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Chapter six: The Whomping Willow (A/N: The end of this chapter is a bit graphic, a word to the wise, this chapter's ending is not a pleasant one, and in this chapter and the next one will be a sensitive subject and those who are not good with graphic plots might not want to read this. Just a warning. But conintue...) James was sprinting through the bullets of rain, his hair plastered down to his forehead, and his clothes clinging to him with rain. Running…running…faster and faster…. James turned his head around, looking to see if they were still following him. A blur that took the form of Remus was running after him, with a smaller blur that James could only recognize with a laugh to be Lily. Images were flashing in his eyes, Lily with Remus…. that’s all he could see…. that and his hands grasped tightly around Remus’s neck. The shrieking shack stood precariously on the hill, looking as though about to collapse with the rain attacking it down. The small pellets blurred the distance ahead of him, making the world a vague and fearfully dark place. The floors creaked dangerously as he darted through the house. The wood was rotting, and it smelled from the spell of rain that drenched it’s now tough timbers. James was gallivanting about the house, it’s closed windows and dark weather covering the house in a blanket of darkness as he searched aimlessly for the passage way. ************** Lily was running hard, her little heart pounding hard to keep up, Remus was now entering the shrieking shack and as she approached the doorway, some 20 feet behind him she hesitated. This is ridiculous! Just go in! But even Lily had heard the stories that whispered from ear to ear around the school, and she too like the other students had heard the terrible moans that had belched out from the it’s murky depths. With every second she wasted standing she knew that she was losing ground. If she waited to long the both of them would have gone and be too far ahead to catch up with. So in her brave attempt to conquer her fear she burst through the screeching old door with her breath held. She felt the stiff air hit her like a wall, the rain, which only now dripped lightly through the roofs was such a sudden change from the sheets of rain she took a moment to stop. The metallic hum of rain suffocated her ears, the hard deluge beating down terribly on the tiny house. The house smelled of old nails and rotting wood, and the floors moaned wearily with each step she took. The house swayed, from side to side, completely unstable. Lily jumped and not letting another second dissipate she hurried off, her ears straining to find some useful sound in the dark that she could follow. That’s when she heard it, the loud triumphant cry of a boy in search for an escape, James. Following the sound she found the steps to the basement, but this time she didn’t stop and ponder, she had no time for that, she just had to find him. The drape of darkness folded down on top her, the suffocating black pressing it’s body against her eyeballs, trying to hold her back. Lily persisted, prodding the dark with her fingers, searching for something, anything. When her fingers hit the wooden doorway she broke through with immense force that she couldn’t stop running as she burst through. It was a long pathway that folded out in front of her; she couldn’t see it, but the damp smell of stone and the faraway dripping of water told her in so many other ways. Still running she could see the outline of Remus galloping with the tiny light of his lit wand, seeming only the size of a firefly’s light. It was James she couldn’t see…. James was too, too far ahead, but she wouldn’t give up, she couldn’t give up, but she didn’t know why. *********** The damp air was choking his lungs, he needed hard cold air, he needed open plans to run through, and he needed the fresh light of moon to satisfy his hunger. James smiled inwardly as he remembered the strength and thirst he craved of becoming a hart. He turned his head around again marking the position of the two. Lily was completely out of sight, but Remus was catching up fast, really fast. Unable to think of anything else, in mid run he decided what to do. In seconds, shiny fur appeared through his soft skin, he clothes began to disappear, his feet were being replaced by hard hooves that clicked the earth with wondrous force, a long snot protruded from his face and tall antlers sprang up gracefully from his head, he was a full stag. Remus’s ear perked up as he heard too the clacking of hooves and cursed loudly, “Damn it Prongs!” James laughed slightly to himself; he was gaining enormous speed. *************** Lily heard the loud cry of Remus, yelling something about damning a person named Prongs, though who he was, she didn’t know. That’s when she could hear it too. The soft pads of running feet shifted and became hard clicks against cold rock that licked and clean swept the ground in fast gallops. It seemed like hours of running. Panting and sweating profusely she ran, a painful stitch in her side that had been tormenting her for the past hour. She didn’t know how much more of this she could take. A glitter of light caught Lily’s eye in the distance. It was gleaming and bright, nothing more than a spec of light in the humid, damp darkness. It was the end to the tunnel. “Salvation!” she cried, throwing up her hands and laughing, maybe she could finally corner them at the castle. Now she could make out the two figures of James and Remus running in the distance, wait, no…. What James form was supposed to be looked quite different from what it should have been. James looked as though he were on all fours, like an animal, running at an incredible speed for sprinting with his hands and knees. But James couldn’t…. he just couldn’t… ************ James’s head had been turned around as he heard the word “salvation” escape the lips of Lily Evans. It was then that he too turned his head around to see what she was yelling over. The exit was only five feet in front of him, he was so close to getting out and he too gave a whoop of surprise, only coming out as the snort of a stag. Cold air and rain filled his nostrils; he could smell the fresh air he’d been dying to quench. James zoomed off, not in the direction of the castle, but the dark forest, for he knew it was the only place he could escape them. The rain poured buckets down at him as he entered the forest, and he stopped as the forest protected him under it surroundings. Through the leaves he saw Remus climbing out of the hole from the whomping willow, running in the completely wrong direction to the castle. Remus disappeared behind its safe doors and James stepped out from his hiding place looking around, making sure the coast was clear. Giving a shudder of cold he looked back at the insane tree that was waving it’s branches about in a panic under the torment of rain, trying to hit each pellet of rain as if swatting away flies. Lily’s head popped out of the entrance, noticing the tree and making an extra effort to be careful not to get hit. She was looking about wildly, trying to find some escape through the wild fury of branches. Lily noticed an empty spot not filled by its lashing forces and darted for it. She dipped and bobbed, skillfully moving under and jumping over thrashing branches. Like a cat she moved stealthily and James couldn’t resist but think how turned on he was by it. Lily was moving quicker, like a burglar climbing and avoiding laser sensors, looking and watching herself when… ******** Lily’s eyes hit a large stag through the haze of rain. Her eyes widened and her breathing stopped. In the eyes of that animal was the vibrant twinkle of green and gold, a sparkle that was so startlingly familiar she just stopped, her heart skipped a beat, and she just stood and stared, and she didn’t know why. ********* But luck was not on her side, the whomping willow took up that opportunity and thrashed it’s long whip-like branch into her, right into the stomach, sending her across the field and landing with a very loud ‘thudd’ against a large tree, severely hitting her head and knocking her out. James yelled out in all his might, wanting to scream her name but all that came out was the cry of a stag. He stood, his eyes fiercely fixed upon her form, in complete shock, and his heart stopped for a moment. When she made no effort to move he sprinted across the green, running towards her as fast as he could go with one thought running in his head that scared him more than anything. , Lily can’t be dead, she just couldn’t be dead, I won’t let it happen…I won’t let it happen… *************** Transforming back to his regular form of human he kneeled down beside Lily, feeling for a pulse. Lily felt immensely cold…her hands were frozen and her face was pale. A large gash must have covered the back of her head, for a gushing amount of blood surged over James’s hands as he took her in his arms. James shuddered feeling Lily’s warm blood spill over his body, searching for a pulse. She can’t be dead…she can’t be dead…she can’t be dead…she can’t be dead… James was rocking himself back and forth thinking hard with tears starting to stream down his face. He screamed out a mournful cry, shaking not out of coldness but out of utter shock, his mind was drifting, he felt insanity filling him up. It felt inevitable, he couldn’t escape it, the world was crashing around him, nothing was real…nothing… So, shaking crazily he took Lily’s body and wrapped his arms around her, crying loudly to himself in the pouring rain. The haze of water and rain distorted the world around them, like a dream. The world was blurred by the darkness and rain, a surreal world were nothing was certain. Time and life and death, nothing was real…time was spinning by so fast, nothing was clear, things were falling to pieces, life was a dream. A bad dream, it had to be…why couldn’t it be…the world wasn’t real…nothing was real…he was just shaking and sobbing uncontrollably because of one thing… When James went to feel the pulse of her neck…. There was none. (Pauses*….yeah….reflects on thought* I know…kind of shocking? I mean in the last paragraphs I wanted to make it really obvious that she was dead. ,But at the same time it’s like you don’t want to believe it as your eyes land on that last word. You know? Kind of like James, you see what’s going on, but denial always get you, and you’d never expect a writer to do something like that would you? Don’t worry, it’s NOT THE END OF THE STORY I promise, Lily does come back but in what way you’ll see. I don’t want to give away to much but I do want to stress that Lily is not out of the picture, she plays a HUGE role in the next chapters, and I’m not just talking about James contemplating her, I mean her actually person! So please keep reading. This whole ending actually came as a surprise to me too. I was so in the moment of writing I just got really carried away and then this happened! Lol, don’t worry everything will turn out ok, I do like happy endings, this is not a sad story. Well at least it doesn’t have a sad ending. Anyways, I suppose I don’t know what more to say to you but please review? Eh, you know what I mean, doesn’t matter cause I’m having so much fun with this right now. ) (Ok, now that I’ve just babbled for a long time I’ll leave you with these parting words (as a hint for the next chapter) as quoted from John Lennon, …Reality leaves a lot of the imagination…

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