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24 Hours Shichan Goddess Hour 7: Hour of Understandings “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” ~Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) *Whump!* “Oof!” Hard breathing for a few moments before a pained voice finally managed to articulate his opinion with a weary sigh. “I don’t think that this is working, Evans.” Lily grunted in agreement as she rolled off her position from being sprawled on the floor. Her long, luxurious crimson locks were matted and tangled with dirt and sweat and she pushed them back with an annoyed grumble. “One more time.” James sighed but stood up once more. With their added height, they were able to access the window, but with a certain degree of difficulty. He crouched down and Lily took her place on his shoulders as he held her legs tightly. James suppressed a groan as her feet dug into his already sore and aching shoulder blades once more and lifted her higher still. Lily stretched until she felt as if her arms were going to pop out of her sockets. Her slim fingers brushed the edge of the bars that covered the windows teasingly and she nearly growled in frustration. She was so close…She managed to grasp the bars for the first time with a strong grip and she was about to give a trill of triumph but instead gave a shout of shock and pain. “Evans? What’s—?” The searing pain was unavoidable as it laced up and down every nerve in her body. She wind milled backwards and felt herself toppling dangerously into empty space. She closed her emerald eyes, ready for the impact but instead found herself cushioned from the floor by a slim, lanky body. “Potter?” James spat out the hair that had managed to work itself into his mouth. “What?” He groaned. Her voice was soft, wondering. “Thanks.” “You’re welcome, Evans. But if you don’t mind…” “Oh!” She quickly crawled off of him and sat beside him on her heels as he slowly, painfully, got up. She bit her lip, feeling guilty as she watched him try to hide a grimace of pain. “I’m sorry, Potter.” James waved her off. “Don’t mention it, Evans. I simply thought that your head didn’t need any more knocks on it.” Lily bit her lip again as she assessed his slow movements in sitting up. “Perhaps we should stop for now,” She offered hesitantly. James nodded, blinking so that the blackness faded from his vision. Once he was certain that he could focus, he glanced at her as he propped himself up against the wall. Curious, he questioned, “What happened when you touched the bars?” Lily shivered as she tugged her robe closer around herself. “Oh…it felt as if—it felt like the Cruciatus, only… *lessened* somehow…” James closed his eyes as despair overwhelmed his fatigued form, and he felt the faint hope flying out of his reach. He heard Lily shuffle her way towards him, as she too leaned against the wall for support. He opened his eyes and looked at her. Her eyes were wide and blank as she looked at something that he could not see, deep inside herself. The aftershocks of the Cruciatus left her shaking like a leaf on a cold autumn’s day. They sat in silence for a moment, before she whispered, “Do you know what it’s like?” He did not have to ask for an elaboration. Quietly, he answered, “Yes.” Lily shuddered, her eyes slowly reverting back to their normal selves, but still slightly haunted. “How?” “The summer before seventh year—Deatheaters attack. They had great fun using it on all of my family.” His eyes darkened with pain at the memory and his voice grew distant, emotionless. “They used it over and over again, and none of us could fight back, because nothing in Defense Against the Dark Arts had ever taught us to deal with that. My mum and dad—they fought until the very end, protecting us…but it wasn’t enough. Mum, Dad, Sarah. They died. I lived.” Lily was silent for a few moments as she waited for him to gain his composure as he left his field of memories. They touched something within her, knowing that she was not the only one who had suffered. It made her feel a strange bond that only war could bring. “I’m sorry, Potter.” James nodded his head in acknowledgement. Lily continued, feeling the words of her past surge within her like a turbulent ocean. She took a deep, calming breath. “My parents died too—they were tortured to death because they were muggles in my sixth year. I was at school.” Her last few words were said with a whisper of regret and sadness. James was similarly quiet before he laid his hand on her shoulder as an act of compassion. “I’m sorry Evans. I really am.” “Lily.” “What?” “You—you can call me Lily. If we’re going to be stuck here in this miserable cell then we might as well call each other by our first names.” “Yes, indeed.” They chatted for the longest time of inconsequential things such as favorite ice cream flavor or broomstick, of likes and dislikes, of pets and memories of happier times. They explored the essence of the other’s very soul, and found, to their surprise, the wonderful people that lingered underneath the layers of rudeness. Lily felt her eyes drooping once more and her head lolled, falling onto James’ shoulder. She gave a soft, sleepy sigh and smiled as she inhaled the scent that was solely and purely James. With contented thoughts, she drifted off into the land of Nod and was soon snoring lightly. James sighed as well and his eyes drooped close. No sooner had he done so did the door of the cell creak open. A cold, malicious voice that haunted his dreams dredged him out of his stupor as hard, blood red eyes twinkled in malevolent delight. “Well, well, well…Now what do we have here?”

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