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The Art of Surviving. by AC_rules

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 25
Word Count: 136,323
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: General, Romance, Angst
Characters: Lupin, Sirius, A. Longbottom, Lily, James
Pairings: James/Lily, Sirius/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 02/20/2011
Last Chapter: 10/02/2013
Last Updated: 10/02/2013

Summary:
Beautiful banner by enchantress @ TDA   :)



Grief, war and love: surviving is an art.

SEQUEL TO THE ART OF BREATHING.


Dobby winner 2012: Best Romance and Best Angst! 


Chapter 5: Scratching the surface.
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“Wear the skirt,” Rachel said, pulling it out my trunk and throwing it at me.

“It rises up,” I complained, throwing it back at my trunk and throwing myself on my bed. “There’s no point; I might as well just stay here.”

“Oh stop throwing a tantrum,” Rachel said with an eye roll. “You promised James you’d go to the stupid party, and it’s our responsibility to get you there.”

“Fine.” I muttered, pulling my make up bag out of my trunk and making a dash for the mirror whilst Alice was in the bathroom. “But I’m not wearing the skirt.”

“It’s a party.”

“Last time I wore that I accidently showed everyone my knickers!”

“And by everyone you mean...?” Alice asked stepping out of the bathroom in her dress.

“James and Sirius.” I said, frowning whilst trying to put on mascara.

“So wear nice knickers,” Rachel said. “Anyway, that skirt worked pretty well for you last time,”

“And what’s the supposed to mean?” I asked, rubbing a black mascara mark of my eyelid and making the general weird faces that girls make at mirrors whilst trying to do there make up.

“You disappeared with Sirius,” Rachel said.

“Nothing happened!” I snapped, whirling around to face the pair of them. “If you think for one minute that I would -”

“- of course not,” Alice cut across. “But given you disappeared the day after that is it any wonder that people were suspicious?”

“They can stuff their stupid suspicion,” I said, muttering darkly at my reflection.  I caught a glimpse of Rachel in the mirror. “What are you drinking?”

“Fire whiskey,” She said, stepping forward and handing me the bottle. I took it. I hadn’t drunk wizarding alcohol since that last party... I took a swig from the bottle anyway. It burned and warmed up my chest. Alice tutted at us. I took another swig. “So why did you leave?” Rachel asked.

“Ask me in an hour,” I said with a half-smile, before I turned back to my reflection and started applying lipstick. Half an hour later, and half a bottle of fire whiskey each, we were nearly ready. “I think I will wear that skirt, you know,” I said. I’d been wondering around in my top and knickers for the past fifteen minutes.

“I’m going down,” Alice said, dressed in her nice blue dress looking sweet and appealing ( I think her costume was supposed to be Alice in Wonderland, but I wasn’t altogether sure). “See you later.”

“Why’s she going? I asked, pulling on the skirt and staring at myself – hand on hip – in the mirror. “The party hasn’t started yet,”

“It has,” Rachel said, glancing at the clock and drinking a little bit more of the fire whiskey. “Forty minutes ago, actually,”

“Dramatic lateness,” I said. “Cept James might think I’m not coming.”

“All gone,” Rachel commented, dropping the bottle on her the bed and pulling herself upwards. “Ready to go now?” She asked. Her skirt was shorter than mine, and her top lower – it made me feel much better. I yanked my skirt up a little and grinned.

“I was born ready,” I muttered, and then we headed down the stairs, clutching hold of the banister to keep ourselves up right. I pulled my skirt down a little on the stairs – Rachel was in front and she couldn’t see me. I felt much better with it longer...

I caught James’s eye across the room, and I lifted a hand up and waved at him – almost stumbled – and had to right myself. He made his way through the people to greet me at the bottom of the stairs. “Whoever said Lily Evans didn’t know how to party?” He grinned. I hugged him.

“You smell nice,” I informed him, grabbing hold of his arm and heading towards the drinks table. “Good party?”

“It’s getting better,” James answered, and then, “I’m not sure if I want to give you anything else to drink, Evans.”

“Don’t be a spoil sport, Prongs,” Sirius grinned, making a point of clapping me on the back so hard that I half fell over.  “She hasn’t drunk that much,”

“Déjà vu,” I muttered, suddenly remembering Peter’s 17th... it was role reversal almost. With Mary staggering around, blind drunk and James had been encouraging her... and Sirius had been angry and... Everything had blown up.

The other two seemed to have caught my train of thought, because they were both immediately quiet. Sirius shoved his hands in his pockets. “She was so drunk,” I said, smiling fondly. “It seems ages ago, doesn’t it?”

James nodded. Sirius was suddenly tight lipped and refusing to speak. I frowned. I personally believed that it would be much better if we actually talked about Mary, instead of skirting around the issue. Sirius had said it himself – I could talk about her to him any time I wanted – and surely that would be better than ignoring every time her memory was brought up?

“And then she was dancing with everyone,” I said, smiling at James as I remembered. “Talking about the most random stuff and then -”

“Stop it.” Sirius said over me.

“ – And then Alice was -”

Then Sirius grabbed my wrists and glared at me fiercely. “Shut up.”

James made an involuntary movement from my side; I ripped my wrists from my grips and glared at him. “I want to talk about her.”

“I am more than happy to talk about Mary,” Sirius returned. “But not about that night.”

“But -”

“- No, Lily, I refuse.”

“You should talk about it.”

“Don’t tell me what to do Evans.” He said darkly. “You haven’t got the right.”

“I have every right to -”

“ – Prongs, do you want a drink? It’s probably best if you don’t have another one, Lily,” Then he left without waiting for answer, and I watched him leave, silently fuming.

“Don’t get mad, Lily,” James said softly, stepping forward and pouring me a glass of redcurrant rum. I took it, silently appreciating the fact that James knew my drinking preferences. “It’s hard for him,”

“Because it’s easy for me.” I snapped. “And why does he call you prongs?”

He shook his head, “I can’t tell you that.”

“I shouldn’t have come,” I said, putting down my glass and turning towards the stairs. “If you’re just going to -”

“They’re nick names,” James said. “To do with our animagus forms, but just... it’s a marauder secret, I’m not supposed to – will you just stay, Lily, and have a drink with me. I promised I’d make you laugh.”

“You’ve just made me mad,” I said, picking my glass up and leaning on the drinks table dejectedly. I was acting childish. “And I hate this stupid skirt,”

“I like it,” James said, making a point of looking at the skirt. And my legs. I rolled my eyes at him, but smiled all the same.  “Now, considering you’ve barely been talking to anyone all year – how are you finding school?”

“It’s horrible,” I said, taking a large gulp of my redcurrant rum. “Mary’s dead, Alice is mad at me, everyone thinks I’m a shit Head Girl and the god damn Slytherin’s keep...”

“Keep what?”

“Throwing things at me, pushing me, jinxes me – whatever they can get away with.” I said irritably. “And you’ve been lovely James, you really have – making all the others sit with me and stuff, but I just... it’s just horrible.”

James frowned and for a second I was almost certain he was going to come up with something profound and meaningful. “Which Slytherins?” He asked.

“I got called a mudblood by a first year last week.” I muttered angrily. “And now Sirius is mad at me too,”

“He’s not mad,” James returned, searching him out in the crowd. He was now talking, and most probably flirting, with a sixth year Hufflepuff near the foot of the girl’s staircase. Even now seeing him interact with other girls, girls that were decidedly not Mary, made my stomach turn uncomfortably. “He’s upset,”

“Yeah, he looks it,” I replied angrily.

“Let’s get a seat,” James said refilling my glass of redcurrant rum and making his way through the people towards the sofa. “Any seats going free?” James yelled over the sound of the music, which was so much louder around here.

“Sure,” A very young looking female said, grabbing the hand of her male friend and pulling him away. I frowned as their backs disappeared in the direction of the stairs, but sat down next to James all the same – crossing my legs and facing him. Very much like the last party, only last party – it had been Sirius I was sat with.

“Has he slept with anyone else since Mary?” I demanded, half yelling over the music, and half trying not to be very loud because it was rather a personal conversation. I had to repeat it, with James leaning forwards to hear.

“One girl,” James sighed. “He regretted it, a lot, but... Lily, you’ve got to understand. He can’t stay hung up on Mary forever,”

“Why not?” I demanded.

“Well,” James paused. “Maybe I worded that badly – of course he’ll always be hung up on Mary, I’m almost certain that he won’t ever feel like that again, but... you can’t expect him to never see girls again. Never to have sex, never to flirt...”

“But, it’s so soon.”

“Eight months,” James countered, “That’s a long time to not have sex for, especially for someone like Sirius.” I scrunched up my face and rested my head on his shoulder for a split second.

“Who was the girl?” I muttered into his shoulder.

“Some Muggle,” James shrugged, “She meant nothing,”

“I bet it meant something to her.” I said, James said nothing. I pulled up my head and took another sip of my drink, savouring the taste and the wonderful way it was making everything a little fuzzier. “James,” I said, looking at him seriously. “Have you had sex?”

His expression froze. He considered this for a few long seconds. He blinked.

“Yes.” He replied.

“You were going to lie to me.” I accused, half slightly annoyed, half amused as I finished my glass off and placed it on the floor.

“I thought you might be mad,” James said, taking a sip of his own drink.

“Why would I be mad? It has nothing to do with me,”

James laughed at that and wrapped an arm around me. I rested my head on his shoulder again and decided that I was very, very comfortable.  “It’s got everything to do with you, Miss Evans,” I could feel his chest move up and down with is breathing, and his warmth was delicious and comforting.

“How many girls?”

“You are mad,” James said, wrapping his arm around me a little tighter. I shut my eyes.

“I am not,” I returned, although – maybe I was a tiny little bit. Only because with all his insistence about how much he loved me and the like – not that he’d explicitly said any of that for a long time, so he’d probably gotten over it – you would have thought he’d have managed to keep his pants on. I briefly considered mentioning this, but even when drunk I knew that wasn’t a good idea. “Just curious.” I settled on.

“Two,” James said. “Two girls.” That wasn’t a small amount, or a very large amount. It was possibly an amount I could deal with.

“Okay,” I said, finding myself almost falling asleep, practically in James Potter’s arms.

“Do I get a turn now?” He asked, and his chest vibrated with the hum of his words. I made a noise of agreement, but thought it would be too much of an effort to actually speak. “What about you?”

“No,” I said, and James’s arm moved slightly. His shoulder was resting over my back, and I could feel his fingers splayed over my waist. Far too comfortable for words.

His voice dropped even lower, and if I hadn’t been essentially lying on top of him, I would have missed his next words. It seemed he was almost as relaxed as I was. “So you just kissed Diggory?”

I opened my eyes. “Not quite,”

“Ah,” James said, looking at me properly. He shifted our position so that we were looking at each other properly.  “So, hands or...?”

“The other thing,” I said, closing my eyes and trying very much not to think about it. “It was only two weeks after Mary, James,” I said ever so quietly. “And I didn’t... I didn’t mean for it to happen I just felt so...” His hand definitely tightened around me now, so that our entire fronts were essentially pressed together. I found myself welling up slightly, and I rested my head back against his chest again. “You’re not mad are you?”

“Livid, but not at you,” James muttered, and I could feel the anger in his voice. “I might kill Diggory,”

“Sirius knew,” I said, and James stiffened slightly. “I didn’t want you to be mad,”

“Why would I be mad, it has nothing to do with me, right?” James questioned. I laughed. “Mission accomplished,” He whispered and I laughed again, and sat myself upright – smiling down at him.

“This is your party James; you should go enjoy it,”

“I was enjoying it,” James said, also sitting up so that we were level again. “I don’t really want to go and talk to anyone else,”

“I’ll get you another drink,” I said, detangling myself from James Potter and the sofa, and walking towards the drinks table. Rachel caught my eye across the room, and I could have sworn she mouthed ‘it’s the skirt’ but I suddenly realised that the redcurrant rum had gone to my head now, and I was a little bit drunk. Which was probably why I’d just had a rather intimate moment with James Potter, in the middle of a huge party.

I shook my head and grabbed the drinks. I got a double shot of firewhiskey for James – because it seemed he was almost sober, along with his favourite beer. I got myself a glass of wine; optimistically hoping that wouldn’t get me any more drunk given it wasn’t very strong. It didn’t occur to me that the way to not get more drunk was simply to stop drinking.

James was now talking to Amanda near the door, I headed over there – struggling through the make shift dance floor – and sidling up to them with all the confidence that half a bottle of firewhiskey and red currant rum gives you. “James,” I said, pushing the shot and the beer into his hand. “Nice costume, Amanda,” I commented lightly.

“Thanks Lily,” She replied with a smile.

“I’m a muggle,” I added, gesturing towards my very plan attire. She laughed. James grinned at me, having already downed his firewhiskey and placed the glass down on the side.

“And I’m Sirius,” James said, wrapping an arm around my waist. I leaned into his side without much thought.  “Anyway, Amanda, I’ve been meaning to ask you about Marlene...” James began tentatively. “Do you still not have any clues?”

“Well,” Amanda said slowly, bringing a hand up to her hair nervously. “The more I think about it, the more I think...” She paused. “That Sirius is involved.”

“Yes,” James sighed. “I thought that too.”

“Wait,” I said, my head spinning. “I noticed he was acting strangely when it was mentioned but... how would he be involved?”

“He knows where she is, I’m sure of it,” Amanda said nervously.

“But why would he?”

“I don’t mean to cause offence,” Amanda said quietly. “It’s just; I always got the impression that they had a bit of a... thing.” I opened my mouth to speak. “Because Marlene made a comment, before, about him being good in bed and...” I shut my mouth quickly. “She used to talk in her sleep sometimes, and she used to say ‘Black’ a lot, and then... She told me that she had a secret boyfriend and I just... assumed.”

“He wouldn’t have.” I said, searching for him in the crowd desperately – hoping that by looking him I’d know he’d never have betrayed Mary that way... He was still chatting up the girl, and as I watched his hand casually brushed against her arm. I swallowed. “He wouldn’t, not to Mary.”

“No,” James said. “Maybe... before Mary?”

No,” I snapped angrily, pushing his arm off me.

“But Lily, don’t you remember – Sirius said he’d slept with her.” James said. “I’ll talk to him about it,” He said stiffly.

“If Sirius knows, then she has to be safe,” I said, thinking as I spoke. “Because he keeps saying not to worry and if she’s safe – then why wouldn’t she be here? So it doesn’t make sense and... and Sirius hated her.”

“Maybe it ended badly?” James suggested.

“The only person Sirius ever had a real relationship with was Mary!” I half yelled. “There has to be another explanation... and we’re forgetting something. Marlene had it too; she had to be cured this summer... along with...”

“Johnny,” James finished, nodding. “Lily, you’re amazing,” He declared. “That’s Mary’s little brother,” He explained to Amanda. “He started this year, was sorted into Gryffindor... We’ll have to ask him then, he’d know... then we can be sure whether Sirius -”

“Whether I what?” Sirius asked appearing behind us and making all of us jump. “Nice costume Amanda,” He said politely, if somewhat awkwardly – she was his ex after all (who wasn’t). We all stood there awkwardly. “I was just about to go get some more alcohol from the village – we’re almost out.”

“Hasn’t everyone drunk enough?” Amanda asked.

“Amanda,” Sirius said loudly – he was always very loud when drunk, he just seemed to feel the need to yell everything – and he clapped her on the shoulder jovially. Hey, at least he’d cheered up. “You can’t run out of booze at a party – its social etiquette.”

“How will you get to the village?”

“I have my ways,” Sirius grinned.

“I’ll come with you,” I said in my much quieter voice. “I need to get out of here, it’s suffocating.” James raised a slight eyebrow, and Amanda looked very taken aback. I was vaguely aware how this might look to an outsider –this was the second time I would have left mid-party with Sirius Black, and given I’d just be passionately defending Sirius’s fidelity... it looked bad. Which is probably why I proceeded to wrap my arms around James’s neck and whisper “I’m going to question him whilst he’s still drunk,” in his ear. Then I kissed him on the cheek and grinned at him. 

“Is this a good idea, Evans?” Sirius asked as we walked out of the common room and into the darkly lit passage. It was instantly quieter and cooler. “Because we don’t even need any more alcohol, I just needed to -”

I stopped just as we reached the end of the corridor. “Wait...” I said slowly. “What’s this?” because there was a new door, one I’d never seen before... and there was light coming through it, bright golden light...

“Evans,” Sirius began slowly, his words slurring a little (so I wasn’t the only one who’d, yet again, had too much to drink). “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” because I was reaching for the door handle.  “It’s just a broom cupboard.”

“Then why is it glowing?”

“Don’t touch it – that’s asking for trouble.” Sirius said, but I’d already reached out and grabbed the door handle. Rather anticlimactically, nothing happened. Sirius sighed loudly. I ignored him.

I pulled open the door and looked into its depths “Its dark inside,” I commented. How curious. The gold light seemed to have disappeared, leaving nothing but black. “I’m going in,” I said, stepping across the threshold. Sirius was suddenly right behind me.

“Let’s get out of here,” Sirius muttered.

“I thought you were the adventurous one? A Marauder? Anyway, like you said – it’s just a broom cupboard.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,”

“Then go back,” I said folding my arms and turning to stare at him.

“And what? Leave you? James would kill me. Not that this is much better – willingly walking into a broom cupboard with Lily Evans, what is the world coming to.”

“I think your right,” I said, suddenly realising what this would look like to any outsider. “We should get out of here,”

“Thank you,” Sirius said with a sigh. Then there were a few seconds of silence, and he swore. “Lily, I can’t find the door,”

“What?” I snapped.

“It’s...  I just let go of it for a second...”

“Sirius!” I exclaimed. “Why did you let go?”

“Because it’s just a broom cupboard!” He exclaimed. “Lumos!” He said. Nothing happened. “I hate to scare you, Lily, but my wand isn’t working.”

Or you’re too drunk to make it work.”

“You try yours then.” Sirius snapped.

I pulled my own out. “Lumos,” I said and nothing happened. We remained in the darkness. “Shit,” I said, groaning as I stuffed my wand back down into the waistband of my skirt. “Sorry, this is all my fault,”

“Damn right it is,” Sirius muttered angrily. “I told you not go near it,”

“Okay,” I said, feeling around in the darkness, “Can you feel the door?”

“I’m not entirely sure if there is a door anymore.” Sirius answered irritably. “This was clearly planned.”

Planned?”

“An enchantment on a closet, just outside the Gryffindor common room, knowing full well that someone will be curious enough, or drunk enough, to walk straight into it. And...they got two.”

“Sirius, I’m sorry okay,”

“And now,” Sirius muttered and I heard the distinct sound of him kicking something. “I’m stuck in a bloody broom cupboard with you.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” I snapped back in what I thought was his direction. I wondered forwards with my hands outstretched, waiting until my fingers contacted with the wall before beginning to feel my way along the wall.

“Oh, nothing,” Sirius spat back.

“Really,” I said, feeling my way round a corner before walking straight into something, and that something was Sirius Black. He swore as if this had actually hurt him and bagged his fist against the wall in frustration.  I sighed, turned around and slid down the wall. Sirius followed suit, making a point of sighing pointedly. “Sirius, we might be stuck in here for awhile, so if you could just deal with it, please.”

“I’m sorry if I don’t want to be stuck in a broom closet with my best friend’s girlfriend -”

“– I’m not his girlfriend.”

“As good as,” Sirius countered.  “Especially considering you’ve been such a -”

“I get that you’re upset because I brought up Mary,” I said, “But I don’t particularly want to be locked up a cupboard with someone who knows where Marlene McKinnon is, most probably because he was shagging her the entire time that-”

“- Don’t even finish that sentence,” Sirius spat, folding his arms where he sat next to me. “Yes, I know where she is, but if you think that-”

“Are you going to explain?”

“No, I’m not.”

“Sirius,” I muttered, closing my eyes in the dark. “Do you have to be so difficult?”

“Difficult?” Sirius muttered. “I’m drunk and I’m angry and the rumours that come out of this are going to be even worse than last time. James is going to kill me.”

“What?”

“Oh don’t worry, he trusts you. It’s just me who he’s convinced can’t control myself or something. It’s nice to know what people think of me I suppose -”

“Well you did sleep with that muggle girl,”

“I suppose he told you that did he? I wonder how he’d feel if he knew about the whole Diggory business.”

“He does know, I told him.”

There were a few seconds of silence. “Well,” Sirius said – quieter this time – “That’s great.”

“Sirius, what’s wrong?”

“There’s nothing wrong!” His voice broke slightly.

“Sirius?” I questioned tentatively.

“Damn it Lily! You don’t know how hard it is to watch you and James. You don’t know how freaking hard it is, when everyone else is getting there happy ending and I’m just... It makes me miss Mary, so much.” He was crying. Shit he was crying. Bugger. I mean... fuck.

What were you supposed to do in these situations? This was Sirius bloody Black – he didn’t do tears. He barely did emotion. I didn’t even like him, and he didn’t even like me, and now he was fucking crying.

What would Mary have done? She could always sort him out. A lump rose in my throat. My eyes prickled with tears, but I didn’t want to cry. I hugged my arms around me.

“Sirius I’m sorry -” I began, near tears myself now.

“No you’re not!” He said angrily, and loudly, his voice thick with all this emotion. Where had it all come from anyway? I was used to Sirius always being an explosion of emotions and... I supposed he’d gotten a little too good at repressing it. “Don’t kid yourself, you don’t care anymore. You just want to move on and forget about it! But I can’t damn it Lily.”

“Don’t tell me I don’t care.” I said darkly. “Of course I care. I care about Mary and you -”

“Care about me?” Sirius demanded. “You’re full of shit. If you cared you wouldn’t have left.”

“What?” I asked, startled. I turned to face him in the dark – struggling to pick out the features through the lurking gloom.

“I needed you there Lily, I hated that I need you there, but I did. It’s like you said, we’re connected by it – you’re the only one who lost even half as much as me, and I just, I just needed you here.” He took a deep shuddering breath. God. It was horrible. His tears were so real and heart-wrenching. “And you freaking left. You said not to write to you, not to see you – I needed you, Lily, damn it!” He was breathing heavily, and I found tears prickling at my own eyes again. “Why did you leave?” He demanded loudly. “Why?”

“Because my dad fucking died, Sirius, that’s why!” I yelled back, suddenly angry. “He died!  I had to go back.” Both of us were breathing heavily in the darkness, and then I was crying too. “So don’t get at me Sirius, so don’t even...” And then I stopped, hung my head and scrunched my eyes up.

My eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness now, and I could just about see Sirius in the darkness. I didn’t want to see him. Not this weak crying Sirius. I couldn’t deal with it, couldn’t fix it – wasn’t in control.

“Marlene McKinnon is safe,” Sirius said quietly. “She’s...” he paused for breath. I reopened my eyes and sat up a little more. “She’s pregnant.”

“Yours?” I asked softly. I wasn’t shocked; I didn’t think I had the capacity to be shocked anymore. Not when I was locked in a broom cupboard with Sirius Black. Who said he’d needed me, and who was crying – about Mary.

“You think so highly of me Evans.” Sirius said stiffly.

“I defended you.”

“And what a loyal defender I have,” He said sarcastically. He brought a hand up to his face and wiped away his tears. “Thanks Evans,” He continued in the same sardonic tone. “I guess I owe you one. Defending me.”

“It was more than anyone else was doing.” I said fiercely.

“And you’re so great at making me feel better about myself.” He continued. “Really, knowing everyone thinks that I’m such a heartless -”

“No one thinks you’re heartless!”

“– Sex obsessed –”

“Stop it!”

“ – Untrustworthy – ”

“Shut up! No one thinks that. I don’t think that, James doesn’t think that, Remus doesn’t think that, Peter doesn’t –”

“Then why, pray, did James not defend my honour?” Sirius questioned. “He’s not as fucking perfect as you’d like to think.”

“Well neither are you.” I said angrily. “And I don’t like to think anything.”

“Right,”

“So are you going to answer my question now? All this bloody avoidance. Marlene Mckinnon?”

“You’ve got the wrong Black,” Sirius said heavily.

Regulus?”

“Yes,” Sirius said, looking up at the ceiling and taking in a deep breath. “But he doesn’t know of course, he’s a death eater so -”

“They’d all be killed,” I finished, wrapping my arms around me tightly. The world was cold these days, with darkness and death. I missed the old days where there was just fun and laughter. When Voldermort was nothing more than a barely-there shadow on our lives, instead of an immerging figure... visible. Horrible.

“You understand then,” Sirius said, “Why it has to be a secret. If Regulus knew, he’d want to be proper father for the baby; he’d want... he’s not a bad person.” I nodded and pulled my knees up to my chest in the dark. “You should tell James,” Sirius said after a long period of silence. “About your dad.”

“I know,” I said, resting my head on his shoulder and closing my eyes. We were quite for a very long time. Sirius was wearing something of James’s – it was his costume after all – and he smelt of James. It was uncomfortably comforting.

 

 

 

It was an infinite amount of time later when I realised we had a serious issue. “Sirius, I’m not being funny here – but I really need to pee. I drank half a bottle of firewhiskey, and some red currant rum, and some wine and I really need the loo.”

Sirius laughed, loud and harsh – like a bark.

“It’s not funny!” I protested.

“I won’t start talking about water then,”

No!” I exclaimed, crossing my legs (which of course made my skirt rise up).

“Well,” Sirius said, “I have a bottle here – I had it in my hand when we left, and you could always just...”

“No freaking way.”

“Well, what else are you going to do?”

“It’s all right for you – you’re male, I can’t pee in a bottle! Especially when I’m still pretty tipsy! I’ll miss, anyway – you’d be able to hear me.” Sirius laughed again, and then I found myself laughing too. “Oh god!” I exclaimed. “Don’t make me laugh, whatever you do.”

“Knowing your luck,” Sirius grinned, “Someone will find us, just as you’re squatting with your skirt up round your waist.”

Sirius.” I said. “This is a serious problem; I don’t think you’re taking it seriously. Surely you need the loo too? You’ve been drinking too. You’ve had, what? Three beers, firewhiskey shots... Even if you don’t need the loo now, you will pretty soon.”

“I have no issue with pissing in a bottle,” Sirius said.

“I suppose you’ve done it before.”

“Well, you know me Evans,” Sirius grinned. “Still, I’m much better than James is at holding his drink,”

“Really now?” I asked, keeping my legs tightly crossed and moving ever so slightly. “But I’ve never seen him...”

“He’s always on his best behaviour when you’re around, but now you’re around a lot more – I’m sure you’ll see it at some point.”

I laughed at that, and suddenly I heard something else. “What’s that?” I asked urgently. There was a scraping sound, and then a door appeared – to our left.

“Depends which way you look at it,” Sirius muttered. “That is either our rescuer, or our impending doom.” I nodded and ran a hand through my hair.

Sirius grabbed his wand from his pocket and jumped to his feet. I jumped up too – but much slower, the strain on my bladder was beyond painful. Still, I took my wand out from where it was tucked down the side of my skirt, and brandished it in front of me (decidedly not thinking of water).

Then the door, which was now glowing gold again, burst open and we found ourselves face to face with Severus Snape.

“Lose one, move onto the next.” Snape sneered. “Tell me, Black, which did you enjoy more, McDonald.... or Li...Evans.”

Sirius had his wand out, but Snape did too. He stepped forwards, sidestepping around Snape to get out of our little prison, and I followed his lead. The corridor felt incredibly well lit compared to the tiny dungeon we’d inhabited for what had felt like hours.

I was impressed at how stony and unemotional Sirius remained even after Mary was mentioned, despite crying about her about an hour or so ago.

 “One mudblood not good enough for you?” He asked.

“On the contrary,” I said, raising my wand. “This is one mudblood, who’s too good for you.”

“Don’t call her a mudblood.” Sirius said darkly, stepping backwards – in the direction of the Gryffindor common room. “You’ve had your fun,” Sirius said, stepping in front of me with his wand still trained on Snape’s chest. “Now let us go,”

“No.” Severus said, stepping forwards. I glared at him. He wouldn’t look at me. I wanted him too, just so he’d see how much I hated him.

“Let us go Snape, Lily’s about to wet herself.” I couldn’t help but smile at that despite the situation, but it reminded me of how much I needed the loo.

“I’m not allowed to let you go.”

“You can’t take both of us.” Sirius reasoned, taking another step backwards. “James has been giving Lily duelling lessons,” then, just for a second, Severus looked at me – hurt and confused, but just for a second, because at that exact second Sirius had acted, sending something dark purple and painful looking in Snape’s direction. He snarled, blocked it and then he’d knocked Sirius to the floor, wandless.

He’d hit a wall and was bleeding badly. I let out a shocked scream at the speed of the whole thing, and stared at Snape – eyes wide. How could he do such a thing?

“Leave the purebloods,” Snape muttered, “Torture the mudbloods,” And then he lifted his wand so that it was directed straight at me. I did nothing. I was too shocked. Too drunk. “Crucio.”

Then I was on the floor, writhing but not screaming, just about able to think – trying to move backwards, out of the way. Then it stopped, and I was there breathing heavily and unable to speak. It hurt, yes, but I’d expected more – much more.

Sirius was up on his feet. “You’ve got to mean it,” He said, pulling me up off the floor roughly, and stepping in front of me. “Why don’t you practice on me, huh?” He taunted, opening his arms wide. Snape hesitated. “That’s right,” Sirius said, “So why don’t you stop playing adults and fuck off, Snape.” He said pushing me towards the portrait door, which was so close it was unreal.

“Ouch,” I muttered under my breath as Sirius gripped my arm a little too tightly.

“Don’t hurt Lily!” Snape yelled, and suddenly there was another flash of light and I fell forwards, slipping.

Sirius sent something back. “That’s right,” He replied, “That’s your job,” Then Sirius whispered the password and I collapsed through the portrait hole. Shaking.

“Are you okay?” Sirius asked worriedly. “I didn’t get the shield up in time, I... I thought it had hit you.” I shook my head and stumbled forwards, my head spinning. Dizzy. Drunk.

I looked up. Bizarrely, the party was still going – though it had thinned now, to only the older Gryffindors. Alice and Rachel were gone. It was strange to think the others had walked right past where we’d been stuck inside the cupboard. But James was there. “James,” I exclaimed, running forwards and throwing my arms around his neck. And then I was crying, hysterical sobbing, and I hated to think how many times this had happened recently.

“What happened?” he asked, the question directed at Sirius. The whole room was silent now, and the seriousness of the whole situation was settling over us.

“Snape,” Sirius said darkly. You could have heard a pin drop. “He set a trap, and then... he,” He paused. “He rather thought he’d try some, er... spellwork.”

“Sirius?” James asked, an arm around my back, but looking up at Sirius – demanding the truth.

“The cruciatus curse.” Sirius said slowly. James made a strange convulsing movement, and then grabbed me, forcing me to face him with a terrifying look in his eye.

“Lily, are you okay?” He asked seriously.

I nodded. “It didn’t hurt much,” I muttered, still blubbing like a fool. James hugged me back to his chest again.

“Snape,” Sirius supplied, shoving his hands in his pockets. “We’re lucky it was him. He couldn’t... not to Lily. He tried to curse me though, and I think it hit her but... it doesn’t appear to have had any effect.”

“Maybe it was a crying hex,” I said, pulling myself out of James’s arms and sniffing. “I’m fine, James,” I said. “It just... shook me up.”

“I’m impressed Evans,” Sirius said making a point of ruffling my hair again. “After spending at least an hour desperate for the toilet... you didn’t even wet yourself.”

Shit!” I said, suddenly remembering this need, and running up the stairs, throwing myself into the nearest dorm and elegantly slamming into the door to get to the loo.

“What the -?” One of the girls asked. She was young. I felt bad. I needed the loo more.

I snuck out when I was done, facing the dorm feeling considerably better about the whole thing. More people seemed to have gone in my absence, leaving only the Marauders and a sixth year girl whose name I couldn’t quite remember. Sirius laughed his bark like laugh again, and I crashed down onto the nearest sofa and sighed. “How long were we locked in there?”

“Three and a half hours,” James said, sitting down next to me.

“Urgh,” I muttered. “The rumours.” My legs were pressed against James’s, and his presence was so wrongly comforting. I decided not to think about it. The sixth year girl waved goodbye to Remus before starting up the stairs. It was just us now.

“Forget them,” James said quietly. “Are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine.” I said, pulling up my knees and finding myself insanely comfortable on the sofa. “But... do you think anyone would mind if I slept here?” I asked. “It’s just, Alice and Rachel will be so... and I hate being in that dorm now, it’s so empty and up it’s up six freaking flights of stairs.”

“Let’s all stay down here,” Remus suggested. “There’s blankets and mattresses and stuff in that cupboard,” He said, gesturing to the linen cupboard I’d never even thought to look in before. It was just like the Marauders to be the ones who actually took the time to look and see.

“Bagsie the sofa,” I said, stretching my legs out across it. Peter chucked me a pillow. I caught it and smiled at him. “Back to your place, James,” I said pointing to the floor. He smiled.

“Incoming mattress!” Sirius declared, sending the mattress flying over the coffee table. “How are we doing this?” Sirius asked surveying the room (with a poorly disguised morose expression that, given the events in the cupboard, I saw right through). “We can’t sleep too close together, because then anyone who’ll come down will think we’re gay...”

James had already put his mattress down, at the foot of the sofa, and had settled down in his blankets. He took his glasses off, looking impossible cute and vulnerable as he squinted up at me. I lay down properly, pulling the blankets around me and shutting my eyes. “Lily?” James asked softly. “How exactly, did you end up in a broom cupboard with Sirius Black?”

A/N - So I thought I'd save it all for the bottom this time. I've been on such a downer with this recently... I don't know, it just feels...unloved maybe? Hmm... I think it's just because it's revision time again, and I'm in a pretty rubbish moody anyway (I'm really no fun in this mood, trust). Plus I've been feeling pretty annoyed with fanfiction in general... with all it's classic storylines and cliches and pairings - not that theres anything wrong with them, it's just... Hmm. I'm not doing very well at explaining myself. I think I'll probably just stop :P

I'm still writing this (very long) authors note mostly because I had the most horrible nightmare last night, and I really don't want to go to sleep unless it happens again but... I should probably stop. You've all probably got bored by this point (see what I mean about being no fun? Boo, Helen, stop being so depressing). Thanks for reading and reviewing guys! I've been on a review-answering spree, and have so far done NJAB, and Curiosity - this ones next :)
 

(Don't hate Sirius for the girl yet, he's going to explain himself).
 
 


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