Chapter 9 : The real world
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A/N- please post more reviews. not to inflate my ego or anything ;) i just want to know what people think about the story. so, if you've been reading and haven't reviewed yet please take the time this chapter just to add a quick note. thanks very much!
The first week back at school passed fairly quickly without much excitement. The Slytherins were still seething about the Christmas prank the Marauders had pulled on them but were satisfied to watch them suffer their week of detentions cleaning every inch of the castle without magic; the infirmary, the toilets, the trophy room and some rooms that they suspected had been conjured their just for their punishment. They didn’t moan though, even in detention the friends could laugh and talk and plan more pranks. The Professors could not keep them down hearted for long.
The Monday after they had got back, Lily was sitting at breakfast and looking forward to that evening after classes when she could relax without cleaning. She was only half-listening to the boys’ talking when the first post owls started to drift in. A large brown speckled owl swooped over her head and dropped a letter in Lily’s lap. Nobody else noticed and carried on talking as Lily picked it up curiously, she never usually got owls since her family were all muggles. Her breath caught in her throat though as she turned the letter over and saw a large Ministry of Magic seal, in black. Still nobody saw a Lily started to shakily open the letter, everyone dreaded a black sealed letter, it was the mark of bad times.
“No, no, no” she muttered as she read. Soon she got louder as the news began to register in her head. She didn’t realise it but she was now standing up staring at the letter on the table. “NO! I wont believe it!”. She screamed at the letter as if it would answer her back maybe even comfort her.
All eyes in the hall were now on Lily as she stood pale, staring at her table.
“Petal?” James asked her, but she ran out of the hall before he could take hold of her arm or even ask her what was wrong. He instinctively ran after her and seethed as her saw some of the older Slytherins smirking. What was it to do with them?
The others sat shocked and Sirius got up to go with James but Remus pulled him back down after he had read the letter. He gave it to Sirius to read so that he could understand why Lily needed to be alone and watched as his eyes read further down the page and saw the anger boil up inside him.
“Dear Miss Lily Evans,” it read,
“We at the Ministry of Magic have the sad duty to inform you of a recent attack on a muggle village outside of London by followers of Lord Voldemort (also known as Death Eaters). We regret to tell you that during this attack Ms Violet Evans who we understand is your Aunt, was sadly killed. Your father Mr Fredrick Evans was in the vicinity at the time and was seriously injured in the attack. He is at this time being treated at St Mungo’s hospital for magical maladies and injuries and we are to understand that his condition is stable.
Our deepest sympathies go out to you during this difficult time.
Minister for Magic”
Lily had run out of the hall in tears. She had gone straight out of the entrance hall and across the grounds, around the lake, through the trees and across the quidditch pitch until she had reached the top of the stands and saw that there was nowhere left to run so she simply sat down and hugged her knees as tightly as she could to her chest hoping to stifle her loud sobs. She didn’t even noticed as James sat next to her and put his arm around her shoulder.
“I never knew you were so fast,” he laughed weakly, “Now I’ve finally managed to catch you are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
“Voldemort,” she managed to say and she looked up at James’ shocked face before returning to her uncontrollable distress. “It was another muggle attack. My Aunt’s dead and my dad’s in St Mungo’s” she explained but only sobbed harder afterwards, as if the words coming out of her mouth had made it more true. James knew that Lily had been looked after by her aunt when she was younger but didn’t know much more about her as Lily very rarely spoke about any of her family.
“I should have visited more,” she confessed after a long silence, “I should have gone to see her, thanked her for her love, her support, all those times she watched over us and I didn’t say a thing… and now I’ll never get the chance.”
“It’s ok Petal, I’m sure she knew how you felt,” James whispered comfortingly, “no one expects these things are going to happen, they just do. You can’t beat yourself up Lily, it’s not your fault.” He said lifting her head up and saying the last part whilst looking deeply into her strained eyes. He leant down and kissed her softly on the end of her nose and hugged her tightly again.
“I have to go pack,” she finally said, standing up and straightening her robes, “I’ve got to go see my Dad.” And they walked back to the common room, James’ arm firmly around her shoulder.
The week of Lily’s absence dragged for the Marauders. It was as if a light had gone out amongst the group and even Sirius didn’t feel like making jokes. They never spoke about how they were feeling though, they just sat silently in the common room and worked or read books, James occasionally noticing Remus sending him looks every now and then seeing if he was alright.
The rest of the school noticed the difference as well after a whole two days had passed with a distinct lack of a food fights or strange explosions that the Marauders usually brought. They did however still see Slytherins being attacked but it was different now. They weren’t particularly entertaining or amusing pranks but more discreet hexes and curses in the halls while no one was watching. This happened whenever one of the boys received a knowing and evil smirk from a Slytherin and knew that they were grinning at Lily’s expense. A fair few of them had Death Eaters in their family and were quite proud of it.
James was taking Lily’s absence particularly badly. He hadn’t slept in days and on the night before her return Remus had found him in the common room at 5 o’clock in the morning staring out of the window.
“You ok?” he asked as James jumped from the shock. “You haven’t slept in a while.”
“I’m fine,” he lied but noticing the disbelieving look on Remus’ face added, “I’m just really worried about her, the last time I saw her she was so upset and weak. That and I can’t help but miss her, which makes me feel guilty for being so selfish. I just feel so empty when she’s not here”
“It’s not selfish to miss someone James, it’s normal. She’ll be ok though, you know Lily’s strong and we’ll all help her pull through.” He looked at him in his calm and reassuring way and James did feel slightly better. Once Lily got back he would look after her and do everything to make her feel happy again. Remus went back up to bed and James stayed for a few minutes longer just looking out at the night sky, knowing that even though she was far away Lily was under the very same sky. What he didn’t know was that she too was looking out of her window at it at that moment, unable to sleep and missing James.
When Lily returned to school, the boys were all thrilled to have her back and she seemed happy to have some form of normality again. Though they all noticed that there was something different about her but understood that she needed time to get over the shock of what had happened. The boys decided that the best thing they could do was act as normally as they could without seeming insensitive and this did seem to help to take her mind off it. It was job of the twins to comfort her a night though, when she would be most upset. They would just hug her and stay with her until she fell asleep and make sure no one disturbed her during the day when she was having time to herself.
She sat for long periods sometimes in her upside down “bored” position just staring into the fire and it made her feel better to sit there and not think for a while. One night though she couldn’t shut out the noise of the common room and whilst no one was watching sneaked out of the portrait hole and went to walk around the castle. If the caretaker stopped her it would be easy to make an excuse up, she was head girl after all and all of the professors had been very lenient with her since she had returned.
She stopped suddenly after walking for around 15 minutes and found that she was standing at the top of the astronomy tower. She hadn’t meant to go there, that is just where she had ended up. Once she was there though she was very pleased as it had been just what she needed, quiet and fresh air. She sat up there for a long time watching the night sky as she had done so often recently. A strange feeling of deja vu hit her though as she jumped to see James taking a seat next to her on the floor.
“I missed you Petal,” he said simply as he watched her just looking up, the moonlight casting shadows on her face. She turned and hugged him tightly.
“Thank you so much James, I missed you too. More than you probably know.” She replied and they both sat there for a long time watching the stars together as James silently wondered what she had meant. They eventually made their way back to their dorms where Lily went to sleep without crying for the first time in 3 weeks.
The Marauders sat after another week, still missing their fun loving cheery fifth member. Lily was generally a lot better but her spark was missing and the boys wanted it back. Sirius had had the idea that a big birthday surprise would cheer her up and the others were very impressed to find that he already had something in mind since they didn’t have long.
On the morning of Lily’s birthday Isobelle and Abigail walked down to breakfast with her after giving her a beautiful new dress and handbag when she woke up. Lily looked around for the Marauders and was slightly disappointed to see that they weren’t there yet to wish her a happy birthday but she sat down and poured herself a drink knowing that they would turn up soon. As the great hall started to fill, the boys were still nowhere to be seen and Lily was getting frustrated. She was distracted suddenly though by a loud noise from the Slytherin table as every student there stood up. Doing a double-take she was startled to see that they were all wearing brightly coloured party hats. Snape stood out a mile though in a bright pink and lacy party frock and he strode towards Lily and knelt down in front of her. In booming unison they all opened their mouths and started to sing loudly,
“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Lily Evans, happy birthday to you!”
The whole hall broke out into tumultuous applause as the Slytherins all looked around startled not knowing what had happened. Lily was laughing so much her sides hurt as she turned around to see all four Marauders behind her, wands in hand accepting their praise graciously. She spun around and hugged them all, still with tears in her eyes from seeing Snape sing to her in dress.
The rest of the day was a wonderful relief to the boys as Lily was her usually happy, bouncy self. She had joked with them, sat with them during lessons and meal times and smiled her sparkling, infectious smile all day long. James felt relief and joy flood over him every time he looked at her and could see that the others felt much the same. There was just one more thing that James wanted to do for Lily on her birthday that he had set up that evening alone.
He looked around and saw the last of the students leave for their dorms. It was just him and the Marauders left. He nodded to Remus who managed to drag Sirius up to their dorm along with Peter giving them a stern look not to make a fuss. He walked over to Lily who was still smiling after the whole day.
“Come here Petal, I want to show you something.” He whispered over her shoulder and he took her hand and led her to the window. He stood her in front of himself and they looked out silently for a second.
“What am I looking at?” asked Lily confused, she loved looking out at the sky but surely this wasn’t all James had wanted to show her? Instead of answering though he just pointed his wand out of the window in the direction of the quidditch pitch and muttered something under his breath. She gasped as a loud screech and a bang came from the skies. She looked up and saw in big pink letters across the sky,
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY PETAL”
“Well, happy birthday Petal,” he chuckled and before he knew what was happening Lily had reached up and kissed him firmly on the lips. He wasn’t sure how long her lips were on his, probably only a few seconds but it felt like an eternity. She drew back and smiled at him broadly.
“Thank you so much James. You’re just perfect, do you know that?” but she didn’t wait for a reply, she just glided back up to her dorm leaving behind a completely stunned James
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