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    As soon as we started to enter the Great Hall, all of our parents and guests stood up and started to applaud, either crying and weeping, or cheering and whooping. I kept my head down and smiled to myself, blushing with the attention. Upon seeing Mr. and Mrs. Potter however, my smile faded and I looked anywhere but at them, and lined up in the front of the Hall, where our chairs were set up so that we were facing the audience. I stood in front of in my appropriate seat and grinned as my friends passed me by. Henn beamed at me and whispered, “Ready?”

    “I’m nervous as hell.” I said. Henn laughed and winked at me as she stood in front of her seat as well.

    Finally, when all the students of our year were lined up, facing the crowd, Dumbledore stood up with a smile and open arms and said, “Ladies and gentleman, I give you Hogwarts’ class of 1978.”

    Everyone applauded loudly. McGonagall then nodded to us and we sat down.

    Many teachers stood up from their Head Table and made a few speeches—many were touching, others mainly boring and too long. All of the Heads of Houses stood up and said a little individual speech—Harrison’s was cold and formal, and McGonagall’s was surprisingly warm. When she looked at all of us and said, “This school could never be more proud of you,” I beamed at her and felt compassion for her for the first time. She had to stop shortly after that—she was nearly crying in front of the crowd so she sat down.

    As the Heads were done, Dumbledore was the next to stand up. For a moment he didn’t say anything, he merely looked at the students in front of him, smiling. He then turned to the audience and said, “The first thing I’d like to say is that there isn’t much to say.” Many raised their eyebrows at him; others smiled as if they couldn’t understand the joke. His blue eyes twinkled, I inwardly laughed. I shouldn’t have expected anything less from Dumbledore—he was an odd man who could convey what he felt and thought in little words, even if it took us a little longer to figure out ourselves. It was one of the things I liked about our Headmaster, and I wouldn’t ever forget what he taught us.

    “This group of students—children, one might say at one point—are now almost adults.” He continued. “Hogwarts has seen them grow up to who they are now, and has helped shape them too. After all, these past seven years they have spent mostly here, and I know that I speak for most of you when I say that it has been your home.”

    I smiled to myself as he said that, but was disrupted as I heard Bellatrix Black snort loudly a few seats away from me. I glared at her, but she merely smiled unpleasantly.

    “What I’d like to tell you all is that I have seen you come in here for the first time as children, and I will see you leave it as adults, ready to start the next stage of your lives. I hope that I have been a good Headmaster and that I’ve helped teach you.” At this point he paused, and instead of facing our family and friends, he turned towards us with a smile on his face. “And I especially want my students to know that you will always be my students, and that I will always be your teacher—and no matter what mistakes I’ve seen you do or you will do, you will always have me here.”

    My heart sank; I knew whom he was talking to. I looked at Bellatrix again and saw that she was shaking with silent laughter, which showed me that she wasn’t being touched by Dumbledore’s speech at all, and merely thought it funny. Rodolphus Lestrange was smirking as he looked down at his shoes, trying to conceal it. Lucius Malfoy was the only one who kept a straight face out of the Slytherins, but I saw his gray eyes glint maliciously so that even he could not hide his true intentions.

    I felt completely hopeless as Dumbledore saw all of these signs. His smile faded slightly, but he continued anyway. “Finally, I would like to repeat just what almost everyone of our staff has already said—I am proud of you, this school is proud of you, and whoever may be your next teacher will most certainly be proud of you too.” He made sure he looked at every one of the students in our year, his smile soft and understanding, even for the Slytherins. He then sat down; the audience stared at him at the abrupt ending, and once seeing that he was indeed, finished, started to tentatively clap. Most of the seventh years clapped also, many of them bawling and trying to hide it. I saw even Sirius wiping his eyes a bit, although he tried making it as discreet as possible.

    McGonagall, who was wiping her eyes also, then stood up. “Without further ado, then, we will start handing the diplomas.” Once the applause and cheering died down, she went to the podium that had been put in front of us, adjusted her hat and glasses, then said, “Jeremy Adams.”

    The audience started to clap once again as Jeremy stood up, gave Crystal a kiss, and walked to the podium, where he was handed a scroll, tied with a blue and bronze ribbon. He shook McGonagall’s hand, then the rest of the Heads of Houses who had stood up to stand by the podium, and finally Dumbledore, who beamed at him. He then made his way around the teachers and returned to his seat, I saw his family members approaching him and taking pictures, which he smiled embarrassedly for.

    Once the applause had died a little, McGonagall said, “Crystal Allen.” Crystal stood up also and went to receive her diploma, shaking the hands of all of the teachers.

    It was the same process for nearly all the students. Bellatrix and all of the other Slytherins didn’t shake Dumbledore’s hand, and moved purposefully away from him. Dumbledore still smiled, as if nothing had happened and as if nobody had noticed. I wondered if he still stood by his words, and if he was still really proud of them.

    Sirius was one of the first to receive his diploma. His scroll was tied with a red and gold ribbon, and he laughed as McGonagall said audibly to the microphone, “Never have I written out so many detentions for one single student.” She smiled and laughed though, and actually gave Sirius a hug as she gave him his diploma. I cheered loudly, giggling as Sirius’s cheeks turned slightly pink.

    I waited patiently for my turn. I was nervous, but not nearly as much as some. Amos Diggory was downright shaking and sweating as he went up in front of the audience and received his diploma. I was next, and as Amos shook Dumbledore’s hand and returned to his seat next to me, I stood up as McGonagall said, “Lily Evans, our own Head Girl.”

    I heard James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Henn, Gaby, and Grace cheer and whoop loudly as I went to the podium and beamed as McGonagall handed me my scroll, which was also in a red and gold ribbon, but with a slight difference. There was also a seal on it, the same seal that was on my Head Girl badge. I smiled at McGonagall as she too gave me a hug, and then I proceeded to shake Harrison’s hand rather reluctantly; Flitwick’s as he beamed widely, since I had long been his favorite; and then Sprout’s. Finally I reached Dumbledore, who winked at me and shook my hand also. I was surprised at him being so lighthearted, but it made me calmer, and as I gripped his hand I almost started crying, although I wasn’t sure why.

    I cheered loudly and beamed as Henn received her diploma and did the same as Grace, Remus, and Peter received theirs also. I laughed as James came up and McGonagall said, “James Potter, our Head Boy, although I have to say I’m not quite sure why.” Finally, by the time Gaby went up, my voice was hoarse, but I was still undeniably happy. When the last student, Natalie Warren, received her diploma and everyone was sitting down again, McGonagall and the rest of the teachers looked at Dumbledore as he said with open arms and a warm smile, “I give you Hogwarts’ Graduated Class of 1978.”

    The applause was deafening, everyone was cheering—it was by far one of the best moments of my life. We all stood up and threw our hats then, laughing as they fell on each other and several students shot sparks in the air with their wands. James came to me and kissed me, and I smiled and shouted, “We’re graduated!”

    Nobody waited for a dismissal. The audience left their chairs and went to find their children, everyone hugging and laughing and crying. Everything was so overwhelming— I saw couples kissing, parents shouting with joy, even teachers were crying and hugging some of their students, and I couldn’t believe how everyone was so happy, yet so sad that we were going to leave Hogwarts, our home.

    I hugged James tightly and just when I started to think, there was no way that things could feel so right, so wonderful—I heard it.

    A bang that shook the room, the Great Hall doors opening, and the applause and cheering momentarily stopping as a figure stood halted at the entrance, hooded and cloaked in black. Even as everyone turned back around and resumed celebrating, I felt my heart stop, and Bellatrix’s words rung in my head.

    The Dark Lord...

    “No,” I whispered, my eyes widening. I reached for James, gripping his arm, and he turned to look at me, his eyebrows furrowed, but he didn’t understand.

    I looked around the room, and to my horror I saw others cloaked and hooded, their faces hidden by white masks. They stood out like skulls in the mass of people, and I wondered how they had gotten in the crowd when I realized they had probably already been there, waiting for this exact moment, and that Bellatrix and Rodolphus were somewhere there too. As if in slow motion, they all moved towards the man who had just entered, while more people started to notice and stopped cheering and laughing…

    I looked at Dumbledore as he slowly stopped shaking a student’s hand, and to my utter terror his own eyes widened as he dropped the student’s hand and took out his wand—

    It was too late. The intruder had raised his own hand; his wand already whipped out, and as he did so the other masked ones gathered around him raised their own wands, pointing to the nearest person. All at once they uttered the same deafening words—


    Green light shot out in all directions, there were thuds as bodies fell to the ground but they were hardly heard as people started to scream and shout, running in different directions. James tugged on my arm, pulling me towards the great oak doors but I stopped, rooting my feet to the ground.

    “Lily! We have to go!”

    “Dumbledore!” I gasped, and he too stopped as we saw Dumbledore running towards the cloaked figure—who was cackling and throwing his head back, his hood sliding down to his shoulders to reveal a terrible sight.

    He was a man, but could hardly be called that. His skin was terribly white, much paler than my own—it was unnatural, as if it belonged to someone already dead. But what was worse was that it was distorted—it looked like melted wax plastered to his face and stretching it so that there were fine and deep lines running down and up. But what was most frightening were his eyes—they were bloodshot and cruel, almost entirely red—and as he turned to look at Dumbledore they narrowed in hate…and I could not help but run towards him, wanting to warn him as the man’s wand pointed straight at him—

    Lily!” James yelled after me. I soon felt him running behind me, calling me back but I was already nearing Dumbledore.

    “Professor!” I shouted, but he didn’t turn to look at me as I helplessly pointed at the man, who was already uttering words.

    I closed my eyes and saw a bright green light shoot past me. I waited for a thud of a body, but there was none. I looked around and to my relief I saw Dumbledore still standing—he had reflected it with his wand, and it shot past the man, who didn’t even flinch.

    “Surprised Dumbledore?” the man said. His voice was high-pitched and unnatural—it made my blood freeze.

    James had caught up to me, panting. He too stared at the intruder, but neither he nor Dumbledore noticed either of us. In fact, the man hardly seemed aware that people were running past him, tumbling over each other as echoes of screams filled the Great Hall, for all his energies seemed to be concentrating on Dumbledore, as his distorted face turned into a terrible sneer. Dumbledore too, looked quite menacing in a way I had never seen before. His eyes were narrowed and the aged lines in his face looked even more pronounced as he frowned and scowled upon his opponent. He stood upright and tall, but his wand was actually lowered and settling almost restfully beside him in his hand, even though the wand of the man in front of him was pointed straight at Dumbledore’s chest.

    “Not quite, Tom.” Dumbledore said, shaking his head. He still looked angry, but there was something else that I saw in his face—although I couldn’t place it. Remorse, maybe, or regret.

    I couldn’t help but stare at the man—whose face at the mention of his own name, turned even more horrifying than before in an enraged contortion. It seemed hard to believe that a man with such an ordinary name was in reality called ‘the Dark Lord’ by his followers.

    Do not call me that!” the man hissed. “My name is Voldemort!

    At the mention of this name I felt an inexplicable chill run up and down my body. I shivered and closed my eyes for a moment, as I heard the intruder continue.

    “Others worthier than you stoop down before me and call me their Lord—you dare oppose me, you wretched old man?”

    Dumbledore looked quite calm, although his guard was still undoubtedly up—I could see his grip tighten around his wand as the two men started to circle one another, their eyes never leaving the other. “It is true that many bow down to you—although one would question if it is out of respect or fear.”

    “Hardly a difference,” he hissed.

    Dumbledore paused. “Perhaps,” he said softly, almost to himself. “Perhaps to some.”

    “So what is it now, Dumbledore?” Voldemort retorted. He laughed cruelly, opening his arms as he grinned with malice. “Your entire school will soon be in ruins—your former, recent, and future students are all running for their lives from my forces. This—” He paused, widening his arms even more. “This is fear. You cannot deny that.”

    Dumbledore’s eyes flashed. “Do not dare to talk to me about my students, Tom.”

    At this Voldemort leaned back and laughed loudly. “You old fool!” he hissed, narrowing his eyes. “Are you blind? Look around you!” Voldemort laughed in his odd, high-pitched voice, which made my bones chill and the hair stand up on my neck. “This is school is mine, Dumbledore! As it should be!”

    “No, Tom,” Dumbledore said calmly. Even though Voldemort roared in rage at the sound of his name, Dumbledore did not even flinch. “You need goodness and respect to run this school. Two qualities I’m afraid you lost long ago.”

    “You and your talk of goodness,” Voldemort spat, as if the very word felt disgusting in his mouth. “You’ll never learn. But no matter—for after tonight I will never have to hear it again.” At this he rose his wand in a blink of an eye and yelled, “Crucio!

    A jet of light shot out of the intruder’s wand, but Dumbledore reflected it again with an almost leisurely air. I looked around and saw that the teachers had succeeded in emptying the Great Hall of most of the guests and students, and were trying to fight off the Dark Lord’s cloaked followers, although most were of no match. One by one they fell to the ground, more were wounded and I closed my eyes for a moment and willed it all away—I felt James’s hand close around my arm, urging me again. “Lily!

    At the sound of James’s yell, the intruder turned to look at us, his bloodshot eyes reduced to slits that made him look snake-like. The corners of his lipless mouth turned, and with one last triumphant glance at Dumbledore, he said, “Perhaps the moment for our battle has not come yet, Dumbledore, but I know a way to cause you pain—almost as much as death itself.”

    I looked at Dumbledore as he widened his eyes—he was already yelling and running towards us but it was too late.


    Fawkes!” Dumbledore yelled.

    I saw the flash of green light speeding towards me, but I could do nothing for my feet seemed rooted to the ground. My eyes widened in horror as I saw it draw closer, and I braced myself, knowing already there was nothing I could do.




    Fire erupted merely inches away from my face, and for a brief moment I saw a glimpse of Dumbledore’s phoenix, who blasted into flames at the contact of the green light that had been issued from Voldemort’s wand. I heard Voldemort scream in anger and felt James tumbling into me as he held me tight to his chest, shaking violently. But this was only for a moment for soon Voldemort had recovered in his first miss and was already pointing his wand at James, his eyes narrowing in hate.

    This time it was a shot of blue, and once it made contact with James there was a flash as he was thrown backwards and he started shouting and writhing—he leaned over and started coughing up blood. I screamed and turned towards Dumbledore, who was now shooting several spells at once at Voldemort’s direction with a look of pure rage on his face.

    I ran towards James, hot tears streaming down my face as I clutched his head, which was pale with sweat and blood. “No! James! Can you hear me? James!

    I was hardly aware of the intense battle happening nearby—streams of light were shooting past me but I didn’t care. I felt my heart stop as James’s eyes slowly closed, and his gasps and pants for breath stopped.

    “No, James, no.” I said, shaking his shoulders. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t be. “James…James!

    I sat upright and screamed for help, but to my horror I saw that all the teachers who had tried fighting—Flitwick, Sprout, even Harrison—were all lying on the floor with pools of blood around them and unconscious. All the hooded figures were rounding on Dumbledore now, who despite the disadvantage, did not fail for one second as he reflected spells and shot more all at once—and one by one Voldemort’s followers were drawing back, looking at their Lord for a sign of what to do.

    I felt a pair of hands pull me up but I shouted and drew myself back down, clutching onto James. “Lily, you have to get up. Lily!

    I recognized McGonagall’s voice but I merely cried and held onto James, who was still lying on the floor, motionless. “No!” I kept on moaning. “He’s not dead! He’s not dead!”

    “Lily! You have to get up! I have to get you out of here!”

    “Professor! He’s not dead!”

    “For Merlin’s sake, get up!”

    It was no use. I kept crying and screaming, even as I heard in the very back of my mind—as if it were from another distant and unimportant world—thudding footsteps of the Death Eaters who were running and shouting everywhere—then finally, a terrifying scream of, “This isn’t the end, Dumbledore!” and then a bang that shook the room. Little by little I saw James’s life ebbing away, and I couldn’t do anything to save him—why wasn’t McGonagall helping me?

    “Minerva, you have to get her out of here.”

    I looked up and saw Dumbledore towering above me. The stars in the ceiling were shining above him, which gave him a strange light which seemed to encircle around him. He was wet and shining with sweat and was incredibly strained and weary from the battle. I felt his surprisingly strong grip on my shoulders as he heaved me up, pointed his wand at James and muttered a few incoherent words. Light shot into James, and slowly, very slowly, I saw color blooming to his face and to my utter relief, he coughed and opened his eyes. It was as if I too was coming back to consciousness—like I was breathing and opening my eyes again myself.

    I could scarcely talk—I was crying so much. Dumbledore kneeled down and muttered a few other spells to help revive James, and then finally let me go to him.

    “Oh my God,” I gasped, as I held onto him. “I thought you were…I thought you could be—”

    “I’m not,” James said weakly, which just made me cry even more.

    “We have to get James to the Hospital Wing.” I heard Dumbledore say.

    “Yes,” McGonagall said. I saw her look at me as I shook violently from the intense relief. “And perhaps Ms. Evans should be given a tonic or some sort of potion.”

    “Indeed,” Dumbledore said gravely. “Lily, please step aside for a moment.” I looked at him as if he was crazy, and he sighed. “Trust me. I need to conjure a stretcher to take James to Madam Pomfrey.”

    I looked wildly at James, who smiled weakly to tell me it was all right. Finally, I pulled away and stood up, as Dumbledore waved his wand and conjured a stretcher, where he levitated James upon.

    “I don’t think even Madam Pomfrey will be able to take care of all those who are injured, Albus.” McGonagall said slowly. I looked at her and saw that she was gazing upon the ruins of the Great Hall—the banners which had been put up were mostly singed and burning, there were several bodies lying dead on the floor, while others were moaning out in pain. She then looked upon the tiny pile of ashes by her feet, where baby Fawkes was cooing softly, looking like a pile of ashes himself with his scarlet color faded.

    Finally, McGonagall seemed to jerk out of her reverie. “They need to get to St. Mungo’s—all of them.”

    Dumbledore was already moving the nearest body on the floor, pointing his wand at the man’s chest and muttering an incantation to revive him. “Lily, I trust you can get James to Madam Pomfrey’s? They should be making arrangements to get all those injured to St. Mungo’s.”

    I looked at James, who was already closing his eyes again, on the levitated stretcher. “Of course.” I said, feeling my throat close up with the new rush of tears again. To my surprise McGonagall walked over to me and rested her hand on my shoulder reassuringly.

    “Don’t worry.” She said, although her own eyes were shining too. “This will be sorted out.”

    I merely forced a smile and nodded, then with a flick of my wand, moved James out of the Great Hall where I heavily followed him.

    When I arrived at the Hospital Wing, I was surprised to see not only Madam Pomfrey tending to the patients, but several other witches and wizards in lime green robes. Upon entering the nearest one immediately made her way towards me, a clipboard in her hand and a strange emblem of a wand crossed with a bone on her chest. She was a Healer, one of the several who worked at St. Mungo’s.

    “Is his condition magical or non-magical?” she asked abruptly.

    I looked at James exasperatedly. He was breathing normally now but was sleeping, which made me slightly less uneasy. “Um, he was hit by a spell—”

    “Do you know which spell?” she interrupted.

    For a moment I was distracted by a boy nearby who was moaning and crying out in pain—I gasped upon seeing that he had a terribly bloody gash on his stomach and several others on his face. The witch in front of me, however, didn’t seem to notice. “Miss?” she asked. “Do you know the spell?”

    I slowly shook my head. “What’s that boy still doing here?”

    The witch turned around for a moment, looking unconcerned. “Oh, his condition is non-magical. He was stabbed by a knife.” She said indifferently, turning to me again. “Are you sure you don’t know the spell?”

    I stared at her. “But he’s dying.”

    The witch let out an impatient sigh, raising her eyebrow at me. “He’ll be attended to at a muggle hospital.”

    “But he can’t possibly get there in time, look at him—”

    “Miss.” She said, with a slight finality in her tone. “There’s nothing St. Mungo’s can do for him. There is, however, something we can do for your friend here. Are you sure you don’t know the spell?”

    “I already told you I don’t know the damn spell!”

    The Healer stared at me—apparently my voice had been louder than I thought, for everyone else in the room quieted and stared at me too. I no longer cared though—all I could feel was a throbbing headache that seemed to be determined to crack open my skull. As I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples, I heard the witch respond with an indignant voice.

    “Well then, you can join the other patients at the portkey in the center of the room.”

    I opened my eyes and saw that she was already moving towards the girl who had just entered. I felt my headache worsen, and my body was aching with strain and exhaustion. I waved my wand so that James was moved to the center of the room with several other patients on stretchers and Healers accompanying them. One of the Healers was explaining to everyone to hold onto the portkey (an old tennis shoe) so that we would be teleported to the lobby of St. Mungo’s. I was distracted though with the girl at the entrance screaming and trying to release herself from the Healer who was holding her back.

    “Jeremy!” she kept yelling. As her long black hair was thrown away from her face, I saw that it was Crystal Allen.

    “Oh no,” I whispered, suddenly realizing who the boy on the bed was. It was Jeremy Adams, Crystal’s boyfriend—but I couldn’t tell who it had been before because of the gashes that streaked his face.

    I felt a tap on my shoulder and was startled to see a male Healer, looking at me with concern. “Miss?” he asked. “We need you and this young man to grab onto the portkey.”

    I stared at him for a moment, and then turned back around. Crystal had finally managed to release herself from the Healer’s grip and had now thrown herself onto the bed where Jeremy was, still moaning and clutching his stomach. She was screaming something incomprehensible, as she sobbed onto the pillow Jeremy was resting and clutched what remained of his face.

    The witch who I had been talking to before was already there, trying to pull Crystal off. “Miss! You need to let him go! Miss!”

    Now the other patients—the ones with non-magical injuries—were screaming too. I felt my stomach curl up in anger and revulsion and couldn’t help but screaming too. When the witch finally looked at me, I stormed up to her and pulled her off of Crystal, who shocked, looked up at me with startled recognition.

    “Lily,” she said. Her pretty face was red and blotchy, and was wet with tears. “He’s dying, Lily.”

    I couldn’t bear to look at her. Instead I rounded on the witch, who was standing up and brushing off her robes, as if she did this everyday. She looked at me with an incredulous look, and was about to open her mouth to say something, but this time it was I who interrupted her.

    “These two just graduated,” I said, and I was surprised to see that I wasn’t yelling or shouting, I was actually quite calm. “And you’re letting him die.”

    I then turned around and brought James’s hand and my hand to the portkey, and as we left I still heard Crystal screaming, and Jeremy breathing his last.

    Once the portkey took us to the St. Mungo’s lobby, I found myself being swarmed with other Healers, who eventually took James to the fourth floor, which apparently was for patients with Spell Damage. James was placed on his own bed on a big and spacious ward, where several others were being tended to. There were a total of about fifteen patients, but since each of these patients had their own family members and friends with them, the ward was especially crowded.

    One of the Healers was kind enough to conjure a chair for me, where she placed it by James’s bed. I sat on it carefully, my eyes open and blank and I searched for James’s hand which I clutched immediately—as if that alone could keep me grounded here on earth with some sanity left.

    And then all of a sudden, I was crying.

    The Healer, who had been checking James’s breathing on the back of her hand, seemed startled. “Miss?” she asked. She was a young witch with dark brown curls that reached her shoulders—she was hardly older than me and it looked like she wasn’t sure what to do. “Erm…Miss? Do you need anything?”

    I muttered something incoherent, shaking my head and covering my face with the back of my hand. The Healer looked at me uncertainly, and then scurried off to the corner of the room away from me. For a moment I thought that she was going to call for some help to get me, the hysterical girl, out of the room, but soon she was back with a glass full of some clear potion which was steaming at the top.

    “Here,” she said with a kind smile that just made me want to cry even more. “I was about to brew some up right now but apparently somebody else had already made a cauldron full—I suppose after that whole ordeal at your school, they were right to make a lot.”

    I took the glass immediately, draining it quickly. Only after I had finished it did I notice that I didn’t even know what it was. I looked at the witch, who answered as if she was reading my mind, “Oh, it’s only a Calming Draught. I would’ve given you a Sleeping Potion in the state you were in—but I’m afraid that there aren’t any beds left in any of the wards.” She smiled at me, outstretching her hand. “I’m Vivian, by the way.”

    “Lily,” I said, smiling weakly. “And this is James Potter.” I felt foolish introducing an unconscious person, but Vivian didn’t seem to think it unusual.

    “Well, Lily, if you or James need anything at all, don’t hesitate to call me.” She paused upon looking at my state—my eyes were beginning to blur and my body was feeling blissfully light—it seemed that the Calming Draught was taking effect. Vivian smiled. “It seems that the Draught they made was a pretty strong dose. Anyway, if I’m not around, just call me on that bell,” she said, pointing to the bell on the cupboard next to James’s bed. “I’ll come in a jiffy, then, all right?”

    I merely nodded. I wanted to thank Vivian for being so kind to me, but it seemed that even my mouth didn’t feel like moving at the moment. I blinked, and Vivian was gone, already tending to another patient.

    I looked at James, who was sleeping after the potion they had given him. He looked so peaceful—so quiet—that for a wild moment I even wondered if maybe he was dead, and nobody was telling me. But then I heard him exhale softly, and I felt at ease again.

    Or at least the most at ease I would ever feel in this place.

    I sighed, clutching James’s hand again. It felt surprisingly warm, which comforted me. James—he had always been there for me, even in the beginning, when I despised him—he had always been there, even if it was just to make stupid joke that I would laugh about in secret later. And now, suddenly, he was the one who needed me here with him.

    “Don’t worry, James,” I whispered, even though I knew he couldn’t possibly hear me at the moment. “I’m here and I’m not leaving.”

    The Calming Draught was exactly what I needed. Everything I did, everything I thought, seemed to be I some sort of daydream or reverie. However, after a few hours, it started to wear off, and I was suddenly aware of the doors banging open and Mr. and Mrs. Potter barging in, looking for their son.

    After talking to Vivian, they were pointed to the bed where James was resting and to the chair where I had been for the past four hours. The ward was completely dark except for a few candles that were floating in the air—a vain attempt to have everyone sleeping although there were still several who were moaning and clearly in pain. Mr. and Mrs. Potter were at once at James’s side, not saying anything for a moment as they stared at their son on the bed.

    “Oh my—” Mrs. Potter gasped, clutching her mouth. I watched as she blinked rapidly, wiping her eyes.

    I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. “Lily? Were you hurt?” I looked up to see Mr. Potter hovering above me, a worried expression on his face. I nearly laughed out loud that he was worrying about me, although I wasn’t sure why.

    I shook my head and Mr. Potter continued. “Goodness, you look exhausted. I’ll call someone to help you.”

    “No, really, it’s okay.” I said, even though “okay” was the farthest from what I was feeling right now. “Vivian—the Healer—already gave me a Calming Draught.”

    Mrs. Potter was slowly moving towards James, a hand outstretched inches away from his face. For a moment she hesitated, then drew back her hand into her pocket. “How could this have happened?” she asked—although I knew she wasn’t expecting us to answer.

    “The Healer said that he was doing well, although he would have to sleep for a few days straight, to recuperate.” Mr. Potter said, tightening the grip on my shoulder. I could tell from his face though that he was hardly reassured about this. He cleared his throat, continuing. “The spell he was hit with…it damaged his insides, she said. On the outside he looks fine, but he’s been given several potions a day—but of course, you’ve been with him this whole time, haven’t you? You would know.”

    I didn’t really know that to say to this, so I changed the subject to something else that had been troubling me. “Um…how about the others? They’re okay, right?” I felt myself holding my breath, already expecting the worse.

    Mr. Potter was watching his wife, who was still staring at James with her hand over her mouth. He shook himself slightly, and then said, “What? Oh you mean the boys? Yes, I saw Sirius, Remus, and Peter and thankfully they came out without a scratch. They were with three girls; I believe they’re friends of yours.”

    “Henn, Gaby, and Grace.” I said, sighing with relief. “That’s great news.”

    “Yes, there were several people in the lobby, that’s why it took us so long to get up here. Everyone was hysterical—trying to get to their family members and friends…it was absolute havoc.”

    Again, I didn’t know what to say, so I kept quiet. Then Mr. Potter said almost as if to himself, “Lynn’s all right as well. I’m very glad I didn’t take her to the ceremony…I don’t think I would’ve ever forgiven myself if something had happened to her.”

    Suddenly, my eyes were tearing up again. Thankfully, however, Vivian was already up and ready with three glasses of the Calming Draught for me, Mr. Potter, and Mrs. Potter.

    Now that I look back, I don’t know how I ever survived all those long hours at St. Mungo’s. I hardly slept except for the few times my head would droop off my shoulder and I’d doze off—but it was only for a couple of minutes before I woke up with another patient screaming or moaning for help. I don’t even think I ate anything that first night, although I hardly noticed. Mr. and Mrs. Potter, who after deciding that there was no way they were leaving their son at this point, conjured their own chairs and waited with me.

    As for James, all he did was sleep. He didn’t stir once, not even when there was a lot of commotion in the room. I held his hand most of the time, just staring at him and looking for any signs of his discomfort. There weren’t any though. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was simply napping, but then again Vivian did say that all his injuries were internal.

    I took nearly five doses of Calming Draught in just the first night, but even so I felt myself slowly growing more and more hysterical, with all these questions in my mind. How did Voldemort even get into Hogwarts? Where were his followers now? And were they planning more attacks—perhaps even more at Hogwarts? My head pounding, I laid my head on the side of James’s bed and breathed deeply, wishing it all away.

    Mrs. Potter looked just as frantic as I was feeling. For some reason she would never touch James—just look at him, her eyes full of tears and her face full of sorrow and grief. She hadn’t talked to me once so far, and given the not-so-wonderful start I had as her son’s fiancée (at least in her eyes), I didn’t try to encourage conversation. Mr. Potter, on the other hand, would constantly try to fill in the awkward silences, when no one else was crying or yelling in the ward. It was as if he was attempting to escape the obvious grief his wife and I were feeling by trying to talk his worries away.

    After a while though, he just gave up and silence fell heavily upon all of us.

    Before I knew it, dawn was upon us, and sunlight was filling the ward. I felt awful—not only did I have the worst headache I have ever felt in my life, but now a sour taste was growing in my mouth from the lack of brushing my teeth, and my skin felt slick with sweat from all the panic and worrying I had done in the past dreadful hours. I glanced at Mr. and Mrs. Potter and saw that they too did not look their best—both their eyes were outlined with deep dark circles which I knew could be found on my face as well.

    “Good morning,” Vivian said as cheerfully as she could, a breakfast tray in her hands. It had a large glass of some murky potion, and a few pieces of toasted bread with jam. She promptly gave James his daily dose of potion, which apparently would be his breakfast, and then proceeded to handing us all toast. “I’m sorry—I would’ve gotten more if I could.”

    “No, not at all.” I said, forcing a smile. “That was very kind of you.”

    Mrs. Potter, who had merely handed her piece of toast to her husband, now blinked at the commotion outside. “Goodness, what’s happening out there?”

    I twisted around in my chair and peeked around the folding screen that separated us from the patients on either side of us. At the door there were many Healers, trying to block about six people from getting in. I was so mentally exhausted that I was about to just turn around and start munching on my toast, when I heard familiar bark-like yell.

    “You have got to be kidding me! He’s my best mate and you better get the hell out of my way!”

    I glanced at Mr. Potter, who looked just as surprised as I was. “Sirius?” he asked.

    “I’ll go.” I said, immediately marching over to where all the commotion was. I saw many Healers with their arms outstretched in a sort of blockade, and their wands pointed at Sirius, Remus, Peter, Henn, Gaby, and Grace.

    “Lily!” Henn screamed. She ran to me and gave me the tightest embrace I’ve ever been in my life, practically rupturing my ribs. She pulled away, her eyes gleaming with tears. “Oh my god I was so worried! We couldn’t find you anywhere and I even thought that maybe—”

    I bit my lip so that I wouldn’t start bawling, although I couldn’t help but sniffling a bit as I hugged her again. Soon Gaby and Grace were at my side also, clutching my shoulders and looking near to tears themselves.

    “Lily? Are you all right?” Remus asked, alongside a very distressed looking Peter.

    “Better than most in there.” I said, smiling weakly. Sirius was still yelling at the Healers, who kept on saying the same thing.

    “Sir, calm down and listen to us—”

    “There are at least fifteen patients in there; we can’t possibly let in all of you—”

    “Do you think I give a damn? You have to let me see him!”

    Suddenly, I had an idea. “Um, sir? What if I stay here and just one of them goes in? That way it won’t make a difference because it’ll be the same amount of people in there anyway.”

    The closest Healer raised an eyebrow at me, as if he wasn’t sure if it was the best idea. Soon Henn was helping me argue as well. “Sir, everyone here has been in an uproar. We haven’t seen our friend for over twelve hours, and we have no idea if he’s doing well or not. Please, we don’t all have to go in at once. Just let one of us go and report to the others.”

    The man stared at all of us for a moment, and then exchanged looks with the other Healers. One of them gave the tiniest of nods, and the first Healer faced us once again. “All right. You can pick who will go, but we beg you to not disrupt the other patients. We’re only giving you ten minutes, so you’ll have to be quick about it.”

    Sirius looked as if he was about to say something else, something that I was guessing wouldn’t be polite at all, so I gently touched his arm and smiled at the Healer. “Yes, of course.”

    I turned to face the rest of my friends, and only now did I realize how disheveled and exhausted they looked themselves. Sirius, although still grumbling because of the Healers, managed to give me a short but caring hug and say, “Thanks, Lily.”

    “Of course.” I said, smiling. “All right, so who’s going?”

    “I vote for Sirius,” Remus said immediately.

    “Me too. I think it would be best.” Grace said. Henn and Gaby nodded affirmatively.

    Sirius’s face had an expression I couldn’t exactly read. It took me a moment to see that he was blinking rapidly and looking down at the floor. “Are you guys sure?”

    Remus stepped forward and clutched Sirius’s shoulder with a soft smile. “You’re his best mate. It’s only fair.”

    Sirius still wouldn’t look at any of us. “Um…and how about you, Pete? Is it okay if I go?”

    “Of course.” Peter beamed. “Just tell him that we’re all here, waiting for him to get better.”

    I thought of telling them that it would be pointless to tell James anything since he couldn’t hear or talk to anybody in his current condition, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead I merely forced a smile like the rest of my friends.

    “All right then,” I said. “Sirius, go on ahead then.”

    Sirius looked at all of us as if he wanted to say something else, but thought better of it. However, he did smile and thank us once again, before disappearing behind the two doors which were closed by the Healers.

    Soon Henn was at my side once more, looking at me with tearful eyes again. She took my hair and smoothed it over my back in a rather motherly gesture. “So…are you sure you’re okay?”

    “Yes, of course.” I said, although it was clear from my tone of voice that I wasn’t at all. I could tell from Henn’s face that she noticed, but she didn’t say anything else.

    “So, have you been here this whole time?” Gaby asked in a soft voice.

    I nodded. “How about you guys?”

    They all exchanged looks with mutual expressions of exasperation and exhaustion. Remus was the one to step forward and explain. “Well, it was crazy at Hogwarts. I don’t know if you were there for too long, since you were with James and most of the patients got to St. Mungo’s almost immediately. But for the rest of us…”

    “It was terrible, Lily.” Grace said, shaking her head. “We had to wait around for someone to give orders, because we had no idea what to do, but all the teachers were either at the Hospital Wing or trying to figure out how the hell those bastards got inside—”

    I could not help but interrupt. “Did they find out?”

    Again, all of my friends looked equally enraged. Peter was the first one to break the heavy silence with an awkward clearing of the throat and his eyes downcast. “The only way they could’ve gotten in would be if they had inside help.”

    “Like Bellatrix and Lestrange. I knew it.” I hissed. “But how did they help?”

    Henn shrugged. “No one knows. Most think that they got there on broomsticks, which would’ve been easy to hide since no one was outside and it was completely dark out. But the entrance hall doors and the doors of the towers and such were locked with heavy charms from the inside, so somebody who was already at Hogwarts would have to have opened them.”

    “Those bastards. If it weren’t for them James wouldn’t be like this right now…”

    There was a silence; no one really knew what to say. Finally, it was Peter who broke it again. “We don’t know if that’s what really happened though.” He mumbled. No one bothered to say anything.

    “Anyway,” Gaby said, clearing her throat uncomfortably. “So when the teachers finally did get back, they told us and our parents to get on the Hogwarts Express. But everybody was already in a riot, and we wanted to know what was going to happen to the school and such…most found other ways to get home.”

    “How about all of you?” I asked.

    “We all took the Hogwarts Express, although many took the Knight Bus or even stayed at an inn in Hogsmeade, to find out other news.” Gaby said. “All of our families were exhausted, so they wanted to go home, but since we couldn’t find you or James—well, we assumed you were at St. Mungo’s, where we heard most patients were headed. So we managed to convince our parents for all six of us to go and see if you guys were here.”

    “How long were you guys waiting in the lobby?”

    Henn rolled her eyes exasperatedly. “For hours. Once we found out that James was interned somewhere, we were desperate to see him. But your name wasn’t on there so we even thought—“She paused, blinking rapidly and forcing a smile. “Well, you’re not, thank goodness. Anyway, the Healers kept on saying that if we weren’t family, we couldn’t see him. So we basically just waited around until we saw the Potters, who looked really panicked, poor things, and even they had to wait for the longest time.”

    “They were able to see James in the middle of the night.” I said. “I asked them about you guys, and they said you were fine, which was a great relief.”

    “You have no idea how worried we were of you though!” Gaby said, shaking her head frantically. “They said you weren’t a patient at St. Mungo’s, and we even called your house to see if you were safe—”

    What?” I asked, absolutely aghast. “You called my dad?”

    Gaby and Grace exchanged looks, as if they just realized that it wasn’t the best idea to tell me. Henn sighed. “Well, what were we supposed to do? We didn’t know where you were!”

    I closed my eyes for a moment, rubbing my temples. Great. As if I didn’t have enough problems to deal with now I would have to worry about how the hell I was going to explain this to my father. Wonderful. “Okay, then…what did he say?”

    “He seemed really worried, and then got angry that there was nothing he could do. He had no idea where you were.” Henn explained. “We told him not to worry, that you were probably here at St. Mungo’s with James or something…and, well, here you are!”

    I sighed, shaking my head. Well, I would deal with my father later. “So, how did you guys get up here?”

    “Oh,” Gaby said, smiling slightly. I noticed that Remus was looking rather sheepish, and Grace was glaring at the floor quite forcefully. “Well…we made a little—compromise, so to speak—with the woman Healer downstairs.”

    I raised my eyebrows. “What sort of compromise?”

    Peter grinned widely. “Remus has to go on a date with her.”

    “I thought we weren’t going to speak about this anymore,” Remus mumbled to the floor.

    “What happened?” I asked, intensely relieved that we could talk about a lighter subject.

    “It was actually sort of funny,” Henn said, grinning devilishly. “We immediately assumed that she’d like to talk to Sirius, so we sent him to talk to her, but when he came back he was looking really sulky and said that she had said he wasn’t “her type” and that actually, she had been eyeing Remus.”

    “So we sent Remus instead,” Gaby smirked. “And now he’s got a date sometime this week.”

    Remus was looking slightly flushed, and Grace, I noticed, hadn’t said anything at all. I couldn’t help but smiling a little. “Hm…” was all I said though.

    “It’s just one date,” Remus said, glancing at Grace who was staring at the wallpaper with something close to revulsion.

    “It was good that was the only thing that woman wanted in exchange for letting us see James,” she said, her lips pursed. “And luckily she was pretty too.”

    Remus looked extremely uncomfortable. “Not that pretty,” he said. Ouch. Wrong answer, Remus.

    I was distracted by the doors in front of us opening again, and Sirius coming out. Good thing too, because I was starting to rather stay with James at the moment than with the tense couple.

    “How was it?” Gaby asked.

    Sirius shook his head, forcing a smile “Well, they’re saying he’s doing okay. He just has to sleep for a few days and take all the potions they’re giving him.” I noticed that he, just like Mr. Potter, didn’t seem too comforted by this.

    “Well, was he happy to see you?” Henn asked. Sirius didn’t say anything. I felt his eyes on me, but didn’t look at him.

    “He's unconscious.” I said while staring at the floor. I expected everyone to glare at me accusingly after hearing that statement, but thankfully, no one said anything. “Um…well, I have to get back. Henn, can you call my dad for me and tell him I’m fine and I should be home in a few days?”

    Henn raised her eyebrows at this. “Are you sure you don’t want to be the one to call him?”

    No way in hell. “Um…I don’t want to leave James right now, and I think my dad should know I’m okay.”

    Henn didn’t seem to want to argue about this. “All right, I’ll call him then.”

    “Okay.” I said, smiling. “So, where are you guys staying?”

    “Henn’s house.” Gaby said. “It’s the closest to here—so we thought it would be the best. That way we can come by tomorrow again.”

    “Okay. Till tomorrow then.” I said, and then proceeded in hugging everyone. “I’ll send an owl or something if James gets better.”

    Henn nodded, coming to hug me again. “You gave us quite a scare,” she said softly in my ear.

    I forced a smile. “I’m fine though, don’t worry.”

    Somehow, I felt like that was the biggest lie I had ever told.

    I gave them each another hug, then went through the double doors, ready to get back to James. I sighed, my own words ringing in my head. I’m fine. Don’t worry. I’m fine.

    I hoped we would be.

    A/N: Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? Well, I can honestly say that this was one of the hardest chapters I've ever written. It's so important to the story that I wanted to make it just right, so I took a really long time to edit and stuff. I hope that you all liked it...I'm pretty satisified with the end result, even if I did change it a lot.

    All right, obviously, only JKR really knows how Lily and James "thrice defied" Voldemort. Since I'm planning on writing this story until the Potters' deaths, I need to put in three encounters, don't I? So I thought Voldemort crashing their graduation ceremony would be a good idea. I'm sorry if a lot of you disagree...but remember, this is just a theory. And later on things will be clarified, so don't worry if you're a little confused now. I wouldn't be surprised...I'm not very good at writing action scenes, unfortunately.

    Oh, and I can't believe we're at more than 1000 reviews now! I love you guys, you know that?

    Anyway! I hope you liked it!

    - Katie

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