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disclaimer: jkr made the characters and settings and everything else that is not mine Coming back to school after the break was always a dreaded task. For James, however, the holidays couldn’t have ended soon enough. He was anxious to get back to Lily, and had begged his parents so often to take him and Sirius (since Sirius had been living with the Potter’s for nearly a year now) back that they had arrived early Sunday afternoon, the day before term started. Sirius was lounging on the small sofa in the Head’s common room while James was busy putting his belongings away. It was just before dinner when Lily arrived. A shocked look covered her face when she saw Sirius, but it immediately changed when she realized that James must also be back for Sirius to be in there. Sirius bowed his head in salutation, then pointed towards James’ room with a smile. Lily grinned back at him, then made her way quietly to see James. His back was to her, putting his belongings away in his trunk. Tip-toeing up behind him, Lily sprang forward and wrapped her arms around him. Jumping slightly, James hollered, “oi! Padfoot, have you gone– Lily!” He craned his neck and saw, to his great pleasure, that the intruder was not Sirius. Kissing her in excitement, he pulled her closer to him in a tight hug. “How were your holidays?” “Mmm, they were good, but they would have been better if you were there.” Lily stretched upwards and kissed him. “And I love the bracelet,” she said, shaking her sleeve out of the way to reveal the small gold chain upon her wrist that James had sent. “Did you like your present?” “Loved it,” he smiled, kissing her nose and gesturing towards his night stand. On it lay the newest edition of Quidditch Through the Ages and a picture frame. The picture was of James and Lily, the latter leaning forward every so often to kiss the former. “I tried to enlarge it so that I could put it above my bed, but so far it hasn’t really work.” Lily smiled. “Well, you could continue with that if you like, or you could just settle for the real thing.” James scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Hmmm, a picture of Lily Evans and I snogging in my bed, or snogging the real Lily Evans in my ever will I choose?” Giggling, Lily responded. “That’s not exactly what I was getting at, but--” “Sorry to interrupt the reunion of the lovebirds,” Sirius called from the doorway, “but it is dinner time.” * * * The next morning (after James had snapped Lily’s bottom with a towel and had received a punch in the arm for offering to rub it better) the Head Boy and Girl joined their friends for breakfast. “Good morning, Lily, how was your break?” Remus asked as Lily reached for some toast. “It was fine, thanks. How about yours? Did you catch up on your Herbology?” She asked with a grin. Everyone but Remus looked perplexed by this. “Herbology... right.” When they all got up to go to their respective classes, Professor McGonagall grabbed Lily’s arm and pulled her away from the others. James waited for her at the door. With a pained look on her face, Professor McGonagall told Lily that the Headmaster needed to see her. When Lily questioned what about, McGonagall told her it really wasn’t her place to say. Hurrying to the Entrance Hall, Lily took hold of James’ arm. “Listen, I’m supposed to go see Professor Dumbledore. Can you save me a seat?” “Of course,” James responded, kissing her on the cheek before heading to the dungeons for Potions. * * * When James took a seat in Charms over an hour later, he expressed his concern to Sirius that Lily still hadn’t returned from Professor Dumbledore’s office. Quickly heading to the front of the class, he bent down to speak with tiny Professor Flitwick. “Excuse me, Professor, would I be able to go see Professor Dumbledore?” “Why, whatever for, my dear boy?” Flitwick squeaked. “Um, well, Lily went up to see him after breakfast and she still hasn’t returned. I just want to--” “Oh, my,” the tiny professor cut in, his eyes suddenly melancholic. “I– yes, dear boy, I– I think that would be for the best.” James gathered his things, threw a worried glance at the Marauders and sprinted up to Professor Dumbledore’s office. Only when he reached the stone gargoyles did he remember that he did not have the password. “Licorice Wands– Pepper Imps– Sugar Quills– Chocolate Frogs– ” The gargoyles suddenly sprung to life, revealing the staircase up to Dumbledore’s office. When he got to the top, the door opened before him and he entered to find Dumbledore sitting behind his desk, quite alone. “Ah, Mr. Potter, to what do I owe the pleasure?” “I, sorry, Professor, I was just worried when Lily didn’t return to class and--” “Oh oh oh oh,” Dumbledore leaned forward on his desk. “No, Mr. Potter, I don’t suppose she did. May I suggest that you take a seat?” He gestured towards an empty armchair in front of his desk. James heart plummeted. “I think I’ll stand, thanks.” “Very well. The reason, I am sure, that Miss Evans has not returned to her classes is this: both of her parents were discovered dead this morning. And the saddest part about this is not merely the fact that two innocent souls have been taken from their loved ones, but the reason behind why they were killed. Mr. Potter, am I correct in assuming that you know of the evil wizard who proclaimed himself Lord Voldemort?” James nodded numbly, feeling as though his own parents had just been taken from him. “Then you will know,” Dumbledore continued, “of his hate for muggles?” Again, James nodded. “And being that Miss Evans is muggle-born, can I assume that you can add two and two together and realize the reason behind this senseless attack?” Suddenly feeling as though ice water had filled his entire body, James looked up at his Headmaster. “They were after Lily.” Dumbledore peered through his half-moon spectacles at the young man in front of him and nodded grimly. “Lord Voldemort’s followers have been raiding and killing many wizards with muggle-parentage, and I do correctly assume that they were after Miss Evans when they attacked her parents. Be this as it may, however, more imminent at this point in time than her safety– as I assure you, Mr. Potter, that she is perfectly safe here (for James had just opened his mouth to interrupt at this)– is her emotional well-being. As I assume you can imagine, Miss Evans is going through something very difficult and will be needing the care and support of those friends closest to her.” James nodded and then looked to the door. “Sorry, Professor, but I need to--” “Go, yes,” Dumbledore bowed his head towards the door. “And don’t worry about your classes today, Mr. Potter, I think this is something rather more important than school work.” “Thanks, Professor.” With that, James quickly jogged to the Head’s common room to search for Lily. * * * When James at last stood in front of her closed door, he could hear nothing but the occasional snuffle from inside. Swallowing hard, he gently pushed the door open, and his heart broke at the sight he saw there. Lily lay huddled on her bed, a pillow clutched tightly to her chest. Her red, puffy eyes stared vacantly across the room, and she was shaking ever so slightly. It didn’t even appear as though she had seen him enter. The first sign she showed in response to his arrival was to sit up and look at him when he sat at the foot of her bed. When their eyes locked, Lily burst into fresh sobs. Instinctively, James pulled her closer to him in a warm embrace. Though she continued to cling to him as she had her pillow, she turned her tear-soaked face up to his. “M– my– my parents! He– he– he–!” “Shh, shh, I know, love,” James pulled her head back to his chest, wishing hard that he could right this terrible wrong. With each beat of his heart, he willed her to hear it screaming that he would do anything to make her feel better. Lily continued to cry inconsolably, letting James securely hold her lower back with one hand while stroking her hair with his other. After a few moments, the crying stopped and she looked up at James with wide eyes. Tears still shining on her cheeks and sniffling occasionally, she asked, “James, do you love me?” Looking questioningly down at her, he responded. “You know I do, very much.” “Then show me,” she said, laying back on the bed and pulling him with her. “I need to feel it, James, please. Please show me, make, make love to me.” “Lily.” James leaned forward with a pained expression on his face. True, he had wanted this for as long as he could remember, but not like this. He had never seen her look so vulnerable before, and he could tell by the scared look in her eyes that she wasn’t thinking straight. “No, Lily, not now.” Lily’s lower lip trembled and her eyes filled with tears yet again before she threw her hands up to hide her face. Feeling terrible for giving her another reason to cry, James moved beside her on the bed and put his arms around her, pulling her back to the warmth of his chest. “Lily, I love you, so much. Let me just be here with you. I know that nothing I do can make this better, but I want to try.” Though Lily continued to cry into his shirt, she felt thoroughly thankful that she still had him. A/N: i know that lily is a bit out of character here, but she just told him she loved him and then didn't see him for two weeks so i figured she would be excited to see him! haha. as always, thanks for the r&r, and i will hurry up with writing the rest!

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