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Chapter 6: Forever and A Day
Truth be told, they’d left them there.
“THIS…” Lily shouted, throwing a glare at James Potter, “is ALL YOUR FAULT!”
James Potter, who only a moment ago had given up on the door and begun pacing frenetically around the room, stopped in his tracks and stared astounded at Lily Evans.
“My…my…fault?” he stammered out.
“Yes. Your sodding fault. If it wasn’t for you and YOUR SODDING CRUSH ON ME, then our best friends wouldn’t be under the illusion that sticking me into a sodding room with you would make me SEE SENSE THAT ISN’T THERE!”
James threw his arms in the air and flopped into a deep maroon chaise, staring dangerously at Lily. The anger darkened his usually jolly features and one could even hear him grind his teeth together. Perhaps it was his years of experience on the Quidditch field, but his shadowy expression became quite frightening, so much so that Lily Evans stopped her incessant banging against the door and stared at him curiously.
After a long, very tense piece of silence, James’s voice snapped through the air.
“What do you mean what?” Lily retorted.
“You’re the one looking at me, Evans.”
“Oh I wasn’t aware that this was your room and you made all the rules!”
“Actually this is my room. The Room of Requirement clearly thought that a replica of my bedroom at home would best serve the purposes of whatever Sirius asked it to do.”
James let this thought process through Lily’s mind before he smirked.
“Your…your BEDROOM? I’M IN YOUR BEDROOM?” Lily screamed at him looking at her surroundings as though each piece of furniture might suddenly come alive and attack her.
“Don’t worry Evans. It will probably be the only time I ever get you in here.”
Lily gasped, horrified, at James Potter’s smarmy smile and suggestive remark. It was quite clear that she wanted to slap him. Or knee him. Or both. Repeatedly.
Instead Lily practically stamped her foot and turned her back on him. For a moment, James thought she was going to throw a tantrum. What he wasn’t expecting was for her to break down crying.
Her arms folded in around her, as though she needed someone to hold her closely, Lily’s shoulders shook as the pure sadness she’d been building up that morning flowed from her. Lily was definitely prone to dramatics, but never had James ever seen her vulnerable.
Although seeing Lily in such a state had made his anger quickly melt away, James Potter still had enough adolescent hormones in him to send one last arrogant remark off on its way.
“Oh come on…It can’t possibly be that bad to be around me,” he said sarcastically, folding his arms across his chest.
Lily’s shaking torso paused mid-tremor and she turned very slowly to look at James Potter. The grief written over her face silenced him.
“Don’t you understand?” she said her voice thick with her tears, “You are the stark, cold reminder that Henry didn’t truly have feelings for me. That the past few weeks that have been the best in my life, weren’t actually REAL. That’s all you are to me. The living, breathing reminder that I am worth nothing.”
For the first time in his life, James Potter was lost for words.
A quiet popping sound made them both jump as a house-elf apparated into the dead silence of the room, his thin arms laden with food.
“Master Black sent me,” the house-elf squeaked, “He said you would need our assistance Master Potter!”
“Thanks Baskins,” James said quietly taking the heavy food from the elf, “But I have one more thing to ask of you.”
James leant down and whispered into Baskins ear and as he did so, the house-elf’s eyes lit up.
“Yessir! I’ll do that right away sir!” With a pop, Baskins disappeared.
There was a moment of silence before James spoke quietly into the stillness.
“He’ll be back later.”
For all Lily knew, her back turned to James and Baskins, the two of them had organised a game of Exploding Snap and Baskins had gone to fetch it. As they waited Lily felt the warmth of a fire being lit, and a woollen blanket being placed around her shoulders by wide comforting hands. Pulling it closer and tighter around her body, she mumbled a little thankyou.
She did finally turn around when the smell of exquisite barbequed sausages wafted over to her. James had set up the desk in the room as a small table for lunch; its spindly legs burdened by the overflowing plate of sizzling sausages, crusty bread, and roasted vegetables alike.
Without a word, he piled up a plate for her, and placed it in her hand. Something deep inside her was stirred to see that James knew exactly which foods and how much of each she would have wanted.
It was as though he knew her thoughts.
And so in silence, James Potter and Lily Evans began their first lunch alone together.
Perhaps it was the blanket. Perhaps it was the fact that instead of being a typical man and trying to solve the situation, James had instead just comforted her. Perhaps it was the fact that they were alone.
But Lily’s anger was quickly dissolving.
As James picked up his sixth sausage without hesitation, Lily laughed - a sound that made James stop, stare at her and then his grin widen across his face. This time, instead of eating his sausage normally, he picked up a piece of bread, placed the sausage in the middle and slathered it in tomato sauce.
Lily didn’t hesitate to show her disgust. Especially when James handed it to her.
“Here…” he said holding it out to her, “It’s something I learnt in Australia. It’s pretty good.”
“But it’s just like a Muggle hot dog…”
James gasped as though he was offended.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Try it.”
And so Lily took the barbequed concoction from James’s hand and took a bite.
“Oh my gawd…” Lily said her mouth full of food, “Why is this not a staple food?”
James laughed as she took bite after bite hungrily, as though she hadn’t just swallowed two other sausages.
“Can I have another one?”
James chuckled to himself as he prepared her another. Lily looked at him curiously.
“Well,” James answered handing her another, “My parents like to travel a lot and it’s their favourite place so...we’ve been there a few times. They’re in Italy right now.”
“Your parents have time to travel?”
“Uh…they’re a lot older…than most parents,” James began, “They don’t really work. So they travel.”
“And that doesn’t worry you?” Lily said finally finishing off her sausage and wiping her mouth delicately with a napkin.
“Oh I’m always worried about them. But they send me letters all the time so I know they’re still alive…just not as close to home as I would hope.”
James smirked, a small but distinguished smile of fondness. Little wrinkles formed at the side of his eyes as though every memory he’d made with them was a happy one. A sudden emotional wave of longing for her own family swept over Lily. As it wasn’t something she particularly wanted to share with James Potter, Lily stood up abruptly and began to inspect the room they had been confined to.
“So…this is what your…um…home looks like?”
James smirked at her, sensing the uncomfortableness.
“It’s alright. This isn’t my actual bedroom where I sleep. It’s more like my…studio. Where I come to just be me.”
Lily gave a little smile as she began to walk around the room, blanket still tight around her.
“Clearly you don’t have siblings.”
“Pretty sure not everyone gets a separate room to be themselves.”
James shrugged nonchalantly and leant back in his chair, watching (with a hint of joy) Lily Evans walk around his room.
Almost every wall was covered in bookshelves, filled to the brim with old and new books. Some she recognised, many she did not but it was clear that James had thumbed their pages many a time.
“I didn’t realise you liked reading so much.”
“It’s a guilty pleasure.”
“Reading can be a guilty pleasure?”
“If you spend as much gold on it as I do, yes, it’s a guilty pleasure.”
Coming across one of her favourite Muggle plays, Lily gave a little gasp and pulled it from the shelving. Quickly flicking through its pages, she came to her most favourite scene and began to read fondly to herself. With tender care she slid her finger down its page, feeling as though she’d been sent a little piece of home she didn’t realise she was missing.
Lily was so wrapped up in the words that she overlooked the fact that the book practically fell open to that page when she had taken it off the shelf.
“Your parents let you read Muggle writers?” Lily asked a little shocked, “Aren’t you a pure-blood?”
Although Lily was just asking this as a normal question out of curiosity, her words sent a shadow across James’s face.
“My family and I aren’t like those other pure-blood families,” he said, his voice falling to a new dark depth, “We don’t believe in inequality or any of that rubbish.”
And to himself he thought, I especially think that because of you.
Lily looked at him unperturbed by the new seriousness in his tone.
“I’m sorry if I offended you,” she said quietly, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
James nodded stiffly.
“The question of reading Shakespeare however…” he continued from his seat, “My parents have always loved his work and I’ve grown up with it. The play you’re holding happens to be one of my favourites.”
Genuine surprise made Lily choke on her laughter.
“No really it is!”
“You? Shakespearean romance?”
“Well I like the fight scenes too. You know, swords and stuff. Very manly.”
Lily shook her head in disbelief. “I don’t believe you.”
By now Lily was just fooling around, finding it peculiarly amusing that she could tease James Potter. But his answer, instead of being the outraged five-year-old fit of temper that she thought it would be, was instead one of a mature young man.
James Potter stood up, his eyes fixed on Lily, and began to walk towards her. As he did so, he began to speak her favourite scene word for word.
“Admired Miranda, indeed the top of admiration…” he began, “Worth what's dearest to the world. Full many a lady I have eyed with best regard, for several virtues have I liked several women. But some defect in her did quarrel with the noblest grace she owed and put it to the foil.”
James finally came to a rest in front of Lily, gently taking the play from her hands as he stared at her.
“But you, O you…” he said ever so softly, “So perfect and so peerless…are created of every creature's best.”
It is often a phenomenon that human beings are capable of doing and feeling things, which they wouldn’t be brave enough to in a normal every-day situation. And so at this point (a point that neither James nor Lily thought they would ever reach), Lily Evans suddenly saw James Potter in a very different light.
It’s not real, her mind kept saying, He’s not usually like this. It’s not real.
But the odd slight thumping of her heart against her chest seemed to disagree.
James snapped the book shut, making her jump. Clearing her throat, Lily took the book off James, careful not to touch him, and placed it back in the bookshelf.
“Yes, well…” Lily said, “That’s what every man says before he gets to know a woman.”
James blinked three times very quickly as though he was a little shocked at how his Shakespearean spout had taken a turn for the worst.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Lily sighed and took a step back from James whom she just realised, was standing incredibly close to her.
“What man wants a woman when he knows her faults?” Lily said spitefully, crossing her arms in a gesture that was becoming far too frequent for James Potter. Then ever so softly she added, “What man would ever want me?”
“What man wouldn’t,” James replied almost automatically.
Lily laughed scornfully and began to pace around the room, as far away as possible from James Potter.
“Only the guys who don’t know me are interested. And then in the stupidest and minor of ways I return a bit of interest and boom! They could win the Muggle Olympics running away.”
“Well I’ve never liked running to be honest,” James said, watching her carefully, “I’m more the type to…stick around.”
Lily hesitated before taking a gulp and looking up at him.
And then James took a step toward her.
“I think…” he continued, “If any guy runs away from you it’s because they know…deep down…they’re not good enough.”
“And I think you’re crazy,” Lily joked, “You can’t honestly say that.”
“Yes I can.”
“Says he who is unrelenting. Are you saying that you are good enough Potter?”
James just smiled.
“No. I just know that you are worth fighting for.”
Lily Evans, who was now effectively silenced by James Potter’s rare piece of wisdom, pulled the blanket closer around herself and gave a little huff. Her eyes flicking from James and then away again, Lily finally settled into sitting on the chaise, the tension dying down with it.
“The biggest problem is that I’m now too scared,” Lily whispered, “I’m too scared to be myself around anyone.”
“How about…” James said sitting at her feet, “You try it out on me.”
“Being yourself. I don’t know…tell me all your hopes and fears or whatever. Honestly. Tell me what you honestly like and you honestly hate.”
“I honestly hate you.”
“I already knew that. Tell me something new.”
Lily’s hesitation said much more than any words or expressions. But just as James always felt he couldn’t lie to Lily Evans, she now felt an odd reassurance that she could tell this boy anything, and that it would very much remain between the two of them.
It was a feeling that was new and incredibly strange.
She guessed it was because she’d punched him. How could someone possibly see you any worse than that?
“Alright,” she finally said, “I’ll go first.”
And for a moment as Lily Evans gave him a small smile, James Potter’s mind went to all sorts of extra-ordinary beautiful places. Places where it was just the two of them.
Perhaps it was rather unfortunate that a daydreaming James had just poured himself and Lily a mug of hot chocolate and was now putting his own to his lips. Because what Lily was about to say would have him spewing. Literally.
“I know Remus Lupin is a werewolf.”
James’s mouthful of hot chocolate was suddenly sprayed all over the room.
“YOU WHAT?” he exclaimed loudly.
“So it’s true?!” she squealed standing up hastily, “I’ve been sleeping just down the corridor from a werewolf all these years? How do we not know about this? How has Dumbledore allowed a dangerous animal to…”
“Now you wait just one moment there Evans,” James Potter said, “Remus is not a dangerous animal.”
“HE MOST CERTAINLY IS!” Lily answered back, “He’s a flipping WEREWOLF. What if someone had been bitten…what if…”
“There are no what if’s. We have it perfectly under control.”
James took a long deep breath, closed his eyes tightly for a moment and then stared seriously at Lily.
“Sirius, myself and Peter. We help him. So does Madame Pomfrey. We isolate Remus on full moon nights. He takes his potion. We are nowhere near the castle when he transforms.”
“But you three! Do you realise the danger…I mean a werewolf just has to maim…”
“HEY!” James Potter shouted, making Lily jump, “This is one of my best friends we’re talking about. I would appreciate it if you weren’t so disrespectful.”
“NO BUTS. It’s not Remus’s fault that he has to go through this for the rest of his life. As I said, I’ve got it under control, you’re completely safe.”
The harder James was trying not to give her the whole story, the more Lily wanted to know what he was keeping from her. And so she pressed on until James finally relented - although it wasn’t quite the answer she was expecting when he suddenly transformed into a stag. In fact, Lily shrieked in fear and backed up against the far wall.
“YOU’RE…YOU’RE…” she gasped out, still flattened against the wall as he hastily transformed back.
“Animagi. Illegal actually but only Dumbledore knows that. Well probably McGonagall as well which is why she’s always giving me weird looks…”
“It’s for Remus. And…and for you,” he said, “Between Sirius and I we can keep Remus under control.”
“BUT IT’S ILLEGAL!”
“You know why you’re so angry…” James began forcefully.
“I’m angry because it’s wrong!”
“No, you’re angry because YOU’RE wrong. This is something that has been happening under your very nose for seven years and not once have you ever known any danger of Remus being a werewolf. You know in most things I would take your side Lily but in this I will always support Remus, I will always be there for him and I don’t care how much danger I have to put myself in if it means protecting him and you. Don’t try and move me on this one Lily, it’s not…”
And with that, Lily Evans kissed James Potter.
It was a long moment before a shocked James and an equally shocked Lily broke apart.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that,” she said quickly.
“No, no it’s…f-fine…” James said, his voice cracking a little, “W-why…”
Lily shook her head, just as perplexed as he was that she had kissed him. In fact the longer the two of them stood there, the more surreal it became. Something akin to a dream.
“It didn’t mean anything you know,” Lily suddenly said, “I was just joking…or something. Maybe trying to shut you up…”
The expression on James’s face changed from baffled to roguish in a matter of seconds. Quite suddenly James Potter reached out, grabbed Lily and threw her over his shoulder.
“POTTER!” she screamed, thumping his back with her fists, “PUT ME DOWN! NOW!”
“It’s alright, it’s not like I mean it or anything.”
“James Potter, you put me down THIS INSTANT!”
“No I’m quite enjoying this,” James said, holding her with one arm, “If I’d known you were this light I would have done this a long time ago.”
“EVIE IS GOING TO KILL YOU FOR THIS!”
Lily began to kick and flail about, shouting at the top of her lungs whilst James laughed the heartiest most joyful laugh he’d had in ages.
It wasn’t until a sudden popping sound frightened them both, that the ruckus they were causing stopped. Although James had his back to the house-elf who was responsible for the sound, he knew exactly what and who should be there.
Lily lay limp over his shoulder, completely silent and in shock.
“Tuney?” Lily whispered.
James let her slide off his shoulder, as he turned to look for the first time at the older sister that Lily Evans always seemed to be talking about. The young woman who looked only vaguely similar to her magical sister, seemed to have gone completely rigid.
“Petunia what are you doing here!?” Lily exclaimed rushing over and throwing her arms around her sister. Petunia’s arms remained at her sides.
“I…I didn’t really have a choice,” Petunia Evans began, her voice not nearly as warm as her sister’s, “This…thing…just picked me right up and brought me here. I wouldn’t be surprised if Vernon never talks to me again.”
“He’s a house-elf,” Lily corrected her, smiling down at Baskins, “And a darling little one at that for bringing you here. Oh Petunia you have no idea how much I’ve missed you. But how did he…”
“I think I’m guilty of that one.”
Lily Evans turned curtly and stared wide eyed at him.
“And who may you be?” Petunia Evans answered coldly, her nose stuck in the air.
“Petunia this is Po…James Potter.”
James Potter took a couple of strides towards them, holding out his hand towards Petunia. Hesitantly she took his hand by the tips of her fingers, as though she might catch something by shaking hands with a wizard.
“This is all very nice Lily but I must be getting back. I’m incredibly busy. A wedding to organise…”
“A wedding! Tuney who’s getting married!?”
With a faint smirk and a glance between Lily and James, she held out her left hand on which there sat a band of glinting gold and a perfect circular cut diamond.
“Vernon paid for it himself with his salary from his new job. He’s gone intro drills you know. They say he has great potential.”
“Blimey, that’s what I call a rock!” James exclaimed, a great big smile on his face, “This Vernon guy is a catch.”
As Lily stared at the ring in wonderment, Petunia Evans couldn’t help but catch the way the stranger James Potter was looking at her sister. Having grown up with the Snape boy in love with Lily, she knew exactly what that expression meant.
But this one…this one was different.
James Potter was looking at Lily Evans as though she was his whole world.
As though everything Petunia was experiencing right now was what he wanted to give her.
And for some very odd reason Petunia Evans almost…approved. Almost.
“Right. That’s enough of this. How do I get out of here?” Petunia said pulling her hand abruptly from Lily’s clasp, “I need to go home and see if I still have a fiancé.”
James knew quite well that his idea of inviting Petunia to come see Lily was going to be risky. From what he’d heard of their relationship, it had been incredibly strained ever since Lily started coming to Hogwarts. To be honest, James would have forgotten completely about Petunia Evans if it hadn’t have been for the fact she hated Severus Snape as much as he did.
Up until this moment, the atmosphere had been awkward enough. But now…
“Well it was very lovely to meet you Petunia Evans,” James said sensing that there was something private to be said between the two sisters, “And I wish you all the happiness with your Vernon chap. Lots of uh…bouncing babies and…”
Having run out of things to say and finding it increasingly difficult to stay in between Lily and her sister, James Potter cleared his throat, walked to the other side of the room and began to stare very intently at his bookshelf whilst whistling to himself.
Lily turned slowly to Petunia.
“I’m sorry he dragged you here,” she said softly, “But something…something has just happened that…well I guess he thought that I might need you…”
Petunia Evans stayed very still looking everywhere around the room bar her own sister’s face.
“And truth is, I do,” Lily continued, “Although I didn’t even know it myself. But I just needed to see you. Just needed to hear your voice.”
Perhaps it was too much for Petunia Evans to see the way her little sister’s shoulders drooped and mouth turned down with sadness. Perhaps it was the fact that they were alone for a moment, no Vernon, no parents, no magic, no Severus to influence her. But Petunia Evans very slowly put her arms around Lily and hugged her tightly.
No one was really sure how long they stood there for. No one was sure how long Petunia Evans let her little sister cry into her shoulder. No words were exchanged. It was purely the way they held each other that showed no matter how Petunia Evans felt about their entire relationship, that sisterly love was always going to be a part of her.
A little while later when Baskins had taken Petunia back to her Vernon, Lily and James sat quietly and pensive on the chaise. It was the first time they’d ever sat this closely side by side without a fight erupting.
“Thankyou,” Lily whispered, “I don’t know how you knew but…thankyou.”
James smiled, a smile that caused Lily Evans to stare at him oddly for a moment.
“What?” he said with a chuckle.
“Nothing it’s just…you should be more like this in public. Maybe…we could have been friends.”
“Is that why you kissed me? So we could be friends?” James chuckled. Lily’s cheeks quickly brightened to a rouge that rivalled her red hair. Quite suddenly she gave a great big gasp.
“Oh flibberty-gibbet, we could’ve asked Baskins to help us escape!”
The two of them burst into laughter together.
For the rest of the afternoon and evening, Lily Evans and James Potter shared pieces of themselves that they’d never been able to share with anyone else.
It was as though they were creating their own little piece of fantasy world, that when they stepped outside, would probably splinter to pieces.
And by the next morning when Sirius and Evie came to fetch them, there had been many more tense moments and many more secrets shared.
“What?” Evie asked forcefully of James as he stepped outside of the Room, “What is that smarmy git smile for?”
James Potter just shrugged his shoulders and kept smiling.
“Well if you must know…she called me James.”
“She called me James,” Evie mockingly repeated, “Oh come on Jim. Tell me tell me tell me. That can’t be all that happened?”
James smiled mysteriously still staring after Lily Evans. Lily hesitated as she reached the end of the corridor and very subtly looked back at James. They held each other’s gaze for a long moment before she walked off around the corner.
And although he did not see it, she smiled fondly to herself.
“JAMES POTTER! YOU TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED RIGHT NOW BEFORE I BLEEDIN’ STEAL YOUR BROOMSTICK!”
A little girl in far off England was desperately missing her best friend. Although to the child it seemed as though her life-long friend had simply forgotten about her, or worse found a new best friend, to her concerned parents, it was a sign of deeper more sadistic things happening subtly around them.
Mollie Ford, at just four years of age, had joined the list of those missing at the hands of a new evil force rising in the wizarding world.
The extract from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It in this chapter is one of my favourites. If you were unsure - James is essentially saying that he’s liked quite a few girls in his time but none of them were ever good enough as the one standing in front of him who of course is Lily.
I tried my best to write this chapter how I imagined it happening in my head – all about Lily and James’s love/hate relationship. I hope you saw it too! And sorry it took so so so long