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24 Hours Shichan Goddess Hour 15: Hour of Reconciliation “Footfalls echo in the memory Down the passage which we did not take Towards the door we never opened Towards the rose-garden.” ~T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) Lily sat, huddled in a corner, watching the wavering, even fall and rise of James’ chest in his slumber. His breaths were raspy, and Lily was sure that he had cracked, or perhaps even broken a few ribs. Her anger had faded as quickly as it had been triggered, doused and extinguished with the painfully spoken whisper of James. In its absence it left instead regret and remorse, and slightest twinge of guilt that was slowly germinating inside of her. Mentally reviewing the conversation, she realized the dry humor that he had spoken for what it was. But her words… They were not made in light humor. They were made to be cutting, malicious, something that Lily despised and never did to anyone else, but when it came to James…She was confused, confounded by the many rush of emotions that were associated with him, and him alone. Her heart screamed at her when she saw his injuries, and it felt almost as if she was inflicted with them as well. Lily felt worry, anxiety, relief, and a comfortableness that frightened her. The foreign feeling was slowly growing in spite of her efforts to stop it, and it was causing her to lose control. And in this war-torn world, that and her pride were the most precious things that she could afford to keep. He was lying there, dozing, but not really asleep. She stared at his unusually silent form for what seemed like eternity before turning away. She had ruined it. She had ruined a friendship that could have escalated into great heights, but she squashed it down before it could grow. She tried to be glad; she tried to be happy that she was still a soldier, still unattached to someone who could die at any given moment of the day. She wasn’t stupid, and Lily knew that attachments in war were irrational, unreasonable. But no matter how she tried to silence the whimpers in her heart, it would not be stifled. She was sick of being the reasonable one, sick of being the rational one. Too many times had she turned down opportunity after opportunity, challenge after challenge, chance after chance…all because of the fear of failure. All because of the fear of loving and losing. The fear had consumed her. But the redheaded witch *wanted* to be irrational and unreasonable and fling her cares to wind. She *wanted*, for once in her existence, to live her life with the impulses and open choices that she had been given. She had been offered a friendship that could last a lifetime… But that offer was gone. And she wasn’t sure that it would ever knock on her door again. ****************************************************************************** “Is there anything?” “…No. I don’t see any trace of them, Sirius.” Sirius growled in frustration, as they searched the surrounding forest. The search group had fanned out in two’s; carefully searching for anything that might lead them towards the missing Order members. So far, no one had found anything. Sirius sighed irritably, as he glanced sourly at the sodden land beneath him. It had stopped raining momentarily, but the fresh smell in the air blocked any smells that might have been left behind, and dissolved any tracks. The heavy clouds also obscured his vision, as there was no light save the dim light of the lantern that Remus carried. It was as if Lady Fate had indeed been meddling again in mortal affairs. And it seemed as if she was a woman scorned. A scowl twisted Sirius’ lips, staring up at the cloudy heavens, desperate for a lonely beacon of hope. But the clouds obscured everything from view. Their fortune was hazy, much like that of James and Lily’s future. However even on the darkest of nights, a small star peeked out and shone its brilliance for all those who were seeking it. ****************************************************************************** James shifted, stifling a moan as even the slightest of movement brought a sharp stab of agony through the length of his body. He lay still for a moment, waiting for the pain to pass, and for the darkness to fade from his vision. He blinked up at the ceiling, and frowned. He truly did hate being without his glasses-it made him feel vulnerable, helpless. Oh well, he couldn’t say that he thought much of the décor anyway. Lily had scrambled frantically from her position to his side as soon as she saw him shift. She sat back hesitantly on her haunches, nervously chewing on her lip. What was she to say? What was she to do? She opened her mouth, but no words came out, and silence reared its head once again. She sat absolutely still as James continued to blink at the ceiling. “Lily,” James rasped. Finally, Lily could stand it now longer. “I know what you’re going to say, Potter. And I know I deserve it. But look, Pott—James…” He turned expectantly to her, and she turned her head away, taking a deep breath before facing him again. Emerald met hazel, and she continued. “I-I know that I was a jerk, all right?” “Lil-” “No, no, hear me out.” She took another deep breath. “I know I was a git, and a moron, and a prat, and I shouldn’t have said the things I said to you, you don’t know how much I regret them now-” “Lily…” “I want us to be friends, James,” She said honestly, earnestly, “I really do, and anytime that I say something stupid like I did, just knock me upside the head…so…what do you say?” James was silent for a few moments, overwhelmed. Angrily, Lily’s eyes flashed, and her face flushed from the emotion. “Come on, James! I was just being a jealous little witch, what else do you want me to say?” James gave a small snort of laughter, trying desperately not to break into peals of mirth. “And to think, all this time I just wanted a drink of water.” Lily flushed a bright crimson to the roots of her hair. “Oh, well,” She fumbled. “I don’t think that you should really drink it, it’s nasty stuff…” James smiled at her, squinting up at her embarrassed features. “Don’t worry about it Lily. I know that you didn’t mean it. Lets just put it behind us, all right?” His face was suddenly drawn, weary. For who knew how much time lay before them? As soon as the expression was there, however, it disappeared, gone behind the jester’s mask that he hid behind so well. Lily gave him a small, hesitant smile in response, and it slowly grew wider until it nearly lit the cell with its brightness. James felt his own smile tugging at his lips. //I would do anything, Lils, anything, to get you to smile like that at me all the time…// Lily’s smile lessened somewhat, becoming gentler. “I know that I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but please, James. I…I—” The cell door creaked open once more, and the two in the cell were immediately alert and tense. They blinked at the sudden light that was emitted from the doorway, and slowly the being that stood in front of them was recognizable. Even to James, who could not see anything more then a blob at the doorway recognized the almost tangible presence in the air, the feeling of utmost evil that made it hard to breathe. If his scarlet eyes were indeed windows to his soul, then he did not have one. All that was left was the fiery malice and hate that reminded James and Lily as to what hell must be like. Voldemort seemed unsurprised that Lily had awoken from her enchanted dream, but they looked past her and to the body that was sitting up on the makeshift cot. “Evans. It seems that you chose to return to the land of the living once more. A choice, I’m sure, that you shall regret in the near future. However, you have some reprieve.” He turned to James, eyes smoldering with fury. “You lost me a servant. And now, it is time to see that you pay for your defiance. Say goodbye Potter. You come with me.” A/N: You guys are awesome! Hopefully you’ll be caught up to where my other readers are in a few days!

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