Chapter 46 : Chapter Forty Six
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I hope you all like it! At the end, all of the minor seventh year characters are named...just in case you forgot who they were, I'm going to remind you all at the end. Oh, and I had to change Henn's last name from Smith to Johannson...I noticed that we already had Aaron Smith, who is coincidentlly her boyfriend.
- Katie :-)
James wasn’t in the mood in coming to breakfast with me. After a bit of talking I could see that he clearly wanted to be alone. So I gave him one last kiss, told him I’d catch up with him later, and once more said that I adored the ring.
“I’m glad you do,” he repeated. Although he was smiling, I knew he had other more pressing problems on his mind.
I closed the door softly behind me and climbed down the stairs, where I found that the common room was completely deserted. Just like Henn had warned me, she had obviously thought I was taking too long and had dragged Gaby and Grace down to the Great Hall with her. I looked out the window and saw that it was completely sunny outside. I then checked the grandfather clock; it was half past eight.
I yawned, feeling all of those un-slept hours catching up to me. I climbed slowly out of the portrait hole, where the Fat Lady was crying hysterically about how we were all growing up so fast. I ignored her and turned around the corner, moving down the hidden tapestry and down the steps.
It was strange not seeing anyone, not even a little first or second year, in the corridors. It was completely empty except for me—even the ghosts were gone, apparently enjoying the exquisite breakfast. I paused at one of the windows and looked outside; there were several people scattered on the grounds, enjoying the sunny day and some even swimming in the lake.
It was the perfect day for our last day at Hogwarts.
I felt as if a huge piece of lead had fallen into my stomach, and now that I wasn’t thinking about James and Sirius or my ring as much, I started to feel that dread and anxiety that I would feel every time I thought of leaving this place. Hogwarts was my home—more so than my father’s house and especially my mother’s manor. I could not imagine myself without it—without ever coming back to those sunlit corridors and courtyards—the magnificent grounds where we had spent so much time just dawdling time—it made me sad—sadder than I’d ever thought I’d feel in a farewell.
I stopped reminiscing upon hearing voices behind one of the tapestries that I was passing. I paused, wondering who wasn’t at breakfast or at the grounds on such a beautiful day—and immediately recognized Bellatrix Black’s voice—along with Rodolphus Lestrange’s.
“It’s finally going to happen,” cackled Bellatrix. “Thank the Dark Lord for that.”
“Yes,” Rodolphus said in a deep voice. It seemed that he was talking to somebody else. “Is everything positioned and ready?”
There was a pause; whoever the third person was apparently nodded affirmatively instead of speaking, because Rodolphus then said, “Excellent. There’s nothing that will stop us, then.”
I heard footsteps coming near and realized that it would be difficult to explain why I was leaning against the wall and listening to what they were saying. I looked quickly left and right—trying to decide which way to run, which was probably my best option. I opted for running back from where I came, although I could hear the footsteps still and I was only halfway up the corridor—
Suddenly I heard somebody tumble and fall with a rather loud crash. “Damn it!” Rodolphus said. “Do you want us to be heard?” He was talking to that third person again, and Bellatrix was snickering at that statement. My heart pounding, I raced down the hall as quickly as I could, turning the corner and pressing my back up against it, just as I heard the tapestry being pulled aside and the three people coming out onto the corridor. My breath was shallow as I closed my eyes and prayed, don’t come this way, don’t come this way…
Thankfully, they didn’t. The Slytherins had obviously decided that it would be better to go to breakfast at the time, because I could no longer hear their voices or footsteps. After calming myself down, I edged around the corner and saw that the hall was deserted once again.
I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew Bellatrix and Rodolphus were up to something that would only end up bad. I thought about a couple months ago, when I had overheard yet another conversation they had—something about a meeting of some sort, and that “mudbloods” were going to get what they deserved in time…I wondered if the event they had just been talking about was just that…
I knew that I had to go to Dumbledore, just like I had last time. I started to run again, trying to get to breakfast as soon as I could, where he probably was.
By the time I reached the Great Hall nearly everyone was done with breakfast except for a few late risers, who were trying to gulp down a few pastries before the tables had to be cleared. I looked around and saw that Rodolphus and Bellatrix were sitting at the Slytherin table along with Lucius Malfoy and a few others of their cronies. Trying not to look too conspicuous, I looked for Professor Dumbledore at the Head Table, only to find that all the teachers had already finished eating and were getting up to leave. I knew running would attract attention, so I tried walking as quickly as I could towards the Head Table, but was stopped by someone saying my name.
“Lily?” Peter said, raising an eyebrow. He was the only Gryffindor still eating breakfast, and was looking at me with a questioning expression.
I didn’t stop. “Sorry, Pete, I have to talk to you later—”
Peter rose to his feet and walked in front of me, barring my way. It was very uncharacteristic of him to take control of something and be assertive, but I could see that his lip was quivering slightly as he asked, “Wait, where are you going in such a hurry?”
“I need to talk to the Headmaster,” I said quickly. “Look, Peter, I have to go—”
Peter looked confused. “Headmaster? Why?”
I looked over Peter’s shoulder, where Dumbledore was straightening his hat and starting across the Great Hall, along with McGonagall and Flitwick. “Peter, let me go through, I’ll explain—”
“Lily, just tell me.” Peter said, looking strangely calm. “What is it? Maybe I can help.”
I let out a cry of frustration; I did not have time for this. “Peter! I just heard Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange talking, and they said something that is really important and I need to tell Professor Dumbledore!”
Peter’s mouth dropped. For a moment he looked rather scared. “Wait—you heard what?” He asked, his voice squeaking slightly. His eyes slid towards the Slytherin table.
“Just let me through!” I hissed, already having enough of this. I shoved past Peter and started to run to Dumbledore, but suddenly I felt a surprisingly strong tug on my arm and to my utter shock saw that Peter was holding me back. “What are you—”
“Lily, I—I—” Peter stammered, his tiny watering eyes darting to the sides. “Listen—I—er—”
“What?” I spat, trying to tug my arm out of his reach but to no avail. Peter had a surprisingly strong grip. “Peter, what is it?”
Peter was sweating very profusely. Finally, he said in a surprisingly calm voice, “Lily, I think you should watch what you say to Professor Dumbledore.”
I had no idea what he was saying. “Peter, let me go.” I looked around and saw that all of the Slytherins gathered had stopped talking and were staring at me, and at the commotion Peter and I were causing. This made me even edgier than I had been before. “Please.” I said, trying to opt for politeness, to see if he’d leave me alone.
It was clearly not what Peter had in mind to release me. “Trust me,” Peter said, leaning in and lowering his voice to an urgent whisper. He widened his eyes at me. “Black and Lestrange are dangerous people. That whole—group is. If they know what you’re saying—”
I stopped my attempts to free myself and stared at him. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that you should watch it.” Peter said with a meaningful look, just as Bellatrix leaned over and whispered something in Rodolphus Lestrange’s ear, causing both of them to scowl. “Don’t get on the wrong side of that crowd.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “I don’t care,” I said finally. “I’m going to tell the Professor. You’ll regret it if you don’t let go of my arm, Pettigrew.” I said in a low voice. Peter looked so surprised that his grip momentarily slackened, and that’s when I tugged away from him and ran out of the Great Hall, leaving Peter looking bewildered and shocked as I ran up the marble staircase to the first floor. I looked both ways and saw no signs of Dumbledore.
I heard footsteps behind me and rounded on Peter, who surprisingly, did not retreat or coil at the angry look on my face. “Look what you did!” I cried. “Where is he?”
Peter exhaled and pushed past me. “I just did you a favor, Evans,” he said in an uncharacteristically cold voice—with no tremor or stutter. I stared at him. He then crossed the entrance hall and opened the door to the dungeons, where after closing the door, disappeared out of sight.
I did not have any time to strangle Peter. I ran up the marble staircase and hurried as quickly as I could to the gargoyle on the second floor, the one that guarded Dumbledore’s office. It was the only place I guessed he could be, so it would have to do.
Thankfully, nearly everyone was outside, which was good because it didn’t lead to any questions of why I was racing up the hall as if my life depended on it. I was abruptly halted, however, when I was passing a tapestry and nearly bumped headfirst against the person that was coming down the stairs. I fell backwards, huffing loudly and pushing my hair out of my face—only to find that the person who had knocked me over was James, who had toppled a bit but was still on his two feet.
“Lily?” he asked, looking at me confusedly. He stretched out his hand and helped me up. “What are you—”
“No time to explain,” I gasped, rushing past him and continuing to run down the hallway. Soon enough James was catching up with me, looking bewildered as we jogged up the steps that led to the second floor corridor.
“Where are you going?” James asked, while running beside me. He was starting to lose his breath also. “Why aren’t you at breakfast? Or outside?”
“Dumbledore—” I panted, not able to say much. “Need—to get—Dumbledore.”
James raised his eyebrows and widened his eyes upon seeing the gargoyle loom nearer. I stopped so suddenly that I skidded across the floor, while James leaned over and held onto his knees, gasping for breath.
I clutched the stitch in my side, wasting no time as I gasped, “Cauldron cakes!”
The gargoyle leapt aside. I was about to go up the revolving staircase when someone shouted our names behind us, making us both yelp and jump to the side.
“Potter and Evans!” McGonagall said, storming towards us with her eyes narrowed. “What in Merlin’s name are you doing here?”
James merely looked at me, still panting as he waited for an answer also. “We need to see—Dumbledore.” I croaked, starting to gain some of my breath. “It’s very important, Professor.”
Professor McGonagall pierced us with her scrutinizing stare. “The Headmaster is in a meeting at the moment. He can attend to no one.”
“What? He has to!” I blurted out, completely losing it. “Listen, Professor—”
McGonagall’s eyes flashed as she gave us a very ugly grimace. “Ms. Evans I cannot listen to this right now. I myself have to be at this meeting, so why don’t you go enjoy the rest of your last day and wait for your parents to arrive, just like all the other students are bound to do—”
I didn’t even have time to snort at the prospect of my parents coming to Hogwarts. Whatever Bellatrix and Rodolphus were planning was not good, and I knew that whatever it was, it was going to happen today. I just didn’t know what time. “Professor, I just heard a couple of Slytherins, and they were scheming something, something bad—”
McGonagall gave us a very sour smile. “Tell me something else new.”
“Not like a prank!” I practically shouted. I was getting very frustrated at how she didn’t understand how important the situation was. Even James was giving me a strange look. “They were saying how everything was being positioned and something about thanks to some ‘Dark Lord’—”
McGonagall’s whole attitude changed immediately. Her smile faded and her eyes narrowed as she scowled at me. “They said what?”
Relieved that she was finally listening to what I was saying, I said, “They were saying how everything was positioned and nothing would stop them now. There was a third person, but I’m not sure who it was—”
Professor McGonagall interrupted me immediately. “Evans, Potter, come with me,” she said, stepping onto the revolving staircase. I didn’t hesitate but James held me back.
“Lily,” he said seriously. “What are you getting us into?”
“You can stay here,” I said immediately, going onto the staircase where McGonagall was already near the door. Of course, this only hastened James’s decision to hop alongside me. I looked up as McGonagall was already opening the door, barging inside. I could hear the soft murmur of voices stop.
“Headmaster,” I heard her say. “I have something of utmost importance to discuss with you.”
There was a most uncomfortable silence. Finally, as James and I paused by the doorway, we heard Dumbledore calmly ask, “Is it something that can wait?”
“No.” McGonagall said immediately. “It cannot.”
There was yet another silence. Then, “Professors, our meeting will have to resume some other time. Although, I do believe everything seems to be arranged for the arrival of the students’ parents and there is probably no further need of discussion.”
James and I walked inside, where all of the Hogwarts teachers seemed to be leaving, looking confused and bewildered as they passed by us. Harrison narrowed his eyes with suspicion upon seeing that we were the reason the meeting was being halted.
Once all the teachers had left and closed the door, the only people in the room were Dumbledore, McGonagall, James and I. Fawkes, Dumbledore’s phoenix, struck us with a beady-eyed stare as I looked around Dumbledore’s office, where I had been in only one other time before, and for the same reason; the Slytherins. Dumbledore was sitting in his desk, his fingers intertwined and with a slight smile on his face. McGonagall stood upright beside him.
“Ah, Ms. Evans and Mr. Potter,” Dumbledore said pleasantly. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Ms. Evans just told me something, Albus,” McGonagall said quickly. James and I raised our eyebrows at her using his first name—we did not know they were so well acquainted. “It’s very important.”
Dumbledore’s expression changed slightly. He furrowed his eyebrows, although only for a moment, and then slowly smiled again. “Ms. Evans, if you please,” he said, nodding his head courteously.
I could feel James’s stare but I did not dare to look at him. Instead I looked straight at Dumbledore. “Professor,” I began. “Remember when I came to you a few months ago— while I was on rounds—about overhearing something Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange were saying?”
James shifted beside me. He knew that I had gone to the headmaster a while ago, since he was the one who had given me the password, although he didn’t know why I wanted to see him. He didn’t say anything though.
“Yes, I do,” Dumbledore said, not looking very worried. “And I told you that I already knew of these happenings.”
“Yes,” I breathed. “But the thing is, Professor—I overheard something again, about how they had everything positioned, that they wouldn’t be stopped, and that they owed it all to the ‘Dark Lord.’”
McGonagall looked quickly at Dumbledore, although for a moment Dumbledore didn’t say anything. His smile did fade however; he leaned back in his chair and folded his hands into his lap, looking at me with his serene gaze.
“I assume that you overhead Ms. Black and Mr. Lestrange, again,” he said somberly.
I nodded. “And another person—but I don’t know who.”
Dumbledore sighed. “Yes…indeed.”
James was trying to make eye contact with me, although I ignored him. I would discuss it with him later.
“Ms. Evans,” Dumbledore started, rising from his chair and walking slowly towards Fawkes. He outstretched his hand and stroked the bird’s head, although still looking at me. “Did you perhaps hear if whatever it was they were planning was for tonight?”
I thought back. “No,” I said. “Although—it probably is, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore said gravely. “Probably.”
There was a silence. Finally, McGonagall said, “Do you wish me to alert them?”
I looked from McGonagall, to Dumbledore, and back to her. Alert who?
“Yes—but not all of them. Fawkes here will take care of the rest.” Dumbledore said. Fawkes looked up at him, as if he understood completely, and then in a flash disappeared into flames.
Dumbledore and McGonagall were looking at each other, as if they had forgotten that we were there. “Make sure that everything is set up as we discussed,” Dumbledore said.
McGonagall nodded and immediately went for the door, shutting it behind her. We heard her quick footsteps descend the stairs.
Dumbledore meanwhile, was back to sitting on his chair. He looked at us with a weary look—looking older than his usual self. “Mr. Potter and Ms. Evans—I ask of you not to tell this to anyone. Not even your closest friends.”
James hesitated for a moment, and then finally, nodded along with me.
“Good,” Dumbledore said. “Now, go and enjoy the rest of your last day here.”
“Are you going to tell me what is happening now?” James hissed as we stepped off of the revolving staircase and the gargoyle jumped back to its place.
“I already told you,” I said. I kept on walking and did not look at him, for I was thinking quickly in my head. Dumbledore seemed worried—a lot more worried than last time I had come to his office and told him what I had overheard. This only made me worry—because if Dumbledore was taking precautions then whoever this ‘Dark Lord’ was, was serious and dangerous.
“But how did you overhear them? And how did you last time—I mean…why didn’t you tell me?”
“I overheard them when I was coming down to breakfast. I heard voices behind one of the tapestries although I could tell there was someone else beside Black and Lestrange—although no one said a name.” I was talking quickly, because I no longer wanted to have this discussion. “And I didn’t tell you last time because you were sucking off Eve’s face when I asked you for Dumbledore’s password.”
James’s face flushed, but he still looked concerned. “Lily—”
“James, what should we do?”
“What do you—”
“We can’t just stand here and do nothing!” I practically yelled, obviously frustrated. “Whatever they’re planning is terrible if Dumbledore’s worried and we can’t just pretend that nothing happened!”
James stopped in the middle of the deserted first floor corridor and held my arm to prevent me from moving and rambling at the same time. He furrowed his eyebrows. “Lily, you did what you could. You told Dumbledore—”
“Dumbledore is the greatest wizard in the world.” James said, cutting me off. He looked relatively calm, unlike me. “If someone knows what to do, it’s him. You, on the other hand, are only seventeen and probably can’t do much. So just—relax, okay?”
I knew that he was right, although I had only grudgingly admitted it in my head. “It’s just very frustrating to do—well—nothing.”
“I know.” James said understandably, outstretching his arms, which I gladly dug myself into. I relaxed in his embrace, which was a comforting thought. It made me happy that I could trust him fully—which meant it was few steps farther away from the disaster my parents called their marriage.
I looked up at him and hardly saw a boy anymore—or a teenager—the way he was protecting me, talking sense into me, and keeping my head clear—he seemed like a responsible man, one ready to get married after all.
I sighed. “You’re right.” I said grudgingly. I stood on my tiptoes and gave him a warm kiss on the cheek, smiling at him. “Love you.”
James grinned. “What’s that you said?”
I rolled my eyes, stepping away but only to be pulled back by James. “I said…you’re right.”
“Aw—yes, that’s what I thought I heard—but they’re very rare words when it comes out of your mouth.”
I shrugged. “I’m growing.”
James smiled and leaned down to kiss me. “I love you too. Speaking of which—” He held up my left hand, where his grandmother’s ring shone brightly on my finger. “You ready to tell my parents?”
The students’ parents were to arrive at noon, just in time for lunch where they could see the Great Hall—which even to pureblood parents was amazing if they had never seen it before. There was an announcement in the entire school, telling all students to remain on the front steps, where carriages from Hogsmeade would bring their parents and we’d be able to greet them as they entered the school. All the teachers were there to give a warm welcome to the parents, except Dumbledore. I noticed McGonagall was keeping a sharp eye on the Slytherins, who were huddled together, which was rather common lately, and away from the rest of the group.
I stood nervously by James, after changing from my shorts and t-shirt to something more appropriate, which James insisted I didn’t have to do but did anyway. He held my hand, which was sweating and with my other I bit my nails furiously.
“Stop it,” James said, pulling my hand away from my mouth. “Do I really have to tell you again to relax?”
“Yes. It won’t do much, though.” I said, wiping the perspiration off my forehead. “Is this skirt too short? It’s not too flashy, is it? And the top is okay, right?”
James looked at me up and down, smirking. “The skirt’s not short enough, and the top is not cut down enough, satisfied?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “James—I need to look good.”
“And you look fantastic.” James said, pulling me closer to him. “So stop acting fidgety. I mean, you’ve met my parents before—we are neighbors, remember?”
“But never when we were engaged!” I said shrilly.
“It won’t make a difference. They like you.” James said reassuringly. “At least…now they do. Before they thought you were just plain mean because you kept turning me down…”
“Oh, because their little spoiled brat couldn’t have me?” I snapped. “That’s terrible.” I snarled sarcastically.
James raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, stick to that. That way you’ll really warm up to my parents.”
I could see the carriages coming up towards Hogwarts in the distance. I squeezed James’s hand tightly and he grimaced. “Oh my gosh…they’re coming.”
“Lily—you’re crushing my hand.”
I looked into my portable mirror and checked any flaw that I might have. I redid my ponytail, straightened my skirt, and made sure my makeup wasn’t smeared. James smiled at me, wrapping an arm around my waist.
“Stop worrying,” he said in my ear.
I exhaled slowly, trying to calm myself. “I’ll try.”
As the first carriage came to a stop in front of the school I noticed that someone was out on the grounds, skidding stones across the lake. I squinted against the sun and recognized the person’s black hair and pale complexion—it was Sirius, although why he wasn’t on the front steps with the rest of the students I didn’t know.
I nudged James but as I did so a carriage stopped right in front of us, blocking the view. James gave me a questioning look. “Never mind.” I sighed.
“I think I see them,” James said, tugging on my arm and pulling me with him. I looked around as we fought through the crowd, where students were hugging their parents and catching up on what was new. Finally we found the carriage that Mr. and Mrs. Potter were stepping out of, and I stood by James, my knees shaking, and tried to muster a smile.
“James!” Victoria Potter exclaimed, immediately stepping forward and embracing James. James’s father, Henry Potter, was a little more reserved as he stood back and gave James a firm handshake, his eyes wrinkling with a smile behind his glasses.
Mr. Potter turned to look at me and smiled. “Ah, so this is your girlfriend, eh?” He said, outstretching his hand, which was full of prominent veins, and I shook it, trying to grin. “My wife told me that the Charles Evans’s girl across the street was now dating our son, but I didn’t get my hopes up. He has said that for the past seven years now, hasn’t he?”
I let out a shaky laugh. “Mr. Potter, it’s wonderful to see you.” I said. “And you too, Mrs. Potter.” I turned to Mrs. Potter, already outstretching my hand but instead she stepped forward and gave me a tight hug, beaming. I flushed as she pulled away.
I stood there, examining the couple for a moment. It was startling how much they had aged since the last time I had seen them. Mrs. Potter, who I had seen at Easter Break, was now looking undeniably and permanently weary, her brown eyes looking duller and her pretty face sagging a bit with age. Mr. Potter was almost completely bald, his chestnut brown hair was hardly noticeable and even though the last time I had seen him he and his son were about the same height, Mr. Potter’s back now curved a bit.
“Oh, darling, you look lovely. Both of you.” Mrs. Potter said as she stepped back and admired how James and I looked next to one another. She grinned mischievously, and I was suddenly stricken with how her and her son looked so alike. “So, I suppose this is quite something now, isn’t it? You and Lily?”
James beamed at me, in a way that said, I told you so, and that I didn’t have to worry about them not liking me. “Actually, Mum, it is quite something now.”
Mrs. Potter laughed. “Well, it seems like it!”
James smiled. “Yes, it’s going great.” He said, wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling me closer. I blushed, but couldn’t help but smile also. “Actually…we’re getting married.”
Mrs. Potter abruptly stopped laughing, and Mr. Potter raised a questioning eyebrow. Finally, after James’s parents exchanged looks, Mrs. Potter slowly started to smile again. “Oh, of course. I understand now. You’re joking, aren’t you? Kids these days always have an odd sense of humor.”
James looked at them, his own smile fading. “No, we’re dead serious.”
Mrs. Potter looked from her son, to me, then back to James. Mr. Potter, on the other hand, looked at the entrance hall doors, while pretending to look very interested by them.
I tried to be calm but couldn’t help but panic. Oh no…she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it…
“Married?” James’s mother asked, as if she wasn’t quite sure she heard right.
James nodded, and I had to admire, even in my own state of pure nervousness, that he was looking relatively brave. “Yes.” He said firmly, and to prove his point he tightened his grip on my waist and pulled me closer.
There was a moment’s silence. Slowly, I saw Mrs. Potter smile; although I could tell it looked rather forced. “Why—James…that’s just—” She faltered, looking not quite sure how to complete her sentence.
“Wonderful,” Mr. Potter completed, now looking away from the doors and at James and I, now that it seemed that it was safe to do so. “Isn’t it, dear?” He reached towards Mrs. Potter’s arm, although I noticed that it was more of a formal, quick nudge than a warm, lingering touch. I looked from him, to her, and immediately she forced a grin, then stepped forward and embraced us both at the same time.
“Well—I’m just…surprised, that’s all.” She said, pulling back. She looked at James, who was quirking his eyebrow questionably, to me, who was trying to look as pleasant but knew that I was as successful as she. “Surprised,” she repeated, as if trying to convince herself. “That’s all.”
“Pleasantly surprised,” Mr. Potter added.
“Of course.” Mrs. Potter said vaguely. For a moment she looked lost in thought, and quite startlingly, she beamed and said, “So, James. Where’s Sirius? I hope he’s keeping out of trouble.”
It was the first time I saw James’s face flicker for a moment with resentment. Then, forcing a smile, he said, “I don’t know. Probably in the common room or something.”
Mr. Potter laughed, obviously relieved that we were moving away from the subject of our engagement. “What’s that I hear? I was beginning to think you boys were attached at the hip. I almost never see you two apart.”
“Very true,” Mrs. Potter said. She smiled, but I saw her glance at me with something close to accusation.
Sensing that James didn’t want to share the fight he had with Sirius earlier that day with his parents, I grinned widely and said, “So? Are you both hungry? I believe lunch is ready in the Great Hall for all the parents.”
Mr. Potter smiled reminiscently. “The Great Hall? Gosh, I almost forget how it looks like. Why don’t you accompany me, Lily?” He then outstretched his arm with a hinting look, and after glancing at Mrs. Potter and James, who looked like they should have some alone time, I immediately took Mr. Potter’s arm, accompanying him up the stairs and into the entrance hall, where he grinned upon seeing Hogwarts again.
“Ah, Hogwarts…best years of my life, I think. Well, after Victoria, of course.” He glanced back at Mrs. Potter, but she obviously wasn’t listening. With a sudden dread in my stomach, I saw that she was whispering feverishly to James, and they were steadily falling farther and farther behind. James looked rather angry, but they were talking so quietly that I couldn’t hear a word they were saying.
I shook my head and tried to pretend I hadn’t seen. “So, were you a Gryffindor, Mr. Potter?”
“Oh, you don’t have to call me Mr. Potter anymore, Lily.” He said, smiling at me. “Now that you and my son are engaged—I think it’s too formal. You can call me Henry.”
I looked at him, and his smile was genuine, unlike the forced one that Mrs. Potter had upon hearing that James and I were engaged. I grinned, blushing a bit at his frankness, but I nodded anyway. “Of course, if you insist.”
“Well, I do.” Mr. Potter said, as we entered the Great Hall. “Ah, how good it is to be back again.”
I looked around; the entire Hall was filled with parents with mutual expressions, the muggle parents were standing motionless and pointing at the ceiling, which was simulated to look like the sky, with open incredulity. I scowled upon seeing the Slytherins sniggering at this, and gave them a very venomous look as we passed their table and came to sit onto the Gryffindor one. Mr. Potter was looking around, and I saw his eyes fall down onto the Ravenclaw table. Lynn wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but he didn’t say anything as Henn, Gaby, and Grace came over, accompanied by Kat, Leah, and Marcus, who were beaming.
“Guess who stayed for our graduation ceremony?” Henn said, in a way of greeting.
“Kat, Leah!” I exclaimed, standing up and giving them a tight hug. And Marcus—it’s nice to see you.” I added awkwardly, since we weren’t much acquainted.
Marcus, who was holding Leah’s hand, smiled. “Nice to see you too.” He said in his naturally quiet voice.
I beamed at all of them. “I didn’t know you guys were staying!”
“That’s because it was meant to be a surprise.” Kat said, grinning. “Where’s James?”
My smile faltered. “Erm—well he’s with his mum. Oh, and may I introduce Mr.—I mean, um…Henry, James’s dad?”
They all shook his hand and introduced themselves, immediately lowering their voices in the presence of an adult. I smiled and we all sat down, Mr. Potter, Gaby, Grace, and I on one side and Henn, Kat, Leah, and Marcus across from us. There was an awkward silence—finally, Marcus started a conversation about the last Quidditch match of Puddlemere United against the Wimbourne Wasps and Mr. Potter happily engaged himself in it. Henn grinned at me from across the table, leaned over, and whispered, “So, how you holding up?”
I smiled. “Okay. But Mrs. Potter not so much.”
Henn seemed understanding; she clucked her tongue sympathetically. “Well, it’s her only child—son, even, so she must really dote on him. It’s natural for her not wanting him to get married.”
I sighed, raising my hand to brush a strand of hair away from my face. “I suppose. It’s just—”
I was abruptly halted with Henn grabbing my left hand and thrusting it towards her. She looked at my ring and widened her eyes significantly. “Oh my gosh—is this your ring?”
Apparently, the word “ring” caught both Gaby and Grace’s attention, as they leaned in towards the conversation also. All three of my friends gasped rather loudly, while I tried to hush them so they wouldn’t attract attention.
“It’s so beautiful,” Gaby breathed, obviously envious. “Oh—it fits you like a charm.”
“It probably is a charm,” I said, not able to contain myself from gloating. “The stone and size changes according to the wearer. It was James’s grandmother’s.”
“Gorgeous.” Grace said simply. “It suits you perfectly.”
“Can you be a bit quieter? I don’t want Mr. Potter to hear…”
Henn raised an eyebrow with inquiry. I sighed, adding, “Well, I’m not quite sure if he’s so happy either with us getting married—”
Grace glanced at Mr. Potter, who was very enthusiastic as he defended Marcus’s bashing on the Wimbourne Wasps. “Well, he doesn’t seem angry…”
“Speaking of angry—here comes Mrs. Potter.” Henn whispered, and as we all swished our heads to look, indeed, there she was, coming into the Great Hall with James at her side—they both looked extremely alike in their irritable manners.
“Hi,” James said immediately upon approaching us. “Listen, we just have to—”
“Henry, James and I would like to have a discussion with you.” Mrs. Potter said abruptly. She probably meant to have said it as a suggestion but it came out as an order. Her eyebrow raised in an attempt to show Mr. Potter that whatever it was they were to ‘discuss’ it was very important. She didn’t even look at me.
Mr. Potter looked reluctant to leave. Mrs. Potter coughed at him and said, “Now.”
“Uh—well, it was nice meeting you, kids.” Mr. Potter said, with a forced smile, as he stood up. He then hurried out of the Great Hall with Mrs. Potter.
I raised my eyebrow. “James, what’s—”
“I’m sorry, Lily.” He said, and he looked it too. “I’ll find you later.” He then gave me a quick kiss and left with his parents, who were already bickering at the door.
Marcus, Leah, and Kat were all looking confused. Henn, Gaby, and Grace, however, were glancing significantly at me until I could bear it no longer and said, “I think I’ll go out for a walk.” I stood up, and unsurprisingly, my three friends followed.
“What do you think they’re talking about?” Gaby asked in a hushed voice as we said a quick goodbye to our friends and went into the entrance hall. I quickly crossed it and went down the entrance’s steps, walking out onto the grounds with Henn beside me and Gaby and Grace behind us. I merely shook my head, biting my lip. It was a beautiful day out—but I was hardly contemplating it.
“I don’t understand, I thought Mrs. Potter liked you—” Gaby started, but Henn quickly cut her off.
“Don’t make her any more nervous than she is.”
I sighed. “No, it’s okay—I thought she did too.”
There was a silence. I saw Henn glance behind us as Gaby and Grace exchanged looks. “Well, don’t worry about it,” Grace said slowly. “Like Henn said, it must be hard for her, letting James go.”
“Besides, she never seemed to have a problem with you.” Henn added helpfully. “Remember during Easter Break, and you saw her at Kings’ Cross? From what you told me, she seemed to warm up to the idea of you and James dating.”
“Well, yes,” I admitted. “But it’s just…it’s different now. We’re not just dating anymore—we’re actually engaged. Maybe she didn’t’ really mind me before, but now that we’re getting married—”
“Nonsense.” Gaby said, shaking her head. “Just don’t worry—I’m sure whatever James and his parents are talking about is no big deal.”
I bit my lip, still looking uncertain. Grace stepped forward and embraced me, prodding me to keep walking forward. “Let’s not think about this. It’s a beautiful day—and our last day here. So let’s enjoy it.”
“I second that.” Henn said, raising her hand and grinning at me.
Gaby nodded. “I agree.”
I smiled at them. “You’re right.” I said.
“So let’s think of something else.” Henn grinned. “Like…oh, I don’t know—how Aaron Smith asked me if he could visit me in Sweden.”
We all stared at her. “Seriously?” Grace asked, her mouth open.
“Yes!” Henn exclaimed. “I couldn’t believe it either—I mean we’re not even properly dating…I was so surprised.”
Grace smiled. “He must really like you, Henn.”
“I guess he does.” Henn said, beaming. “Which is great—I mean, he’s such a nice person.”
“And is gorgeous,” Gaby sighed. We all giggled, and for a moment it didn’t seem like we were graduating today—it felt like we were going to be silly Hogwarts girls forever and we would never have to worry about turning into adults. I could tell they felt it too—our laughter faded and we all smiled sadly at one another as we sat down on the grass underneath the beech tree—like we had done so many other times.
Henn, as always, was the first to break the silence. “I can’t believe this is going to end,” she said softly.
“Don’t talk like that,” Gaby said, tears already sliding down her pretty face. In her haste to dry them she laughed and cried at the same time, hiccupping, and I put an arm around her shoulder and held on tight, near to tears also.
“We can’t think that this will be the end,” Grace said slowly—the only one who seemed to be successful in containing herself—although I could tell from the brightness of her eyes it was just barely. “I mean, it’s actually the beginning…we’re going to be adults tomorrow. Sure, we won’t see each other everyday…but I’m confident that we’ll keep talking. I mean—we have to.” She added uncertainly, as if she wasn’t quite sure herself.
Henn smiled at her, taking her hand and squeezing it reassuringly. “Of course we will. We’re best friends, aren’t we?”
“I’m going to miss you guys.” I said abruptly, even though I knew I didn’t have to say it aloud.
Gaby smiled tearfully. “At least you’ll have your fiancée.” she said, and we all laughed giddily at the use of the word. “And Grace is still going to be in London with you—but Henn is going to be in Sweden all by herself and I’m going to be in a completely different continent from all of you.”
Henn grinned. “At least Venezuela is always warm.”
“But I’ll hardly see you.” Gaby said, chuckling sadly.
I wiped my tears away from my face and forced a smile. “Let’s not think about this right now. I mean…Henn—you’re only going to be gone in a week, I wish you could stay longer…but at least we’re not all separating tomorrow.”
“She’s got a point.” Grace pointed out—logical, as always. I grinned at her and hugged her also, which caused Henn to squirm in the middle of our embrace too.
Henn, Gaby, Grace, and I all hugged each other tightly and held onto that moment. It was important that we did—for after the summer that would be all we had.
After we stopped crying, we let go, wiping each other’s tears away and washing our faces with the lake’s water. We had been outside for nearly two hours, just remembering the good and bad things that had happened here, at Hogwarts. It was Gaby who suggested that we should start getting ready for the ceremony, so we all headed up into the school, saying hello to many people outside, who were wandering around—mostly crying—with their parents and other relatives. We got up to our dormitory, which was thankfully empty of the Love twins, and followed the shower schedule that we had come up with last night. I was the first to go, which was a relief, because I wanted to thoroughly wash my face—but when I got out, I saw everyone’s trunks open and almost completely packed that I had to contain myself so that I would not cry again.
I put on the same dressrobes that I had worn last night to the Ball, and put on the Hogwarts Graduation cloaks they had given us to put on over our robes. It was completely black except for the Hogwarts crest on my chest and the hem on the sleeves and on the bottom was red and gold—to show my House colors. We also had to wear our black hats, which we would throw up once everyone was graduated. Upon seeing that all of my belongings were packed and ready to go, I closed my trunk, put Jinx in his cage, and left everything at the foot of my bed, where we would come up later to pick them up and take them to the Hogwarts Express.
By the time all four of us were ready, it was practically time to go down to the ceremony. We descended the steps, bumping into the Love twins, who were late in getting ready, as usual, and after enduring Patricia’s long congratulations on being engaged (I glared at Cecilia, for her big mouth), we finally reached the common room, where we saw Remus leaving the portrait hole.
“Remus!” I called out, and he glanced back at us, grinning and waiting until we could all proceed down together.
“Hey,” he said, smiling at all of us. Upon looking at Grace, both of their smiles faltered a bit, but they said nothing of it. “Can you believe we’re going to be graduating soon?”
“Oh, please, don’t make me cry again,” Gaby said tearfully, and Remus chuckled, nodding understandably.
“Have you seen James?” I asked him.
Remus furrowed his eyebrows. “No, I was about to ask you. Actually, I haven’t been able to find anybody lately. Do you know where Sirius or Peter is?”
Henn, Gaby, and Grace shook their heads, and I hesitated. “Well—I don’t know about Peter. But Sirius…I saw him right before James and I told him we were engaged.”
Remus frowned, as if he had misheard me. “You and James are what?”
“Didn’t James tell you?”
“No, he didn’t.” Remus said slowly, raising his eyebrow. “Are you telling me you and James are—”
“And you’re going to be…”
Remus stared at me. “What?”
“Trust me, we had the same reaction.” Henn said, grinning at his utter state of incredulity and disbelief.
“But—this is unbelievable! I mean, it’s great, of course, but it’s just really…really—”
“Shocking.” Gaby said, nodding.
I smiled at him. “Well, I’m glad you’re happy for us.”
“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be happy?”
I shook my head. “Lots of people aren’t.”
Remus raised an inquiring brow as we continued to walk down the hallway. “Such as?”
“Sirius and Mrs. Potter don’t seem to think it’s a great idea.”
To my surprise, Remus actually smiled. “Well, isn’t it obvious why?”
“Excuse me?” I asked blankly.
“Lily, I’ve known Mrs. Potter for a while. She just doesn’t want to let her ‘little Jamesy’ from her sight. And I knew Sirius was going to act this way the minute you two were going to get married—”
“Whoa, wait.” Henn said, interrupting him. “You thought these two were going to get married?”
Remus grinned in that knowing way of his. “Well, someday, yes. Didn’t you?”
“No.” Gaby and Grace said simultaneously.
“Neither did I. No offense.” Henn added to me apologetically. “And were you ever going to tell us that Sirius was angry at you and James?”
I waved her off. “So, why do you think Sirius is acting this way?”
“He’s jealous.” Remus said simply. “He doesn’t want to share James with you. They’ve been best friends for years—practically from the first time they met. He and James were going to share a flat and everything.”
“I know that.” I said slowly. “But he doesn’t have to be jealous. I mean, I’m not taking James away from him—”
“In a way, you are.” Remus said, shaking his head. “You don’t mean to, but James has spent less and less time with us because he’s been spending it with you. And that’s fine,” he added quickly, upon seeing my incredulous expression. “I mean, you two are dating after all. And Sirius has been supportive this whole time—and he probably would’ve been supportive about your engagement if it were later…but right now, I guess he wasn’t prepared for it.”
“What? He doesn’t have to be prepared for anything. It’s James and I who are getting married—”
“He does have to be prepared.” Remus interrupted quietly. “We all do—we’re your best friends, after all.”
“I agree.” Henn said, and Gaby nodded fervently. “I mean, just because we’re okay with you getting married doesn’t mean Sirius will be so easily. Remember when I got jealous when you and James started going out? But I got over it, and so will Sirius.”
“Just be patient with him.” Remus said. “Just think about what he’s going through—I mean he’s probably really angry with himself right now. He was counting on our last day at Hogwarts to be fun—but he’s probably just sulking around by himself somewhere.”
“Well, not exactly.” I said. “He has his parents to entertain, at least.”
Remus raised his eyebrow at me. “Sirius’s parents didn’t come.” He said slowly.
“No. Why would they? They don’t like Sirius—and Sirius thinks even less of them. Didn’t you know?”
“Er…no.” I said awkwardly.
For a moment Remus looked embarrassed, as if he had said something he shouldn’t have. It was a good thing that we had reached the entrance hall, where all the parents and students were gathered. I noticed that not a single Slytherin was around, which made feel very uneasy. I told myself that they were probably coming later, and forced a smile as all of my friends went to find their parents. I stood put, looking around for James, who was also nowhere to be seen. I did, however, see Sirius.
He was one of the few, like me, who was standing alone. He was in a corner, looking sulky as he held his hat underneath his arm and leaned against the wall, his other hand in his pocket. He ignored the people who passed by him and wished him a happy graduation, and didn’t see me, at least not at first. I hesitated, not quite sure if I should make my way towards him or not, and then decided that I should—after all, we were both without our parents around and therefore should stick together. I walked towards him, and upon seeing me, he frowned and started to walk in the other direction, although I caught up to him and grabbed his arm.
“Sirius, can we talk?” I asked him quietly. He looked at me, scowling silently. I sighed, leaning forward and whispering, “Please? I think it’s important that we do.”
For a moment it looked like he was contemplating, and then finally—he nodded. We walked out onto the grounds, where it was completely empty, and sat on the entrance steps, not saying anything for a while. Finally, after a minute, I decided to break the ice.
“Listen, I know that you probably hate me right now, but I just want you to know, that this—James and I, getting married—isn’t going to change anything.” I paused, and still, no answer. I took a deep breath and continued. “We’re not marrying right away. We’ll be engaged for a year, at least. I already told James I want to get a job and settle down first.” Still nothing. I exhaled slowly, looking at his profile, which was set. He looked like a figure carved out of stone—his face was completely expressionless, it hardly seemed like he was listening to me. “Sirius, it would really mean a lot to James and I if you could support us. James’s mother already doesn’t seem to like me. She doesn’t want James getting married and I can understand, since she is a mother, but—” I stopped, and couldn’t help but blink rapidly. “I just wish she would give me a chance. I wish you would give us a chance.” I was talking very quickly right now, and Sirius looked down at the ground, still looking expressionless, but now I knew he was listening. “I mean, marrying is tough enough as it is. There are a lot of things to think about, and James really, really wanted you to be his best man, and I do too. I just—can’t you see that? Sirius,” I breathed, blinking even more still, so that my tears would fall. “I understand that this is hard for you. I understand that you feel that I’m taking him away from you. But, Sirius, James needs you right now. I need you.”
I breathed deeply, closing my eyes and squinting, then opening them again. Sirius was now looking at me.
He looked extremely solemn. “You want me to be the best man?”
“Of course. Who else could it be?” I said, smiling weakly. “You and James…well, your friendship is nothing like I’ve seen before. It’s like you two are brothers.”
It was a huge relief upon seeing Sirius smile—however small it was. His lips tugged at the corner, he looked at the grounds wistfully, and said in a strained voice, “If I say I’m all right, will you stop looking at me like you’re going to cry?”
I could not help myself. I threw my arms around him and embraced him tightly. Sirius, who was thrown completely off guard, raised his hands in protest for a moment, but upon seeing that I wasn’t letting go, he patted my head awkwardly. I sniffed, wiping my eyes and pulling away, giving him a watery smile. “Thank you,” I breathed.
Sirius nodded, still looking embarrassed. He blushed slightly, then after a long silence, sighed and outstretched his arm, pulling me closer towards him and giving me a proper hug.
“I guess I’m going to have to get used to a woman crying all the time,” he said with resignation.
“Not all the time,” I said defensively, poking him. “But I daresay you’re going to have to get used to a woman around in general.”
Sirius chuckled. “Well…you’re not just any woman are you?” he said it humouredly, but I knew he was also being truthful. “I mean, if you were actually able to get a guy like James to propose to you…”
“My next mission is getting you to commit to a serious relationship.”
Sirius’s smile faded. He glanced back and I saw him look at Gaby, who was laughing about something with her parents and younger sister. He sighed and turned to look at me, who was raising an eyebrow inquiringly. He forced a laugh. “I think that’s going to take a bit more work.”
“A bit. But it won’t be impossible.” I said, grinning. For a moment I thought I should add more, but I decided that our friendship was too recently renewed for me to push it. Instead I stood up, helped him to his feet, and straightened my hat. “So, I guess me and you are going to have to stick together, hu? My parents aren’t here either.”
Sirius pulled his hat from under his arm and put it on his head, tilting it rakishly to the side, which suited him. He grinned—obviously relieved that we were straying away from the topic of our engagement. “What’s this I hear? Perfect, Head Girl Evans, also has a spiteful family? Although I assure you that your family is in no way worse than mine.”
He outstretched his arm, which I took as we walked back into the entrance hall. “Well, it’s not so much that my family is spiteful, but that I am. I’d hate to have them here.”
“Not even for Graduation?”
“Especially for that.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow, smirking. “That bad?”
“You have no idea.” I said, shaking my head.
Sirius looked as if he highly doubted that it could be as bad as I said. He laughed. “Try me.”
I exhaled loudly, smiling at him sarcastically. “Okay. I just recently found out that my mother, who has been disappeared for nearly fourteen years, is not in fact dead, but alive. I also found out that my father knew this all along. My parents hate each other, and my sister not only hates me, she now also hates our father. Oh, and did I mention that my mother doesn’t even know I’m a witch?”
For a moment we stared at one another; it shocked me that I was able to speak to Sirius so openly about my family issues, when I hadn’t even had the courage to tell Henn, Gaby, or Grace. He was quiet, furrowing his eyebrows as he studied me to check if I was just joking with him. Upon further inspection, he saw that I wasn’t.
Sirius smiled. “Although I never would’ve dreamed that your family is that bad, I still think mine tops yours; my family are all Death Eaters. Do you know what those are, Evans?”
I shook my head. He then continued, by saying in a low whisper, “Hardly anybody knows of them. They’re just appearing everywhere…they’re followers of some “shadow lord” or something.”
My heart stopped. I stared at him. “Do you mean the Dark Lord?” I asked slowly.
“Yes, I think that’s it. How did you know?”
I stopped in my tracks. “And members of your family follow him? Like Bellatrix?”
Sirius laughed in a bark-like manner. “Probably.” He said unconcernedly. “Why?”
“And your entire family are Death Eaters?”
Sirius looked confused at why I was so interested in his family history. “Well, I’m guessing so. I’m positive that my prat of a brother is one, though, or at least training to be one—and then there’s Bellatrix and her fiancée too.”
Suddenly, McGonagall stood up on the marble staircase, and started talking in her large purple megaphone, which silenced everyone immediately. “Attention, the Graduation ceremony is about to begin—parents, go ahead into the Great Hall—students, remain here in the entrance hall for further instruction.”
The crowd thinned as the parents did as they were told. As all of them gave one more kiss to their children, I was about to ask Sirius more about what exactly Bellatrix was doing as a “Death Eater” when I was poked in the shoulder by someone, which made me turn around to see that it was James.
I obviously looked surprised. “I hope you’re happy to see me.” James said, raising an eyebrow and giving me a kiss.
I pulled away for a moment. “James, I talked with Sirius.”
I knew James had seen Sirius, although he was pretending he hadn’t as he gave me another kiss. Finally, he glanced at Sirius and said coolly to me, “Did you?”
Sirius gave him a sarcastic smile. “Yes. You can ask me, you know.”
“I rather not—you might throw another fit.”
“James,” I said warningly. “I said I talked to him.”
James looked at me, and then to Sirius, who stared back boldly. Finally, James asked, “So are you done being a prat?”
I rolled my eyes at his tone, but said nothing. Sirius, on the other hand, had the decency to look ashamed. “Aye.”
There was a silence, then—
“Good.” James said, and then he stepped forward and embraced Sirius, who hugged him back. If they had been girls it would’ve lasted at least two minutes, but they quickly let go of each other embarrassedly and smiled cheekily at one another. “So, are you going to be my best man?”
“If you’ll still take me.”
James smiled. “Of course I will.”
They both grinned for a moment, then after clearing their throats uncomfortably, decided to look at me instead. Sirius exhaled loudly. “Great. The waterworks are on again.”
I slapped him on the shoulder, wiping my eyes with my sleeve indiscreetly. “Stupid prats,” I said as they laughed. “My makeup’s smearing now because of you.”
The parents had all gone into the Great Hall—now Professor McGonagall was organizing all of us alphabetically and making us sure we looked appropriate. She had already forced the Love Twins to change their cloaks back to normal—for some reason they thought they’d get away with changing the black to hot pink.
As letters “A-J” was called, I kissed James and left with Sirius to the foot of the marble staircase, where McGonagall was barking at all of those who were interrupting her organizing. Sirius winked at me, tipping his hat, and marched over to where McGonagall was ordering, and I lined up obediently behind Amos Diggory. I glanced behind me and saw Henn beam at me as she lined up with the other “J’s”. As McGonagall started to organize the other students from “K-T” and “U-Z”, I straightened my hat and wiped my eyes again, looking around.
I looked at all of the seventh years; some I had come to dislike or hate, like or love, and some I had barely been acquainted with, despite all the years I had spent here with them, at Hogwarts. At the front of the line there were Jeremy Adams and Crystal Allen, two people I had been forced to befriend while I was dating Zach, and who were holding hands and smiling at one another, finally together after a long time. Ralph Anderson, another one of Zach’s new friends and a humongous jerk, was standing behind them, standing upright and with a smug smile on his lips. Further down the line there were Bellatrix and Sirius, the two Black cousins who were glaring at one another with utter hate. Behind me I saw Henn turn around and leaning around a couple of people to talk to Grace, who was thankful of not having to engage in conversation with Rodolphus Lestrange, who was right behind her. Behind Lestrange was Zach Levin, my ex-boyfriend, who was showing off his French accent to Cecilia Love, who was swooning behind him and fluttering her eyelashes. Patricia waved to me, and I smiled and waved back. Remus was behind them; he glanced at me and grinned, although his eyes darted towards Grace, who was purposefully turned away from him. Lucius Malfoy was whispering something to Peter, who looked nervous and avoided eye contact with me. I furrowed my eyebrows and focused instead on James, who was looking equally suspicious. I blew him a kiss and he grinned, winking at me. Further down the procession were Gaby and Aaron Smith, who were talking—Gaby chuckled as she glanced at Henn, who was being stared at constantly by Aaron. Behind them, sulky and unsocial as usual, was Severus Snape, who was looking at his hat, which McGonagall had forced him to wear, with resentment. Finally, after a few people behind Snape, there was Natalie Warren at the back, who was talking to another girl and flipping her blond hair behind her back, smiling her white-toothed smile and narrowing her eyes at the people she thought unworthy. I rolled my eyes—glad that I wasn’t dating Zach anymore and that I would never have to talk to her again.
“Evans! Turn around!” McGonagall barked at me.
Sirius caught my eye and grinned at me, I smiled back. As McGonagall moved up and down the line, scrutinizing our features, all of the seventh years fell silent until she deemed us to be decent looking. She stood at the front of the line and smiled at us—and I was startled to see her eyes brim with tears.
“All right. Everyone ready?” she asked. None of us answered aloud, but a few nodded uncertainly. She exhaled slowly, as if readying herself, then took the handle of the Great Hall doors, opening them wide.
For a moment I saw all of the parents’ expectant faces in several rows of chairs, the inky black sky in the ceiling, the floating luminous candles, and then I heard McGonagall say, “Go. It’s time.”
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