A/N: I GOT TRUSTED AUTHOR!! YAY! As a bit of celebration, here's chapter 10! :-)
A soft hand was in his own, it was a very small and delicate hand, and James took in the fact that if he never held another hand again, he could die happy knowing that this one hand had once been in his own. But he couldn't yet open his eyes to see who the hand belonged to; he was still recovering from having to relive some of his worst memories...the ones that kept him up at night, shivering and shaking. The memories that could keep him wondering what if that situation hadn't worked out right?
The tiny hand in his was rubbing its thumb gently across the top of his, and it sent a warm tingling sensation throughout him. He could finally hear a soft humming to the tune of a warm, soothing song. The hand and the humming that accompanied it, made James never want to leave the bed he was lying in. He felt his fears wash away, he felt stronger, and finally he opened his eyes.
Lily Evans was at his side, not looking at his face, but at his hand in hers, humming absently to herself. Though she was slightly blurred in James' vision, he could tell she looked pale, as though she'd been worried for a long time. A strand of her auburn hair was falling slightly into her face as her stunning eyes followed her thumb's gentle rubbing on James' hand. James felt a rush, Lily Evans was sitting next to him, alone in the...he blinked and looked up at his blurry surroundings...Hospital Wing, just waiting for him to be alright.
Almost suddenly, Lily stopped humming, and James let his eyes roam back to her. He smiled slightly when his hazel eyes met her green ones.
"Morning sunshine," she smiled lightly at him. "Feel better?"
James didn't answer, but simply looked at Lily curiously.
"What was that song you were humming?" he asked gently.
He concealed his grin as Lily's face grew red in a blush. He knew she didn't really mean for a conscious James to hear her humming to him, but he did notice she'd yet to release his hand.
"Amazing Grace," she responded just as softly. "My mum sang it to me when I was sick as a child; it always made me feel better, and still does now, even though I'm not so sure I believe its words..."
"There are words to it?"
"Could you sing it to me?"
"Maybe someday," Lily smiled. "But not today."
She slowly removed her hand from his and reached it up to gently swipe away some of the hair that had fallen into his face. He felt a light blush creep onto his own cheeks, but Lily seemed to ignore it. She handed him his glasses, and when his world was clear again he watched as she pulled something out of her pocket.
"Here, Madam Pomfrey told me to give you this when you wake," she said, handing James a bar of chocolate. He took it dutifully. This was not his first encounter with a Dementor, but it was certainly the first time he felt the chocolate was no longer necessary. In James' mind, he felt that Lily had already done everything possible to make him better...and all with the touch of her hand.
The still Hospital Wing suddenly burst into sound as the doors sprang open and three boys came running inside.
"JAMES!" Sirius shouted, leaping onto James' bed, and legs, making James groan with slight irritation that his moment with Lily was brutally over. "What happened man? This crazy Remus fellow here tells me you fainted!"
"I said he had a run in with a Dementor and passed out," Remus sighed. "Men do not faint."
"Well then, James obviously isn't a man," Peter shrugged. "If he fainted..."
"Hey! I resent that statement, and need I remind you that I'm twice the man Padfoot over there is," James grinned, now glad that his friends were with him.
"Pssh, you wish Prongs," Sirius laughed. "I believe we've had this discussion before, so, tell me what happened."
"If he fainted, how would he know, dumb ass?" Peter asked.
"Fair point," Sirius nodded before looking over at Lily, who James had momentarily forgotten in his attempt to defend his manhood. "Miss Evans, Remus tells us you were at the scene of the crime, what happened?"
"We were on our way to the Library when Lucius Malfoy rounded the corner, that...thing...with him," Lily said, stumbling a bit when she mentioned the Dementor. James looked at her curiously, momentarily wondering if she even knew what a Dementor was. "And it took in a great breath and everything went cold, and I felt...horrible...all my worst memories came back to me, all my fears, everything."
Lily shuttered, all four boys sat silently, letting her have her moment.
"And then James got weak in the knees, so I tried to catch him, Malfoy just stood there and laughed," she growled, "and that beast took a few more breaths before James passed out completely. Then Dumbledore showed up, and he was furious. I believe there's been...an agreement made, between the Board and the Ministry, hence the reason Malfoy was here in the first place."
"Of what sort?"
"Don't quote me on this, I've only had about a half hour to contemplate this while Sleeping Beauty here was out," she said, nodding at James, who stuck his tongue out in response. "But I think the Board has decreed that Hogwarts will be less venerable to attack if the school is guarded. Dumbledore was in here a while ago talking with Madam Pomfrey, and someone from Voldemort's side has informed the Ministry that Voldemort would give anything to brainwash the youths into his will."
"He's recruiting students?" James asked incredulously.
"Don't be ridiculous," Lily reprimanded. "Voldemort's not an idiot. Not even the best students here are going to be able to keep up with him yet! A student is more risk than they're worth. Our minds are not yet powerful enough to fight off intrusion from powerful enough wizards, nor are we fully trained. No, Voldemort will only take adults right now. He's not that desperate, he can wait for them to graduate. But what would help these students along is if he controlled this school. He could teach students exactly what he wished them to already know when the time comes for them to join his ranks."
A stunned silence followed Lily's words. Sirius was shifting uncomfortably at the foot of James' bed, trying, James imagined, to think on anything other than what would happen to him if Voldemort got a hold of Hogwarts. Peter and Remus were sitting somewhat awestruck by Lily's words at James' side. James found himself curiously shifting through Lily's words in an attempt to find something flawed with them.
"But," Peter stumbled for a moment before regaining his thought pattern. "We have Dumbledore protecting us."
"Dumbledore can only do so much," Lily stated. "The Ministry wishes to guard the school with Dementors, which is ridiculous and setting us up just for the attack Voldemort wishes. Those are Dark creatures, and he is the Dark Lord Voldemort, is he not? They are part of his army, I swear to Merlin they are. No, they haven't abandoned Azkaban and let any of his captured followers out, but it's only a matter of time."
That took care of James' inquiry as to whether or not Lily knew what Dementors were.
"No one's ever escaped Azkaban, Lily," Sirius protested. "It's too heavily guarded."
"It's only a matter of time," Lily said again.
"Hey Lily?" James inquired softly. "Where did you learn so much about Dementors?"
Lily was silent and she looked at James as though trying to read why he was so curious about her information. Her silence grew all the more, causing the other Marauders to look at her questioningly as well.
"Let's just say that you are not the only one to have housed a runaway this summer," she answered at last, though the tone of finality in her voice was unmistakable. She would not answer them directly, and by the uneasy look on Sirius' face, James noticed that he was not the only one disturbed by Lily's reply.
The dungeons were an ideal place to escape, they were quiet and peaceful, they held most any ingredient for a distracting potion, should one so desire. Lily also found that, for the majority of the time, kept her safe from the prying eyes of Marauders. Sirius had a habit of avoiding the dungeons like the plague because there were far too many Slytherins that were familiar with the area, and James usually stayed with Sirius. Remus would occasionally venture down if he was looking for Lily or for Potions homework assignments and Lily hadn't seen Peter in the dungeons since fourth year.
James had been released not too long after he'd woken up, and he and the other Marauder's had decided it was high time to play another rousing game of Cat and Mouse which usually involved the Marauders playing the role of the hidden 'cats' and causing students who happen by their hiding place to become the 'mouse' which usually meant they ended up in the Hospital Wing trying to remove an extra nose. Then again, sometimes it meant that they would stalk Mrs. Norris and attempt all sorts of rude things to her...like giving her a new hair do that usually involved some sort of super glue, feathers, and itching powder.
She had borrowed some key ingredients from Slughorn's cupboard and found an empty classroom to set up her cauldron in. She was nearly halfway done with her Potion. It amazed her how calming making Potions was. She could do it for hours, she was certain. A warm smell of honey and cinnamon began to fill the room, in addition to the smell of grass and a large forest.
Amortentia was Lily's favorite Potion to make. She never used it, but she loved the way it smelled in addition to its beautiful coloring. She smiled down at the azure potion. She was only a few more ingredients, three counter-clockwise stirs, and a twenty minute simmering time away from the mother-of-pearl colored potion that made her senses tingle.
"Love potions are banned, you know," an oily voice from the doorway stated. Lily was not surprised and did not look up. Snape was a frequent visitor of hers when she was in the dungeons, and knew very well her gifts at making such potions.
"What would Evans want with a Love Potion, Severus?" a second voice inquired. This voice, however, did make Lily jump, and her emerald eyes snapped up to see Evan Rosier standing in the doorway with Snape and Regulus Black.
"Perhaps she wishes to catch the eye of someone more worthy than she," Regulus said. His voice was uncannily like Sirius'.
Most of him, in fact, was remarkably like Sirius. They had the same hair, the same eyes, and the same angular face. However, Sirius' nose was more flared, and his argent eyes were brighter and had a wild, untamed air to them; Regulus' nose was extremely sharp, and his silver eyes were slightly darker and gave off the desire to please. Regulus stood just a bit taller than Sirius' six foot build, though his body was much thinner than the muscular figure Sirius had. At the same time, both brothers held the unmistakably haughty air of a highly trained Pureblood, a trait Lily would never tell Sirius that she noticed he shared with his brother. "What are you doing with that Evans?"
Lily glared at the three boys, unimpressed. Aside from the fact that she knew Snape wouldn't see her hurt, Rosier and Regulus did not intimidate her either.
"Selling it of course," she rolled her eyes at him. "One can make a fortune off pathetic souls who can't get love for themselves."
"You lie," Rosier stated, though he and Regulus seemed taken aback by her very Slytherin answer.
"Do I?" she challenged, raising an arched eyebrow at the three.
"Certainly," Snape said, speaking again since the first time she'd heard him earlier. "Your morals are higher than money."
"And you would know."
If he caught the hint of her words at all he didn't show it. His beetle black eyes hardened little as he glared at her. Neither of the other two boys knew what she was talking about, they probably only assumed she was just talking.
"You may leave now," Lily directed, having grown bored with the boys. She turned her attention back to the potion, adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract and two pinches of aconite. "I've got a potion to finish."
This did not seem to impress Rosier, who had been bested by Lily once before.
"I'm going no where Mudblood," he hissed, stepping forward and into the classroom. Lily watched him from the corner of her eye, though she continued with the potion. "We've got a score to settle."
"Have we now?"
"Yes, and you can bet there'll be no Potter or Black here to save you this time."
"There's a Black in this room," Lily sighed. "Though I doubt very much he'd help me, should I need it, but as I told you last time Rosier, you don't scare me."
"And you, Mudblood, don't scare me."
"Well that's just bloody fantastic, isn't it?" Lily snapped, looking back up at him, finally pulling herself away from the potion and face Rosier properly. Though he towered over her, and he was physically much stronger than she was, she had no problem sticking her finger in his face in a strict matter. "Let me tell you something Rosier! You have no business coming down here, barging in on my Potions making and attempting to tell me what to do! This potion's not so far along that without a few choice ingredients, I can't turn it into a deadly skin rotting solution that with one drop will have you withering on your knees begging me for an antidote!"
Rosier gave a short, half hearted laugh, causing Lily to smirk. She'd intimidated him, now all she had to do was hope that Snape didn't call her out on her bluff.
"You wouldn't dare."
"Nor would apparently dare to sell Love Potions and wrap unwilling bystanders into love affairs with someone they'd never notice, but I tend to dare to do things, just to shake up the natural order of life at Hogwarts, now leave."
"You can't do anything Evans," Snape's cool voice said as he slipped between her and Rosier. So much for hoping. "The most you could do is set up a smoke screen get away. You really shouldn't play on their naïveté of these things."
"You would do the same to Sirius or James, so can it," she argued.
"Black and Potter would deserve to have their skins melted slowly off of them."
"Aye? As would this one for threatening me!"
"That's all he's done!" Snape flared. "He's never once laid a hand on you, Potter and Black have tormented me for years!"
"What has this got to do with me?"
"You defend them!"
Lily was utterly baffled, she couldn't see how Snape's loathing of Sirius and James had anything to do with her false threat to Rosier for his false threats to her. She glanced over Snape's shoulder to Regulus and Rosier, though they seemed unabashed by Snape's outburst.
"What has this got to do with anything?" she asked, confused.
"It has everything to do with it," Snape said, calmer now. "We need your help."
"And you expect me to give it to you after the way you three have been talking to me?" Lily sniggered. "Forget it."
Regulus took a step forward this time, his wand twirling almost menacingly between his fingers. There was an odd smile on his face that Lily found far from assuring. It scared her more than any threat Rosier had given her. It gave her an unwelcome flashback of Bellatrix Lestrange.
"My dear Mudblood," he said, his smooth voice dripping with the elegance of a predator seeking its prey. "You seem to be under the impression that you have a choice. My darling cousin, you see, wrote me a most interesting letter before the Dementors arrived. She seems to have uncovered a memory from your mind when she was tormenting you."
Lily felt her throat tighten as Regulus spoke. Her mind was buzzing with a million different excuses, the main one being that they could never prove it, her eyes flew to Snape, who wasn't letting any emotions pass his face. She looked back at Regulus who was smirking even more broadly, his slowly twirling wand moving ever faster.
"These two have been rather curious as to what that memory was, Miss Evans," Regulus sneered, indicating Snape and Rosier. "I myself was as disgusted as my cousin was to discover how my...brother...is choosing to waste himself. I couldn't possibly bring myself to retell such a scandal. Perhaps you would care to enlighten them?"
His grey eyes sparkled with malicious intent and his wand was whirling at an unholy speed now.
"You know nothing," she spat, though her eyes were wide at his words, and he was unconvinced by hers. "You have nothing."
"Nothing?" he smirked, his dark eyebrows rose in mock surprise. "Well I do suppose anything involving my brother or you could be surmised to nothing, Miss Evans, but do tell me, was he any good?"
A fourth masculine voice joined the other three, and this one was much warmer, and well welcomed in comparison to the other three. Remus stood in the door now, behind the three Slytherins, his amber eyes and his concerned face gave off a defensive air, he looked at Lily questioningly. His wand was out, and she gave him a relieved smile for the interruption.
Regulus let out a hiss of annoyance, Rosier dropped his shoulders with disappointment while Snape continued to hold his stony glare of indifference. Regulus, evidently, wasn't going to share Lily's secret with them while Remus was there. Regulus turned back to Lily.
"Well finish this later," he threatened, before he turned on his heel leaving the classroom. Rosier followed the suit; though he made sure his shoulder collided roughly into Remus'. Remus glared at the retreating Slytherin, but didn't retaliate. Snape stayed for a few moments, his black eyes staring harshly into Lily's emerald ones, before he tossed Remus a glare and swept out of the classroom.
"What was that about?"
The potion had sat too long and its sweet scent was turning quickly into a rotting one. Lily didn't answer Remus right away; instead she set to the task of cleaning away her now ruined potion. Remus sat against a desk patiently watching her. She knew he could wait, he could always wait. It was how he learned about her and Sirius. He patiently told her his suspicions and waited for her to confirm them with her silence.
"Regulus knows," she stated finally, her stress and worry evident in her voice. "I think they plan to try to blackmail me into helping them with something."
"They're going to pull that, with Dementors here?"
"I've told you before, the Dementors are here as Voldemort's tool, nothing more," she said, giving Remus a warning glance. "And they have nothing to do with what goes on in the school, they are supposed to be here to help guard the borders. Nothing to do with what's happening inside. Malfoy never should have brought that Dementor in here."
She hissed slightly as her knuckle hit the side of her cauldron because she was scrubbing with far more force than necessary. She could feel Remus' eyes staring at the back of her head with expectancy. He was so damn infuriating with his impeccable way of getting the knowledge that he wanted.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Neither of you seem to want to, but you can't hide from James forever Lily."
"I'm not hiding!" Lily snapped turning away from her cauldron to face Remus. "I'm agreeing with Sirius in saying its better off for James if he doesn't know."
"And what if Regulus tells him before the two of you get to?"
"What do I care?" she lied, though her temper tried to make it sound convincing.
"First of all," he said, his voice keeping her mouth shut and forcing her to listen, "you care an awful lot. You sat by James' side the entire time he was unconscious..."
"That was just—"
"It was something, because you sang to him, he told us, and I know you Lily and you sing only to those who mean the most to you."
"Second of all, he is your boyfriend's best friend, and if Sirius is unhappy because his friendship has gone down the drain because of you, you'll hate yourself for not telling James first."
"And lastly, you care for James, deny it though you will, James is a part of you now. You saved his life, and he yours, that's something more intimate than even you and Sirius have shared, and I know how intimate the two of you have been. So do not tell me you don't care, because you do care and you know it," Remus concluded his voice was final.
Lily was stunned into silence. Her pride was struggling to think of one retaliation for Remus, but could find none. Remus was right and she could not logically argue against him. Frustrated, embarrassed, and with nothing else she could do, Lily returned to her cauldron, sulking slightly.
"So why did you come here?" she asked, trying to keep his words from her mind.
"Sirius wants to see you."
In the distance Lily could see dark shadows just hovering above the tree line and an uncomfortable shiver ran down her spine, accompanying the uncomfortable thoughts in her head. Lily was well out of view of the castle before she felt a familiar pair of arms wrap around her waist and she felt chill bumps when Sirius put his lips to her neck. Her mind was still trapped around Regulus and Remus' conflicting words in addition to the new emotion she was feeling...something akin to guilt. She wanted to stop Sirius, to warn him about what had happened in the dungeons, but his tongue was currently behind her ear and rendering her quite incapable of speech.
"Mmmm," Sirius's warm breath tickled her ear as his voice rumbled through is lips. "I missed you. You spend too much time in those dungeons with those silly potions."
"Jealous?" she breathed. Perhaps one more worry free snog would be good for him, for both of them. It certainly couldn't hurt anything. She could picture her inner Prefect rolling her eyes and saying she truly was letting Sirius corrupt her with carefree thoughts like that.
"Hardly," Sirius said, spinning Lily around and smirking at her before his lips crashed onto hers. He backed her into a tree and Lily wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him and his kisses closer to her. He was just the distraction she'd needed all this time. She almost got the feeling that he too had something he wanted to share, but felt the need to get this out of the way first. She felt a rush as his tongue managed its way into her mouth, and another one as his hands slipped down to her waist, pulling her closer to him.
She closed her eyes and enjoyed the feeling as his hands gently massaged the sides of her waist. He pressed himself more firmly against her and Lily felt another rush as his hands started to slip under her shirt and were now brushing lightly against her stomach. Her heart was racing and she pressed her lips more firmly against his. An odd chill ran down her spine as he started to unbutton her shirt, and her breath caught in her throat as his finger tips grazed the skin on her stomach, her ribs...her chest.
"Sirius," she whispered, her lips just parting from his. But she quickly had his mouth back on hers. He growled against them, taking her movement as incentive to keep going. She knew he was about to do just that when a twig snapped behind her and there was an oddly mechanical click. Sirius jumped and looked over her shoulder to the unseen intruder and suddenly pulled her close to him in a fierce, protecting manner. Lily heard footsteps running away.
"Shit," Sirius breathed, his silver eyes clouded with a mixture of anger and fear, he loosened his grip on her as the footfalls faded away. "SHIT! Snivellus."
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