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Chapter 6: Payback's a . . . Well, You Know
A/N: Next chapter is here! Woo!
Turns out that Hugo and Julia forgot about us too—snogging.
So you know what’s nuts?
This is way off topic, of course, but that’s fine.
Okay, so I might have written a very angry note to my parents, demanding why they’d left me to hear such news from Ronald Weasley.
It wasn’t super horrible.
Some parts were a bit rough.
“. . . Completely awful, you fat cows. . .”
“. . . Kiss my furious arse . . .”
“. . . Disowning all of you, except Samantha . . .”
But it wasn’t as bad as my mother made it, honestly.
I mean, who turns a family tragedy around on the innocent, uninformed only son and sends him a freaking Howler?
Who does that?
Mum needs a therapist.
She’s nuttier than Mrs. Potter.
I love Mrs. Potter, of course—she’s quite as fit as Lily—but she’s insane.
You know, I wouldn’t mind being her son-in-law.
Woops, sorry. Off topic again, yeah?
Where was I?
We’re going to even it out now.
You know, the Lily-helping-me thing.
Now I help her.
I’ve gotten completely sidetracked, haven’t I?
Here we go.
It was a Friday night at the beginning of November, one of those creepy ones with the howling wind and the explosions of thunder at random intervals. Lily had gone off on patrol; I’d stayed behind to catch up on my homework.
Look up procrastinator in the dictionary. See that photo?
I’m also in there under “incredibly good-looking.”
But that’s not the point.
I was starting to feel nervous that she’d been gone for nearly thirty minutes more than usual.
“Oi! Hugo! Hugo!”
Hugo pulled himself away from Julia, looking peeved.
“Shouldn’t Lily be back by now?”
“Shouldn’t you not be concerned?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
He rolled his eyes. “Because she’s fine. Nothing is wrong; she’s probably dragging some smart mouth of a second year to their Head’s office for breaking some rule or whatever else you Prefects do.”
I was not convinced. My Lily senses were tingling—but she must never know that I have those.
That’d be awkward.
So I decided to go find her. I stood up, disregarding my essay, leaving it on the table (really, who was going to want it?). I climbed through the portrait hole and set off down the hall, ignoring the Fat Lady’s caterwauling. Clearly, she had no life.
Duh, Jacob, she’s a painting.
Remember the voice I associate with my mother?
That one is associated with Lily.
Right, so I set off down the hall, listening for any indication as to where she might be.
I was nearly to the Entrance Hall when I heard a noise. I paused, tuning my ears to listen. It sounded like it was coming from the nearest classroom, but I couldn’t quite place the sound, so I stepped up to the door and opened it.
My jaw fell to my knees when my eyes lit on the sight before me.
Douglas Corner was kissing.
Which was shocking, since I’d had this inkling that he and Cindy might have something in common.
But it wasn’t just that.
He was kissing Lily.
I was absolutely furious that she was settling for someone so low, and I took a step forward to break it up (they hadn’t heard me come in.) Then I noticed something even odder about this scenario.
Lily wasn’t moving at all, and it looked like Corner was holding her up.
In one single, slow moment, it clicked.
He had her in a Body-Bind Curse.
And Corner wasn’t about to waste any time.
He was getting more into it.
His hands were already heading for places they should never have been.
One moment, he was kissing her.
The next, he was on the ground, bleeding.
I didn’t even know what spell I’d used.
And, quite frankly, I didn’t give a damn.
I was at Lily’s side in an instant, removing the Body-Bind Curse hastily and cupping her elbow with my hand to keep her on her feet; she was gasping for breath, coughing, and had a strange expression on her face.
That expression worried me.
It was vaguely familiar, like trying to remember a long-lost dream.
She’d made that face before.
Then her knees gave way, despite my best efforts, and she slipped to the floor. I dropped down beside her, taking her hand, unsure of what to do. She was taking deep breaths still, and suddenly I realized where I’d seen that face.
When she was ten, Hugo pushed her out of a tree and, she broke her arm. That face was the one she’d made when she tried to stop herself from crying.
It didn’t work as well this time.
In a matter of moments, her face was pressed against my chest, and she was sobbing like I’d never seen her do before.
Together we sat for a good while. She cried; I stroked her hair, like my mother did when I had gotten upset when I was little. Neither of us paid any mind to Corner, who was stirring feebly.
Until McGonagall found us, that is.
The door was thrown open, and she stepped in, looking stunned at the sight before her eyes.
Only one word seemed to reach her lips.
“Professor—” I started, she cut me off.
“Lily, tell me what happened, please.”
Lily pulled away, wiping the tears from her cheeks.
“I was on patrol, Professor,” she said softly, “and I saw Douglas. I told him to get back to the common room—he was out past curfew. He turned and started to go back, so I went in the opposite direction; then he came up and cast a Body-Bind Curse on me and pulled me in here and . . . and . . .”
She seemed unable to continue; I took her hand again and finished for her. “I found them in here, Professor. He was kissing her, and I realized that she didn’t want him to. I don’t—I don’t exactly know what spell I used on him.”
Clearly McGonagall hadn’t been too worried about Corner, who was now struggling to sit up. She turned to him and demanded, “Is this true, Corner?”
“Well, it sounds bad when you say it like that,” he muttered.
“Up,” she commanded. He pulled himself to his feet, swayed, and fell down again. Rolling her sharp eyes, she conjured a stretcher and levitated him onto it. “You two come as well,” she then told us. “Hospital wing.”
“I don’t need—” Lily began.
“You are coming to the hospital wing, Miss Potter,” McGonagall said sternly. “Do not disagree with me.”
I helped Lily to her feet, and she leaned against me the whole way. Personally, I was grateful for McGonagall. I hadn’t known what to do, and I actually did think Lily needed to see Madam Monistra. She wouldn’t have listened to me.
She never listened to me.
Madam Monistra seemed to have a lack of sympathy toward Corner once she found out how his injuries had been sustained, instead fawning over Lily, who continued to bleat feebly that she was fine and just wanted to get back to Gryffindor Tower.
“Here, then,” Madam Monistra said finally, presenting a vial of purple liquid. Lily took it apprehensively and sniffed it.
“What’s it supposed to do?” she asked tentatively, swilling the contents with caution.
“It will put you to sleep,” Madam Monistra answered. “A dreamless sleep. I’ve thinned it out enough that you’ll have time to return to your dormitory before it takes effect.”
Lily swung her legs off the bed, downing the potion and wrinkling her nose. She placed it back on the table and stood up; I grabbed her arm instinctively to keep her from tipping over. As we exited the wing, McGonagall shouted behind us, “I wish to speak with you tomorrow.”
Lily stuck out her tongue, and I bit back a laugh since it was a bright violet.
“I bet you feel much better now,” Lily commented suddenly.
“I know that you’ve been working on a way to pay me back for a good while after that Hogsmeade trip. Which is stupid, since you don’t owe me anything, but—”
“This doesn’t even come close to paying you back,” I told her.
She raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment. Instead, we kept on our route to the tower. Until, suddenly—
“I love you, Lily.”
What the hell?
Where did that come from?
Lily rolled her eyes. “I know that, Jacob. We confessed our undying love for each other when we were nine, remember?”
She didn’t realize what type of love I meant.
Thank God for the word platonic.
You know the expression about relief? How it washes over you like a wave?
Relief rammed into me like an enraged, blind hippogriff.
It was glorious.
Yet quite depressing.
She didn’t love me.
Well, she did.
But not like that.
Why was the world so cruel to me?
What did I ever do?
A/N: This chapter was a bit shorter, I think. Sorry. Anyway, if you are an author, you know that little rush you get every time you click the “Unanswered Reviews” button and see some waiting patiently to be read and responded to. One more chapter plus the epilogue. The more reviews I’m blessed with, the more quickly I try to update! *hinting*