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    I had been cleaning the bathroom as ordered by Grace when I overheard Henn and Gaby talking in the kitchen, taking over the cooking since Grace was out doing groceries. They probably thought I couldn’t hear, or I was still sleeping as I should. It was six o’ clock in the morning, after all. Grace had woken everyone up to start preparing for Gaby’s going away party. She had spared me because I had to wake up early anyway for Auror training, but the kitchen pans were clanging particularly loudly at one another, and neither Henn nor Gaby were attempting to be quiet as they grudgingly started cooking the ham. Although not nearly as extravagant a feast as our house warming party had had, Grace was still determined to feed all of us as thoroughly as we had been fed at Hogwarts.

    I had tried to sleep again for another hour, but it soon proved to be difficult. Instead of loitering about, I decided to make myself useful so that Grace wouldn’t begrudge me later for not helping out. Knowing that I had no decent cooking experience, I started making the bathroom especially clean. That was when I overhead them.

    “…not really that bad after a while,” Henn was saying. “You’ll get used to it. The first week is the hardest.”

    “Do you miss it here?” Gaby asked. They were talking in whispers, probably so that I wouldn’t hear or wake up. Well, too late for that.

    “Sometimes,” admitted Henn. “Mostly I miss you guys, and Aaron. But my life is there now, you know? And it’ll be the same for you when you move to Venezuela.”

    I felt my stomach drop. It was a strange feeling; we had known all this summer that Gaby would be leaving. But for some reason, the truth only hit me now as I crouched by the toilet with my wand pointing at a soapy sponge that hovered in the air as my concentration on the cleaning spell wavered.

    “How are you feeling about it?” said Henn.

    “Well, I’m obviously sad,” replied Gaby. “But to tell you the truth…I’m also excited. Is that wrong?”

    “No,” said Henn even as I scrunched my face up in annoyance. “You should be. It’s the next phase of your life.”

    “I have to tie up everything here,” said Gaby. “I don’t want any loose ends before I leave.”

    “Of course.” She spoke as if she knew exactly what she was talking about. I waited for perhaps an explanation, but there was none.

    There was a momentary semi-silence as I heard one of them opening the oven and sliding something in. For two people who attempted to keep me sleeping by whispering so diligently, they sure were making a hell of a lot of noise with those pans.

    “Do you ever worry?” Gaby said suddenly. “I mean, about us?”

    “Always,” Henn replied immediately. “Especially about Lily and Grace.”

    “Tell me about it,” said Gaby, and even though I could not see her, I knew that she was scrunching up her face in those familiar lines of worry while biting her lip. “I’m afraid they’ll worsen when I’m gone.”

    At this I dropped the sponge and gasped in outrage, but not loudly enough for them to hear. It wasn’t like we were psycho cases or something!

    Henn clucked her tongue understandingly. “Let’s hope not.”

    “I just wish Lily would come to her senses. And Grace would stop acting like an idiot every time she’s around Remus.” She paused as both of them laughed appreciatively. “I mean, Merlin, can you imagine how they’ll both be tonight?”

    Perhaps it was because I was being bashed as well, but suddenly I felt like they had said enough about Grace. I slid off my rubber gloves and stepped out into the hall, saying with what I hoped was a groggy voice, “Henn? Gaby? You two here?”

    As I rounded the corner and into the kitchen I noticed dryly that they were both smiling at one another as they leaned against the counter as if sharing a private joke. I scowled. “Morning,” I said a little snappishly.

    “Grace is out doing groceries,” said Henn as she handed me freshly made coffee. “So she decided to make us slave away at her dinner instead.”

    “You’ll be here, right?” Gaby asked. “You, James and Sirius?”

    “I don’t see why not. Auror training should be done by then.”

    “How marvelous for you,” said Henn. “You won’t have to submit to General Lawson.”

    “She’s not so bad,” I defended, and they both raised their eyebrows at me.

    “You’re just saying that because you weren’t woken up at five thirty in the morning.”

    I left soon after that.

    It happened at almost the end of class. We had all been excited because today we were actually practicing magic instead of just studying about it.

    The floor shook. A sound overhead blared in our ears. It resonated through the floors and walls.

    “What is this, an earthquake?” said one of the students stupidly.

    “It’s an alarm, you idiot,” snapped Moody. He looked at all of us, his magical eye whizzing around the room too fast to follow. “It’s happening.”

    “What is?” asked Alice, her face white.

    “An attack,” replied Moody grimly as he made his way to the door. For a man with only one leg, he made quick progress. He slammed the door open so that it banged against the wall and bounded back. From the doorway, he looked at all of us, frozen in the classroom, not knowing what to do. “Well?” he barked. “You coming?”

    He left without another word. Immediately, arguments arouse.

    “Is he crazy?” said a boy, his voice high-pitched. “We can’t fight!”

    “We barely know anything,” conceded another.

    I didn’t hear the rest. I had followed Moody as soon as he called, along with James, Sirius, and Alice.

    It was absolute havoc in the Auror offices. Everywhere there were people running about, shouting at one another as several Disapparated in intervals amongst them. Moody was one of them.

    “Where are we supposed to go?” I heard a student say behind me, evidently amongst the few who had decided to come along and fight. I ignored him and instead observed those around me to see if they’d give any indication.

    My response was given when I heard a voice resonate in the room as if through speakers.

    “All wizards and witches able must immediately report to London. There has been a Death Eater attack—”

    Upon hearing the destination, I blanched. It was downtown, not very far from our flat.

    Sirius was thinking the same thing. “I hope Gaby doesn’t do anything stupid,” he said grimly, before Disapparating on the spot.

    I was about to do the same when I felt James grab me. For a moment I thought that he was going to protest on me going, and perhaps he was. But as soon as he saw the look in my face his face changed, realizing that I had the same resolve as he. He touched my face, and kissed me quickly on the forehead. “Don’t die,” he said fervently then turned on his heel and disappeared.

    “I can’t believe this is happening,” whispered Alice.

    For a moment I stood there, frozen. Then I came to my senses to the wildness around me. “Let’s go,” I said, and then Disapparated.

    I did not have time to see if Alice had followed me, for as soon as I arrived at the scene spells were being shot at me by the same hooded figures that I had encountered at Hogwarts. I deflected it and shot another spell in retaliation. Everyone was screaming about me. To my horror, I saw Muggles running about, being shot defenseless and falling to the floor. A light post lay smashed and fallen in front of me, uprooted from the street.

    I felt something whoosh past me, and whirled around as a spell missed me by inches, skimming my robes. I stared at my masked attacker as he raised his wand again, this time with deadly intent. I was whipping out my own when James threw himself in front of me and disarmed the attacker.

    “Stupefy!” he yelled, and the robed figure fell to the floor, trampled almost immediately by a rush of people fleeing the scene.

    I couldn’t thank him; soon we were back-to-back, sending spells flying in the direction of the Death Eaters who were steadily surrounding us. Unsurprisingly, I found Sirius at my side. I wondered when he had gotten there, but knew that in a time such as this he would never leave James’ side.

    In the frenzy of it all, I realized that everywhere there were bodies piled and strewn upon the street. Many of them were Muggles. It was a massacre. I recognized some of our own forces every now and then, distributed amongst the enemy like pinpoints of color in a mass of black robed figures. I couldn’t tell if there were more of them or more of us.

    It was more of a feeling than anything else. One moment I was fighting, completely concentrated on the enemy in front of me, the next I had stopped. I felt a prickling at my neck; a heavy weight in my stomach. Dimly I recognized that there were others who had stopped fighting as well. Even the Death Eaters were utterly silent and motionless. I looked about me and gasped.

    I had seen his face, once. Then, it was already hardly human and utterly evil. Now, if possible, his face was even more grotesque and distorted than before. His deathly pale face and evil, scarlet eyes had haunted me when I lay awake at night, unable to sleep with ghosts laying heavy burdens upon me. Lord Voldemort was the only hooded figure in the confusion who wasn’t wearing a mask. He walked along the suddenly still street as if strolling along a park, praising the handiwork about him. Then, quite suddenly, he threw his hands upon the air, and said, his voice ten times louder and ten times as cruel, “Blood traitors and Mudbloods! Your forces are diminishing about you. There is no more hope. Surrender now, and your lord will be merciful.”

    For a moment there was utter silence. Then, in bits and pieces of the crowd, noise erupted.

    “Never!” yelled Sirius, James roaring in approval alongside the rest of the forces amongst the crowd.

    I watched Voldemort, too frightened to move or scream. His lipless mouth then smiled, remorseless and cold. He turned to his Death Eaters. “Kill them all,” he said in that terrible voice of his, then vanished in black smoke and a whirl of robes.


    I turned to James, his wand out and shooting spells at where Voldemort had been a moment ago. “Fight us! FIGHT US!” he roared.

    And with that, the battle continued.

    But even as I fought, I began to realize that what Voldemort had said had not been merely to dishearten us. In the throng, I could hardly pinpoint where the rest of our Aurors were. The Death Eaters, emboldened, were approaching us with larger numbers and more proximity, rapidly closing the space between us so that James, Sirius and I were crushed against one another. In the corner of my mind, I realized that a building had been exploded, and now the debris was flying all about us, missing us by inches.

    I begun to panic. I heard the Death Eater directly across from me laugh maniacally. He raised his wand simultaneously alongside all of his companions beside him.

    But before I could think to disarm him, I got hit in the head, and everything went black.

    I could not open my eyes at first. It seemed to require an excessive amount of effort. Instead I lay upon something soft. I smelled something that if I had been in the right state of mind, would’ve had my mouth watering. I heard voices, whispering, but my head was in such a jumble that I could not distinguish one from the other, interpreting it simply as a mass of noise and sound.

    It was only when I heard my name that I began to differentiate who was speaking and who was not. Whoever it was, kept repeating it. “Lily. Lily. Lily.”

    Soon I realized that was not all they were saying.

    “Lily needs rest.”

    “Lily was hurt.”


    I could almost feel the strength to open my eyes now. I tried once in vain, then gave up. I moaned in frustration.

    At once everyone was silenced. I heard someone come near me. “Lily? Are you okay?”

    It was James.

    Suddenly, I felt that I needed to open my eyes.

    He looked blurry, but only at first. Soon I focused in on his face, dirty and smeared with dirt and blood, but otherwise healthy. He looked intensely relieved. Then I began to form my surroundings; I was in my living room. Apparently the soft thing I had been laying on was our couch. By the counter I saw Gaby and Sirius, looking apprehensive. Aaron, Remus, Grace, and Peter were surrounding the couch behind James. I felt something wet touch my forehead and heard myself muttering a protesting, “Ow.”

    “Does that hurt?” I looked up to see Henn’s worried face, wet towel in her hand.

    “A little,” I said, wincing. I tried to sit up, but was immediately impeded by James’ hands, gently forcing me back down.

    “You shouldn’t move,” he said. He stared at me for a moment, then inhaled deeply as if he hadn’t been breathing properly. “When I saw you go down…I thought for a moment, that perhaps you’d done exactly what I told you not to.”

    His hand was on my shoulder still. Instinctively, I reached up to put my own over it. “I’m fine,” I said to reassure him. He nodded, then glanced at our joined hands. “What happened?”

    “What happened?” repeated Gaby hysterically. “You almost got killed, that’s what happened!” Then, startlingly, she burst into tears, burying her face into her hands. Sirius held her around the shoulders, whispering soothingly in her ear.

    “I did not almost get killed,” I said exasperatedly.

    “What were you three thinking?” said Gaby, resurfacing from her hands and Sirius’ arms. “Going into a battle like that with almost zero experience—are you crazy?” She sniffed loudly, then snapped, “Is this how you decided to say goodbye to me? By putting yourselves in danger?”

    She had said something suddenly reminded me of what they had had planned for that night. “Goodbye? Oh, no…what about the party? Were any of you hurt? Where’s Kat and Leah?”

    “I owled them as soon as the fighting began,” said Henn grimly. “Not that they didn’t know already.” She stared at Remus, Peter, and Aaron. “As a matter of fact, I owled these guys as well, but they insisted on coming anyway. The stupid prats wanted to actually go out there and fight.

    “We barricaded ourselves in here,” said Grace bleakly, pointing to the furniture that lay stacked against the wall. “And put all sorts of defensive spells onto the flat. We didn’t want to leave, knowing that perhaps you guys would be out there.”

    “Are you okay, Lily?” asked Aaron. “Is your head hurting?”

    “Yes,” I said, suddenly realizing that it was particularly tender. “What exactly happened to my head?”

    “The debris from the exploded building,” answered Sirius quite calmly. “Knocked you right out. It was so fast that we thought that maybe a spell had shot at you from somewhere and—” He stopped, glancing at James.

    “Well, I’m fine,” I said, a bit impatiently, as everyone around me watched me in apprehensive silence. “Really. Although, I would like to know how the hell you two got me out of there. The last I remember we were—” I froze, remembering the panicking image of all those Death Eaters surrounding us.

    “Dumbledore came,” replied James. Even now, he looked thunderstruck and awed. “Just out of nowhere. He came along with a handful of other wizards. But as soon as the Death Eaters saw him…they couldn’t keep their cool anymore. They ran for it.”

    “But thankfully, didn’t step on you,” added Sirius cheerfully.

    I gaped. “What? Are you saying that while you two were having this epic battle—I was on the floor? Ready to be trampled on?”

    “I made sure you weren’t,” said James quickly.

    Our eyes met. I blushed.

    Grace was suddenly at the window. There was something about her look I didn’t like. As if, even now, she was afraid.

    From then on, we’d always be afraid.

    “Are you hungry, Lily?” Gaby was asking me, her earlier anger at me gone, yet still tearful. “We have all this food…”

    “No, not right now,” I said, closing my eyes momentarily as my head began to ache again.

    “I could use some food,” said Sirius. Out of all the people in the room, he seemed to be the least affected. The battle, although had made him solemn, also had clearly exhilarated him. I understood. It felt good, in a way, to be finally fighting back. Gratifying.

    I watched them go into the kitchen. “Water?” said Gaby.

    “Yes, please,” replied Sirius enthusiastically.

    Gaby reached for the cupboard above her where the glasses were. She stretched out on her tiptoes, the cups out of reach.

    “Here,” said Sirius, easily grabbing one from above her. Gaby looked up at him. They were very close.

    Then, quite suddenly, Gaby gasped, “Oh, Sirius!”

    He threw the cup to the side, and then they met halfway in a ferocious embrace, kissing one another madly. Just like that. As if they hadn’t had, oh, I don’t know, months of ridiculous fights and mind games which caught all of their friends in the middle, as if there had never been any Patricia or Jack, as if all they had done their entire lives was kiss and adore one another, without drama or tears or any of that.

    The rest of the party in the living room stared, gaping at the scene. Only Henn didn’t look shocked or surprised. In fact, she was smiling a little too knowingly for my taste, and suddenly I understood what Gaby and Henn had been discussing that morning about her leaving without any “loose ends.”

    James and I were still holding hands. The second time that day, our eyes met in that familiar way we had done hundreds of times before. He clutched my hand more tightly, then leaned towards me.

    “Oi! Get a room!” Peter finally said as all of our friends laughed their approval.

    James and I jerked away from one another. After a moment though, I realized that he was not talking to us. Gaby and Sirius were still kissing one another, now halfway upon the counter and still uncaring to all who watched.

    At Peter’s yell, they broke apart, gasping. “Okay,” said Gaby, and then in a flash, they were out of the kitchen and into the living room, rushing to Gaby and Grace’s bedroom and slamming the door shut.

    “Someone please put some sort of charm around that room,” said Remus tiredly, referring to the giggles that began to erupt from the room.

    “I’m on it,” said Grace, already casting the spell with her wand.

    “We really should eat all this food though. We don’t want it go to waste,” said Henn offhandedly.

    “I am hungry,” agreed Peter.

    “By all means, eat it then,” said Grace. “Merlin knows how long it took me—”

    Henn coughed. “Ahem!”

    “—I mean, all of us, to cook it all…”

    “Can someone help me to my room?” I asked, as everyone proceeded to go to the kitchen.

    “Oh, yeah. I got you, Lily,” said Henn, before James could open his mouth. She was at my side in a moment, helping me to sit up. I felt my head throb in protest.

    Before I could stand up, James was at my side as well. “Lily? Are you sure you’re okay?”

    “Yeah, are you?” I asked, eyeing the blood on his forehead.

    “It’s nothing,” he said, touching his head absentmindedly. “Just a scratch.”

    “I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said as Henn helped me down the corridor.

    “I doubt that we’ll have any Auror lessons tomorrow.”

    “Oh. You’re probably right.”

    “But I’ll be here anyway. To say goodbye to Gaby, and all.” He said it as if to reassure me. Somehow, it did. “Good night, Lily,” he said, his voice soft.

    Henn helped me get settled into bed. “Do you need anything?” she asked me.

    “Yeah. I’m fine.”

    “Do you want…James in here?”

    I blanched. “No. Why?”

    “Well, I thought that he wanted to talk to you, but I figured that I shouldn’t leave you two alone. You need rest. Right?” she asked, as if she was unsure herself.

    “Right. Goodnight, Henn.”


    She closed the door behind her. I heard Aaron saying something in the kitchen that made everyone laugh. I closed my eyes, and slept.

    I was the first one to wake up the next morning, which made sense, being that I was the first one asleep. I sat up in my bed and immediately felt my head hurt, but not nearly as much as the day before. I touched the back of my scalp gingerly, feeling the bruise.

    As I swung my feet over the bed, I realized that there was another cot in the room. I recognized Grace’s vibrant red head underneath the covers, next to Henn’s brown one in the next bed. For a moment, in my groggy, head-has-just-been-hit state, I wondered why. Then I remembered Gaby and Sirius’ passionate embrace last night. I chuckled to myself and carefully stepped around my friends, closing the door as gently as I could.

    I was very hungry. Immediately, I went to the kitchen, looking around for leftovers. Being that Henn and four boys had been eating here last night, I wasn’t very hopeful. I was proven correct when I found that our refrigerator was empty except for an unappetizing can of beets that I had no idea how it had gotten there.

    I sighed, looking about me. The furniture was still barricading the door, I realized. Suddenly, I was reliving the events of last night. Spells shooting everywhere, a terribly white face, James telling me, “Don’t die.”

    It was too much. I went to the window.

    Even here I could not escape last night’s memories. Police were everywhere. I remembered that the battle had taken place only a few streets over. I watched as two men in uniform talked to Mr. Livingston halfway down the street, probably inquiring if he knew anything of the happenings of last night. Mr. Livingston was waving his hands around furiously, trying to convey a point.

    At this I shut the window and dragged the curtains over it so that the kitchen was only bathed in half-light and shadows. I breathed in, then out, closing my eyes. When I opened them again I caught sight of the ham in the oven. In the midst of everything, my friends must’ve forgotten about the ham they had cooked last morning. I opened it and examined it. It wasn’t overcooked, just cold from sitting around all day. Nothing that a quick heating spell wouldn’t fix.

    As I grabbed the tray and began to stand up, something happened, and my hands fumbled, dropping the ham onto the floor and spilling the sauce all over the kitchen as I stumbled and attempted to get out of the way. It was no use, I was soon covered in it. It was red and smelled like meat.

    Horrified, I realized that I was drenched in blood. Soon, I was gagging over the kitchen sink, vomiting what little remained in my stomach. The ham’s smell only worsened the effect, nauseating me even more.

    James’ words echoed in my already throbbing head again. “Don’t die.”

    “Blood traitors and Mudbloods—”


    It was all too much. Clutching the countertop, I retched some more. Someone was saying, “Please make it stop. Please…” I realized that it was me.

    When my stomach was finally empty, I stepped away from the sink, only to trip on the ham and sprawl on the floor. It was then that it happened. Without preamble, or warning.

    I cried. I cried as if I had been crying for years and years, and this merely the continuation of it. There were no half-hearted sniffles and hesitant tears. Immediately I began to sob, howling out my disappointment and shame and dread all at once.

    I cried about the battle. I cried about the Potters. I cried about James, and Hogwarts, and Jeremy and Crystal. I cried about St. Mungo’s. I cried about all that I had felt and suppressed all these weeks, holding in so much for it only to come out spilling as it did now.

    I soon found all three of my friends at my side, inching their way around the mess even as Grace cleaned it all away.

    Henn was crouching in front of me, her green eyes worried and panicked. She thought that I was hurt. “Lily? Lily? Are you okay?”

    I uttered something nonsensical in response, gasping and half-sobbing all at once. I nodded instead.

    “Lily, why are you crying?”

    But it did not matter. Only that I was.

    A/N: Kind of short, I know, but definitely not an unimportant chapter. Just so you know, that battle was Lily and James’ second “confrontation” with Voldemort. Yes, I know they did not battle him first-handedly, but it was a confrontation nonetheless. Two down, one more to go…

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