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Chapter 2: Fourth Year: 1975
breathtaking chapter image by Clara Oswald @ tda!
“Mary, no,” Lily protested, folding her arms stubbornly.
Mary put her hands on her hips, her blue eyes glaring at Lily. “Lily, you promised!”
Lily scrunched her nose up. “But I don’t want to!” she cried out, tucking her red hair behind her ears. Mary rolled her eyes and grabbed her best friend’s hand, dragging her to the party the Gryffindor boys decided to throw for Remus’ 15th birthday. “Maarrryy!” Lily whined, digging her heels into the ground.
Mary dropped her wrist. “Lily, everyone’s going!”
Lily rolled her eyes and sat back down on her bed, crossing her arms. “It’s only the Gryffindor boys and girls! It isn’t that big of a deal” she shot back.
Mary ran a hand through her dull brown hair. “Remus wants us there! He’s really started to open up; you don’t want to let him down, do you?” Mary asked, approaching to Lily’s sensitive side.
It worked. Lily chewed on her bottom lip and then sighed loudly. “Fine. We’ll go.” Mary grinned and clapped her hands together before bounding to Lily to link arms with her.
“It’s going to be fun, Lily,” she said, nudging her slightly. “They’re the ones that play pranks and tricks!” she said, her eyes shining excitedly.
Lily bit her lip before beaming as well. “Yeah, it probably will be fun. Is it just in their dorm?” she asked.
Mary shook her head. “No. They said to meet us out at the Entrance Hall.” Lily frowned but didn’t say anything and together, they made their way to meet the four boys.
When they finally arrived, both Lily and Mary were quite out of breath. Dorcas and Marlene were already chatting to Remus, talking about the night that they were preparing for.
“Finally!” Sirius said, “What took you guys so long? And why are you panting?”
Mary answered breathlessly, “Unfit. Sorry we’re late, Lily here needed some convincing.” Lily shot her a scowl but Mary ignored it. James smiled at Lily, but went unnoticed by the red head. “Happy birthday, Remus!” She gave him a hug to his surprise.
“Thanks,” he said, patting her back awkwardly. Mary let go and Lily stepped up to also give him a hug and wish him happy birthday. He responded just as awkwardly and then Peter clapped his hands.
“So, should we get going?” he asked, looking at James. James shrugged and Sirius answered for him.
“Yeah, come on. Curfew’s nearly up.” He started walking out but then Marlene stopped him.
“How are we going to get back in?” she asked nervously. Dorcas folded her arms and Lily stared at the four boys, who shot each other mischievous smirks.
Mary—noticing the boys’ cheeky looks—asked unsurely, “We are coming back in, aren’t we?”
“Ah, MacDonald, so little faith. But no, we aren’t,” Sirius replied, throwing an arm around her shoulders.
“I’m not going out there, I’ve heard it’s haunted!” Dorcas said in hushed tones. The four boys burst out laughing and Dorcas said indignantly, “Oi! Quit your laughing!”
Lily said loudly, “Okay then, we just won’t join you then!” Everyone chorused, “NO!” Lily looked incredibly smug as the rest of them realised she was just bluffing, but Mary still stared at her suspiciously.
“Alright, alright,” James said, “It isn’t haunted. We’re going to the Shrieking Shack, we always go there and it’s usually us making those noises,” he admitted, opening his arms wide. “Happy?”
Marlene muttered to Lily, “Not particularly.” Lily fought to keep a smile off her face. Louder, she said, “Okay then. Lead the way.”
The four boys obliged, talking amongst themselves loudly. The girls lagged behind, whispering to each other about this ‘secret party’. They were worried they were going to get in trouble but were still so curious to see what these boys did all the time—after all, they were always talking about the ‘adventures’ they had.
They reached the slightly swaying Whomping Willow and Remus winked at them. “Watch,” he said, pulling out his wand. Dorcas grabbed Marlene and Mary’s hands in fright. Dorcas was very brave usually, but ghosts and the unknown absolutely terrified her. Lily watched them, evidently torn between curiosity and terror.
Remus charmed a small twig to press a knot on the end of the branch and suddenly all movement stopped from the tree. Peter gestured for them to come closer. “Come quickly, just keep walking right to the end,” he said, showing a small hole for them to crawl through.
They didn’t move and Sirius swore. “Come on, the Tree isn’t going to stay still for ages. Hurry up, we’ll follow straight away!” The four still didn’t move.
Mary snapped, “Why don’t you guys go first then?!”
James rolled his eyes but before he could retort anything, Remus intervened. “Fine, I’ll go first. Okay?” He pushed himself through the hole and after seeing him go through; the girls were more at ease to follow him.
Lily was left to last and she turned around to glare at the three boys. “Don’t you dare stare at my bum when I go through.” She specifically glared at James.
“Evans, I’m appalled you’d ever think I would—” James started saying, his hand at his chest in mock-horror but Sirius interrupted him.
“James, stop lying. We’d all stare at your bum though, in all honesty.” He grinned at her and she rolled her eyes, trying not to laugh.
Peter squawked indignantly. “I wouldn’t! Lily, I swear I wouldn’t!” he said, looking at her seriously.
She laughed. “It’s okay, Peter. I’m not worried about you so much, you’re too nice.” He grinned at her and Sirius shoved him playfully. Lily then forced them to turn around before squeezing herself through the tight entrance. She made a face as she crawled on the dirt, thankful she decided to wear shorts instead of trousers. She called back, “You can come in now!”
As soon as she called out, a body flew into the tunnel, slamming into her. Lily heard a swear word and then an, “I’m so sorry, Evans! Are you okay?!” He got off her and put as much distance between them. She got off the floor, wiping her now-brown blouse.
She nodded. “Yeah, I am. My shirt isn’t though.” She grimaced and James looked incredibly apologetic.
“I’m really sorry,” he repeated. She waved him off, telling him it was okay and continued walking to the end like Peter said. When she finally arrived Mary shrieked.
“Ew! What the hell is on you, Lily?!” She stared at her shirt, which was once white, with her nose scrunched up. Marlene laughed loudly at her and Dorcas sat in the corner, hugging herself, looking around nervously. Remus was looking for something in the corner of the room.
James came up behind her. “I accidentally fell on her. Here, Evans.” She turned around and he pointed his wand to her shirt and muttered, “Scourigfy.” The dirt washed away and he looked very pleased with himself.
“Thanks, James,” Lily said, looking at her white-again shirt. He was about to respond but then Peter and Sirius came walking through the doorway.
“Ah, Remus, looking for Butterbeers?” Sirius asked, shoving his hands in his pockets with his thumbs sticking out.
He didn’t respond but instead brought a case of Butterbeer out. “I’ve got the Butterbeers,” he said happily, grinning at all of them.
Dorcas narrowed her eyes. “Where did you get them from? Our last Hogsmeade trip was over a month ago.”
James tapped his nose. “Ask no questions and we’ll tell you no lies. Now, who wants a drink?” Everyone did and he handed them all one each. They graciously accepted and started to drink.
Sirius sat down and encouraged everyone to sit in a circle. They all sat down and started to talk about Hogwarts, and the impending war. They were only 14—some 15—but they had a weight on their shoulders that wouldn’t lift until it ended—that’s if it ever ended.
Sirius discussed about the way his parents and family were dealing with it, how they were excited about it, not noticing that a few of them felt ill about the way they talked about Muggleborns—especially Lily and Mary.
“Sirius!” James said loudly, his voice cracking. “Shut up.”
Sirius looked offended but James twitched his head ever so slightly to the two girls, who had paled considerably. He swallowed and muttered, “Sorry MacDonald and Evans.”
“No, it’s okay,” Lily replied, her voice uncharacteristically high. “It’s probably good that you’re telling us this, we know what we’re up against.” She smiled tightly at them and Mary nodded, also looking determined.
“You’re going to fight?” Peter asked, shocked. They nodded and he whistled. “Wow, that’s pretty brave of you,” he said appreciatively, raising his Butterbeer up.
Dorcas asked confusedly, “Wait, don’t you want to fight?” She looked around the room and Peter shrugged.
“No, not really. I don’t want to get killed, and I don’t want my family or friends to get killed,” he said simply, a slight blush rising on his cheeks as everyone stared at him.
Remus shook his head. “Mate, we’ve got to fight. We’ve got to fight for what’s right, do you think Voldemort—” He ignored the flinches and gasps from across the room. “—will let people live just because they didn’t get involved? He doesn’t give a damn who he kills, whether they fight or not. It’s a matter of doing what’s right, no matter the consequence.”
The room went silent in appreciation of Remus’ speech. It was true and they knew it. James broke it by saying, “My parents told me—” The three boys snorted and he rolled his eyes and conceded, “Okay. I overheard my parents talking about how they wanted to start an organisation, like Voldemort’s—” He ignored the twitches that went across the room. “—followers. But we’ll do the opposite. We’ll recruit more and more, and fight him until it’s over.” He paused to take a sip of his drink. “And I want to be a part of that. We should all join together; make a promise that we’re always going to look out for each other.”
Lily was very surprised to see the annoying boy who had been bugging her earlier talk like this. She wondered if this was the real James Potter. She found herself saying, “Yeah. We should. We’ve got some great witches and wizards right in this room. Dorcas especially.” Dorcas blushed and Lily sent her a grin, knowing what a talented witch her friend was. She knew when she grew up, she would do great things.
The rest of them started to get excited and Peter was finally convinced of what to do. He knew it was right and wanted to join his friends in defeating the most evil wizard of time.
They started talking about how they would defeat Voldemort and what they’d yell. They started laughing as James and Sirius, did a “duet” together, making a song up how they would throw celebrations with extravagant fireworks that Filibuster just created.
They were doing a dance and the whole room was laughing, some nearly crying from their hopeless dancing. Mary wheezed, “It’s like you guys have two left feet!”
Sirius had been dancing on a stack of chairs, precariously placed on an old box. He abruptly stopped dancing and pouted. “That was mean, MacDonald. Apologise to James and me.”
James, still dancing on the table, agreed with him. “Yeah, words hurt, Maccas.” She scowled at the nickname but he grinned at her, and did a funny dance move to make her laugh.
She huffed and apologised. Sirius winked at her and started to dance again, but he lost his balance and with a scream, he landed with a loud thump on the wooden floor. He groaned and rolled, holding his arms. James jumped down to check on his best mate.
“Sirius, are you okay?!” he asked, kneeling beside him. Sirius nodded and James poked him to see if he’d cry out. He didn’t so he stood back up and said, “He’s fine!”
Marlene, who had not been paying attention, turned around and asked, “Why is Sirius on the floor?”
Before James could respond, Sirius answered, “I thought I’d lie on the floor and writhe in pain for a while,” he grunted, “It relaxes me.”
“It does? Oh—you’re being sarcastic. That’s a good sign probably,”* Mary said, trying not to laugh.
Remus snorted and told them not to panic because he was very overdramatic. At that, Sirius got up, still holding his arm, and whined, “Remus, that hurt more than the fall.”
Dorcas snorted. “Remus, whatever do you mean? Sirius isn’t dramatic!” The room started to laugh again at Sirius’ expense, and he didn’t look too happy. However, he couldn’t keep his façade of being annoyed up so he joined in, grabbing everyone another Butterbeer.
Slowly, but surely everyone started to fall asleep in the dingy shack. It was cold but with blankets and heating charms, they were able to keep warm. Surprisingly, the only two left awake were Lily and James.
James whispered, “Do you want to go outside and talk?” Lily nodded and he grabbed a few blankets, letting her lead the way. They wriggled out the hole and stayed a fair distance away from the tree, in order to not get hit. James handed Lily a blanket, gave one to himself and wrapped another over the both of them. Lily found that she did not mind this.
James looked at her. “You know how before, we were talking about the war?” She nodded and he continued, “Are you scared to fight?”
She looked up at the sky, revelling in the bright stars that she never saw at home. There were a few clouds, but in the gaps, the stars shone brightly. The moon cast an eerie glow around them and everything around them was silently still.
“I don’t know,” she said finally. She toyed with the corner of the red blanket that covered the both of them. “I am, but I don’t want to just sit and watch as things happen around me.” James nodded and she tucked her knees under her chin, deep in thought. “What about you?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, but I’ve known all my life that something like this was going to happen. My parents are heavily involved in the Ministry and Auror business and I overhear things. Sometimes it scares me but mostly it gives me a thrill, because I’ll be doing something for once, instead of sitting around and taking notes. I’ll be out there, protecting everyone I love.”
Lily had been staring at him the whole time and at the end of his speech, she turned her eyes upward again. “The stars are pretty, aren’t they?” she said, for lack of a better response.
“They are,” he said appreciatively. He’d known about Astronomy all his life, due to his parents teaching him about it before he went to school and then at school he had lessons on it. However, he didn’t remember all the different constellations. He said, “If I was Sirius, I could probably tell you all the different names for the constellations. I never paid attention to those, but Sirius used to. He quite liked it. Especially because he’s named after the brightest star.”
Lily looked at him in surprise. “Sirius is named after a star?” She tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear.
“Yeah.” James nodded and looked back at the sky. “His whole family is named after constellations, or stars. Except his cousin Narcissa. She’s named after a flower. Dunno why, though.” Lily looked thoughtful and James said, “A lot of old Pureblood families name their children after stars. I think it’s just a traditional thing.”
Lily smiled and asked, “What about you? Why the name James?”
He shrugged. “Dunno, I guess my parents really liked it.” She laughed and he grinned. “What about you; why Lily?”
Lily shrugged, deep in thought. “My sister’s called Petunia, so I think Mum just liked flowers or something. It’s sweet though, Mum has petunias and lilies in her garden, just to remind her of us when we’re away.”
James smiled and they were silent for a bit again. But it wasn’t uncomfortable; they just sat there and pondered about the past.
Lily said quietly, “It’s sad, isn’t it?” James looked at her confusedly and she said, “We’re 15 and we’re already thinking about fighting and dying for people.”
“14,” James corrected absentmindedly. Lily gave him a look and he laughed. She laughed too but then grew serious again.
“Fine. 14 and 15. But the point remains: we’re prepared to die and ready to join an organisation that is basically a death wish.”
James nodded, realising her point. “Yeah, I guess it is sad.” She looked at him and smiled. “But you know,” he found himself saying, “we could develop a new place that’s free from all these terrible things. If we fight, our children—” He blushed and stuttered, “Not—not like our children, but—”
Lily interrupted him with a laugh. “No, I know what you mean. The next generation?” she asked, laughing at his bright red face.
He rubbed the back of his neck, laughing uncomfortably. “Yeah, that’s what I meant. But I was saying, the next generation will be able to live happier lives, and I think that’s what I’ll be fighting for. So our—my children will be able to have a normal life.”
Lily stared at him, gobsmacked. “I never thought of it that way,” she murmured. He shrugged and she said louder, “Yeah. That’s a good reason to fight. Not for yourself, but for others.” He smiled at her and then she sighed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her, looking concerned.
She hesitated. “I was just thinking, if I wasn’t a witch, what would life be like now? I’d probably be worrying about what normal 15—or 14—” she added at James’ look. “—year olds worry about. Homework, boys, you know…”
He didn’t know what to say to that so he gently touched her shoulder, in a comforting gesture. She wasn’t looking at him, but kept her eyes focused on the large castle in front of her, the one that she had called home for nearly five years.
“It’s better though,” she said, as if from a distance. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw James crinkle his eyebrows in confusion. “It’s better this world, I’m glad I’m a part of it. I want to fight and I want to make the world a happier place. It’s better,” she repeated firmly.
“Yeah, it really is,” he said, looking at her intently.
* quote from the amazing Cassandra Clare from her equally amazing book City of Ashes! (Chapter 15: The Serpent's Tooth, page 290 - Australian version)
Hope you enjoyed! :)