Chapter 18 : Meet The Parent
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Meet The Parent
Lily drew a breath laden with the exhaustion that she had accumulated over the past few days. She watched James’s thoroughly bandaged chest rise and fall through sunken emerald eyes, heavy with the lull of sleep that would swallow her if she allowed it. She ran a slender hand through her lank tresses and pressed a coffee cup to her lips as the door of the hospital wing opened with a flourish. An angry Carly made a beeline for her, pearly white teeth bared in a threatening snarl. The teetering girl sighed, her expression softened and she flipped the end of her ponytail over a shoulder; she folded her arms and appeared to survey Lily through sympathetic eyes. It was dark outside, and the sixth day that Lily had spent cooped up in the Hospital Wing was drawing to a close.
‘Yet another school day of explaining why you’re not in classes when really, you should be. You can not stay cooped up like this, it’s unhealthy, and did you know coffee causes bowel cancer?’ Carly admonished, flicking her wand at the coffee cup so it disappeared.
Lily pulled her eyes away from James with such reluctance it gave the impression she expected him to wake up screaming at any moment. ‘I know, Carly. I just want to be here when he wakes up and I don’t want him to wake up all alone in the middle of the night,’ Lily reasoned, wringing her empty hands as if they had grown accustomed to the presence of her coffee cup.
‘What you need is a good hot bath, a warm bed, and a steaming mug of hot chocolate,’ Carly prescribed, hauling the sleepy girl from her seat beside James’s bed. ‘I’ll stay here tonight and Sirius said he’d be up in a minute as well, so if James wakes up we’ll be here. Go to your dormitory and run yourself that bath, I’ll have a house elf bring some cocoa up. Tomorrow’s Saturday, so if you’re up before noon I will strangle you.’
Before Lily could even begin to protest, Carly was shooing her out of the double doors, at the same time Sirius bounded through them. ‘Hey Lily!’ He greeted jovially, as Carly set her off at a march down the corridor and out of sight.
‘You finally managed to shift her, congratulations! Not even Julianne could get her to budge; and that girl is scary when she wants to be,’ Sirius asserted as the pair made their way to James’s bedside. Carly assumed Lily’s position in the chair and Sirius perched himself comfortably on the bed beside her.
‘I know, I’m quite proud of myself,’ Carly agreed. ‘She really is on the point of collapse… actually, I should send Julianne to go make sure she doesn’t fall asleep in the bath. That could be unfortun-’
‘What exactly do you two think you’re doing!’ Madame Pomfrey screeched from the doorway in such a manner that it reminded Sirius of a circling vulture. He couldn’t help but snort with laughter so that she cast a beady eye in his direction and swooped in on them.
‘It’s the weekend, and weekend visiting hours are whatever we want them to be,’ Carly protested. ‘So we have every right to be here!’ Madame Pomfrey glowered at her, and swung her arm up to survey her wristwatch, her wrinkled face cracked into a wry smile.
‘The weekend begins in three hours my dear, so I’m afraid you’ll have to leave until then,’ Madame Pomfrey retorted, her voice clearly told them that she had dealt with the likes of Carly before. Carly was about to utter a more vehement argument when Sirius piped in, sliding off the bed and slinging an arm around the Nurses shoulders.
‘You see, Poppy,’ he began in a husky voice, batting his eyelashes at her so that Carly sighed in exasperation, ‘Albus was afraid you might say that, so he gave us his direct permission to be here. In fact he insisted on it, you see, the moment James wakes up, there are a million and one questions he needs to answer for the ministry. This is a serious matter. So, while I couldn’t be sorrier to infringe upon the excellent rules you’ve so carefully imposed upon this pristine place of healing, I’m afraid I must; not only for my dearest friend, but for justice as well.’
Madame Pomfrey blushed a deep crimson and fanned herself with a gnarled hand. Carly’s exasperated look had vanished, and was replaced by an expression of deepest regret as she nodded slowly. ‘Well when you put it like that, you two never did cause much trouble and you always were so polite; I suppose you can stay,’ she smiled.
‘What’s wrong with him anyway, Madame Pomfrey?’ Carly inquired sweetly, beholding James with a pained expression. ‘I mean, he’ll be ok soon, wont he?’
‘I don’t know my dear,’ the Nurse said earnestly, ‘I don’t see any reason why she shouldn’t be ok. But had that gash been just a regular injury, then he wouldn’t have been unconscious, and he wouldn’t still be. Had it been your run of the mill cut, it would’ve healed by now, and it’s only come on a small amount since last week. It’s almost as if it’s a werewolf-inflicted injury. Of course, that’s impossible. Last night wasn’t a full moon, and for Mister Lupin to have caused such an injury, he would have had to have been in werewolf form. The only lycanthropes strong enough to have caused something like this in human form are safely locked up in Azkaban. Except perhaps, Fenrir Greyback, but had he been there Mister Lupin would have known it – since Greyback’s the one who...’ Madame Pomfrey seemed to catch herself at the end of her sentence and drew her shawl around herself, as if a sudden chill had run through the Hospital Wing. She shivered, and looked at James dejectedly. ‘No, it’s no werewolf injury. I’m afraid it’s been cursed, and we’ll need an auror to trace whatever magic’s been used here, only then can we properly heal it. Luckily though, there’s an auror coming to the school tomorrow, or so I’m told.’
‘Yes,’ Sirius confirmed suddenly, ‘Chanel Potter, James’s Mother. He told me she was coming tomorrow on business, and that she said she’d be checking up on him. Chanel’s always trying to scare him into trying harder at school. She says I don’t need to try harder, she’s so pleased with me; I’m doing better than James at the moment, believe it or not.’
Lily woke the next morning feeling thoroughly refreshed and better than she had in a long time. Her hair even had a certain appeal to it, despite being a tousled mess. I guess that sleakeazy’s moisture infusing balm worked after all, she thought to herself as she dragged a brush through her shining red tresses and cunningly shot strategic jets of hot air through it to give it added volume. She wondered whether Julianne would consider putting it in a French plait; she was ever so good at those.
She pulled on a pair of short black leather boots that reached her calf and a black knee skimming skirt with a white blouse and black satin mini-waistcoat. ‘Julianne?’ Lily called through the bathroom door as the noise of the shower died down.
‘Hmmm?’ came the melodious reply as the door swung open, allowing a billowing cloud of steam to mushroom into the dormitory as Julianne appeared, wrapped in a fluffy crimson towel with a matching smaller one wound around her hair.
‘Can I borrow that dark grey coat of yours, you know the stiff one that flares out at the waist with the lapels? And that cute little strap thing on the back?’ Lily implored, applying the tiniest dot of mascara to her eyelashes and examining her handiwork with a satisfied expression. She looked a lot better than she had yesterday, the bags were gone, replaced by a fresh-faced smile and glowing skin. ‘And could you do my hair in one of your French plaits? But I don’t want a tight one that shows your scalp, one of those loose boxy ones where you can’t see your scalp that look très cute?’
‘Yes, and yes, but we’ll have to hurry, I’m meeting Remus for lunch in a half hour and I’ve yet to get ready,’ Julianne complied excitedly. She rummaged through her wardrobe and produced the coat Lily mentioned, tossing it aside on the bed as Lily sat down in the French boudoir style chair and Julianne began separating her hair, mouth full of hair pins.
‘It’s fabulous!’ Lily squealed excitedly examining her reflection when Julianne finished, only minutes later. She looked different, but in a good way. More grown up, she decided eventually, as Julianne raised an inquisitive eyebrow behind her.
‘So what’s all of this in aid of? Making the effort for Ms. Potter are we?’ Julianne inquired mischievously. Lily paled beneath the light skimming of blusher she’d applied to her cheeks.
‘Sorry?’ Lily asked urgently, ‘Ms. Potter? As in James’s mother? Why – why would I be…’
‘She’s coming to Hogwarts today on business; of course you’ll have to meet her. She’ll think it’s entirely rude if you don’t. She’s an important woman, Chanel Potter, people say she and her husband pulled the strings at the Ministry since shortly after she started, and the Minister complied, she still advises him on almost everything, from the latest Death Eater raid, to what colour of wallpaper he should do his office in. According to my mum, the Ministry would be a shambles without Chanel and Nicholas Potter. Now he’s dead and she’s one of the most influential women in wizarding politics. But you’ll not meet a nicer woman than Chanel Potter-‘
‘And none more beautiful,’ Carly added as she entered the Dormitory looking tired. ‘She’s with Madame Pomfrey at the minute. Lily you look stunning!’ she admired, taking Lily’s trembling hand a swirling her around. ‘That outfit is delectable! Anyway, we’ve got to go to the Hospital Wing, Chanel wants to meet you. You too Julianne, I’ll tell her you and Remus will drop by in a bit. Hurry up!’
Lily almost stumbled numerous times in the tiny two inch heels of her leather boots as she and Carly surged up the corridor towards the Hospital Wing, what seemed like a nanosecond later. Lily stopped right outside the doors to smooth the lapels of her coat, and ghost a hand along her French plait to check that everything was in order. She pushed the door open and held it for Carly, clasping her hands together and hoping she looked composed, yet friendly.
Lily approached James’s bed with Carly on her right hand side, she wondered if she was walking too slow… or maybe too fast. Well she was there now, standing on James’s left hand side and drawing a tiny smile across her face. Sirius was watching her with a bemused expression on his face, she didn’t look at him, but she was well aware of his grey eyes on her.
‘You must be Lily,’ a soft voice said. Lily looked up at the woman standing beside Sirius who she’d been pretending not to notice and held back a gasp. She could see James in the woman’s features, though distinctly feminine. She had pale blue eyes, quite unlike James’s own, and perfectly kept hair, as dark as pitch and so pristine it made Lily wonder if she’d spent days placing each strand in perfect position. She had a small, impish nose, and high cheekbones, which elongated her face regally; not too much, but just enough. Lily pondered whether this woman had any flaws as she reached out to bush her cheek against Lily’s in greeting.
‘It’s lovely to meet you Ms. Potter, I’ve heard ever so much about you, from James and Sirius. In fact, I don’t think there’s a day goes by when Sirius doesn’t say “Chanel told me this…” or “Chanel says that…” I’m quite humbled, actually,’ Lily smiled, Sirius turned beet red and Chanel laughed musically. That was a good sign, Lily sighed into herself.
‘Please, call me Chanel. I’m quite sure James talks about you just as much; you’re something of a Celebrity, in our house, even the house elves will be in awe when you come down and those two aren’t easily impressed. My husband would dearly have loved to have met you, he said so umpteen times. “This Lily must be quite a girl, how many years has it been now?” he used to tease James,’ Chanel smiled fondly, Lily would have shifted awkwardly, but she found no need, as Chanel pressed on. ‘Unfortunately, I’ve got to get back to the Ministry so we must press on; I’d love for us to talk some more Lily, perhaps some weekend when I’m off work – if that ever happens, you and James can come to the house, and we’ll get to know eachother better.’
‘I’d love to,’ Lily said earnestly as Madame Pomfrey pulled James’s covers down to expose his bandaged chest. She tapped the surgically clean wrappings with her wand and they disappeared. Lily gasped, and put a hand to her mouth. Carly put a hand on her arm and determinedly avoided looking at James’s injury. Chanel, however, remained unfazed.
‘Only James’ she sighed in exasperation and bent down to get a closer look at the cut. ‘It almost appears to be a fresh injury, but it’s not bleeding. You said this happened last Saturday night, Poppy?’ Chanel asked, withdrawing her wand. The nurse made a noise that confirmed what Chanel had said and cocked her head as if watching a circus show. Chanel traced the outside of the wound with her wand, making sure not to touch it, but keeping the tip of her wand mere millimetres away from the torn skin. She muttered something and the path where she had traced her wand turned white, before sinking into James’s skin.
‘This was only a complicated hex, not a curse, thank Merlin,’ Chanel informed the nurse. ‘Have you heard of the Pietrelcina Hex?’ Pomfrey nodded, as if she should have known all along. ‘Well that’s part of what it was, only much worse. It’s something of a mutation, performed badly and synchronised with stupefy, which will explain James’s unconsciousness. You tried Enervate?’
‘Lily did,’ Madame Pomfrey informed Chanel, whose eyes turned to settle on an apprehensive Lily.
‘And it didn’t work, you found. Nothing happened, nothing at all?’ Chanel asked softly. Lily nodded to confirm this, she had tried it, numerous times, and each and every time there was no reaction from James. ‘No, enervate wont work on this hex. No matter, I’ve removed the spell, and the wound should start to heal normally now, he’ll be unconscious for only a short while longer, perhaps a day, at most. I’ll see if I can stop by tomorrow, if I have time.’
‘You’re leaving now?’ Sirius asked glumly, frowning at her. ‘But Professor Dumbledore hasn’t even told you how well I’ve been doing in my classes. How much better than James I’ve been doing in almost everything, except Potions.’ Chanel laughed her airy musical laugh again.
‘Oh he did Sirius, he went on and on – in fact, at one stage I had to stop him to take a breath. And a good thing too, I would still be there,’ Chanel informed him
‘You’re just humouring me,’ Sirius resigned.
‘Yes, I am. Anyway, I must get going, Eric and Veronica will be lost without me,’ Chanel gave a small laugh and checked her watch. ‘It was lovely meeting you Lily, and Carly. You’ll make sure to keep those boys in line, wont you? Where is Remus, anyway?’
‘Of course we will; always do,’ Carly assured, ‘Remus and Julianne were supposed to be here, but I think they had lunch.’ She explained suggestively. Chanel smiled as Lily smoothed James’s covers after Madame Pomfrey had dressed his wound again. She had an unusual glint in her eye, Lily noted, when she said goodbye.
The sun peaked through the arched windows of the Hospital Wing as Lily entered it. It was 9.a.m on a Sunday morning and somehow, as if by some freak happenstance, Carly and Julianne had joined her, and were not still sleeping.
‘Sweet Merlin, how can that boy still be asleep!?’ Carly sighed. They made their way to his bed and sat around it. Julianne sinking into a ball of blankets on the neighbouring bed, Lily taking up her usual spot in the chair and Carly sitting cross-legged at James’s feet. ‘James Potter! I demand you wake up this very instant!’ She hollered, poking him.
‘There’s no need for that,’ James protested, his hazel eyes as fresh as if he’d not just been unconscious for a week ‘I am awake, and I was awake an hour ago, and two hours ago, and three hours ago; yep, I was awake then too. So poke me once more Van DerCoup and I’ll be needing a new chaser.’
‘James?’ Lily said gleefully, leaping from the chair and wrapping her arms around him. James made an odd sound, as if he were being trodden on. ‘About time you woke up, too. A lot has happened while you were asleep. Well, not really, I suppose – still you were asleep a week James.’
‘Madame Pomfrey told me,’ James informed her. ‘And my Mother was here yesterday, as well?’
‘She was. I like her, I really do. She’s really very nice James and she seems to like me. At least, I hope she does. She said I could call her Chanel, and that we’re to come down some weekend when she’s off work so that I can get to know her better. Oh, and I made her laugh, as well! That’s good, right?’ Lily divulged excitedly. James grinned.
‘That is good Lily!’ James ascertained. ‘You know, I knew you two would get on well. I mean, how could she not like you?’ Lily made a sickeningly cute sound, and pressed her nose into James’s, who scrunched up his face and nudged her nose with his.
‘A whole week without this Julianne, how on earth did we survive?’ Carly drawled, so sarcastic it was almost believable. Julianne shook her head and sighed, shrugging as she raised her hands in question. Lily pecked James on his nose and sat down, holding his hand between her two considerably smaller ones and rubbing her thumb along the top of it.
‘All things considered,’ Julianne began, breaking the amiable silence that started to settle over the group, ‘the date wasn’t bad, was it?’ she decided, smiling. She surveyed Lily and James with inquisitive eyes, hoping for reassurance of her statement.
‘No, not bad at all,’ said Lily honestly, ‘in fact, it was considerably better than our first first date – though, I don’t quite remember what that was.’ James laughed in such a way that told them he didn’t remember what it was either. ‘But what about that waitress, we should have complained. It was meant to be a romantic tea shop, did she expect us not to kiss?’
‘She was atrocious, but enough about our date, what about Carly and Sirius, all snuggled up in the cosy common room, don’t tell me nothing happened,’ Julianne warned, wagging a finger at a startled Carly as the others made noises of agreement.
‘Nothing did happen. This is Carly Van DerCoup we’re talking about, what on earth would possess your little brains to think I’m stupid enough to let that man whore have his way with me? I’m a sensible girl – mostly, and even so; it doesn’t take a girl with much sense to know that Sirius Black is dangerous territory,’ Carly barked with laughter, and when that subsided, she added ‘nothing happened,’ in a firm voice to reinforce her point. Julianne hooted with indignation.
‘Well if nothing happened then something should have happened, you and Sirius are practically the same person, minus the promiscuity… the idiocy, recklessness... and you’re an intelligent girl,’ Julianne caught herself, realising how contradictory she sounded just then. ‘Well opposites attract!’
‘Whatever Julianne. Come on; let’s leave these two in peace! What was I thinking letting her drag me out of bed at this unearthly hour? You’ll be the death of me Lily Evans,’ Carly sighed grabbing Julianne’s wrist and leading her out of the Hospital Wing with a goodbye to Lily and James.
Lily watched them go with an amused expression, and turned to face James worriedly when the doors swung shut. ‘How do you feel? You don’t feel ill? Weak?’ She interrogated peering closely at James’s bandages to see if she could see any signs of blood.
‘I feel fine, stop worrying. I don’t remember much though, just running into the street, and taking my wand out, what happened? Pomfrey wouldn’t tell me,’ James inquired, squeezing her hand gently in reassurance.
‘Well it only lasted a few minutes, everybody was duelling and I stunned this death eater, and when I pulled off his mask – it was Alan Bunter. Someone hexed you, and then there was a yell, and they started to disapparate, taking the unconscious ones with them. We’ve given whatever information we could to Dumbledore, and he’s already filed a ministry report,’ Lily filled him in, grimacing. ‘Rachel and Louis came to visit, a few times, but they didn’t stay for very long each time, and even at that; they didn’t say much. She’s acting oddly again. I think something’s up. Julianne and Carly have noticed it more though; they’ve been telling me she’s avoiding them. I figure she probably thinks it’s her fault this happened. I haven’t had a chance to talk to her, I’ve been – worried.’ Lily finished with an embarrassed smile.
‘Well I’m ok, so don’t be worrying, this is nothing,’ James grinned. ‘I’m sure it’s nothing with Rachel, she’ll come round, and these things always work out sooner or later.’
Lily nodded, smiling. ‘I’ll go track her down in a bit and maybe I can sort this thing out, get to the bottom of it. I bet she’s in the Library. It’s Sunday, I’m almost sure she is.’
‘I hope you do, and you’ll see this thing... whatever it is, it wont be as bad as you think, I’m willing to bet Sirius on it,’ James told her, grinning. Lily giggled.
‘That’s not saying much, you do realise that?’ Lily asked, raising an eyebrow.
Later that evening, Lily found herself winding a path towards the Library. She wore her dark mini-waistcoat, with a fresh white ruffled blouse and a grey tweed pencil skirt, with dark pumps and black leggings. She fiddled with a heart shaped pendant that hung around her neck as she entered the Library. She scanned the room quickly and soon placed her friend, pouring over her latest novel. Lily wondered why she wasn’t in her dormitory, as she should be.
‘You’re good at keeping secrets,’ Lily said by way of greeting. She made her tone soft, instead of confrontational, hoping it would open the girl up, instead of making her clam and become defensive. ‘You really shouldn’t hide things from your friends Rach, I wish you wouldn’t. You know whatever it is; we’ll be ok with it. If you have a crush on Carly, if you’ve buried your mother alive under the garden shed, if you’ve got Voldemort locked in a broom closet on the third floor; you can tell us.’
‘You can tell, huh?’ Rachel laughed awkwardly. Lily nodded earnestly, smiling warmly. She sat quietly, hoping Rachel would continue. ’You see, I don’t think I can… I mean, I don’t know what you’d think… oh Lily I don’t want you to judge me.’
‘Rachel, you’d be surprised, I’m made of tougher skin than you might think. Try me, I promise, I’ll not react badly,’ Lily implored, clasping her hands around Rachel’s.
‘Lily, I’m pregnant.’
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