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Chapter 14: Return to Hogwarts
Lily woke early the next morning. She decided to get up since she knew she that now she was awake she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. She got out of bed and made her way across the room quietly because James was still asleep. When she reached the door she looked back at him sleeping peacefully in her bed. They hadn’t gotten back from the Mood Room until late last night and James didn’t go asleep until after Lily had. He still insisted on staying with her every night. He said he wanted to protect and comfort her. Lily didn’t mind him staying, in fact she liked knowing he was there beside her if anything happened. She laughed to herself as she remembered the looks on her friends faces when they found out she and James were staying in the same room. Nothing she said to them could convince them it was completely innocent.

She walked quietly down the stairs and made her way towards the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She was surprised to see one of the chairs at the table was already occupied.

“Remus? What are you doing up this early?” she asked him.

Remus jumped when he heard her, he hadn’t been expecting anyone to be up yet. “Couldn’t sleep. What about you?”

“Me neither, too many things to think about,” she told him.

Remus looked at her sadly. She hadn’t been the same cheerful, full of life Lily she used to be. She tried to act normally when everyone was around but he knew the death of her parents still hurt her deeply.

“How have you been?” he asked slowly, not sure how she would react. “I never gad much of a chance to talk to you since we came,”

Lily smiled at her thoughtfulness. She really liked Remus. She had gotten to know him a lot better over their two years as Prefects. She always wondered how a caring, sensitive, quiet guy like Remus had ended up with best friends like James and Sirius. But James wasn’t really as bad as she thought, and Sirius? Well, he was just Sirius.

“I’m ok,” she answered quietly. “I miss them a lot. It still hurts. It is so hard to believe they are actually gone, that I will never see them again. Sometimes I think, even hope, that this is all a dream, that it never happened. But I finally excepted it. James helped me to say goodbye to them. It was so hard, but saying goodbye always is.” She looked up at Remus with tears in her eyes. “Especially when you know it is for the last time.”

Remus got up and walked over beside her. “We are always here for you, you know that right? All of us,”

“Even Sirius?” she smiled sadly.

“Even Sirius,” Remus laughed. “He can help when he wants to , he just prefers to cause trouble.” He looked at Lily again. “Really Lily, you don’t have to do this alone. You have friends who will help you through it,” he told her.

Lily smiled at him and gave him a hug. “Thank you Remus,” she said before the tears finally burst their barriers and rolled silently down her cheeks. But not all of them were tears of grief, some of them were tears of happiness for knowing she still had people who cared for her.

A few hours later Lily was up in her room getting her trunk before leaving for Hogwarts. Since all her belongings had been destroyed Mrs Potter went to Diagon Alley and had bought her all new things. She tried to refuse but Mrs Potter insisted she was one of the family and that she wanted to do it. Sirius said Potter was a refuge for stray teenagers that needed somewhere to stay and eat. Lily laughed at this. She was glad she was considered as part of their very strange and unusual family. Even though her own family was gone she was happy she still had people who loved her.

Before she knew it she was down in the living room getting ready to go back to Hogwarts. She turned to a tearful Mrs Potter.

“Thank you for everything Mrs Potter. It was really wonderful of you to let me stay here,”

“It was no problem dear, I was happy to. Mr Potter and I were so glad to meet you. And please, call me mum,” Mrs Potter said giving Lily a hug.

Sirius laughed. “Welcome to the family my dear sister. No…” he said thinking. “That can’t be right. If you’re my sister, then that means you are Prong’s too, so then…Urgh! Don’t want to think about that,” he said pretending to shudder.

Lily laughed with more tears in her eyes. “Do they ever stop?” she asked herself angrily, wiping the tears from her eyes before turning again to Mrs Potter and Mr Potter who had appeared behind her.

“It really was great meeting you Lily. You have to come back soon, you are the only one who can keep our James in line,” Mr Potter smiled at her. Everyone in the room laughed.

“We hope you will spend Christmas and summer here dear. It has been lovely having another woman in the house. Things get a bit lonely when there is only these three here talking about Quidditch all day,” Mrs Potter said glancing at James, Sirius and Mr Potter.

“I would love to stay here. Thank you,” Lily said smiling and giving Mr and Mrs Potter another hug.

“That is if James doesn’t frighten you off,” Mr Potter said making everyone laugh again.

“It was lovely meeting you girls too,” Mrs Potter said to Alice and Jo. “We hope you come and visit again,”

“I don’t think that is a very wise decision Mom. You shouldn’t put thoughts like that in their heads, it could be dangerous,” said Sirius looking at Jo who smiled evilly at him. Neither of them had yet admitted how they felt towards each other.

At Sirius’ comment everyone cracked up laughing again before making their way towards the fire, where they would Floo to Hogwarts. With final goodbyes everyone went into the flames one by one with their trunks and disappeared until their was only James and Lily left.

“Are you ready to go back?” he asked her.

“I don’t know,” she said, though she was shaking slightly and her stomach was in knots from nerves.

James took her hand. “Don’t worry Lils. I’ll be there with you,” he said giving her a kiss on the cheek before she said goodbye once again to Mr and Mrs Potter and disappeared into the flames. James turned to say goodbye to his parents.

“Don’t lose her James. She is one of a kind,” Mr Potter said giving his son a quick hug. “Have a good term and be careful,”

“Watch out for Lily, Ok James? She needs you,” Mrs Potter said before nearly choking him with a hug.

“I will, don’t worry. I won’t let anything happen to her. I’ll see you at Christmas. Bye!” James said before he too disappeared in the green flames.

He fell out of the fire in McGonnagall’s office moments later. He picked himself off the ground and turned to see Professor McGonnagall at her desk.

“Welcome back Mr Potter,” she said.

“It’s good to be back Professor,” he replied before leaving her office where Lily, Sirius, Remus, Jo and Alice were waiting for him.

Together the six of them made their way back to Gryffindor Tower. James walked beside Lily with his arm around her waist for comfort. He knew she was nervous about what people were going to say about her. They all walked in complete silence (which was very strange considering Sirius was with them) until they entered the common room. As they entered the usually noisy students went silent, looking at them.

“Well,” said Sirius. “Glad to see they haven’t forgotten us.” With that he walked over to an empty corner of the room and the others followed sitting down on the armchairs. Since there was only three of them Sirius and Jo sat on the floor, Remus and Alice took the two seats and James sat on the last chair with Lily on his lap. This last movement had caused the whole room to go into shock. Everyone stared at them before breaking into whispers.

“They are TOGETHER?”

“Why did he choose her? She isn’t that good looking,”

“I thought I was next?”

“He said he had given up,”

“I thought she hated him?”

“What does she see in him?”

“Do you think he threatened to kill him, like she killed her parents?”

This last remark made Lily go very stiff. The others looked ready to kill, especially James. He hadn’t been there to hear the other comments and rumours before so he wasn’t expecting this. The others knew someone was going to say something, but they didn’t think it would be a Gryffindor. Or that they would say it in front of Lily.

James, Sirius, Remus, Alice and Jo all jumped up at the same time and pulled out their wands, pointing them at the crowd.

“No one is to EVER say that again,” James shouted. “ It is not true and I am disgusted that a Gryffindor would even believe it. None of you are ever to say anything about Lily again, do you hear me? Because if you do, you will have the Marauders to deal with, and we can be vicious if you hurt any of our friends. Understand?”

A stunned silence filled the room. James sat back down with Lily, followed rather grudgingly by the others. Sirius and Jo continued to cast murderous looks around the room but James turned his attention to Lily who was nearly crying.

“How could they even think I would do something like that? It's horrible,”

“Don’t listen to them Lils. They don’t understand. No one apart from us, Dumbledore and a few teachers know what happened. They just want to find out what happened and are using everything they can to try to get us to talk. Even pure cruelty,” James said throwing an angry look around the room.

Lily paid no attention to the looks of jealously or any threatening looks she was receiving from every girl in the room and laid her head down on James shoulder. He put his arms around her and drew her close to him. He then looked threateningly around the room as if daring anyone to say something.

“Prongs! Padfoot! Moony! You’re back!” shouted a voice from the staircase.

They all looked up to see Peter Pettigrew running towards them.

“Wormtail! Where have you been? We have barely seen you all year,” said Sirius looking at him. Peter grinned guiltily.

“I’m sorry. I had to…had to take…take a lot of tutoring sessions for my N.E.W.Ts,” Peter said quickly.

They all nodded. None of them questioned him as they knew he needed a lot of help in his classes.

Peter looked around the group. They all looked a bit angry and tired. His eyes then rested on Lily’s. He saw they were filled with pain, hurt and grief. He shuddered on the inside when he saw it and couldn’t help but think “I caused that pain. Every bad thing she is feeling, every tear she has shed, it is all my fault,”

As he watched, more tears fell from her eyes onto James shirt. He felt sick. He had hurt Lily, James girlfriend, fellow Gryffindor and friend. She was always so nice to him and he repaid her by ruining her life. “What have I done?”

A/N: Ok so HUGE hint there at the end as to who was behind all this! Please review!! Thanks fore reading! = )

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