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My Lips Are Sealed

Lily stayed up in hopes of seeing Madeleine again that night, but she eventually found herself falling in and out of sleep and finally allowed herself to submit to sleep. When she woke up the next morning, Evelyn told her that Madeleine had already left for breakfast, but assured her that Lily would see her in Potions, and seeing as they were always partners, they had to talk then. Although this came as a great relief to Lily, she still couldn’t help but feel tense and nervous as she made her way to breakfast and afterward to Potions.

Madeleine wasn’t in the classroom yet, but Lily lost no hope. They were always partners and Madeleine really had no one else to go to. They would work this out… She would apologize… Perhaps… As these thoughts reined her mind, she saw James and Remus enter the room, Madeleine following quite closely behind. Just as she was about to call out to Madeleine, Professor Slughorn walked into the room quite hurriedly and began speaking, quieting her immeditely.

“Quickly, quickly, we don’t have much time! Pair up! No time to lose!” Lily struggled to find Madeleine in the sea of moving students, and when she finally approached her friend, Madeleine had already linked arms with Remus.

“I thought we were partners,” Lily said quickly, her eyes shifting to Remus.

“He asked me,” Madeleine said simply. Remus looked as if he was about to protest, but Madeleine jabbed him with her elbow and he immediately closed his mouth.

“Well, who am I supposed to work with?” Lily demanded, crossing her arms as she glared at the two.

Madeleine pointed behind Lily with a sweet smile. “Potter there seems to be partnerless. Why don’t you go work with him?”

Lily looked at her friend, narrowing her eyes momentarily before she turned with as much pride as she could and marched over to James. Two could play at this game…

“Hello there, James,” she said cordially, her lips pursed rather formally.

He smiled widely and waved to her.

“Looks like we’re partners,” she continued after a deep breath.

James looked past Lily to Remus who was pointing at Madeleine with a shrug. Madeleine, on the other hand, smiled to him and urged him on. With a wide smile and bright eyes, he looked back at Lily and gave her a thumb’s up. She returned with a half-hearted smile, watching Madeleine out of the corner of her eye in hopes that she saw Lily’s civility. But alas, Madeleine had turned away and was chatting away with Remus, oblivious to her actions.

Lily was somewhat surprised when James listened almost as intently as she did when Professor Slughorn began giving instructions. Yes, James seemed somewhat interested in what they were doing, but whether or not this was a charade, she was not quite sure.

“Amortentia.” Lily blanched at Professor Slughorn’s words. “You probably all remember making this last year and it is the next potion on our review list! With that, begin, ladies and gentlemen,” Professor Slughorn clapped his hands jovially before students began rushing in every direction to find ingredients without question.

Lily looked over at James apprehensively, but he seemed rather nonchalant. “Alright, you go grab those leaves on the table over there and start chopping them finely.” He looked at her blankly for a moment and then motioned to the mortar and pestle at their table before he began imitating the action of grinding leaves. Lily watched with a raised eyebrow as he moved his fist up and down and after a moment of realization, he flushed and cleared his throat, putting his hands behind his back rather sheepishly.

“Right… I think the mortar and pestle would work just fine.” Still blushing, he retreated over to the table and grabbed the leaves before rushing back to Lily. He wordlessly began to grind up the leaves, glancing over at Lily as she smashed some aromatic dried rose petals between her hands. She stopped for a moment and sniffed the air before turning to him quickly.

“Are those mint leaves?” she demanded, to which his eyes simply widened as he nodded, mystified.

“I said willow bark. The mint leaves are last. Go get the willow bark.” He looked rather indignant as he opened his mouth to protest, though stopped himself just in time. Silently, he trudged back over to the ingredient table to fetch the bark. Before he had even set down the bark she had continued with her orders.

“Now, get a pot of water going so you can boil the willow. It needs to be soft and malleable,” she said without looking at him. He sighed momentarily before beginning the chore. There was silence for several minutes as each did their separate tasks, sneaking glimpses at the other, hoping not to be caught.

“I think it’s fairly ridiculous that we have to do this potion again,” Lily said idly when silence had reined for long enough. “When am I going to have to make a love potion? I don’t think being an Auror requires such a skill.” She narrowed her eyes as she pounded somewhat violently at a branch, trying at any length to retrieve its core.

James opened his mouth to respond once more but caught himself just as quickly. Lily turned to look at him.

“Sorry, I’m probably not making this easy. But really, if Madeleine hadn’t been so stubborn, you could’ve been with Remus and talked all you want,” she told him defensively, giving him a knowing look.

He cocked an eyebrow questioningly and she turned back to her branch, pummeling the wood rather mercilessly. “She just thinks I should be nicer to you, is all,” she mumbled noncommittally. He was still staring at her, and she turned her head sharply to him. “Well don’t just sit there gaping. That willow bark is going to disintegrate in there.” He smiled slightly before turning back to his pot of boiling water, fishing the bark out with a pair of tongs.

“Don’t get any ideas,” Lily said pointedly, pursing her lips indignantly. She could see James waiting for her to continue, but she was silent. In fact, she chose not to talk for the rest of their partnership, refusing to give him an upper hand.

In their silence, they finished before most of their classmates. Carefully, they poured the finished potion into a beaker, cautiously trying not to burn themselves in the process.

“Now let’s see if we got this right…” Lily murmured, leaning over the beaker before inhaling deeply. “Lavender…” she began quietly, continuing despite the fact that James’ eyes were watching her rather carefully. “Rosemary…” she continued, taking one last sniff. She stopped dead, standing up straight and staring down at the beaker. “Cinnamon. I didn’t get that last time we made this,” she said slowly, not meeting James’ eyes. “Perhaps we didn’t do it right,” she said hopefully, though Madeleine interrupted, apparently having listened to the whole conversation.

“James, isn’t your shampoo cinnamon scented?” she said rather loudly, ignoring Remus’ look of objection. “A birdie told me…” she said sweetly, batting her eyelashes at Lily.

“Well, yes, it is,” James said quietly as he looked over at Madeleine momentarily.

“We clearly made a mistake then,” Lily said sharply, staring down at the beaker in alarm. “It’s supposed to be the smell of roses. It’s not cinnamon.” Students were beginning to glance over at them, whispering amongst themselves.

“Maybe it changed,” Madeleine said helpfully, unable to hide her grin.

“Well, it didn’t.” She looked over at James, expecting to see a proud smirk, but he was only staring at her blankly, his mouth slightly ajar.
“What, didn’t you hear me? We got it wrong!” Without thinking, she picked up the beaker and threw it aggravatingly into their cauldron, jumping slightly when she heard the glass shatter into thousands of pieces.

The entire room was silent. Every student was staring at Lily in shock; all whispering had stopped. Slughorn had hurried over in quite a rush, looking at Lily in concern and question.

“What is going on here?” he demanded in panic, looking between Lily and James with worry.

“Nothing, it just slipped from my hand. I’m sorry, Professor Slughorn,” Lily told him without looking up from the cauldron, her jaw clenched in indignation.

“Actually, Professor,” Madeleine said, raising her hand. “James and Lily made a bet where James can’t talk to Lily for a week. I’m not sure if that has any bearing on the situation… I do think bets are against the rules…”

Lily turned sharply to Madeleine, shock written in her eyes. “You came up with it!” she hissed. “What’s your problem?!”

“I don’t have a problem,” Madeleine responded coolly.

“Yes you do! Why can’t you just stay out of my business!” Lily yelled, ignoring the rest of the students in the room.

“I can’t—I’m your friend,” Madeleine continued, a frown forming on her face.

“Well, you’re not acting like much of one,” Lily snapped, turning away before she could catch a sight of Madeleine’s hurt expression.

“Girls, please,” Professor Slughorn finally said, raising up an authoritative hand. “Now, I’m going to have to put you two in detention. Bets are simply not allowed, and I have to punish rule breakers. I’m sorry, Lily.” He paused fleetingly. “And unfortunately, I cannot give you a grade for a potion you did not finish. I’ll see you tomorrow at five o’clock in the evening to do some lines.” Professor Slughorn looked around at the students surrounding them and cleared his throat uncomfortably. “Now I don’t believe any of the rest of you are done and you barely have five minutes left. Let’s get to work.”

With that, students scattered to their respective tables, leaving James and Lily to themselves. Lily stood, breathing rather heavily as she stared down at the broken beaker, not daring to look over at James even for a moment. She couldn’t bear to see what his expression held, whether it was shock, conceit, laughter, or pity. She let out a breath she had been holding when he finally moved to clean up the broken glass with a flick of a wand, setting the restored beaker on the table quietly.

When the bell rang, Lily was the first out the door.

That night, Lily sat in her bed staring straight across the room in a daze. Evelyn and Madeleine were in their respective beds (though Lily and Madeleine had talked very little since Potions) and were sitting quite silently with books in hand. They had been like that for quite some time—since dinner, in fact—and none had said a word for at least forty minutes. No one dared say a word.

“I didn’t do the potion incorrectly…” The words were murmured by Lily and gave her two friends quite a shock. They glanced at Lily from over their books, waiting for her to continue. When she didn’t, Evelyn spoke up.

“We believe you. I’m sure Slughorn will give you the credit. You don’t need to worry. He loves you.”

Lily didn’t avert her eyes. “The potion was made correctly. It has to smell like the things that attract me most. Cinnamon, whether consciously or unconsciously, attracts me. There is no question about it. It has to be true.”

Evelyn and Madeleine looked at each other, not quite sure how to respond and unable to give any explanation.

“I’m attracted to James Potter!” Lily finally exclaimed, turning to her friends with a look of horror written across her face.

“It’s about time…” Madeleine murmured under her breath, but Lily ignored her.

“What am I supposed to do? How did this even happen!? I hated him last year!” Her words were frantic and nearly hysterical, but Evelyn responded calmly.

“He’s a different person now,” she told her in a smooth voice, trying her best to calm Lily down.

“I never realized how much I expected and… enjoyed James talking to me this year until he stopped…” Lily looked over at Madeleine whose grin had been replaced by a warm smile. “You knew I would like him, didn’t you.”

Madeleine shrugged. “No, but I had a feeling if I gave you two a little push something might happen.” She waited a moment before continuing. “You’re not angry at me, are you?” she asked tentatively.

Lily shook her head, returning Madeleine’s smile. “Of course not.” Her smile faded slowly as she continued. “But what do I do now?”

“You let him win the bet,” Evelyn responded evenly.

“But I don’t know how to do all this…Flirting stuff… I don’t remember the last time I liked a guy!” Lily was getting frenzied once again.

“Here’s what you do. When you see him at detention, bring up when the time is right that you could survive with being friends with him. It’ll give him the motivation to hold out on talking for the rest of the week. Don’t let him know that you might like him. Just tell him that a friendship could occur,” Madeleine instructed.

“Right…” Lily said slowly as she took in Madeleine’s words before looking between her two friends apprehensively. “You guys don’t completely hate me, do you?” she asked quietly and concernedly.

“Why in Merlin’s name would we hate you?” Madeleine demanded, furrowing her brow in confusion.

“Because I may like James Potter… I called you a bad friend… I was being a stubborn idiot yesterday…” Lily began, but Evelyn stopped her midsentence.

“We could never hate you, Lily,” Evelyn told her, smiling genially despite Lily’s look of utter alarm. Lily’s face softened nearly immediately, though, and she looked down at her hands in silence for several moments. Finally, she began to speak again with a slight tone of distress.

“But what if I don’t like him? What if I just think I do right now?”

“Then you don’t like him. You go on that date when he wins and you talk civilly for the first time in seven years and if you like him, you like him. If you go on the date and you end up hating him, then that’s that. No harm, no foul,” Madeleine told her.

“You make it sound so easy.” Lily sounded slightly wounded, but Madeleine only chuckled.

“It’s because you’ve made this whole thing far too complicated. You don’t really have a choice as to whom you love,” Evelyn told her and Lily choked in astonishment.

“Okay, let’s not get carried away here,” Lily said with wide eyes, but Evelyn simply rolled her eyes and smiled.

“The point is, you don’t get a choice about this whole attraction thing. No matter how hard you fight, you could end up falling for the guy you hate.”

“Subsequently, you could end up loving the girl who hates you. Let’s face it, there’s no way James Potter has enjoyed being turned down over and over by you. Even his pride has to be somewhat dented here,” Madeleine picked up as Evelyn had finished.

“I suppose you’re right…” Lily conceded with a slow nod. “Well, I suppose I’ll talk to him tomorrow…Or talk at him really.”

“It’s all the same to him. Just having you look at him is thrilling to him.”

“Right… Well, I’m going to draft what I’m going to say tonight and sleep on it… I’ll pass it by you two tomorrow morning and you can let me know how it is,” Lily said hurriedly, moving quickly to find a bit of parchment.

“And this is why you’re insane…” Madeleine laughed, but Lily had already begun.

Thank you so much for the reviews!  I'm so sorry for the wait on the last chapter--there was an issue and I had to send it back through the queue a second time.   I hope you all enjoyed this chapter!

 Until next time,


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