. “What is it?” she asked gently. 



 



She had a feeling he wasn’t about to tell her about some silly prank or and a new Quidditch move. She had never seen James so edgy.



 



James opened his mouth again but before he could utter a word, Sirius, Remus, and Peter came bounding through the portrait hole, sniggering loudly.



 



“Prongs, mate!” called Sirius. “You’ve got to see this! We charmed on the chairs in the staffroom so they’d explode if anyone tried to sit in them and Rynda’s in there having a fit! Her bottom’s smoking like mad…”



 



James jumped up, laughing, though Lily thought it sounded rather forced. He went to follow his friends back out of the common room. Some of the other Gryffindors were joined, eager to see the havoc they had created.



 



“James…” Lily tried to beckon him back.



 



He glanced around at her briefly, his old grin back on his face as though it had never left. “Sorry, Evans! Got to go!”



 



With that, he was ushered through the portrait hole amongst the laughing crowd of students, leaving Lily alone by the window.



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 




 



A/N:   I do love James Potter.




Review.  I say it everytime.  Just do it.



Thank you much.



Love,



Potteress



 



 



 





First Posted: August 13th, 2005



Suggested music: “Off He Goes” by Pearl Jam  (if you listen to the lyrics of this song, it goes along with this chapter freakin' perfectly)



 



Chapter Twenty-Four



Trust Me



 



“Go on…Back to your dormitories. It’s almost half past nine now and you don’t want Filch to catch you, do you?”



 



Lily waved two third-year Hufflepuffs down the corridor. She watched the giggling couple scurry away and sagged against the wall. Yawning, she examined the badge on her chest. At this point in term, just before the Easter holiday, the glory of Head Girl had worn off. Patrolling corridors quickly became dull and wearisome, especially when certain wandering students were impertinent enough to bring up Lily’s notorious escapade in the night if she tried to punish them.



 



Lily stepped away from the wall when she heard approaching footsteps but relaxed against it again when she saw who it was. James meandered toward her, the glimmering torchlight reflecting off his round glasses.



 



“Again?” said Lily, giving an exaggerated sigh. “You’re supposed to be watching the Transfiguration wing.”



 



James grinned innocently. “I got bored.”



 



“You better hope people don’t start realizing that nobody’s watching that wing,” Lily said sternly, but with a small smile. “McGonagall wouldn’t be too pleased if they started holding midnight snog parties there.”



 



He moved to stand next to her and slid down against the stone wall to sit on the floor. “Well, they need someplace to release their raging hormones, don’t they?”



 



Lily dropped down next to him, chuckling softly. “I s’pose.”



 



James had taken to sneaking away from his post when they had duty to visit Lily, who patrolled the Defense Against the Dark Arts wing. It didn’t honestly bother her. Whenever she saw him coming, her mood couldn’t help but rise eagerly. He could always make the evenings memorable.  



 



Lily heard James heave a sigh as though he had not been breathing properly. She glanced at him with concern. He was gazing up at the star-strewn sky through the window on the opposite wall. “Are you all right?”



 



Lily had sensed something different in James during the past few days but she could not place her finger on it. It was so vaguely there that sometimes, she lost it completely and wondered if it was her imagination.



 



James slowly turned toward her. The light of the torches lit his face and Lily was struck by how drained he looked. His eyes were faintly sunken and glassy. It threw her off; James always seemed so crammed with energy and vivacity that seeing him look so beaten was disconcerting.



 



But his pale face broke into a grin. “Of course I am, Evans,” he said glibly. He glanced up and down the corridor and seemed to brighten with a sudden idea. “Hey…Why don’t we celebrate the Easter holiday a little early? D’you want to do something fun?”



 



“Like what?”



 



James leapt to his feet. His eyes gleamed almost hungrily. “Follow me!”



 



Lily stood up, bewildered. He hurried down the corridor, Lily trailing closely behind. Leading her down several staircases and passages, he finally came to a halt in from of a large statue of a humpbacked witch.



 



Lily looked from James to the statue. “Potter—what the—?”



 



He cut her off.  “Now, before we go anywhere—”



 



“—where are we?”



 



“Do you promise you’ll do this with me?”



 



What—?” Lily cried but she stopped short when she looked closely at James’s face. 



 



She saw a strange combination of sentiments. His usual air of daring mischief and desire for adventure was ever present, though it seemed thrown there in a frantic way. In his eyes, there was a dark manic glitter with the slightest hint of plea. Lily got the feeling that there was something desperately important about what James was asking, concealed and ignored beneath his bold front.



 



She agreed without another moment of hesitance. “All right, I promise,” she said recklessly, without the faintest idea of what she was swearing to do.



 



“Good,” said James delightedly. “Follow me then, okay? Just trust me.”



 



Lily nodded. “I’m ready. Lead the way, Potter.”



 



He pulled out his wand and tapped the statue. “Dissendium.”



 



The hump of the witch opened, revealing an entrance to a narrow chute. James scrambled into it and slid inside. Lily followed suit in great apprehension.



 



Lumos,” said James, and he stuck out a hand to help Lily to her feet. His wand ignited and a long stone passage stretched out before them. 



 



Lily raised her eyebrows inquisitively at him. He simply put his finger to his lips and, with a mysterious smile, took her hand.



 



They walked for what felt like hours along the uneven passage. Lily’s feet soon began to ache and she had started to wonder if the tunnel actually led anywhere when they came to a long set of stairs. They climbed higher and higher along the damp steps, James still gripping her hand. 



 



As they ascended, she grew more and more uneasy. Lily’s mind began to bubble with wild notions of where he could possibly be leading her. There was something distinctly off about James: Was this really the time to put her trust in him?



 



Suddenly, he stopped. He raised his arm and touched the ceiling. Lily saw that the staircase had led them straight to a trapdoor. James, shoving his wand in his robes, gave her a boost up. Lily heaved herself through the square hole and crawled out, James close behind. Getting to her feet, she looked around but there was only darkness.



 



“James?” she whispered.



 



“Right here,” came his answer from just behind.



 



She spun around and reached for him blindly.



 



“Ouch! Watch it, Evans!” hissed James as she whipped him in the face.



 



“Oh, sorry! It’s just I can’t see a thing. Hang on—” Lily began to take out her wand but James seized her arm.



 



“No. They might see.”



 



Who might see?” Lily asked sharply, willing herself not to panic but a dreadful seed of trepidation was growing through her like a weed. “Potter, where exactly are we?”



 



“Never mind. Just be quiet and follow me.” He clasped his hand around her wrist and dragged her up a flight of stairs. 



 



Lily bumped clumsily into crates and boxes placed haphazardly on the steps along the way. James seemed to know exactly when to avoid them and moved swiftly and silently. At the landing, he pushed open a door, revealing a rather small, cluttered room. It was not lit, but the light of the street lanterns outside washed through the wide glass windows at the front and illuminated shelves of jars and trays and rows of barrels. 



 



Lily gasped. She recognized this room…



 



“Are we in Honeydukes?” she breathed, amazed.



 



Shh,” was his only reply. 



 



James wound through the shelves and toward the door, pulling Lily along behind him. He opened the shop door and a bell clanged melodically. It rang through Lily’s eardrums, much louder than she remembered.



 



They stepped into the chilly night air. It was very still. Lily looked up and down the street warily. Only few other people were out. She rounded on James but he had already begun down the walk, peeking casually into shop windows, his hands stuffed into his pockets.



 



“Are you coming?” he asked, without looking back.



 



Lily stared around again helplessly. She had never dreamed she would ever find herself in this situation. How did she get here, facing the little village of Hogsmeade, when she should be safely fulfilling her Head Girl duties in the castle? She just wanted to turn around and go right back through the passageway. But James really did seem to need her… 



 



She watched James walking for a moment, then gritted her teeth and hurried after him.



 



“James—this is insane. We’re the Head Boy and Girl and we’re out-of-bounds after hours,” said Lily breathlessly, tilting her head to look up at him. “If we’re caught—”



 



“Evans, relax. You promised to trust me, didn’t you?” James reminded her calmly. His eyes remained on the street ahead. “Don’t think for once…just go along and enjoy it.”



 



When Lily didn’t answer, he glimpsed at her fleetingly from the corner of his eye and said slyly, “And if worse comes to worse, you can tell them I kidnapped you. If that makes you feel better.”



 



Lily’s face eased into a smile. “Okay. I trust you.”



 



They strolled on quietly. 



 



The tiny village was even lovelier at night, Lily realized. It was calm; the bustling crowds of shoppers that infested it by day gone. The welcoming lights of the closely-nestled buildings and the flickering streetlights twinkled in the still darkness. 



 



Even as the chill nipped her cheeks and ears, a warm, safe feeling slipped into Lily. She stopped wondering what they were doing. Her feet moved alongside James’s without caring where they were headed. It was such freedom not to worry.



 



James seemed very relaxed. His strides were steady and casual. But his silence was peculiar and somehow, seemed to radiate with intensity even through all his nonchalance.



 



He turned abruptly toward a grimy door and opened it. Lily stopped and looked up at the sign. It displayed the decapitated head of a hog.



 



“The Hog’s Head?” she asked, puzzled and disappointed. She did not want to enter the disgusting old pub. “Why can’t we go to the Three Broomsticks?”



 



James emitted a derisive little snort, holding the door open. “Really, Evans. Do you want to be reported? Come on.”



 



Going against her better judgment, Lily stepped into the pub. There was something in James’s voice that made her somehow disregard her own logic. It was very subtle, yet had such power. Her instinct told her to listen to him.



 



He ordered their drinks and led her across the dusty, earthy floor to a booth in the corner. Lily sat nervously on the edge of her seat, her eyes darting around the scarcely-lit room. Two heavily-cloaked wizards were drinking from deep mugs overflowing with purple steam near the window and an old witch was hunched over the bar.



 



James slouched against the wall, one hand around the mug on the table, the other resting on the back of the booth, his legs crossed at the ankles. He didn’t move or make any sound. 



 



Lily peered at him over her butterbeer, awed and a little frightened. He seemed so unlike James, as though he had lost himself. The boy she knew never stopped thinking, moving, talking…laughing: Verbs had always been the best adjective to describe James Potter.



 



It wasn’t as though he was simply worn out. Lily could sense his energy, burning there with the same force as ever. But the fierce will she had always known to be behind it had vanished.



 



Suddenly, a shyness came over her. She felt like she was sitting with a stranger.  A terrible, unexpected sadness crept into her like a shadow over the warmth that briefly had swept through her outside in the street. She hated feeling like she didn’t know him.



 



“Evans?” said James finally, without looking at her.



 



“Yeah?” Lily straightened up, glad he was speaking.



 



“You having fun?”



 



Lily stared at him, rather stunned. She didn’t know what she had been expecting him to say but it certainly wasn’t this.



 



“Are you?” he persisted gravely.



 



Lily replied automatically. “Yes.”



 



She knew at once that he could tell it was a lie but he just nodded, the slightest glimmer of amusement in his distracted eyes.



 



“No, I’m not,” Lily announced abruptly as though she had never claimed otherwise.



 



James chuckled. It was a void and humorless sound.



 



“Can I ask you something else, Evans?” inquired James after a pause.



 



Lily slowly nodded her head. What now?



 



“Do you get along with you parents?”



 



“Huh?” she said blankly.



 



“Do you get along with your parents?” repeated James.



 



Lily continued to stare at him closely. “I…suppose. Why?”



 



James took a swig of his firewhiskey and did not answer. “I get along well with my mum. She’s really laid back and all. You know, sometimes, when you’re not all wound up, you remind me of her a bit.”



 



He lifted his mug and took a long sip, looking across the pub. Lily sat, motionless and waiting.



 



“What about your dad?” she whispered.



 



James finally turned to face Lily. He looked straight across the table into her eyes.



 



“We used to get along great,” he said shortly.



 



The bottom of Lily’s stomach seemed to open. Her mind started racing in alarm. ‘Used to’?  James’s father wasn’t…dead? Frantically, she searched her memory for any other time he had mentioned his father but she couldn’t recall anything.



 



She lowered her voice even more. “And…and now?”



 



“Now?” James turned to glance around the pub again, apparently unperturbed. Lily exhaled in relief. “Now all we ever do is yell at each other, it seems. Mum says we’re too much alike for our own good.” He shook his head grimly. “But she’s wrong. He’s just never understood me.”



 



“Why not?”



 



“Frankly, he thinks I’m an idiot,” James explained quietly. “Always going at me for not working hard enough, not getting good enough marks…It’s either that or he acts like I can do no wrong. That’s even worse. I get good marks, he expects me to be at the top. I get Head Boy so he thinks I must be this perfect student. I’ve been made captain of the Quidditch team and he expects me to win the Cup.  Like it’s a done deal already. It was all he talked about when I was home for Christmas.”



 



James took another gulp and gave a bitter snort.



 



“When he heard we’d been disqualified from the Cup, he was more than a little bit miffed. Last time I heard from him, it was in a Howler telling me to control my temper.” He sighed and looked down at the depths of his mug. “Now it’ll be a few more years before he forgets about that. Never mind the fact that we got the Cup the last four years I’ve been Seeker.”



 



James looked over at her with a sardonic grin on his face that chilled Lily. “I reckon you’d get along with him, eh?”



 



“James—I don’t think—” started Lily earnestly. “Your dad loves you. He wants you to be all that you can, that’s all.”  



 



“That’s all?” reiterated James. “What if this is all I can be? Why can’t it be good enough for him?”



 



Without thinking, Lily stood up and moved swiftly around the table to James’s side of the booth. “It is good enough. If you just talk to him—tell him what you’re telling me—I know he’ll understand. Just talk to him, James.”



 



“I can’t.”



 



“Yes, you can!” cried Lily softly. She had slid into the booth and looked directly into his face. “Write him a letter! Or the next time you see him—”



 



“No, Lily, you don’t get it. I can’t. It’s too late,” argued James. His voice rose as he shoved her away. 



 



He turned away from her but Lily, determined, drew closer again. She took him by the shoulders and twisted him fiercely around.



 



James was bent over his lap where he clutched his drink in shaking hands. His breathing was shallow. Lily took the nearly-empty mug away from him and replaced it with her hands. His were warm and moist and cradled hers snugly.



 



“Of course it isn’t. It’s not too late. It’s never too late!” fought Lily intently. She craned her neck to try to meet his eyes and gave his hands a squeeze. She was desperate to soothe him.



 



He finally looked up at her with wide eyes. Lily finally identified that alien thing that had occupied them of late; fear. It showed itself so blandly now, pouring into her own heart until she was drowning in it.



 



“No, Lily. It’s too late, okay?” 



 



He held her hands in a tight grip for a moment, his unfamiliar eyes filling every corner of her vision. Without warning, he released them and fell back against the booth. There was a broad smirk on his face,  mocking her. 



 



He laughed scornfully. “Thanks for the concern, Evans.” His tone was drenched with sarcasm. Lily blinked, staggered and hurt. He swept up his mug again and laid a large, hard kiss on her cheek, laughing louder. “You’re a real dear.”  



 



 



 




A/N:  Most people don't like this chapter but I had fun with it.  It's supposed to be...unsettling.  You know?




But tell me if you liked it. 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



Chapter 25: The Only "He"
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: August 19, 2005


Suggested Music: “These Foolish Games” by Jewel


 


Chapter Twenty-Five


The Only “He”


 


“I’m tired, Potter. Let’s go back,” said Lily tersely. 


 


Her patience had been worn to fragments since James’s abrupt change of attitude. He was laughing jovially with three warlocks who had entered loudly a half hour before. James had beckoned them over to their table like an old friend and bought a round of drinks. He was not ordering butterbeer.


 


Lily was in no mood to warm up to strangers; opposite, clearly, to what James was feeling. He kept treating them all to more and more drinks, chatting away riotously, while she sat with her arms folded and her lips pursed.


 


Lily noticed that with each sip, he grew progressively noisier.


 


“Potter! I am ready to go!” she barked through clenched teeth. “Now.”


 


James smiled and tucked her under his arm. “Relax, love! Just let me finish my drink with the fellows here! We’ll go in a bit!” he exclaimed loudly. 


 


“No, Potter!” Lily snapped. She whipped out her wand and pointed it at his mug. “Evanesco. There! You’re done and now,”—she took hold of his arm and tugged him out of the booth—“we’re leaving! That’s right, move!” Lily commanded, giving James a hearty push toward the door. “Pleasant meeting you,” she added dryly to the laughing warlocks.


 


Lily shoved James again and he staggered across the pub and out the door.


 


“’Lo! I’m Pames Jotter!” yelled James to a nearby streetlamp.


 


“You are such a git!” Lily seized him as he bowed to the lamp and pulled him crossly along. “I can’t believe you! Bringing me here so you could get yourself drunk! You stupid, selfish, manipulative—”


 


“Lily!” cried James happily, as though he had just spotted her. He swung his arm around her, singing, “Lily. Lily Lily Lily…la la la Lily!” His head fell back. “Oooh! Lily! Look at the stars!”


 


“Oh, yes, how splendid!” growled Lily, heaving him along. “Would you shut up? You’re going to wake up the whole village, you idiotic prat!”


 


James promptly dropped his voice to a grave whisper and said again, “Look at the stars.”


 


Lily dragged him down the lane to the door of the sweetshop. “James, we’re going into Honeydukes so be quiet, will you? I’ll pummel you if you don’t.”


 


Cautiously, Lily nudged the door open.


 


Ding dong!  


 


The bell echoed through Lily’s head. She yanked James’s arm as she crept through the shop. They tiptoed through the basement door and started down the staircase. Halfway down, James’s foot caught on a large crate. He fell against Lily and they both went crashing down, crate and all. They landed in a heap among the contents of the box, James giggling wildly.


 


Lily sat up, thrusting him off her and rubbing her bruises. “I’m going to kill you!” she hissed venomously.


 


“Shh! Be quiet, Lily!” sniggered James, making hushing noises.


 


Then, from somewhere a few floors above, there was a distinct thud and some heavy footsteps.


 


“Shit!” Lily jerked away from James and scrambled across the floor, frantically feeling the floorboards for the hidden trapdoor. “Come on…where is it?” she muttered. “Aha!” 


 


She squeezed her fingers into the crack and pulled up the board. Sliding into the hole, she hopped down into the passage. James’s grinning face popped into view above, framed by the square hole in the ceiling.


 


“Hey, Lily! I found some Fizzing Whizbees! You want some—?”


 


Lily jumped up and snatched him by the robes, forcing him headlong through the hole on top of her. Hastily, she rushed to her feet as the footsteps became audible again, clearer than before. She grabbed the board and pulled it over her head before collapsing onto James, her heart slamming against her ribcage.


 


After a moment of panting, she got up and hoisting James to his feet.


 


“How could you? Convince me to follow you…. ‘To celebrate, Evans!’ ‘Just trust me, Evans!’ ” she ranted lividly, more to herself than the boy leaning heavily on her shoulder. “That’s the last time I fall for anything you tell me, James Potter! Come on!


 


Finally, after much pushing and shoving on Lily’s part, they reached the little chute at the end of the tunnel. It was another struggle to get James, who wanted nothing more than to slide back down the chute, up through the hump of the old stone witch. 


 


When she managed to yank him out, they crept through the darkened corridors, James bumbling along as Lily dragged him along, until at last, they reached the Gryffindor Tower.


 


Lily pulled James across the empty common room and threw him onto the couch by the fading fire. She hurled herself down next to him, groaning in exhaustion.


 


“That was fun, wasn’t it, Lil?” asked James with a big smile and a content sigh.


 


“Oh, yeah…I just love chasing you out to Hogsmeade to watch you get yourself pissed, then hauling you back. Jolly good time.”


 


“Yeah,” agreed James, oblivious to her sarcasm. He shifted close to Lily and took a lock of her hair between his fingers. “So soft,” he whispered. “I like it.” He leaned his head to the side and rubbed his cheek against it.


 


Lily watched him, taking a deep breath. James was very cute…if only because he was drunk. Even if he was an idiot.


 


Suddenly, he dropped the curl and raised his hands to his own head. He began working feverishly to flatten his own wild hair, though to no avail, of course. James’s hair had a mind of its own. 


 


“What do you think of my hair?” he asked.


 


Lily turned to him as he stared at her earnestly, so hopeful….


 


She reached up and brushed her fingers through his hair. It flew straight back up again and she smiled softly. “I like it just fine.”


 


A broad grin broke across James’s face. He leaned his head closer. The smell of alcohol was heavy on his breath. Lily looked away just in time.


 


“Oh, no you don’t. You must be really drunk if you seriously thought I’d let you kiss me!”


 


James shrugged and yawned widely.


 


The moments passed in sleepy silence. James’s head drooped against Lily’s shoulder…his breathing grew peaceful and steady....


 


I should go up to bed now, Lily’s mind drawled lazily. But why? When she was so warm and comfortable right here….


 


Gently, her head fell to rest on top of James’s.


 


 


*           *          *


 


Suddenly there was a lot of noise; the scuffling of shoes, running of feet, chatter of voices. Her muscles were very stiff….


 


Lily’s eyes snapped open, all drowsiness gone. The bright common room, shining with the morning sunlight, met her groggy eyes. Students were getting up, going down to breakfast, or relaxing in armchairs, stretching and yawning as they savored the first day of the Easter holiday. Some peeked over at Lily with great interest, others with obvious amusement. 


 


Blood rushed to her face.


 


She was curled up on the couch, her head tucked into James’s side and his resting in her lap. Lily bolted upright and hastily slapped James in the face.


 


“Ouch,” he muttered. 


 


His eyes slowly drifted open and he carefully lifted his head, blinking. He squinted around the common room, frowning, then looked down at Lily’s lap in bewilderment. When his gaze gradually trailed up her body to rest on her face, panic rapidly dawned over his confusion.


 


“Evans….”


 


Get—off—me!” Lily threw him off the couch with a jerk. He flipped over and smashed into the floor.


 


The Gryffindor early risers stared at the commotion.


 


Lily sprang to her feet.


 


“Evans!” pleaded James. With difficulty, he stood up, wobbling slightly and cringing in pain.


 


“You bastard!” shrieked Lily.


 


“Evans, calm down…” said James.


 


“‘Calm down?’” bellowed Lily incredulously. “I will not calm down. You are unbelievable, Potter! UNBELIEVABLE!”


 


Her heart pumped madly, shaking her from head to toe.


 


James tentatively held up his hands as though trying to physically restrain the volume of her voice. His eyes darted to the group of onlookers, who all looked bemused but deeply intrigued.


 


“Let’s talk about this somewhere else…”


 


Lily looked around at the students gaping at them with savage pleasure. “No, Potter, this is a perfect place to talk. You never seemed to mind if there was an audience to watch you humiliate me. I think it’s your turn now.” She shoved her finger sharply into his chest.


 


James placed his hands gingerly on her shoulders. “Please, Lily—”


 


“WHY CAN’T I JUST LEARN ALREADY?!” Lily exploded and he jumped back, flinching. “This happens every time! Every single bloody time! I give you another chance and it blows up in my face! Why do I let you convince me you’re suddenly a better person? You’re just as bigheaded as I always thought! I am so STUPID!” she shouted. “This is IT! I’ve had it! You’re done making a fool out of me, James Potter!”


 


“Lily, just listen!” His eyes were wide but he pressed on. “I wasn’t myself. I—”


 


“Yeah, yeah. You weren’t yourself, MY ASS!” she spat. “Stop trying to feed me your bullshit, Potter. I’m not taking it anymore! You knew exactly what you were doing.”


 


James persisted desperately.   “No, you don’t understand! Just hear me out—”


 


“No! I finally do understand!” Lily retorted. “You’re just a big—a big—” 


 


Her mind too clouded by anger, she was unable to find a satisfactory word to describe him. Instead, she let out a fuming growl and kicked him in the shin with all the strength she could muster. Then she turned and fled up the stairs of the girls’ dormitory.


 


James buckled, wincing, but hobbled after her. “LILY!” he yelled, mounting the stairs. 


 


But as he tried to take another step, the staircase smoothed into a twisting slide. He was whipped off his feet and slammed hard, face-first into the stone. He slid down on his stomach, landing limply on the floor of the common room.


 


Still, amidst the laughter, James got to his feet and gazed up the winding slide. “LILY!” he bellowed again. 


 


He stood there for a moment, defeated. Then he whipped around, roaring, “Damn it!” and stormed up to his dormitory, leaving the riotous common room behind him. 


 


 


*          *          *


 


Lily’s feet fumbled to the door of her dormitory. She could hear voices behind it. The voices of Summer, Tara, and Di rising from a pleasant night’s sleep, perhaps wondering idly about Lily’s absence.


 


For a split second, Lily stared at the door in front of her, blood thudding in her ears and tears stinging in her eyes. Then she whirled around and sprinted the short distance to the bathroom. She could not cope with talking to anyone. Not now.


 


Lily dashed inside and locked herself in a stall. She sat down on the toilet seat, gasping for breath. Her head fell into her palms and she dug her fingers into the roots of her hair.


 


Fleeting, wild thoughts jammed her brain. She struggled to straighten them out but so many emotions were blazing intensely among them, lapping up any weak resolve to be rational. She was so angry—utterly furious—at James. At herself. 


 


Yet there was something else stabbing piercingly at her. It sliced her open, making the task of breathing nearly impossible.


 


Hot tears fell over her burning, flushed face.


 


Why was this so painful?


 


She gave in to a forceful sob.


 


Because it hurts to know he can hurt me like this. That he would hurt me like this.


 


The thought jumped to her mind as though it had been there for a very long time, brushed aside and buried under deliberate attempts to ignore it.  Now that it had been uncovered, others suddenly became clear.


 


When he had confided in her about his father…she had hurt for him. For him. As though by doing so, she could stop his pain. As she had sat there with him, holding his hands in hers, she would have given anything to have that power. And this feeling was huge, so unbearably great that it overwhelmed her to the point of sickness.


 


She choked on another sob. The more clear things became, the more she ached.


 


Lily wanted to slap herself. She had sat there, with that enormous feeling, and he had laughed at her.


 


Tears drenched Lily’s skin, dripping over her cheeks, into her mouth, down her neck, into her hair. They were flooding her, never-ending.


 


He had laughed at her.    


 


Lily’s whole body shuddered with sobs. She felt so wrung-out, exploited, used, humiliated and most of all, let down. And she had simply allowed it all to happen to her.


 


Why, why, why, WHY?


 


Shaking, she gripped at her hair, squirming miserably, and buried her glistening face in her knees. She curled up into herself and cried and cried and cried….


 


 


*          *           *


 


“Maybe she got up early to go to the library,” said Di, pulling a sweater over her head.


 


“She’s probably with James or something,” shrugged Tara, undaunted. She stepped into a pair of jeans and pulled them on.


 


“Probably,” muttered Summer, whose head was still glued to her pillow.


 


“Well, anyway, I’ve got to use the loo,” said Tara brightly. “Be right back.”


 


Tara stepped out of the dormitory and leapt up to the bathroom. Humming happily to herself, she opened the door but stopped short when she heard the sound of someone crying.


 


Tara walked casually to the door of the occupied stall, full of curiosity. It wasn’t exactly unusual to find a girl bawling in the bathroom but it always turned out to be interesting. “Are you all right in there?”


 


An anxious silence greeted her.


 


“Hello?” said Tara.


 


She bent down to look below the door at the feet of the distressed girl and her head nearly collided with the floor when she recognized them.


 


Dumbfounded, she ducked her head underneath the door. The sight that met her eyes tore her heart in two. There on the toilet seat, huddled and broken, was Lily. 


 


In one swift, silent movement Tara had slid into the stall and collected her friend in her arms. Lily collapsed into them, taking violent gulps of air. Tara clung to her, stunned though she was. How could this crumpled, wretched thing be the strong, spirited Lily she knew?


 


She stroked her hair and absently made soft hushing noises.


 


“Oh, sweetie! It’s all right, it’s all right!” cried Tara, distraught and disturbed. “Calm down…Deep breaths.”


 


Tara gently lifted Lily’s head. Her face was red and drenched in anguish, her nose and eyes streaming. Lily fought to control her breathing, taking a deep, unsteady breath.


 


“That’s it…” whispered Tara. “Breathe…It’s okay.” 


 


She took the end of her sleeve and wiped Lily’s face. Lily hiccupped loudly. Tara pushed the tangled red hair away from her eyes. They slipped down to the floor and leaned against the wall, Tara still holding Lily, who rested her head wearily on her shoulder. Between hiccups, she took long, deep breaths.


 


After a moment, Tara asked, “Are you okay to talk?”


 


Lily nodded.


 


“What happened?”


 


Jagged, determined words tumbled out of Lily’s mouth. “He convinced me to-to got to Hogs—” she hiccupped again “—meade with him. I never would have gone but…but…he seemed like-like…he needed me.” 


 


Tara didn’t need to ask who “he” was—the only he who had ever been able to affect Lily so; James Potter. At the moment, Tara wanted to murder him for it.


 


“So stupid…” mumbled Lily wretchedly. “He was so…sad, though. Told me a-about his dad. I wanted to-to…” her trembling voice trailed off. She began again. “I said he should talk to him but…but…then….” A fresh wave of sobs rolled over Lily. “Oh, Tara…why did he laugh at me?” she moaned.


 


Tara listened, her brow knitted, trying to piece together what had happened from Lily’s semi-coherent description.


 


What Lily was telling her didn’t sound much like James. What was going on?


 


“He took you to Hogsmeade?” asked Tara.


 


Lily nodded.


 


“Where did you go?”


 


“The-the Hog’s Head,” stuttered Lily.


 


Tara’s curiosity sharpened. She didn’t like the sound of this at all. However, Lily was in no state to provide any more information and nothing good could possibly come out of slouching on the bathroom floor.


 


“Okay, darling, time to get up,” she said, pulling Lily to her feet. 


 


One arm cradling her friend, she turned the lock of the stall. A girl washing her face at the sink stared at them. Tara threw her a dirty look and steered Lily out of the bathroom and down to their dormitory.


 


Once inside, she brought Lily straight to her bed before turning to face Summer and Di, who both looked taken aback.


 


“Lily had a rough night,” whispered Tara. “From what I could get out of her, something happened between her and James in Hogsmeade.” She looked back at Lily. She had folded herself up on the four-poster, her face tucked into her knees. Tara winced slightly. “You two stay with her. I have to go…take care of something.”


 


With that, she left the room and raced down the stairs. She jumped the last few steps and stared around, scanning the common room. When she spotted Remus and Peter sitting at a table near the window, she rushed over to them, her jaw set.


 


Tara jabbed a finger into Remus’s shoulder. He spun around in his chair.


 


“Where’s James?” she demanded unceremoniously.


 


He looked faintly surprised. “He’s upstairs. I think he’s asleep.”


 


But before he had even finished his sentence, Tara was bounding up the staircase leading to the boys’ dormitories. When she came to the seventh-years’ room, she pounded on the door with her fist.


 


Sirius opened it. “Tara? What are you doing up here?” He looked tired and perplexed.


 


She pushed him aside and plowed into the room. James was sprawled on one of the four-posters, fully-clothed and clutching his head.


 


Wasting no time, Tara crossed the floor to stand menacingly over the bed.


 


“What the hell is your problem?” she barked at him.


 


Slowly, he turned to look at her, wide-eyed.


 


“Well?!” said Tara, her voice growing louder.


 


James simply stared at her, apparently mystified.


 


“Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about!” Tara snapped. 


 


She had to restrain herself from slapping him. Sirius seemed to sense this because he quickly moved to stand between them.


 


His hands rose in protest. “Tara. You have to understand—”


 


“I’m talking to him!” she spat. “What the hell are you playing at? Huh?”


 


“Nothing,” said James hoarsely.


 


“Tell me what you did to Lily last night,” commanded Tara coldly.


 


“She agreed to come along with me to Hogsmeade,” explained James, gazing directly around Sirius at Tara. “We went to the Hog’s Head and talked…I had a few drinks. She brought me back after and we fell asleep on the couch in the common room. When she woke up, she started screaming at me and left. Nothing happened.”


 


Tara eyed him suspiciously but there was no mistaking the intense sincerity in his eyes, nor could she ignore the deep sorrow that glared at her. What had gone on last night?


 


“What did you tell her to make her go with you?”


 


James paused, straining to search his memory. “I told her we were going to do something fun to celebrate the holiday.”


 


“And you didn’t…do anything to her?” asked Tara darkly.


 


“No! Nothing like that happened!” cried James, his voice cracking. “What did she tell you?”


 


“She can hardly tell me anything, she’s so upset!” yelled Tara.


 


James recoiled, his face stricken.


 


“I swear—if you’re lying and you did do something to her…” she said, her voice lowering dangerously. “I will make sure you never have any part of her life again, not to mention hex you so badly you won’t even recognize yourself.”


 


James glared at her. He suddenly looked angry.


 


“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Tara.”


 


“All I know is Lily doesn’t fall apart for no reason and you’ve got something to do with it.” She marched out of the dormitory, slamming the door behind her.


 


James bent over the side of the bed and vomited.


 


“Oh, not again!” groaned Sirius, leaping back.


 


 


 


 


 




 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 







A/N: Just a tad on the dramatic side, eh? Oh, well...Nothing better than a good cry.

Thank you for reading.  Please review. 

Chapter 26: In the Rain
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: August 31, 2005



Suggested music: “Water Stop” by Dispatch



 



Chapter Twenty-Six



In the Rain



 



The dormitory was dark and silent when Lily awoke. Her eyelids seemed to be pasted together. Her body felt oddly still and relieved despite her aching muscles and the piercing pain throbbing somewhere in her chest.



 



She slowly turned her head to peek at the clock. It was half past one in the morning. She had spent a whole day in bed trying not to think and pretending to sleep until finally, she actually fell into a deep slumber.



 



Lily put her hand to her face. It was crisp with dried tears and her hair was slick with grease. She turned and sat up, delicately placing her bare feet on the cold floor. Heaving herself off the bed, she wandered into the bathroom.



 



Squinting in the harsh light, she pulled off her robes and undressed. She turned on the water in one of the showers and, shivering, stepped under the steaming spray. For several minutes, she stood motionless, letting the hot water ease over her trembling body.



 



Before she could stop them, scenes of the morning before flashed through her mind. She winced. She was so tired of feeling this pain. It made her even angrier with herself. Why was she letting him do this to her? That’s what he wants…The only thing she should be feeling is fury; that’s what he deserves.



 



…If only she could stop feeling as though she were being shredded apart by a knife. She wanted her anger to block it out but it only seemed to be strengthening the force of each searing slice.



 



Lily ran her fingers through her sopping hair, catching on several knots. The image of James happily rubbing her hair to his cheek blinked before her eyes. The ceaseless knife jabbed harder. Lily inhaled sharply but the air seemed to be fighting against her lungs. 



 



She was a fool. She should never have allowed herself to be coaxed into caring about him. It was weak, stupid; she should have known better. For all she knew, he could have led her straight into danger and wouldn’t have thought twice about it. In fact, he would have laughed…as he had done in her face when she was so obviously hurting for him.



 



She should have left him there. She should have left him to drink himself helpless, fled to the castle while he fended for himself.



 



But even as Lily tried vainly to draw comfort from the vengeful thought, she knew she would never have been able to do it. This knowledge made her furious.



 



So I care about that stupid git? she thought, viciously slathering soap across her face. 



 



He would just laugh if he knew. 



 



He can never find out. No one can. I simply have to go about like normal and ignore him—I’ve done it a million times before.



 



Pain shot through her again, so sharply that Lily gasped. She suddenly doubted that she possessed the strength to go back to having nothing to do with James. The prospect was so colorless and miserable—an endless tunnel. How could she push through each day without talking and laughing with James, berating him about studying or exchanging a secret grin?



 



Lily shook herself, disgusted. What was she thinking?  It wasn’t impossible. She was did not need him. She was better, stronger than this. 



 



She could manage, and surely, it would get easier as time went on. 



 



But then again…would she ever feel that rousing thrill dash through each cell of her body, like she did whenever he looked straight into her eyes? Would anyone ever make her laugh until she felt weak all over? Would she ever get as infuriated, as only he could make her? Would life ever feel as brilliant as it did when she was with James?



 



Lily shut the water off and wrung out her hair.



 



Somehow, she doubted it. 



 



The beginnings of despair fell over her like a heavy, dull, grey curtain. She wrapped herself in a towel and returned to the dormitory with her clothes slung over her arm. In the dark, Lily pulled on some flannel pajamas and crept back into her bedclothes.



 



She sunk into her pillow and locked her eyelids shut. She wanted badly to sleep but all she could do was slink fitfully in and out of dozes for the remaining hours of night.



 



When buttery sunlight came creeping into the room, tickling the deep red hangings of the four-posters and fighting away the shadows, Lily rose, feeling determined. She would begin her new resolution immediately. Today she would study hard, talk with her friends, read on the edge of the lake, just like any other day…only void of James. 



 



Simple.



 



As she bent over her trunk, Lily suddenly became aware of how hungry she was. She realized with a start that a whole day had passed and she hadn’t eaten anything.



 



Lily ruffled through her trunk as loudly as possible. Soon Di’s eyes flickered open.



 



“Want to go down to breakfast with me?” asked Lily brightly.



 



Di blinked. “Breakfast?” she repeated. “Isn’t it a bit early?”



 



“A bit early, yes, but I’m starving,” replied Lily, as she untangled a sweater from the jumble of clothes swimming in her trunk.



 



Di frowned and sat up. Her curly fringe was stood on end. “All right. I’ll come.”



 



They dressed and descended into the common room. On their way through the portrait hole, Lily couldn’t stop herself from taking a quick glance around the room. The only other students up were three first-years trading Chocolate Frog cards on the rug and a dedicated fifth-year squeezing in some early morning studying. James was still sleeping, like the rest of the Tower.



 



Just as well, thought Lily with a small sigh as she hopped out of the portrait hole with Di.



 



 



*          *           *



 



“What are you doing?”



 



Lily looked over her stack of books at Summer, who was staring at her as though she had grown three heads. Lily promptly returned the look.



 



“Going to the library, what d’you think?” she said before continuing to throw spellbooks and notes into her bag. She had, after all, spent the last three days buried there.



 



“Aren’t you coming to Hogsmeade?” asked Summer, propping her head up on her hand.



 



Lily stopped instantly. Hogsmeade. The trip had disappeared entirely from her mind ever since James had brought her there.



 



“Hogsmeade?” Just the thought filled her with dread. “No…I don’t think so. I better just stay here and study.”



 



“Ugh, Lily!” admonished Tara, repulsed. “Study? Come off it! You’re coming with us and we’re going to have loads of fun.”



 



“Yeah, come on, Lil. We don’t want to go without you,” said Di. “We have the rest of the holiday to concentrate on our N.E.W.T.s.”



 



“You’re cracking up, Lil,” added Summer. “ You need a break.”



 



“I’m not cracking up and I’m not going,” retorted Lily, shaking her head dismissively.



 



Her friends began to protest again but she ignored them. She would be happy if she never set foot in Hogsmeade again.



 



Lily left them there, looking put out, and followed the familiar path to the library.   She passed many students already on their way out to the little village, decked out in raingear. The grounds were being drowned in April showers.



 



Lily chose a seat by the window in the deserted library and arranged her books and notes on the table in front of her. She immersed herself in Transfiguration diagrams, Potions recipes, and spell incantations, turning all her focus to her work.



 



“Good morning,” said a deep, mockingly smooth voice.



 



Lily jumped, nearly falling out of her chair. Sirius moved from where he had been standing behind her and flung himself into a seat on the opposite side of the table. He grinned widely at her startled reaction.



 



“What are you doing here?” asked Lily, trying to collect herself.



 



“What, you don’t think I would skip a Hogsmeade trip to do some extra studying?” returned Sirius.



 



Lily threw him a scornful look but at the same time, became aware of a lovely warm sensation in her stomach. When she had made up her mind to extract James from her life, she had not taken Sirius into consideration. She was just realizing how much she had missed him. But if you choose not to associate with one, you automatically lose the other: That was just how it was with James and Sirius.



 



Sirius snatched the page of notes on counterjinxes Lily was holding and scowled down at it. “What are you doing?”



 



“I’m studying. Ever heard of it?” snapped Lily, attempting to seize her notes but he held them carefully out of her reach.



 



“Somehow I find it hard to believe that even you—role model student, Lily Evans—would prefer hiding her nose in spellbooks over a trip to Hogsmeade,” remarked Sirius.



 



“Believe it,” Lily said flatly. She tapped the end of her quill impatiently on the table. She was getting sick of all this talk of Hogsmeade. “Do you need something?”



 



Sirius contemplated. “Yes. I need you to promise me something, Evans.”



 



“Yeah?”



 



“Promise me that you won’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. I’m really not supposed to be here.”



 



Lily stared at him, mystified by his uncharacteristic solemnity. “Okay…”



 



“Right, then.” Sirius put down the page of notes and rubbed his hands together. “There is a reason for what happened during James’s little…er…rendezvous with you last Friday. You know the one?”



 



Lily stiffened. “Yes,” she said tartly, trying to keep her tone passive. “And the reason is…?”



 



Sirius gave her a dark look. “The reason, Ev, is that James’s dad is missing,” he said quietly. “A few days before he took you to the Hog’s Head, James got a letter from his mum. She had been shopping and came home to find the house ransacked and Mr. Potter gone—Death Eaters. The Ministry is investigating and apparently they’ve been doing everything they can but they’ve told the Potters that there isn’t much of a chance that he’s still alive. He was a big powerful Auror and everything so they would have wanted him—” Sirius grimaced slightly, as though what he was saying made him sick “— out of the way.” 



 



“James just needed to get away and try to forget about it, hence bringing you along to get plastered at the Hog’s Head.” Sirius turned his head to the window with an odd twitch of his neck.  “I know you’ve done it a million times, but you’ve got to cut him a break, Evans.”



 



There was a long silence. Finally, Sirius looked to Lily expectantly, waiting for her response.



 



“Evans?”



 



She had frozen.



 



This explained it all. She had not imagined that look James’s eyes. It had not come from nowhere…It was because of his father.



 



Lily clutched the edge of the table. “Oh, James…” she murmured. There was every possibility he would never see his father again and their parting words were in the midst of a row.



 



The pain for James that had crept up on her before she even knew the reason smashed into her again with full, excruciating force.



 



“Evans? You all right?” asked Sirius from somewhere in the distance. “Your face is really white.”



 



Guilt mingled with the pain now. How could she abandon James at such a time?



 



Lily jumped to her feet. “I have to go see him. Where is he?” she demanded urgently.



 



“He went to Hogsmeade,” said Sirius, standing up as well. “But Evans, remember your promise…”



 



“Yeah.  I have to go.”



 



Lily ran from the library and started down the corridor, oblivious to Sirius following behind. She could only think of getting to James.



 



Suddenly, something crossed her mind. If James had been cruel and thoughtless that night, it had had nothing to do with her!



 



Something like hope began forming inside her.



 



He hadn’t meant to hurt her! He himself was too consumed with grief. And that meant…



 



The hopeful feeling burned fiercely, glowing like a candle and melting her icy insides.



 



That meant he might still care for her.



 



“Evans, wait up!” called Sirius, but she was no longer in control her legs. They flew out of the castle doors and carried her down to the gates, churning through the grass as raindrops lashed at her face. Sirius chased her down the lane until they reached the main road of Hogsmeade.



 



“Where d’you think he’d be?” Lily asked.



 



“Er…Let’s try the Three Broomsticks,” Sirius suggested breathlessly after taking a glance around.



 



She led him out of the pouring rain and into the crowded pub.



 



Lily’s eyes swept anxiously each table encircled by the dozens of students gathered inside. When she turned to scan the far corner of the pub, she saw something that knocked the wind out of her. The floor beneath her seemed to vanish, creating a horrible falling sensation. It made her extremely nauseous.



 



James was sitting at a tiny table in the corner and entangled in his arms—practically on his lap—was Mina St. Clair.



 



She was too late.



 



Sirius trailed her gaze and made a small noise of repulsion.



 



“Well, come on,” he said, taking a step toward James and Mina.



 



“No,” croaked Lily.



 



“What?”



 



“We can’t…He’s—he’s busy,” Lily managed to say.



 



“Oh, no. We are going over there, Evans,” said Sirius emphatically. “After all that, you cannot walk out now.”



 



“I can’t,” mumbled Lily hoarsely, still staring at James kissing Mina. Her heart was tearing to pieces all over again. “I can’t do it.”



 



Sirius glared at her angrily. “Too bad, you have to. I don’t care how frightened you are. You think he’ll give that girl one more thought when he sees you? This is it, Ev. You’re going to do this. This is it.”



 



Lily looked up at him. He met her gaze stonily. She set her jaw and nodded.



 



They wound their way through the crowd until they were standing at James and Mina’s table. The two were so absorbed in what they were doing they took no notice of their arrival.



 



“Prongs! Mate!” bellowed Sirius cheerfully. “How’re you doing?”



 



James jumped and ripped his head away from Mina’s. He stared, stunned, from his best friend to Lily. He didn’t seem to understand what he was seeing. Mina turned, saw Lily and Sirius, and struggled to fix a politely surprised expression over her look of dismay.



 



“Hello, Mina,” said Sirius, his tone growing considerably colder before looking back at James. “Look who I’ve brought!” He put an arm around Lily and dragged her closer to the table. She had been lurking a few feet behind him.



 



“How nice to see you, Lily!” gushed Mina. Her arms tightened possessively around James, whose his hands had flown to rest on the table.



 



“Hi, Mina.” Lily tried to smile but it felt more like a grimace.



 



“Thought we’d join you kids,” said Sirius amiably. “Hope you don’t mind.”



 



He didn’t wait to see whether they minded or not. He swiftly pulled up two chairs, squished them around the minuscule table and threw himself into one.



 



Lily perched herself awkwardly on the edge of the other chair, keeping her eyes averted from James. She was becoming sharply conscious of the fact that she hadn’t combed her hair before going to the library. It fell matted and dripping to her shoulders, whereas Mina’s was silky and bright blonde. She also realized, with a pang of self-loathing, that she hadn’t bothered to change out of her ratty jeans before running recklessly to the village, while Mina wore an elegant skirt and blouse.



 



Lily spent a mortifying moment of wanting nothing more than to seep, unseen, into the floor. Then, an untamed carelessness struck her and pushed her over the edge, beyond worrying about what Mina, Sirius, or even James thought of her. She sat up straight and shoved her elbows on the table.



 



“Well, interesting weather we’re having,” observed Sirius, breaking a long, painful silence.



 



Mina stared at him as though he had sprouted antlers. “Interesting? I don’t like it at all. It’s so gloomy.”



 



“I like the rain,” said Lily loudly, leveling Mina with her eyes. 



 



Mina turned to James. “How about you, Jamesie?” she asked, suddenly sounding like an overindulgent grandmother.



 



“What? Me?” he stammered, distracted.



 



“Yes. Do you like all this icky rain?” Mina contorted her face dramatically.



 



Lily finally looked at James. She was instantly overcome with a terrible longing to hold him when she saw the fear and pain that still resided behind his eyes.



 



“The icky—?” faltered James thickly. “Yeah…yeah, I like the rain.”



 



Lily could not stop the large, satisfied smile from blooming across her face. Mina appeared to be trying hard to conceal her gaping horror. She giggled shrilly, as though James had told an ingeniously witty joke. 



 



Sirius grinned broadly.



 



“Oh, Jamesie! My pumpkin juice is all gone!” she cried, glancing down at her goblet. “Get me another one? Pretty please? I’ll let you have a sip...”



 



“Uh, yeah, sure,” said James gruffly. He stood up so quickly he nearly tripped over his chair. He steadied himself, managing a rather sheepish grin at nothing in particular. “Lily. Would you—um, would you like anything?” He stared down at his pockets as he rummaged for money.



 



“Oh, I’m sure Sirius wants to pay for—” began Mina smilingly.



 



“Thank you, James. I’ll have some hot cocoa,” said Lily, talking over Mina.



 



“Right. Don’t mention it,” mumbled James, as he stumbled toward the bar.



 



“Oy! I’ll get a butterbeer!” called Sirius. He looked like he had never been so entertained.



 



James waved his hand and disappeared into the horde of people.



 



Mina watched him go before turning back to Lily, smiling with an unmistakable sneer in her eyes. “Isn’t he a darling?”



 



“Positively charming,” replied Lily, her own smile as genuine as the diamonds glued to Mina’s extravagant hairclip.



 



“We simply fell for each other on the spot,” explained Mina, tossing her hand around as she spoke. “Some might think it’s all about the snogging but we have a connection on a deeper level. He doesn’t say much but he doesn’t have to; I always know exactly what he’s thinking.”



 



You know as much about what James is thinking as a flobberworm, thought Lily.



 



“I’m sure,” she said aloud, the painful smile still smeared on her lips.



 



“So it’s moving pretty fast with you two, eh?” said Sirius, balancing his chair on its back legs and folding his arms behind his head. 



 



“Oh, yes. It’s very serious,” said Mina, nodding vigorously.



 



“After one day?” asked Lily wryly.



 



Mina colored slightly. “We’re so perfect for each other, it feels like years.”



 



Lily nodded as James returned with the drinks. He set them down on the table and took his seat.



 



“Oh, thank you, Jamesie!” exclaimed Mina. “How sweet of you!” She leaned close to his unsuspecting cheek and dropped a heavy kiss on it, sneaking a jeering look at Lily.



 



James jerked away compulsively. “Huh? Oh…no problem.”



 



Though he was avoiding her eyes, Lily didn’t miss the hopelessly miserable look on his face as he glanced around the pub. She wished she could knock aside the table that stood between them and pull him into her arms. Her heart gave a throb of desperation.



 



“Would you like a sip, Jamesie?” asked Mina coyly. She dangled her goblet in front of his nose. He looked down at it as though it was poison.



 



“Er…No, thanks. You can have it,” he said, twitching away and turning his attention to a scratch on the table. “I’m not thirsty.”



 



“You know you want to…go on…” pressed Mina in a giddy voice, pushing the goblet back under his nose.



 



“No…no…I’m really not thirsty.” James sat back and waved his hand but accidentally hit the goblet and knocked it from Mina’s grip. It tumbled into her lab, drenching her prim skirt in orange liquid.



 



She shrieked and leapt up, bouncing up and down in hysterics. 



 



“Oh! Uh, sorry…”said James, wincing and standing up. He looked around the room, as though frantic to find an escape from this nightmare. 



 



He snatched up some napkins and cautiously tried to mop up Mina’s ruined skirt as she hopped around, squealing. Lily’s face grew sore from trying to hold it straight but Sirius, on the other hand, threw his head back and laughed heartily.



 



Lily didn’t trust herself to speak.



 



“Oh, gosh darn it!” blurted Sirius theatrically as he jumped up, looking down at his watch. “James…we’re ten minutes late for McGonagall’s detention! Sorry, Mina, but as fun as this is, we have to run.”



 



“But what about my skirt?” moaned Mina. “Jamesie! Don’t go!”



 



“There’s a simple spell to get that out,” said Sirius, untroubled. “I can’t remember it at the moment, though. Bad luck. Come on, Evans….”



 



“Goodbye, Mina,” said Lily sweetly. “Sorry about your skirt.”



 



She turned and followed James and Sirius, who were already speeding away, out the door.



 



As soon as Lily felt the rain on her face again, she allowed herself to break into a fit of laughter. “That was harsh, Sirius, but brilliant!” she gasped.



 



No one answered. She looked around, but only James was in sight. He stood with his head bent against the rainfall, watching her warily.



 



 “Where…where’d he go?” asked Lily, her laughter fading.



 



James shrugged. “No idea. He ran off.”



 



Lily shifted her weight. “Well. Then. What do you want to do?”



 



“I dunno…” he said, looking surprised. “Whatever you want is fine.”



 



Lily squinted through the streaks of water up at him. His shoulders were hunched and shadows fell below his eyes. In them, she saw that haunting fear burned darkly. She felt it, too. She ached to hug him, let him fall into her and carry some of the pain for him.



 



“Want to go back to the castle?” she suggested.



 



James looked visibly relieved. “Yeah…”



 



They turned and headed up the lane toward Hogwarts, side by side, dodging puddles as the rain splashed down upon them. James’s arms swung loosely at his sides. Lily longed to take his hand. She was eyeing them move back and forth like a pendulum and was about to slip her fingers though his when he spoke.



 



“So…you’re back to looking at me?” He smiled anxiously. 



 



Lily’s face grew hot. “If that’s all right. Sorry for kicking you.”



 



“Nah…you can kick me anytime you want. Just don’t stop looking at me…” said James, glancing at her sideways. “Or speaking to me.”



 



“I won’t,” assured Lily earnestly, turning to look at his profile. Droplets of water slid from the tips of his hair, rushed down the curve of his nose and dripped from the edge of his chin onto his chest. “James.”



 



“I’ll hold you to that.” James seemed to relax, pushing his hands into his pockets.



 



Lily watched his hands disappear sadly. She wished he would wrap his arm around her like usual but it seemed he was finally letting her assert any physical contact between them.



 



They strolled on, moving up through the gates of the castle grounds as they listened to the gentle patter of rain slap the silence.



               



“James…” said Lily after a few moments. “That night in the Hog’s Head…Do you remember what you told me?”



 



“Yeah…about my dad?” offered James calmly, as they approached the stormy grey lake. “How we’re always going at each other?”



 



“Well, yeah.” Lily stopped on the bank and studied him. Her heart swelled as he stared out at the raging water. “Just…just don’t ever give up, James,” she said softly. “It may not be too late to talk to him.”



 



James glimpsed at Lily. Their eyes locked for a fleeting second.



 



He understood.



 



“And, James…” continued Lily. “There are so many things about you for him to be proud of. You’re amazing…and I don’t just mean Quidditch and everything.” Words were flowing out of Lily without consideration, emerging from somewhere deeper than her brain. “You always know how to make people laugh. You’re so free—you never hold yourself back. And you’re honest…extremely persistent, as I can attest to, and you’ll do anything for your friends. I know he’s proud of you.” Lily stared up at him, determined to make her point clear. “Because I am,” she whispered.



 



As James peered through the stripes of rain slashing the air, he smiled. “I never would have guessed,” he said, “with my big head and all.”



 



He was facing her, water falling from his soaked, wild hair. His eyes were on her and even though she was wearing ratty jeans and her hair was a straggly mess, he saw her and the fear evaporated. She knew he was happy to be talking to her, smiling at her with his one-dimpled grin.



 



Lily smiled back and, without another thought, she did the only thing that felt natural. Lifting herself onto the tips of her toes, she kissed that lopsided grin.



 



 







A/N: Cue the heartwarming, feel-good music!  They finally did it!!

Are you happy??? REVIEW!


Chapter 27: Shattered Perfection
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: November 9, 2005



Suggested music: “This Year’s Love” by David Gray



 



Chapter Twenty-Seven



Shattered Perfection



 



Life was rushing on by them. 



 



People were hastening to millions of different destinations in millions of different directions. They were young and eager, old and weary, full of energy, drained of spirit. Words were being spoken, shouted, whispered. They were laughing, nodding, waving, shaking hands, blowing kisses. Each had their own purposes, their own thoughts and hopes, their days were progressing slowly, dizzyingly fast, falling apart or moving smoothly into line. Children were running and singing. Lovers were sharing smiles and caresses. 



 



Birds settled into their nests under sheltering trees, their musical throats relaxed while the rain soaked the roots of the grass and mobs of umbrellas hurried by. Clouds swirled in a bright grey mass, hovering over the earth like giant sponges being wrung. Beyond them, stars blazed in the endless black sea. The planets continued to tick around the fiery sun, as they had for eons.



 



It all went on the same, none of it knowing or caring that Lily Evans and James Potter were sharing their first kiss beside the great simmering lake of Hogwarts. They were insignificant, despite how they felt, just two more participants in an ordinary, age-old activity that had been experienced better and more spectacularly before them.



 



Yet everything in Lily felt that they were detached from all of it. It was swirling around them, unfazed, moving onward through time. But Lily and James were not part of it. Their universe was the slick grassy lakeside under the beech tree; their sun was their longed-for unity. Everything that mattered circled around its blazing energy, every effort thrown solely into their connection. 



 



Lily’s anger, pain, and fear spun through every touch and evolved into passionate joy. The strength of all the feeling fueled each second, each sensation.



 



And in their infantile universe, the beauty and power of the kiss was unprecedented. Nothing close to it had ever existed, like a newborn creation. It shattered perfection, rang with emotion and overshadowed everything that had come before. It would be recorded in their own brilliant labyrinth of stars, to be remembered and celebrated for all time.



 



When they pulled away, Lily and James fell back into the flow of worldly time once again, becoming two insignificant teenagers snogging in the rain like everyday lovesick fools, thoughtlessly risking pneumonia. They landed quietly and unnoticed, as though nothing extraordinary had just occurred—when indeed something had.



 



Lily gazed up at James. Her arms had somehow glided over his shoulders to clasp around his neck; his were encircled tightly around her waist. 



 



They both smiled.



 



“Whoa,” breathed Lily. Meanwhile her mind screamed, ‘Why the hell hadn’t they tried that before?!’



 



They leaned in close again and instantly, they were off once more, soaring into their own blissful galaxy. The world, oblivious, went on without them….But then they were oblivious to the world.



 



 



*          *          *



 



The rain had ceased, though not until it had succeeded in soaking them straight through to the bone. The sun emerged and the monotonous layers of grey dispersed into plump white puffs. The tips of the grass were studded with sparkling raindrops. Everything was clean, green, refreshed.



 



After two drying spells, James and Lily stretched out on the sodden grounds at the edge of the lake. The sun was beating down and blasting off the surface of the water in golden flecks, warming their faces.



 



“So…how did I change your mind?” asked James, pushing himself up and leaning on his palms. He looked at her, his soft hair shivering in the breeze and arcing over his eyes.



 



Lily smiled contentedly from where she was lying on her back.  “Change my mind?” 



 



James raised his eyebrows in a you-know-what-I-mean look.



 



“You didn’t change my mind,” said Lily. “Not really. I changed it myself.”



 



“Why?”



 



Lily hesitated, turning up to the clouds sailing lazily through the sky.



 



“It wasn’t a certain thing you did. It’s what you do. The whole combination. And gradually I realized you don’t annoy me half as much as I pretend you do. And now I’ve given up pretending.”



 



A grin flashed across James’s face. “How sweet. You know, you’re not so annoying yourself.”



 



Lily laughed and rolled over. She lifted James’s hand out of the grass and entwined it with her own, just so she could touch him. He fell onto his side, facing her. Leaning in closer, he kissed her softly. Streams of thrills bubbled through Lily’s body.



 



They were silent for a moment. Lily listened to each soft breath filling and leaving James’s body, thinking idly. She had a purely content sensation that for once, she was in a place meant exclusively for her.



 



James pulled her close to him and she nestled her head into his neck, sighing. She took in the warmth of his skin, the faint scent of his shampoo mingled with the lingering smell of rain. Lily closed her eyes, feeling nothing but peaceful joy.



 



She opened them when she felt James’s body quaking and his chuckles smothered in her hair.



 



“What are you laughing at?” demanded Lily, lifting her head to look at him.



 



“I don’t know,” he said, trying to control his face.



 



“What?” 



 



Lily gave him a sharp poke in the stomach.



 



“Ouch—Evans!” protested James.



 



“Tell me!”



 



James smiled and she knew he had given in. “I dunno…it just strikes me as funny. You with me. Lily Evans. It’s so surreal…” mumbled James, shifting slightly. There was a momentary pause and he peered straight down at Lily, regarding her closely. “I mean, is this really you? Are you drunk? Am I? How is this happening to me all of a sudden?”



 



Lily held his gaze. “We’re not drunk…unless Sirius spiked our drinks or something. And there’s one thing I know for sure; this is me. I’ve finally figured it out. I’m Lily Evans, a wiser, more sure of her self Lily Evans, yes—but perfectly sober,” explained Lily. “So you better believe it.”



 



James studied her gravely. “You know, you do look a little bit like her. Sure-of-herself Lily is definitely prettier, though.”



 



Lily let her head fall back on his shoulder and grinned. “Glad to hear it…” she said. “But…”



 



“But?”



 



She peeked up at him slyly. “But I wouldn’t want to come between you and Mina.”



 



“Sure-of-Herself Lily is nasty,” chortled James as he squeezed her to his side.



 



Lily giggled. “According to her it was true love.”



 



“Well, she also thinks Russia is the capital of Antarctica,” said James with a wry smirk.



 



“It looked like you were having fun before Sirius and I barged in.”



 



“Looks are deceiving.”



 



Lily paused. “Fooled me,” she said quietly, sitting up.



 



“I was not having fun,” James said shortly, his tone sharp.



 



“Then you were making quite a show of it,” continued Lily, pawing at the grass as she tried to remain causal. “You’re a really good actor, you know—”



 



“Evans, stop. Just stop. Don’t even try to make a case of this. You know perfectly well I was only with her because I couldn’t be with you. And I thought I had finally ruined all my chances.” James sat up and turned toward her, his blazing eyes boring deep into hers. He spoke tartly and impatiently, as though he had explained this to her many times before. It was bare fact. “No matter what I do, Evans, you’re always on my mind. Through everything…whether you’re sure of yourself, or confused, or snogging Slytherins, or screaming at me….You’re the one thing I can’t move on from.”



 



James was nearly panting in his fervency. He glared at Lily defiantly.



 



“James,” said Lily gently.



 



“And you know what? I don’t want to move on. Especially now. Don’t you get it, Evans?!”



 



“James,” repeated Lily, raising her voice over his.



 



Lily slung her arms around his neck and kissed him, slowly and deeply. When she pulled away, she smiled into his face.



 



“I get it.”



 



A broad grin broke across James’s lips. With a calming exhale of breath, he leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead. 



 



“You better,” he said into her skin. “‘Cause I’ll never stop annoying you.”



 



 



*          *          *



 



The many strands of Lily’s life were weaving together, crossing and intermingling to form a beautiful blanket spread over a bed of time. Days passed in fits of laughter, idle chats, lakeside rambles, attempts at rigid studying, and glorious evenings in a hazy twilit sky. Ordinary simplicities became breathtaking pleasures. Each moment rippled with tiny, treasured thrills. It was all alluringly new and fresh, yet comfortingly familiar.



 



It was odd to feel so different while following the same daily routine. Lily always had a smile sparkling just beneath the surface. She forgot how to walk, but skipped or flew instead. Her happiness shimmered within her very skin. It was gentle and pure but could spark up in brilliant flames.



 



No one noticed its change in her, but they felt its strength. She was no different—she was not fuller, or wiser, or more beautiful. She was merely Lily, as she was meant to be; only now, she was perfectly content with it.



 



And she had James.



 



James was forever grinning. His dimple was a permanent fixture on his face. He could put his arm around Lily without having to pray she wouldn’t push him away. He could hold her hand, touch her, kiss her, and make her laugh as much as his leaping heart desired. 



 



James had grown up in many ways. He did not flaunt the fact that Lily had finally given in—except to Lily herself. They were quiet and private about their relationship. Hardly anyone noticed the escalation it had recently taken besides their friends. If anyone did any flaunting, it was Sirius, who proudly took all credit for the couple.



 



“I knew it’d happen eventually, but even I was getting doubtful there. I’m sorry, Prongs, but at the rate you were going, it would have taken several lifetimes. Good thing I interfered, eh? No dillydallying for me. You two owe a lot to old Padfoot.”



 



Lily and James spent most of their time out on the grounds where spring was blossoming to her fullest potential. Outside among the flowers sprouting on the fringes of the forest or along the azure lake, they rambled aimlessly, studied, lounged on the grass talking deeply and soulfully or lightly and sporadically. Being Lily and James, they argued often, only now it usually ended in kissing and snuggling instead of a furious shouting match.



 



They were smitten, carefree, and on top of the world.



 



 



*         *          *



 



“What did you get for number thirty-one?”



 



“I dunno. Whatever you got,” replied James.



 



“And that’s going to help you a lot when you’re taking the exam. Come on, focus, James,” admonished Lily, looking at him sternly.



 



He was slouched in his chair, his head leaning heavily on his hand, staring blankly at the books in front of him.



 



“I am focusing.” He paused as his mouth opened in a wide yawn. “…On staying awake.”



 



“We’re almost there. Soon N.E.W.T.s will be all over. But for now, we have to study.”



 



“But this is so boring. We’ve been at it for ages,” pleaded James. He let his head fall against her shoulder. “Let’s just call it a night.”



 



“In a little bit. We can get through these problems. What’s the answer to thirty-one?”



 



James emitted a long sigh. He picked up his notebook and slid down in his seat so that his head was in Lily’s lap. He stretched his legs across the row of chairs at their table and held up the notebook in front of his face.



 



“The Summoning Charm.”



 



“Correct,” said Lily cheerfully.



 



She continued going through each problem, absently brushing her fingers through James’s hair as he read off the answers. The library was still and peaceful as fifth and seventh-years sat slumped in the wooden chairs, diligently looking through stacks of notes in preparation for exams the following week.



 



When they finished, James hopped up, his energy suddenly restored, and put away their books. They strolled out of the library, happy in knowing they wouldn’t have to look at another spell definition until the next day.



 



“So…what do you want to do tonight?” asked Lily, slipping her fingers between James’s as they made their way down the corridor lit by the golden evening sunshine. “Play Gobstones, go for a walk…snog?”



 



James grinned down at her. He caught her around the waist and nestled a kiss at her temple.



 



“I’d love to, Lil, but it’s a full moon tonight,” he said. “We’re going to Hogsmeade.”



 



“Oh.”



 



Their footsteps on the stone echoed in the silence. James bent close to Lily’s ear.



 



“What’s the matter?”



 



Lily shrugged him away. “Nothing.”



 



“Lily…”



 



Nothing.”



 



“Come on, you can bear one night away from me, can’t you?” said James, a grin evident behind his glasses.



 



Lily gave him an exasperated little smile.



 



They walked on hand-in-hand until they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. James had given the password and the portrait was swinging open when Lily spoke up.



 



“James?”



 



“Yeah, Lil?” James tossed his bag into the hole as he prepared to climb through.



 



“What if something happened?”



 



“Er…Lot’s of things will happen, Lily,” he said, turning to frown at her.



 



“No.” Lily stared up at him with wide eyes. “Like an accident. Tonight with Remus,” she explained. “What if…what if you got hurt?”



 



“Nothing’s going to happen. You know werewolf bites can’t affect me when I’m transformed.” He furrowed his brow and rubbed the back of his neck, confused by her concern.



 



“What if you got caught and were arrested? Or Remus got out of control? You’re taking so many risks with all this….”



 



James took her hands in his big warm grasp. “Come on, we’re the Marauders. We’ve done this a thousand times. We’re experts. Nothing’s different this time.”



 



But Lily couldn’t shake the ill feeling that thrived in her stomach. Something was different. This time, she would be sitting in the Gryffindor Tower all night, knowing he was out there, worrying and waiting. 



 



She dreaded the moment when he would have to leave her sight.



 



“Let’s go. We can get in a game of Gobstones before we leave,” said James, stepping back to let her crawl into the hole.



 



Lily appreciated his nonchalance. It made up for what she was not feeling. Lily knew he was aware of this by the way he placed a reassuring hand on the small of her back as she went to lift herself into the passage. 



 



It was a new element of their relationship that had begun to evolve between Lily and James since that rainy day by the lake: The subtle way they could communicate by touch—a soft stroke on the hand, a squeeze of the shoulder, the slight nudge of their knees, a brush of their foreheads—allowed them to share their feelings better than any spoken words.



 



In the common room, Sirius and Peter were at a table by the window, their heads together in a huddle. It was immediately obvious what they were so furtively discussing.



 



Lily and James wandered over to the two boys. As though sensing the approach of his best friend, Sirius’s head popped up.



 



“It’s about bloody time, mate! Blimey, Ev, you’re killing him. He studies more than Moony now,” he said grudgingly. “We’ve got some things to go over with you, Prongs.”



 



James turned to Lily, his expression asking what she wanted to do. 



 



This was another thing that had very gradually grown into James; consideration. He no longer thought in terms of his own desires and comfort. Lily couldn’t help but smile at his new thoughtfulness. It made her want to be with him even more. But she knew what he really wanted to do, despite how eager he was to please her.



 



“Go on,” she said. “I’ll be over there with the girls.”



 



“Listen to your lover girl, mate, and sit your ass down,” Sirius demanded, slapping the seat next to him.



 



“I thought you want to play Gobstones or something…” countered James, tipping his head down and turning his eyes up to peer at her, making Lily’s heart swell. 



 



He still didn’t realize how easily he could flood her with adoration just by looking at her in a certain way.



 



“I’ll manage,” declared Lily dryly, putting her fingertips to his shoulder and giving him a little push toward his friends.



 



She grinned and walked to the fireplace to join Summer, Tara, and Di. An hour slipped by in what felt like no more than a few minutes. They sat and talked as the soft pale sky fell behind a thick, black veil.



 



The boys got up, having finished their preparations, Sirius and Peter extending their arms over their heads in exaggerated stretches. James turned and made his way casually toward Lily.



 



As she watched him approach, she was hit with an abrupt realization. She finally knew what had changed in him since his dad had been kidnapped. It was not his eyes: They would always be young and exploding with vivacity. No, it was the way he moved, the way he carried himself. His confidence was no longer advertised with each step he took. There was less swaggering, less precision to it. James had lost the perfected way he made all eyes shift to him whenever he walked through a room. Now he walked simply to get from one place to another.



 



He seemed years older. Lily had always wanted him to mature more, but now that he had, she found herself mourning that naïve, audacious certainty he used to have that nothing could go wrong for him.



 



“Good evening, ladies,” he said, slathering the old slickness over his voice. His strut may have been gone, but he was still James.



 



He reached over Summer and took Lily’s hand to pull her out of the depths of the armchair.



 



“Hey, you can’t just take her away whenever you want,” protested Tara indignantly. “You can say goodnight to her in front of us. We’ll just cover Di’s eyes while you do the dirty stuff.”



 



“As tempting as that sounds…” grinned James.



 



“Isn’t it a bit early for your bedtime?” asked Summer, glancing at the clock. “It’s not even eight yet.”



 



“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” explained James, without a hesitation. “G’night.”



 



“Sweet dreams,” called Tara, as James led Lily away. 



 



They went to the boys’ dormitory staircase and sat down on the bottom steps. Lily didn’t let go of James’s hand. A moment passed in which they sat quietly, staring out at the buzzing common room.



 



“Are you still worried?”



 



“No, not really,” replied Lily. She shifted, tucking her foot behind her ankle. “Well, yeah, I am. I mean, I know you’ll be fine but I just can’t help being a little scared.” She sighed, wondering how to explain. “I guess I never took much notice of the full moon before. I didn’t know when you were going out so I didn’t think to worry. Ignorance is bliss.”



 



James wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close to him. She loved when he did this. Feeling his arm suddenly about her and anticipating the easy tug that removed the space between them. How nicely she fit against his side, how their heads gently fell against each other. She could breathe in his smell, feel his warmth combine with hers. It was like taking a deep breath or feeling a cool breeze on her face: It calmed her, starting from deep inside and spreading out to the surface of her skin. 



 



Could he feel that too?



 



“Just pretend to be ignorant, then. Pretend you don’t know what we’re doing,” suggested James. “Then, if we’re caught, you won’t get in trouble. Win-win.” 



 



Lily could hear the grin in his voice. She looked up at him.



 



“Okay. I’ll try.” ‘As if she could really stop thinking about him,’ she silently scoffed. “Have fun, then.”



 



“All right. See you in the morning,” he said, meeting her lips with a slow, soothing kiss.



 



He stood up and as he stepped away from Lily, the uneasy feelings returned to churn up her stomach. 



 



“Be careful, James,” said Lily quietly before he disappeared up the stairs with a departing wink.



 



Lily rejoined her friends in the middle of the common room. A few minutes later, while the rest of the Gryffindors continued to chatter away, she noticed the muffled sound of footsteps crossing the room, though there was no body to match them—At least none that was visible.



 



She followed the noise as it trailed further away until it died off in the portrait hole.



 



The moon was full and the Marauders were heading out.



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 







A/N:   Thanks for reading...REVIEW!!

Chapter 28: Blaze of Hatred
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First posted: December 15, 2005


Suggested music: “Narcolepsy” by Third Eye Blind


 


Chapter Twenty-Eight


Blaze of Hatred


 


“Anyway, he said that he’s in love with me and that he would die if he couldn’t have me,” concluded Tara indifferently, updating the girls on the latest episode of her dramatic love life.


 


“Who’s this again? Darren or Gideon?” asked Lily.


 


“Tobey,” said Tara. “Stay with me here!”


 


“I’m trying but I can’t keep track of all the poor blokes you crush,” cried Lily. “I don’t know how you do it.”


 


“Sometimes I do mess their names up—that doesn’t make them too happy,” laughed Tara. “But really, it’s not that hard. I never have more than one—”


 


“—or two—”


 


“—or six—” added Summer.


 


“—at a time,” finished Tara, ignoring them.


 


Lily exchanged grins with Summer and Di. 


 


Her friends were helping her relax a little, although even as she laughed about Tara’s countless admirers, there was a tense spot in her chest, secretly stabbing her with anxiety. She tried to imagine James as Prongs, antlers edged with silver moonlight, galloping around Hogsmeade with Padfoot, Moony, and Wormtail, having nothing but carefree fun. She hoped the image would calm her but instead, it made her restless and uneasy. 


 


Without thinking, she stood up.


 


“I’m starving. Anyone want to go get a snack with me?” she asked.


 


“You mean sneak down to the kitchens?” Summer lifted her eyebrows.


 


“Yeah, but this time, we’re not going to get locked in a room with James and Sirius.” They both laughed at the memory. “We have enough time before curfew.”


 


“I’m not hungry. I think I’m gonna turn in,” said Summer, yawning. “See you in the morning.”


 


“I’ll come, then.” Tara jumped out of her seat and led Di and Lily to the portrait hole. 


 


 “Do you know where the kitchens are?” asked Di, once they had slipped out and started down the dark hall.


 


“Oh, yeah. James showed me once when we were patrolling the corridors,” Lily replied quickly, disregarding her friends’ suggestive “ooh” in response to this statement.


 


Their footsteps echoed eerily, as they moved through each patch of light swimming around the torches. Lily guided them down a few flights of stairs and they were strolling along a corridor when a voice coming from a large portrait attracted their attention.


 


“How the hell do you know anything about this?” hissed the voice.


 


Lily, Tara, and Di looked at each other. Then another person—a girl—spoke from behind the portrait.


 


“He told me! Why does that matter? Are you coming or not?” She sounded excited and irritable at the same time.


 


The girls slowly approached the portrait and pressed their ears against the canvas.


 


“Are you sure they’re doing it tonight?” 


 


“Positive. They might have even started attacking already—I don’t know! But if we’re going, we have to hurry so make up your bloody mind!”


 


“Who else knows? They’ll probably get us caught….”


 


“You going to do this with me or not?” demanded the girl hurriedly. “It’s our only chance. We’ve got to prove ourselves to him.”


 


There was a pause. “Fine, fine. Let’s go.”


 


Before the girls realized what was happening, the portrait was slid to the side and two people rushed into them, knocking Di and Tara to the ground.


 


“What the hell—?” sputtered the boy. 


 


Lily recognized him as Rab Lestrange, Clive Pritchard’s friend, but her eyes flew to the dark, beautiful girl beside him with a strong chin. She had drawn her wand and pointed at Lily. She wore a threatening smirk on her face.


 


“Quick. Back inside,” she said swiftly, keeping her heavy-lidded eyes on Lily as she jerked her head toward the hole behind the portrait. 


 


Rab immediately bent down and seized a handful of Di and Tara’s robes. He heaved them up and hurled them into the hole, which led into a tiny passageway. Tara screamed and Lily went to follow them inside but Bellatrix stood in front of her, wand raised.


 


Lily glared, outraged, at Bellatrix. “What are you doing?!”


 


Bellatrix smiled maliciously. “I think you’ve heard too much, you nosy little mudblood. Get in there.”


 


Still holding her wand in Lily’s face, she moved around so that Lily had to back toward the passage. 


 


“What were you talking about?” she demanded. “Where are they attacking?” 


 


Bellatrix ignored her. “Silencio!” Lily could not make another sound. “Get in there, mudblood, and I’ll clear things up for you. I promise.”


 


Frantically, Lily tried to think of a plan of escape, but she couldn’t do anything with Bellatrix’s wand practically up her nose….And she could not leave Di and Tara behind the portrait with Rab. 


 


She backed into the passage. Bellatrix followed closely, letting the portrait slide back into place.


 


There was a torch flickering on the wall, casting an unsteady glow upon Rab, who stood over Di and Tara, clutching three wands. The two girls were, huddled on the ground, bound by thin cords.


 


“What the fuck are you two playing at?” spat Tara, squirming to rid herself of her bindings. “You trolls think you’re Death Eaters or something?”


 


Rab kicked her in the side, as Bellatrix laughed in a high-pitched cackle. Lily flinched. She thought longingly of her wand, deep inside her pocket. If only Bellatrix would take her eyes off her for one second….


 


“Actually, that’s exactly what we are!” he declared triumphantly. “Smarter than you look, aren’t you?”


 


“Rubbish!” shouted Tara, squirming to rid herself of her bindings. “Don’t you touch me!”


 


“I’d be quiet if I were you, Jordan,” said Bellatrix darkly.


 


“Oh, yeah? What are you going to do?” Tara snapped.


 


Di shot her an imploring look.   “Tara, stop.”


 


“That’s right.”  Bellatrix nodded, smirking. “Listen to Kendel. She knows what the Dark Lord can do.”


 


“What’s that supposed to mean?! You’re not the fucking Dark Lord!” yelled Tara. “You’re just a pathetic little—”


 


Silencio!” cried Bellatrix again, her eyes flashing, and Tara was instantly cut off. 


 


In the split second that Bellatrix turned to Tara, Lily dipped her hand into her pocket then yanked it out again. She felt the smooth, thin wood in her palm, tightly wrapped in her pale fingers in the folds of her robes.


 


“Now that I have the chance,” said Bellatrix with a satisfied sigh, “I shall explain, as I promised to. Rab and I are going to a particularly large attack on Hogsmeade tonight. Rid the place of all the filthy mudbloods and muggle-lovers.” She drew herself up proudly. “Clearly, you’ve meddled with the wrong people. If you so much as whisper this to another soul, I can guarantee you will not live to see the light of tomorrow.”


 


She glanced at Rab, who was shifting nervously. “Shall we make our point?”


 


He raised his eyebrows at her, incredulity crawling into his features. “What? You mean—?”


 


“Yes, you idiot!” barked Bellatrix. Her voice rose and she looked frenzied, as though she had given in all control to her sick excitement. She had; Lily could see that she wasn’t bluffing. “Now unbind one of them. How about the one with the big dirty mouth?”


 


Rab was now looking extremely uneasy. He hesitated for another moment, then flicked his wand at Tara.


 


Lily’s stomach flipped over. Whatever they were going to do to Tara was going to be seriously dangerous. 


 


She had to concentrate….


 


The cords around Tara vanished. She began to sit up.


 


“Do it now, Rabastan!” shrieked Bellatrix.


 


Rab, his eyes wide, stared down his wand at Tara. He opened his mouth.  “Crucio!


 


Di gasped as Lily braced, her heart thumping heavily in her chest. Concentrate!


 


Nothing happened. Tara opened her eyes, having clenched them tightly shut.


 


“You worthless coward!” Bellatrix hissed, fuming. “Watch her—I’ll do it!” She shoved him toward Lily, approaching Tara, who had climbed to her feet. 


 


Lily struggled to focus but she had begun to panic…Concentrate….


 


Bellatrix pointed her wand straight at Tara’s heart, her eyes blazing with hatred. “CRUCIO!


 


Tara collapsed back onto the stone floor, writhing and squirming in violent anguish, her face contorted in pain, as her mouth opened, letting out long, silent screams.


 


Lily tried to steady her breathing so that she could focus on the spell, but the sight of Tara jerking around helplessly, the dull sound of her limbs hitting the floor with each twitching jolt, and the immense urgency of the situation crowded her mind, blocking her focus…overwhelming her.


 


Come on! Concentrate!


 


She squeezed her eyes shut and raised her wand. Stupefy! she thought firmly.


 


A jet of red light flew from the tip of her wand straight into Rab. He went rigid and fell in a heap on the floor next to Tara, who, miraculously, stopped writhing. Bellatrix looked down at Rab, distracted. 


 


Lily ducked down to snatch Tara and Di’s wands from Rab’s limp hand. She narrowed her eyes at Di, forcing herself to concentrate again.


 


Bellatrix spun toward Lily, her face flushed with rage, and aimed her wand once more. 


The cords around Di disappeared.


 


Crucio!” screamed Bellatrix. “CRUCIO!


 


The curse hit Lily just as she flung the wands to Di.


 


She was swallowed by a wave of white hot knives digging mercilessly into her body. It consumed her, blacking out all her senses, enveloping her in excruciating pain. She was drowning in it….


 


Make it stop I’m going to die….


 


Unable to feel her own body, she tried to reach out, desperate to grasp an end. 


 


Then…it stopped. 


 


The torch on the wall came into view. Lily was lying on top of Rab’s Stunned body. Every inch of her body ached. She didn’t dare move.


 


“Di?” she whispered.


 


“Right here, Lil.” Di’s pale face came into focus above Lily’s. “Can you move?”


 


Lily sat up gingerly, wincing at the sparks of pain jabbing at her body. Slowly, she looked around the dark passage.  Bellatrix was lying near Rab, Stunned. Tara was in a heap beside her.


 


Lily’s stomach seemed to deflate with a sickening speed.


 


“Is she—is she all…?” she croaked.


 


“She’s fine…just unconscious,” assured Di.


 


Lily sighed in relief. “What do we do?”


 


“Get help. Quickly,” said Di shortly.


 


She helped Lily up and they levitated Tara’s body. With their wands raised, they directed her into the shadowy corridor and started toward McGonagall’s office. It was the closest place they could think to go.


 


“Do you think there’s really going to be an attack in Hogsmeade?” Lily asked breathlessly. She didn’t want to think about it. An image of James and the Marauders wandering straight into blinding web of curses flashed through her head.


 


“I don’t know, Lily. We just have to tell McGonagall everything right away,” said Di. Her voice was hard and rather distant. “I wouldn’t doubt that they work for Voldemort. They used an Unforgivable.”


 


Lily nodded, her throat going dry. She looked back up the corridor, around Tara’s hovering body, and jumped. A dark, hooded figure was approaching in steady strides. The figure pulled out a wand.


 


Silencio! Silencio!


 


The Silencing Charm once again disabled Lily’s voice and upon a brief side glance, who suddenly looked stricken, she saw that Di could no longer speak either. Her mind raced in alarm but she had no time to figure out who was in the shadows ahead.  With another flick of his wand, he had brought Tara to the ground.


 


Lily and Di both darted forward, rushing to their friend’s side. But before they could reach her, Lily’s foot caught on something and she flew headfirst into the floor. Di landed beside her.


 


Lily lifted her head as the figure bent over Tara and rapped her on the head with his wand. Starting with her head, Tara’s body gradually turned transparent, so that Lily could only vaguely see the outline of her limp body.


 


Suddenly, the sound of hobbling footsteps came from behind Lily. 


 


“AHA! Students out of bed!”


 


Lily craned her neck to see Filch hurrying toward them, croaking and looking gleeful with Mrs. Norris at his heels. She scrambled to her feet. Panic flooded through her…She could not tell what was going on. Lily glanced at Di to see that her eyes were still glued on the person standing calmly over Tara’s body.


 


Lily followed Di’s mesmerized gaze and saw that the light of Filch’s lantern had illuminated the face below the hood. They saw a heavy, familiar brow and menacing black eyes.


 


“What do you varmints think you’re doing?!” Filch screeched. “I’ll have you strung up in the dungeons for this! Mark my word—”


 


He was cut off when a stream of red light hit him in the chest. He tumbled to the ground, the lantern sliding from his grip and smashing as it collided with the floor, just missing Mrs. Norris.


 


Lily and Di turned back toward Pritchard, pulling out their wands. His wand was already aimed, his shadowy face set, and his mouth open.


 


“Imperius!”


 


All of a sudden, there was nothing to worry about. Lily stopped thinking, stopped caring about anything. The emptiness in her mind was so peaceful, so relaxing….


 


Just follow him…


 


Lily couldn’t think of a reason not to obey that little voice echoing inside her head, so she began to walk, beside Di, following the black-robed man ahead.


 


 


 


 






A/N: Ugh. I hate that chapter.  Glad to get that over with.

Please note that there's another sortakinda big change in this chapter.  The black-robed man used to be Chad Nott disguised as Severus Snape but I took that whole part out.  I dunno...I wanted to include Snape in the ending, but after Deathly Hallows, I just couldn't have him doing an Unforgivable on Lily.  That's just ridiculous.

So Pritchard is back.   Please review!  Be easy, I'm aware of how much this chapter sucks.

 

Chapter 29: Fatal Fury
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: January 28, 2006
Suggested music: “Given to Fly” by Pearl Jam

Chapter Twenty-Nine
Fatal Fury


The grassy slopes of the Hogwarts grounds were glowing silver in the eerie light of the moon, which hung low over the forest. The shadows were deep and thick, ready to swallow any passing creature. The night was still and warm and silent, apart from a low, melancholy howl that echoed in the distance.

Three figures walked across the grounds, descending the sloping hill and casting thin shadows over the bank in long arches. The leader treaded carefully but swiftly, occasionally glancing back at his the two who trailed, walking easily side by side, as though they had not a care in the world. The moonlight fell upon the leader’s face, striking below his hood and sucking out all of its color.

The two girls behind him did not speak. All they did was follow the dark man’s every step.


Follow him.

The command reverberated loudly in Lily’s ears, generating from inside her head. It had become a repetitive echo and, as she got used to it, a strange idea occurred to her: She would perhaps like to know where she was going.

It doesn’t matter.

All right, then.

The wonderful sense of ease settled into her once again.


They marched down the lane, moving faster as they approached the gates. Silently, Pritchard opened them and stepped through. The others followed and waited while he closed it behind them. When he started heading down the road, they promptly began following him again, a step behind.

Ahead was a cluster of shops. The street lanterns arcing in front of them were rendered unnecessary in the heavy moonlight that flooded the village. In sharp contrast to the school grounds, the street was alive with people wrapped in black cloaks, darting in and out of the shops like shadows. Every few seconds, a brief flash of light lit up a shop window, as though colorful lightning storms were raging inside. The air rang with muffled screams and crashes.

Suddenly, a window burst from the inside as Pritchard and the girls passed by. Lily was only partly aware of the commotion and was even less fazed by it. She kept her eyes focused on the back of Pritchard’s head and concentrated on moving her feet in his direction.

One of the black-robed figures was rushing toward them, dodging two dueling men.

“Clive! What took you so lo—what are they doing here?!”

“They got in the way,” was Pritchard’s curt reply.

“What are you going to do with them? How’d you get them to follow you?” He paused, and then, as though he was trying vainly to contain his awe, asked, “Did you do the Imperius Curse?

“Yes.” Pritchard folded his arms and looked back at the two girls in a bored way.

Lily slowly began to notice these little details of the pair’s behavior. Now that she thought about it, there was also a large knot growing in her stomach, and she had a feeling, steadily growing in strength, that she was in danger.

The man—Lily saw he had a hood over his face—stepped closer to Pritchard. “So…you want to have some fun with the little blood traitors?” He jerked his head toward Lily and Di.

“Fun?”

“Yeah. We can put one of these shops to use now that the owners are gone…” He snickered.

The knot tightened sharply in Lily’s stomach.

“Come on.” The hooded man took hold of Di’s arm and began to steer her toward the shop with the smashed window.

Follow him…. The commanding voice sounded slightly weaker. Again, Lily obeyed but only because she had a flickering suspicion that Di would be in trouble if she went into the shop alone with that man.

They stepped into the shop. It was a wreck; shelves had been tipped over and their contents had spilled all across the floor, smashed and broken. In the corner, a woman crouched over a man lying among the ruins. He was not moving.

Suddenly a very clear thought pierced the haziness of Lily’s brain.

This man has been killed.

A gust of bitter cold swept through her. Her heart seemed to be fighting to get out of her chest.

The woman looked up when the man who was gripping Di crushed a piece of glass with his foot. Her face glowed white, like the full moon, in the darkness. Her mouth was open but she seemed incapable of any sound.

The man sniggered leeringly at her. “Something wrong with your husband, honey?” he asked in a mock sweet tone.

A low, chilling moan emitted from the woman’s gaping mouth.

“Oh, you’re going to make this too easy, aren’t you?” drawled Pritchard. He seemed partially annoyed and partly delighted.

“Let me do it,” said the man. He stepped forward and raised his wand.

He’s going to hurt her!

As realization filled her, Lily snatched her wand from her pocket and pointed it at the hooded man. “STUPEFY!”

The streak of fiery light struck him in the center of his back. He fell back into Pritchard, who stumbled. Instantly, Lily’s surroundings and the situation became starkly clear. Beside her, Di gasped, and Lily knew the curse had been lifted from her as well.

She jerked her wand to point it at Pritchard, who had turned away from the woman, but there was a jet of light flying from the tip of his wand, coming straight toward her. Lily ducked swiftly, crying for help from Di.

Impedimenta!” shrieked Di.

Her curse just barely hit Pritchard in the shoulder. It sent him spinning toward the ground. He landed on his stomach.

“Please! Go get help!” Lily screamed at the woman, who was watching blankly. “HURRY—”

Lily’s feet left the ground and she was thrown through the remains of the window, shards of glass ripping her clothes, before she could register what was happening. She collided, headfirst, into the cobblestones of the street. Inky blackness clouded over her vision as a sharp, dizzying pain sliced the back of her skull. It seemed to be spreading into her brain, wiping away thought. The screams and crashes and running footsteps around her faded away. She was about to let go, disappear into the darkness, when a scream rang through her head.

“LILY?!”

James? Dazedly, Lily recognized the panicked voice. A surge of emotions ruptured inside of her but her brain would only allow one thought pass at a time.

I have to move so he does not think I’m dead.

She tried to lift her head but the pain seared in protest. Helplessly, she raised her arm. Only her hand moved. It lifted off the ground and fell into a warm palm.

“James,” croaked Lily, and she gripped his hand with all her strength.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God…what the hell are you doing here, Lily?” James muttered, more to himself. Lily could feel fear, alarm, rage, and a quiet note of pride in the tone of his voice.

The black cloud seemed to disperse a little. She could see a greenish light glowing above her. She let her head loll to the side. James came into view. He was on his knees at her side, his thumb gently pressed against her wrist and his other hand against her cheek.

“Is she okay, James?!”

Lily looked for the voice and saw Sirius dueling with a short, hooded man beyond James.

“She will be,” called James, glancing around at Sirius as he dodged a red bullet of light.

He immediately shot another back at his opponent, who fell to the ground.

“Stupid ass. I think that sod was a student,” he said, turning toward them with an air of resolve. “They’re all over the place.”

There was an enormous smashing noise from inside the shop that Lily had just been thrown out of. Lily shot up. Blood throbbed so painfully in her head that she swayed and almost dropped back to the ground.

“Bloody hell, Evans! Take it easy!” yelled Sirius in surprise, as James caught her.

“Don’t move, Lily,” he said tensely.

“Di’s in there!” cried Lily, the recollection giving her strength to think.

She pointed at the shop and Sirius dashed inside without another word.

Lily struggled to get to her feet so that she could follow. It must have been at least five—maybe ten—minutes since she had been flown through window…five or ten minutes during which anything could have happened to Di.

James wrapped an arm around her waist, sending a curse to an approaching Death Eater behind her back as he did so. Lily craned her neck to look around. The Death Eater flew back, hit another, and they collapsed in a heap on the ground.

She saw that the street was filled with them, stepping over bodies that lay motionless amidst the confusion. Curses soared back and forth and most of the other shop windows had been shattered. Above, glittering ominously in the night sky, was the Dark Mark, shining down upon the dark hoods of the attackers and the horrified faces of the villagers.

James supported Lily as they scrambled to the door of the shop. Lily grasped onto him, feeling, above everything, relieved that he was with her, alive.

“Oh, shit!” exclaimed James, startled.

Lily peered anxiously inside and the sight that met her eyes shot waves of shock whipping through her body.

The woman was hunched against the far wall and her dead husband, probably the owner of the destroyed little shop, was cradled in her arms. She was watching the scene with wide, vacant eyes. Sirius stood a few feet away, just next to where the hooded man lay Stunned. He was frantically shouting Di’s name. But she didn’t seem to hear him.

Diana was standing in the middle of the shop, waving her wand around wildly. It was aimed at Pritchard and each time she jerked it, he was thrown in the same direction, slamming into the stone walls or the fallen shelves on the floor. It was as though there was an invisible rope connecting him with the tip of Di’s wand.

The green light of the Dark Mark illuminated Di’s face and Lily had never seen a look of such intensely powerful anger. It seemed to possess Diana…contain her within a crazed trance, reminding Lily of Bellatrix Black. There was nothing of the girl Lily knew in that face.

Sirius yelled and yelled but Diana’s flaming eyes never left the man, who crashed limply around the room, entirely at her mercy. The heavy way with which he flopped as he rammed into the counter made strangling snakes of fear entwine around Lily’s heart. It seemed to squeeze the air from inside her lungs.

Sirius glanced back at her, gasping for breath, before turning and rushing at Di. He grabbed her arm and wrenched the wand out of her hand. The man slid off the counter and onto the floor.

Di jumped away from Sirius and crumpled to the floor, screaming a mangled, blood-curdling scream.

Lily made to run toward her but she only fell from James’s grasp to the glass-strewn floor. She tried feverishly to crawl across the wreckage on her hands and knees but she was lifted off the ground before she could make any progress.

James stepped over the body of the hooded man and carried her across the room to where Di was coiled up in a ball on the floor, shuddering and screaming. Lily reached out and took hold of her heaving shoulders. Though she was terrified of what she might see in them, she looked into Di’s eyes. The cold fury had vanished, replaced by desperate, haunted fear.

Di’s screaming subsided and she gripped Lily fiercely, sobbing into her shoulder. Lily held her tightly and watched Sirius pick his way across the wreckage to where the hooded man lay.

“Anyone we know?” asked James, his voice hoarse and faint.

Carefully, Sirius pulled the black hood to reveal his face.

The floor seemed to drop from underneath her as Lily stared across the room into the eyes of Clive Pritchard, dark and lifeless.




A/N: I hope you liked it!

Chapter 30: A Nightmare
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

First Posted: April 25, 2006



Suggested music: “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds



 



Chapter Thirty



A Nightmare



 



Di pressed her face harder into Lily’s shoulder, as though trying to burrow into it and hide away there. Lily was numb to the tears bleeding through her shirt and soaking her skin. Her head was whirling, and she felt as though a knife had dug into the back of her skull. She was afraid to move…to breathe. 



 



Sirius had quickly covered Clive’s face with the hood but Lily still saw his eyes as plainly as if they were directly in front of her face. She clenched her eyelids shut but the image only became clearer. The dark eyes were staring straight at her, but they were not seeing. Hastily, her heart trampling heavily across her insides, she opened them again.



 



Clive’s body was still there. She gazed at it, wishing it would move.



 



Sirius stood up. He was looking past Lily at James. Perhaps it was fortunate that Lily was not looking at him and could not see the utterly lost expression they shared. It would have made her vomit and she already felt too weak to support Diana. It was better that she did not know everyone around her was weighed down with the same feeling, that Sirius and James were nowhere near to having the control they appeared to have. For the moment, Lily needed to believe the pretense or they all would have broken down.



 



The room remained silent, though Lily was partly deafened by the thudding of her heart. Then Sirius shook his hands through his hair, as if James had somehow voiced words of reassurance through the long look they had exchanged over Lily and Di’s heads, giving him the strength to move.



 



“Okay,” said Sirius with purpose. “We really need to—” he drifted off, slowly realizing that he could not answer the big, resounding question that they could not avoid: What now?



 



“—see what’s going on outside,” finished James.



 



“Yeah,” breathed Sirius. “Yeah.”



 



At least someone had an answer, or was pretending to. Sirius went to the door and took a step outside.



 



Lily tore her eyes away from Clive at last, and waited for Sirius to report what he saw.



 



He reappeared and stood, framed in the doorway. “The Ministry is coming to help!” he said with false energy.



 



No one questioned him. They knew that that was the best news he could give, whether it was true or not.



 



“Should we stay here?” breathed Lily, trying to steady her voice.



 



James stepped around Lily and moved toward Sirius. The lost, alone feeling in Lily grew stronger, emptying her out. She suddenly felt shaky under Di’s weight and she knew it would not be long before she collapsed beneath her. James’s physical closeness to her since he had found her in the street had given her strength and courage and, even as she watched him take a few short steps away, she felt some of that leave her. Her head spun harder and faster.



 



“No…” whispered James. Then, as if agreeing with himself, he shook his head and raised his voice. “No. Let’s go.”



 



“How?” asked Sirius.



 



James stared at him. “I can’t—we can’t stay here.”



 



“Where do you think we’re gonna go?” returned Sirius, his voice breaking. “Out there?  Are we just going to leave this woman by herself? Lily can barely move and Di…” he trailed away, glancing out the smashed window. Then he turned back to James with wide eyes. “How far do you think we’re going to get with all those Death Eaters out there?”



 



“I know…but I just can’t…I can’t take this,” said James softly, stepping closer to the door. 



 



Lily looked from James to Sirius, hardly breathing. Sirius met her gaze. She saw her fear reflected in his eyes: James did not sound right. There was none of the uncertainty that overwhelmed Lily and Sirius’s brains in his voice and they both feared that it was because he had shut down his. They knew that, while they were ruled by rationale and reason, James could surrender all thought to his body and whatever he was feeling. And they knew that he would run with it.



 



Silently, Lily pleaded with Sirius not to let him.



 



A little of the fear in Sirius’s eyes melted, replaced by ferocity.



 



“Come off it, mate. You can’t be serious,” he said. 



 



But James only seemed to grow more restless. He pulled the hood of his cloak over his head. “I have to. They’re killing people. I have to help them.” 



 



Sirius snatched James’s arm. “Shit, James. You can’t do this. You can’t go out there alone. What about Lily and Di?”



 



Lily found her voice. “No, I’m fine.” If James was going out there—and she saw there was going to be no stopping him—she was going with him.



 



Gripping onto Di, she slowly stood up. For a moment, her vision clouded over again and she struggled to remain on her feet. But she steadied herself and the dizziness passed. Her head felt heavy and her legs felt like water but she was standing. 



 



Di lifted her head from her shoulder and took a step back, squeezing both her hands over her face. 



 



Lily looked at James. He was staring at her with an inscrutable look on his face. He was about to speak when Sirius gasped. 



 



“Look,” he said. He was gazing through the window at the chaos outside, his face glowing green.            



 



Lily and James turned. Out on the streets, sharp cracks snapped through the air as witches and wizards appeared in whirls of purple among the hooded figures.



 



“The Ministry,” said James. “About time.”



 



“I’d say,” sighed Sirius. “See, James? The only people who need you are right in here.”



 



James’s shoulders fell as he stared through the broken window.



 



“Sirius, what are we going to do? About Di? Will she have to go to—?” Lily’s voice caught in her throat. She cast a glance back at Di but she was still standing in the same spot, her hands covering her face. She did not move or make a noise.



 



“I dunno, Ev. This is bad, though,” remarked Sirius, shaking his head. He lowered his voice so that Di would not hear, despite the fact that she probably wouldn’t notice if she could. “Even if Pritchard was a Death Eater, it’s still a crime to kill him. We don’t even know if Di will be fit to testify. Prongs, you know how they do things in the Ministry. What’s going to happen?”



 



But James, like Di, did not seem to be listening. He was still gazing out the window.



 



“Prongs?”



 



Lily took a step toward him. He had gone completely still. She saw that his eyes, reflecting flecks of the green light, were narrowed in intense focus.



 



“What is it?” asked Lily him softly.



 



James did not answer. Lily’s pulse grew faster and faster the longer he remained still. His eyes were following someone outside, his chest heaving up and down. 



 



Lily threw a panicked look at Sirius but saw that he too had gone rigid. He had traced James’s gaze and his mouth hung open. “Nooo…” he muttered, as though he could not believe what he was seeing.



 



Lily stared through the square frame out onto the street. All she could see was a mess of spells flying back and forth between the purple-clad Ministry officials and the shadowy Death Eaters. James and Sirius were seeing something she could not and the high tension that the sight had brought into the shop was radiated from both of them.



 



Lily’s chest was heaving now too. Finally, she could not take it anymore. 



 



“What is it?!” she shrieked.



 



Both boys ignored her. Another moment passed, during which their hearts banged away, louder than the screams and commotion outside. The next thing Lily knew, Sirius was lunging at James. But it was too late. James had leapt through the window. He disappeared into the crowd on the other side.



 



“JAAAAAMESAAH—” 



 



The pain in her head seemed to numb itself as Lily flew to the window, her arm outstretched. She had tried to cry out to James but his name was indistinguishable from the terrified rush of sounds that came out of her mouth. Her brain sped up until her thoughts were short explosions of realization, blowing her away one after another, as they hit. Death Eaters—James alone—out there! James was gone!   JAMES!



 



Lily bounded through the window. She ran, faster than her legs were built to go, in the direction of James.



 



BAM! Her chin hit the stone street. Night settled into the wreckage of her brain and all she knew was darkness and a ringing in her ears. For the second time that night, she was drifting, the renewed pain spinning her head around and around was fading…Everything was fading.



 



NO TIME! James was out here! There was no time to black out.



 



Lying on her stomach on the cobblestones, Lily blinked several times and gave her head a shake. Feet were dodging her, the hems of purple and black cloaks whirled over her. She twisted around and saw that the thing she had tripped on was a dead body, sprawled in a pool of green light.



 



“LILY!”



 



She was lifted off the ground. Lily blinked harder and forced herself to focus on the face. Sirius.



 



He would help her find James.



 



“Lily. God, Lily. Don’t DO that!” he yelled.



 



“James. Where’s James? Where’s he going?” was all that tumbled from Lily’s mouth. It was the only thing that made sense inside the pounding of her head.



 



“Lily, it’s his dad. He saw his dad,” said Sirius. “We’ve got to find him before he does something stupid—Watch it!” He yanked her back to the ground just as a flash of green passed overhead. “Come on. This way.”



 



They crept to their feet. Then they were running again. Lily didn’t know how she was moving so fast. All she knew was Sirius’s arm around her and her all-consuming need to follow him. He had them in a Shielding Charm as they rushed around dozens of duels, over more bodies, through piles of ruins, and back up the lane that led to the castle.



 



When Lily and Sirius emerged from the final group of duelers, they saw two figures running up the lane ahead. Immediately, they recognized the one closest to them. The moonlight lit the long lanky legs skimming the dirt road and the rippling of the wild black hair—



 



“DAD! Wait up! Dad, come back!” he was screaming. His voice was high. It sounded gleeful yet desperately afraid at the same time.            



 



A little ahead of James was a tall figure dressed in black hooded robes. He was running very strangely, as though he could not quite make up his mind about whether to stop or keep going. He kept making himself stumble and the wand in his hand was acting like it wanted to steer him backwards, toward James. His arm was stretched behind him in an awkward position. Lily thought his whole arm might snap off if he didn’t turn around to face the direction that the wand was pointed.



 



“James!” bellowed Sirius. He pulled Lily along to try and catch up with him.



 



James glanced back for a second.



 



“It’s my dad!” he called eagerly, still sprinting up the lane. 



 



Suddenly, the black-hooded man up ahead fell flat on his face in the dirt.



 



Dad!” yelped James. He bounded to the man’s side. “Dad? Are you all right?”



 



The man lay on his stomach. As Lily and Sirius got closer, they saw that his whole body was shaking. His wand arm twitched sharply, trying to contain the violent vibrations of the wand. 



 



Get…away!” he gasped.  The words seemed to take every ounce of determination he had. He panted heavily and his face was red and jeweled with sweat.



 



Lily’s heart broke as she watched all the excitement seep out of James’s face. She put her hands on his shoulders. 



 



James touched his father’s arm.  “What? Dad…what are you talking about?” His voice cracked.



 



“Prongs, he’s not right,” said Sirius warily. “We should get him up to the castle. Dumbledore will know what to do.”



 



James’s father’s face scrunched up into a tense grimace, as though in great pain. His eyes bulged and rolled inside his head and then, without warning, he roared and the twitching arm flung out at James, knocking him in the face. James cried out in surprise and fell to the side. Lily dropped to her knees next to James. He sat up and stared at his father, his eyes wide.



 



The man had jumped to his feet as though he had just received a shot of agility from the contact with his son. His wand arm stopped shaking.   He looked like he was finally in control of it. 



 



“Dad! What—what is going on?!” cried James.



 



Lily looked up at the man. The moonlight crept into his hood and lit up his face—a face so much like James’s, only the smile it wore could not have been farther from James’s smile. It was not the smile a father should wear when looking upon his son. Lily saw it and knew that they were not safe with this man.  



 



Something was not right….



 



“What do you think is going on, James?” asked the man. His speech was suddenly clear and smooth. “Eh? We’re simply having a father-son reunion.”



 



“Prongs, let’s go get Dumbledore,” Sirius cut in loudly. He quickly took hold of James’s arm and tugged him off the ground. 



 



“Where have you been all this time?” asked James breathlessly. He ignored Sirius, transfixed by his father.



 



“Oh, you know…been doing some traveling. I’ve learned a lot, in fact, during these past few weeks,” said the man evenly. He slid his fingers up and down his wand as he spoke. “Now I’ve come to show you what I’ve learned.”



 



“Come on, let’s go get Dumbledore!” said Sirius again, much more firmly. He grabbed both Lily and James and began to pull them up the lane. Lily held onto James’s other arm and helped Sirius hurry him along. 



 



“Where are you going?” called the man. He sounded smug, amused. “Come back, James. Aren’t you happy to see your old man?”



 



“Keep walking, James. Keep walking,” murmured Lily. Her head was pounding in her ears, the sharp pain becoming strong again.



 



“Of course, Dad. We’re just going to get Dumbledore, okay?” said James gently. “He can help us.”



 



He gazed back at his father. Lily glanced back, feeling as though she could not hold James tightly enough. The wind flew out of her when she saw that the man following them in long, purposeful strides. His wand was raised.



 



Dumbledore?” he spat. Your father is here, you don’t need that crackpot’s help!” Every trace of amusement had vanished from his voice. “Come back here, James! Now!



 



“Hurry!” gasped Lily.



 



“Shut up, you stupid girl!” roared the man, quickening his pace. “Stay away from my son!”



 



He dashed forward, an orange jet of light spraying from his wand. His spell collided with Lily’s back. She was blasted off her feet and flew, flipping in the air, several feet away where she landed on her back.



 



“NOOO!” screamed James. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”



 



Impedimenta!” bellowed Sirius, who had ripped out his wand. 



 



The man swiftly reflected the jinx. It shot back and hit Sirius square in the chest, knocking him to the ground.



 



“I’m showing you what I have learned, son,” replied the man darkly.   



 



I am not your son!” James shouted.



 



The man smiled that chilling smile at the boy in front of him. Then he raised his wand again and aimed it at Lily. “Crucio!



 



The last thing Lily saw was James charging at his father. Then searing hot knives sliced every inch of her body for the second time that night. She forgot where she was, forgot why she was there, forgot who she was…she no longer had the strength to care. All she cared about was ending the pain…anything, just make it stop



 



Finally, it stopped. Lily lay in the dusty lane, in shock and deep, deep pain. The dark cloud over her vision dispersed and the moon, a perfect circle, glistened in the sky above her. Then she remembered where she was.



 



She was outside of Hogsmeade with Sirius, James, and James’s father. James&rsqu