Chapter 9 : The Red Mask
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“Well, well, well,” a voice from the fire said. “If it isn’t Black and Potter?”
Lord Voldemort had made his appearance from within the fire just in time. The seven students snapped their heads fearfully towards the fire. Indeed, a man with dark, jet black hair, dark eyes, a waxy, somewhat gaunt face, and a menacing smile was staring at them all, an amused expression adorning his face.
Sirius, Sydney, Dorcas, Frank, and James made to exit the portrait hole, but for some reason, Lily couldn’t move. She seemed mesmerized by the face hanging inside the bright, flickering flames.
“Lily,” James said, trying to usher her out of the room before someone came down from a dorm upstairs and revived the Slytherins. “Come on, we need to go.”
Instead, she walked slowly towards the fire, her eyes somewhat glazed over. She sat down on her knees and Voldemort laughed.
“Lily Evans,” he said softly. His eyes barely moved as he spoke the words. He was intent on staring straight into hers. “It seems as though Potter here has tricked you.”
James stepped closer, wiping blood from his nose, and tried to grab a hold of Lily’s arm to help her up. It remained limp.
“What are you doing to her?” James demanded fiercely. He lifted her from the ground, but she didn’t seem to notice.
When Voldemort didn’t answer, James began to worry. “Stop it!” he shouted. Her eyes began to tear and he panicked. “You’re hurting her! Stop!”
“Join me,” Voldemort roared, his eyes still focused on Lily’s. “Join me, Potter, and I shall let her go.”
He knew Lily would never want him to join Voldemort. Yet, what choice did he have? He couldn’t bare to see her hurt anymore.
“I-,” he started. Yet, something seemed to happen. Lily’s head snapped back and her arm sprang up to her temple instinctively. Voldemort’s head vanquished from the fire.
She let a small tear stroll down her cheeks and rubbed her forehead. She looked around, dazed, until her eyes landed on James’.
“What happened?” he asked her, his voice unsteady. She shook her head, trying to forget what had just happened. Sirius and Sydney burst into the room once more.
“Where’d you guys go?” Sydney asked. “We thought you were behind us, but when we turned to look, the two of you were gone.”
James gave his best friend and Sydney a look that clearly stated ‘Leave it alone for now’ and the four of them headed out of the Common Room.
It had been an extremely long night for all of them. Sydney and Sirius headed up to the Boys’ Dorm to fall asleep, leaving Lily and James to talk.
James transfigured a quill into a small ice pack and gently rested it on Lily’s forehead. He had a slight idea of what had happened to her, but would let her tell him when she was ready.
She leaned back, holding onto the ice pack, and seemed to become immersed in deep thought. James sat back and watched, his own mind toggling around with theories. He knew she was mad at him, probably more than mad, but he hoped that they could put it all behind them.
“I don’t think I’m mad anymore,” she confessed after what felt like an eternity of sitting in the Common Room. He looked up at her, surprised.
“You’re not?” he inquired. “Because if you are, I completely understand. That was a horrible thing to put you through, Lily, and I apologize.”
“Don’t,” she insisted sharply. “Don’t apologize for it. It was dishonest and low, I admit. Yet, it wasn’t completely horrible. Even though you were hiding behind some mask, you seemed real to me. Almost like a fairy tale, but you were actually real. It wasn’t make believe.”
James nodded, wishing he had told her sooner than she had found out. He had never meant for her to discover his true identity that way.
“I was livid and shocked the minute Snape took that mask off of your face,” she assured him. “It was all so overwhelming. For a while, I told myself that it didn’t matter who you were because you treated me well, which you did. You treated me with respect and you were a gentleman the entire time. Yet, all those times you could have told me, you didn’t.”
“You don’t understand,” he told her. “You have no idea how I felt. I know I should have told you, but you make it sound like it was an easy option. Trust me, it wasn’t. That first night we were together, I couldn’t find the nerve to tell you. I’d just experienced the most perfect moment of my life and I knew that if I told you, you would overreact. I wouldn’t blame you, seeing as I’ve been known to be a huge prat in the past, but this was my chance to show you that I’m not a prat anymore. Well, at least not as a big of a prat. Then, in the library, you were fantasizing about that mask and I couldn’t just ruin it for you. I just-I guess I was a bit stupid.”
Lily nodded, although that’s not what she had expected. She had thought that Potter had done it just to live out some kinky dream he’d had, but it seemed to involve much more. She had never realized she was so intimidating either.
“Lily, I’m sorry,” he told her. He got up off the couch and bent down on his knee, holding her hand and looking into her eye. “You’ve never ever let me get to know you on such a personal level and I needed that chance. I needed to know you, Lily. I love you.”
She blinked, unable to believe what she was hearing. James Potter had just told her that he loved her.
“James,” she said softly. He looked up at her, his brilliant hazel eyes looking hopefully into her own. “When we were in the Slytherin Common Room, V-V-Voldemort seemed to be playing with my mind and bringing back memories that he knew I found horrible. At the sight of the very last one, I managed to break away from it. Do you know what that image was?”
“What was it?” he asked her carefully.
“It was Malfoy and Snape taking you away from me,” she told him. “They took the one person who had made me feel so special. They took you away from me.”
He didn’t know how to react to this. It was powerful and very unexpected. He almost felt as if the entire thing had been a dream.
“James Potter, you are an arrogant, bullying toe-rag,” she told him, causing his eyes to become wide. “But I’ve never felt as special as I did when I was with you.”
“That’s a shame,” he told her. “Because you are special. You’re brilliant, Lily.”
She smiled and leaned down to kiss him. It was weird, seeing as they’d already kissed before, but something about that moment was defining. It was their first real kiss and it was shy and new to both of them. Yet, it felt perfect.
Sirius and Sydney had crept down the stairs quietly and were both observing the scene. They watched as Lily slipped her hand inside the pocket of his robe and pulled out the red mask. She went to throw it, but someone interrupted her.
“Hey,” Sirius intervened. “That could be useful.”
With that, he and Sydney walked up the stairs, giggling and saying something along the lines of ‘Call me Zorro’.
Lily and James laughed and both relaxed inside of the sofa.
“Were you really going to join the dark side for me?” she asked him.
“Yes,” he confessed. “I was. He was going to kill you and I couldn’t let that happen.”
“Thank you,” Lily said quietly.
“For what?” he inquired.
“Everything,” she murmured into his ear. “Everything.”
The end of the school year meant the end of the seventh years’ time at Hogwarts. The night before the students graduated, James and Lily were inside the boys’ dorm.
“Lily,” James called from his bed where he was looking at pictures. “What are you doing?”
When she failed to answer, James eyed the bathroom door suspiciously. “Lily, are you still in there?”
With no warning whatsoever, the door snapped open and Lily was wearing the oh-so-familiar red mask. James laughed as she said, “Call me Zorro.”
“Take that thing off,” he insisted. These days, the mask was somewhat of a joke between all of them. Yet, it was kept around as a reminder of how their relationship had began.
The Slytherins had been found that morning by a sixth year, who had revived them all. When James, Lily, Sydney, Sirius, Frank, and Dorcas had informed their headmaster about the incident, he had promised them he would try and collect evidence.
Yet, somehow, all of the Slytherins could recall being in the Common Room and they all denied the private fireplace. Without any evidence, there was nothing Dumbledore could do, although he seemed to imply that he didn’t believe the Slytherins for one moment.
The N.E.W.T’s had been taken, causing Lily to turn into a nervous wreck. Yet, this year she had James there to ease her tension. With his help, she felt that she had at least gotten an E on her exam overall. After the test, she had thanked him so much and told him that he was the best boyfriend ever; causing him to be overjoyed.
Now, as the seventh year died away, Lily sat next to James on his bed, her head resting on his shoulder, and she knew that she had made the right decision to forgive him. After all, in a way, he had saved her. Not only from death, but from loneliness.
As she held that red mask in her hand, she smiled. It wasn’t something to be ashamed of. It was a token of their love and served as a constant reminder of how much they loved one another. For that, Lily was grateful for the mask.
A/N: Not long, but it wasn’t meant to be long. That is indeed the end of the road. I hope it went well. I know it could have been better, but I hope it served it’s purpose. Tell me how you liked the story (even if the ending was weak). I appreciate all reviews.
Thank you for reading & I hope to see you all back in the future when I write other stories. Thanks again!