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Chapter 16: Expecto Patronum
“I really don’t think we should be skiving rounds, James,” Lily said as they snuck into an empty classroom.
“It’s for educational purposes,” he said grinning, “Besides, I’ve got it covered.” James took out the Marauders Map and spread it on the teacher’s desk. Lily went round to the other side of the desk to help him check that all the students were where they were supposed to be. There were two out of place near Ravenclaw Tower but two of the on duty prefects were already heading towards them. “See it’s fine, we’ll just do a quick sweep when we’re done here.” James tapped the map with his wand and muttered, “Mischief managed.”
“I still can’t believe you three made that – it’s ingenious.”
“Some of the Marauders’ finest work,” James said proudly as he folded the now blank parchment and placed it in his pocket. “Ready?” Lily nodded and pulled out her wand in response.
“On three,” she said. “One.”
“Three!” they said together, then, “Expecto Patronum!”
“Nothing happened,” James said, disappointed.
Lily’s brow furrowed. “Were you thinking happy thoughts?”
James shook his head. “I was thinking ‘I hope this works’, you?”
“‘I hope we don’t get caught’,” Lily bit her lip guiltily and blushed while James laughed at her. “Again?”
After half an hour, still nothing was happening.
“This is useless!” James cried frustrated.
“We’re tired that’s all. We can’t concentrate. Let’s head back, we’ll try again another time.”
“Sure.” James sighed, they pocketed their wands after flicking out the lights and headed back to the tower and their beds.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
“It still isn’t working properly!” James exclaimed, gesturing at the silver mist in front of him. This was the second time they had skipped rounds in favour of holing up in the Charms classroom.
Lily shook her head, she was concentrating very hard on stopping the image of James’ hazel eyes appearing behind her closed lids. It left very little room for concentrating on happy memories. She’d already caught herself simply sitting and watching him practise twice this evening without even knowing that she had been doing it. “You just aren’t thinking happy enough thoughts.”
“I am!” James protested.
“The evidence suggests otherwise.”
“I have an idea.” James sounded a little uncertain and that made Lily very uncertain.
She shook off the feeling of needing to whisper when she asked warily, “What?”
James came to lean on the side of the desk opposite to the one she was sitting on, her legs dangling a little above the floor. He looked at her considering for a moment then stood, his stance was determined as he bridged the gap between them but he looked unsure as his eyes seemed to search her face for something. He stopped centimetres in front of her, much to close for comfort, not close enough, a treacherous part of Lily argued. He raised his left hand hesitantly and traced his finger tips across her forehead then down one cheek before he cupped her face between his palms. The pad of his left thumb traced her trembling bottom lip and he watched as her lips parted involuntarily to let out a shaky breath.
“Can I?” he whispered, his voice rich and husky.
Lily closed her eyes as a shiver ran the length of her spine, but eyes shut or not she saw the same perfect image. She placed her hands on James’ forearms and felt his heat surge through her. The air between them crackled like heat lightening setting her nerves tingling. Lily looked at James and slowly dropped her chin in a nod.
James lowered his face to hers, his eyes locked on her mouth. Lily instinctively wet her lips with the tip of her tongue. He paused for a fraction of a second, Lily was unsure whether this was to give her a chance to change her mind or if he was simply savouring the sweet sensation of anticipation.
A moment later his lips were sliding across hers, gliding with glorious friction in a feather-light stroke. The tingle from his touch spread throughout her body and she longed for him to crush his mouth to hers, to be rough and possessive and relieve the tension that was building from his barely-there kisses. Lily began to wonder if she was imagining the torturous pleasure that seared her lips but even if this was some glorious dream, she was loath to stir and disturb her bliss.
James’ breath was warm against her skin when he broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers, she could feel the unevenness of it and despite its heat it still cooled her flushed face. Both sets of eyes were still closed when they reached for their wands and lifted them in the direction of the chalkboard.
“Expecto Patronum,” James exhaled and Lily repeated the phrase on a whispered sigh. From behind her delicate lids, Lily saw a glow coming from the direction in which their wands were pointing. As one, their eyes fluttered open and their heads turned, cheek to cheek for the slow movement. James’ fingertips were still entangled in Lily’s hair and her hand was still curled around his wrist.
A stag and doe stood facing them, their necks entwined. As one the pair of majestic creatures bowed their heads in silent recognition of their creators, the stag gently nuzzled the doe and then they faded. They left behind them a heavenly glow and an atmospheric warmth which only served to enhance the dreamlike quality of the last few minutes.
Simultaneously the couple turned back to each other, faces inches apart they mirrored each other’s expressions of disbelief. Then James broke into a huge grin, he grabbed Lily and spun her round laughing and shouting, “We did it!” Lily joined in the laughter feeling elated, as he twirled her, a stream of rainbow coloured light flew from her wand tip, which was still clasped tightly in her hand. Her arms were wrapped around his shoulders and his still clasped her waist as he set her down gently. He placed a quick kiss on her lips, a look of sheer joy and pride at their achievement on his face.
Lily’s head was spinning as he dragged her from the room and they ran to the common room to tell the others what they had managed to do. She was unsure whether the dizzy feeling was left over from James’ kiss, the giddiness of finally casting a corporeal patronus or James twirling her around the classroom.
They crashed through the portrait hole still holding hands and out of breath, Lily a pace behind. “You are never going to guess what happened!” James exclaimed to his friends who were all sat around the fire.
“My Uncle Alphard died,” Sirius said looking up at his best friend whose face dropped as he took in the expressions of the group. Tia was holding an ashen faced Sirius’ hand tightly. “He left his entire inheritance to me so my mother has finally cut all ties with me, blasted my name right off the family tree as if I was never born, probably his as well. On the other hand, I’m now the richest boy in school, that’s gotta help with the honies, right?” he tried to joke, his forced smile was more of a grimace and his eyes swam with unshed tears.
Lily dropped James’ hand as he swore and clenched his hands into furious fists, his knuckles turning white. He fell to his knees in front of the couch and pulled his shaking brother towards him. Sirius went to the floor, gripping the back of James’s jumper as he sobbed silent tears into his best friends shoulder.
Lily shouted at some students who were gawking unabashedly at the boys but the conversation went unheard by James and Sirius. When he thought Sirius was calmer, James let go his tight hold and took Sirius’ shoulders in his hands instead so he could look him directly in the eye.
“Don’t know why I’m even bothered,” Sirius sniffed, as he used angry fists to swipe at his wet cheeks. “Not like didn’t know it was goin’ to ‘appen,” he continued thickly. “They were never gonna change. Hate ‘em all anyway, stupid to be upset.” James knew he didn’t have to say anything, he pulled his mate to his feet, clasped him in another brief hug and cupped his face momentarily with a little tap. Lily was shocked to see the difference in them in that instant. Was it Sirius who looked so much younger, or had James aged considerably while she watched the scene unfold?
“Sod ‘em all ‘ey Prongs? I’m a real Potter now.” He lifted the corner of his mouth in a hopeful, crooked smile.
“Always have been mate, always have been,” James confirmed with a grin, ruffling his friend’s hair with an arm round his shoulder.
“And there’s the added bonus of not having to actually share his rotten genes.” Lily joked cocking a thumb at James.
“Hey!” James protested as Sirius laughed. Tia stood and put an arm round Sirius’ waist, his instinctively snaking around her slight shoulders.
“Want to go for a walk?” she asked him, moving the hair from his soft grey eyes and stroking his cheekbone and jaw line. Sirius nodded, the sad look had returned although not as anguished the moment he had stopped laughing. “I’m sure we can find a better way of occupying that mind of yours... and your hands,” she added in a husky whisper.
Sirius grinned, “Lead the way.” And they left hand in hand.