Lily sat uncomfortably in her chair, glancing around the restaurant. The note was clasped in the hand, and she looked down at it. The elegant script was unrecognisable. Who wanted to see her? And why did she feel like she was on some sort of secret date?
“Good evening, madam.”
Jumping almost out of her seat, and very nearly upsetting her wine glass, Lily turned to see a haughty looking waiter. She smiled, replying in fluent Russian, “Good evening, may I have the menu please?”
“Of course,” the waiter said, a small smile spreading on his lips as he placed the card on the table in front of Lily.
A blush rising on her cheeks, Lily looked down at what was available. She gave a little gasp as she saw the prices. The restaurant looked upmarket, but she certainly hoped that her mystery dinner partner was going to foot the bill. She settled with ordering some bread for a starter, deciding she had better wait before she ordered anything else.
As an hour dragged by, however, Lily was getting tired of eating only bread. She was also getting tired of the scathing looks she was getting from the waiters. Obviously, they considered it a liberty for her to be taking up a table without actually ordering any real food.
The bread was very dry, and Lily found it difficult to swallow. She was getting more and more nervous as the time lapsed. Had she gotten the wrong venue? Was all of this just a hoax? She didn’t think she had any enemies who might want to embarrass her, but she could not help but run through a list of acquaintances just to make sure.
When it got to an hour and a half, and the waiters were now circling her table like vultures as the queue of prospective diners grew in the foyer, Lily decided enough was enough. She had been taken for a fool, and couldn’t believe that she had thought this was for real. Slamming her napkin down on the tabletop, she rose from her seat.
Lily rolled her eyes. So now the waiter wanted her to stay! She turned around viciously. “Yes I am going somewhere. I’m going.”
It was then that she noticed the person who had spoken to her was not a waiter. He was dressed smartly in well cut, black robes and had a pleasant smile on his face. And, above all, he was gorgeous.
Her heart fluttering slightly, Lily felt her whole face redden to the roots of her hair. She licked her lips and mumbled, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to…to snap at you…”
The man waved away her apologies. He was staring at her so intensely that Lily could hardly breathe. Then his smile widened, showing perfect white teeth. “Lily, it’s been such a long time. I’ve missed you, so much.”
“I’m…I’m sorry?” Lily stammered. The man pulled her chair out again and she sat down automatically. He took up the seat opposite her and waved his hand. A waiter immediately appeared at his side.
Looking at the waiter disdainfully, the man ordered the most expensive wine on the menu, sending the waiter skipping happily off to the bar to get the bottle. Lily’s eyes widened when she heard saw the price on the menu, and she shook her head bashfully. “You don’t have to order that. Please, get something else.”
“I have reason to celebrate. To splash out,” the man said. He was still looking at Lily with a deeply intense stare. “So how have you been?” He continued conversationally.
Swallowing down her embarrassment, Lily replied, “I’m so sorry, but who are you?”
The man’s charming smile slipped to cover a few teeth. “You mean to say, you don’t recognise me? At all?”
“Not exactly,” Lily said, averting her eyes. His smile was gone now and his eyes were downcast.
“I didn’t think you would recognise me, but…I thought that maybe you would.” Looking up, he fixed Lily again in his stare. “It’s me. James.”
“What?” Lily leant back in her chair, the breath knocked out of her. The restaurant began to spin around her as a lifetime of memories flooded through her shocked mind. Of course she remembered James; James the teenage boy, who had waved from the dock as she sailed away, who had always been so carefree, who had killed her mother. But James the man-the grown man-was a concept she could not understand.
The wine arrived, at an inopportune moment as always, and Lily let the waiter fill her glass up to the top. She drained it in one, and asked for another. James was watching her, but not with concern. No emotion crossed his face, and for the first time Lily found herself noticing a resemblance to the boy she had not seen for…for so long.
She felt tears begin to prickle in her eyes. So much had happened since the last time she had seen James. Seeing him again reminded her of Ginny, of Harry, of Albus. So many losses. For so long, James had been a loss as well. But not anymore.
“How did you find me?” She whispered.
“The Russian Ministry was very helpful,” James replied, equally quietly. “I knew they would have a record of where father had been working. I never expected you to be working for them as well. I couldn’t believe my luck.”
Lily smiled. “But why didn’t you find me at the Ministry? Why all the secrecy, the anonymous notes?”
“Because I was afraid you wouldn’t want to see me,” James replied. He shrugged. “As far as I was concerned, you’d cut yourself off from your past. You hadn’t tried to find me. I didn’t know whether, if I had made myself known to you before we met, you would have wanted to meet at all.”
A single tear wound its way down Lily’s cheek. She had never even considered finding him. What he said was true, but it was horrifying to hear it out of his mouth, and said in such a matter-of-fact way. Perhaps she had been running away from her past…perhaps now was the time to return to England, return to her family.
But at the same time, she was reluctant to go home. She had burnt that bridge a long time ago. Shifting in her seat, she nodded. “Maybe you’re right.”
James smiled slightly, leaning forward and capturing her hand under his. “Would you like to leave? I’m booked into the Baltschug Kempinski. I have a suite, if you would like to…”
Lily hesitated, and then nodded before her rational mind could stop her. “Yes, I think I’d like to stay.”
They both rose at the same time. James circled the table, holding out his arm. Lily took it, breathing heavily. He looked down at her, his eyes dark. He led her out of the restaurant, and she followed him obediently. She didn’t notice the glint in his eye. Her head was clear, completely clear.
“I’m so sorry,” the Healer spoke in a calm voice, but the expression on her face betrayed her inner pain.
Lily immediately stood up, her chair falling back and scraping along the stone floor. She could feel the tears well up in her eyes already, and the Healer had not said the words that would make this whole horror a reality. Her father reached out and pulled her into his arms, and she cried into the crook of his elbow.
The Healer began to creep away, presumably to another patient. But Lily was not ready for her to go. She had not finished with them yet. Raising her face, she said, “Stop.”
The Healer stopped. She turned and looked at Lily, the pity in her eyes making Lily feel sick. How could she feel pity? How dare she feel pity? She had no affiliation to her family. She knew Ginny only as a hero of some war far in the past; some war that had ended years ago. She did not know the Ginny that Lily had known.
Harry squeezed Lily’s small body in a quick hug. “Please, honey, I am sure she has places to go.”
“No, she hasn’t. She hasn’t!” Lily shouted. Next to her, she saw her Uncle Ron shift uncomfortably in his seat. He face was sad, a strange departure from the lazy grin he usually wore. And sat on his knee, hugging him in the same way Lily was hugging her father, was James.
Lily pulled herself out of her father’s grasp and ran at James. Before anyone could do anything, she pounced on him, ripping at his hair, scraping her nails over his skin. He was screaming, her father was shouting, James was desperately trying to get her off him. But Lily was made stronger by grief. She shouted as she attacked him, noises that only formed words some of the time, and even then were mostly incomprehensible.
“I want you dead! Dead!”
“Lily!” Harry shouted in horror, throwing his arms around his daughter. She kicked at him furiously, winding him, but he instinctively tightened his grip around her. Lily struggled against her captor, eyes shooting invisible daggers at James.
He was sat limply in Ron’s lap, face covered in scratches to join the dragon pox scars he also bore. Their eyes met, and his lips curled upwards in a strange smile that only Lily saw. She screamed again, a hollow scream of pain and grief. And then everything descended into black.
They got to the hotel in less than half an hour, having taken a taxi. Lily let James open all the doors and guide her in by the elbow. She could hear her younger self screaming in her head, but she was tired of the memories.
James opened the door to the suite, and Lily could not help but gasp when she walked into it. It was enormous, luxurious. How he had found the money to take these rooms was a mystery to her. She turned to see him behind her. He closed the door with a snap, and she realised that they were now alone.
Smiling pleasantly, James gestured towards the door leading into a sitting room. Lily felt his hand resting on her lower back as he guided her over to the settee. She sat down, perching uncomfortably on the edge of the cushioned seat, and he went over to the drinks cabinet.
“More wine?” He said over his shoulder, rummaging through the available drinks. “Or perhaps we should embrace Russian culture and have vodka?”
“Water will be fine, for me,” Lily replied warily. She didn’t like the way he was looking at her. It was so intense.
James nodded and reached into the drinks cabinet. Then he pulled out a gun, turned to face her, and fired two shots.
She didn’t scream, she simply slumped backwards into the cushions, a strangely surprised look on her face. James walked towards her casually until he was stood directly over her. Then he leant forward, took her chin in his fingers, and kissed her hard on the forehead. She did not struggle.
When he pulled away, she was dead.
A.N. This is a bit of an experiment for me...not sure whether it is a great idea for a story, but I suppose I'll let you be the judge of that. I know the ending was a bit abrupt, but that was intentional. Anyways...I hope whoever reads it enjoys it, and there will be more to come soon! :)
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