After shrinking down my entire luggage to the size of buttons and tucking them into my pocket, I sat on my bed for a while and looked around. This room had once been Petunia’s, then both of ours and then just mine. It was sad to see that my walls were stripped of its pictures and posters, that my shelves were bare of its usual magazines and books, and that my bathroom was empty of everything except the shower curtain, which I didn’t feel justified to take. My bedside cabinet was wiped clean and barren. The room seemed bigger all of a sudden; the floor wider, the walls spread further apart.
It wasn’t my room anymore. And it never again would be.
I stood up and went to the door, pausing at the threshold and glancing back one last time. I found myself inexplicably sad for a room that I had hardly lived in the past seven years. I suppose it wasn’t really the room I would miss, but what my room represented—my childhood and innocence. I was no longer innocent, especially after what I had experienced in the past twenty-four hours.
As I contemplated this I finally closed the door and leaned against the wall, bracing myself to go downstairs.
But it turned out that I needn’t have worried that some sort of uncomfortable confrontation might arise. My father wasn’t in his bedroom, the kitchen, or any where else in the house. Upon further inspection I saw that the car in the garage was gone. I sighed and knew that a part of me had wished for both of our stakes that he had stayed, but I also knew that in all these years he had been like this—cowardly in his own way and never up to facing me.
I heard movement behind me and saw that Carrie had been watching as I looked around the house for any signs of my father. For a moment we just stared at each other, my own green eyes locking with her cold, icy blue ones. Carrie had always been a beautiful woman—with dark, luscious hair, a defined body and smooth skin, but as I looked at her I saw new lines forming in her face and knew that her grudge and anger had been slowly deteriorating her inside and out. She wasn’t happy with my father, and never would be; especially now knowing that his ex-wife had returned to turn things around. But she deserved it…at least that is what I had told myself countless times before.
Finally she spoke. “Don’t you dare come back. Ever.”
A few months ago…hell, maybe even a few hours ago, I would’ve immediately given her a snarling reply. But I had changed—grown up somehow in that short span of time. I wasn’t going to stoop down to her level, not anymore. I no longer felt the need to be in control and surpass her in any way. For what I had with James she would never experience and I somehow pitied her for living such a cold, harsh life.
“I won’t,” I said simply, and was surprised to see that it didn’t hurt as much as I thought to admit it out loud. Just as I was going towards the kitchen and out the front door, I turned around to see her triumphant smirk. Her narrow mind made her believe that she had won somehow. I opened the door and held my hand on the knob, smiling sadly. “Take care, Carrie,” I said, and once again was surprised to see that I actually meant it.
Then I left.
Despite James’s continuous efforts, his homecoming party just wasn’t as fun as he wanted it to be. Of course, Sirius and he did their best to try to liven it up; buying firewhiskey and some Zonko’s products to entertain us, but after a while they just had to face the facts—we were exhausted and emotionally drained, and in no mood for a party.
“C’mon, guys,” James groaned, throwing himself on his couch very melodramatically and pouting. “This doesn’t even seem like a party.”
I sat next to James on the couch, wrapping my arm around his waist and immediately being enveloped by his warm embrace. “James, we’re just really tired.”
“Yeah,” Henn said, smiling sleepily across from us with a butterbeer at hand. “Not all of us got to sleep for eighteen hours.”
“Knocked unconscious is more like,” James huffed, blowing his bangs away from his face and reminding me intensely of a little toddler. It seemed for a moment that he and Sirius had been the only ones not affected by any of this, for the rest of us were clearly still down but trying to keep our spirits up for James’s sake.
There was a blast from behind the couch, which made all of us jump. I craned my neck and saw that one of Sirius’s Fanged Frisbees had collided with the side of the couch, leaving a big hole full of stuffing spurting out. Grace, who had been leaning against the wall with her butterbeer, pointed her wand lazily at the couch which immediately re-stuffed it.
“Don’t you just love how we’re all of age now?” Henn asked, taking another sip of her butterbeer. “I mean, soon we’ll be Apparating.”
“The test is two weeks from now,” Remus said from the armchair to the right. “We should all practice.”
“Practice? C’mon…like we need practice!”
Sirius had returned to the room, bouncing up and down, and full of energy. His arms were loaded with more firewhiskey bottles, to the groans of most in the room.
“Haven’t you had enough?” Grace asked skeptically. She held her butterbeer bottle with raised eyebrows. “Besides, you and James are the only ones drinking it.”
“Exactly,” James said, standing up. “So hand another one over, Padfoot.”
Sirius grinned widely. “Of course, mate.”
“I’m not going to be tucking you both in if you’re drunk,” I warned them. “I did enough of that with James at St. Mungo’s.”
“Which I will be eternally grateful for, love,” James said, bending over and kissing me on the forehead. Something flickered in his eyes but it was quick and barely noticeable, so I pushed it out of my mind.
While James and Sirius started to sing some sailor’s song and clink their bottles together, Henn hopped over Peter, who had been dozing at the coffee table, and sat by me on the couch. She had a grim look on her face as she whispered, “I didn’t want to say anything in front of James…didn’t want to bring him down or anything…but did you know that Jeremy Adams died?”
Jeremy’s agonized face and Crystal sobbing over him came vividly to my mind. “Yes,” I sighed. “I was in the Hospital Wing and I saw him.”
Henn looked at her hand for a moment, blinking. “I can’t believe it,” she said quietly. “Just a few months ago…in the beginning of the year, remember? We were sitting with him and his friends at the Ravenclaw table. He and Crystal hadn’t even been dating yet…”
“I know,” I said, when Henn faltered. It was a strange thought to lose someone who you had known—even if just barely—and find out that you would never see them or talk to them again. “How did you find out?”
“Aaron told me, although it’s all over the Daily Prophet along with the other deaths,” she said, and it took me a minute to register that she had been talking about Aaron Smith, her new boyfriend. “I didn’t even know what to tell him. Jeremy was his best friend, and now…” She blinked again. “Well, I just wanted to tell you that his funeral is going to be tomorrow. I’m going, I think everyone is, but I wasn’t sure if you knew or not.”
“I didn’t, but I’ll go,” I said. I glanced at James, who was laughing about something with Sirius. “I’ll tell James later.”
After finding Gaby asleep on one of the arm chairs, we thought it would be best to end the party. It was already one o’ clock in the morning, and I hadn’t slept in more than twenty-four hours. All of our friends were sleeping at James’s house, so all eight of us treaded up the stairs and were shown each of the guest rooms. The Potters’ house, although the same size as my house from the outside, was magically enlarged somewhat in the inside. There were three guest rooms, each with two beds which had been conjured by Mr. Potter. Sirius, as always, was sleeping in James’s room, an extra bed already prepared for him; Grace and Gaby were sharing one guest room; Remus and Peter another, and finally, Henn and I took the last one. I had enlarged all of my things that I had taken from my house to their original size, and they were now piled up in our guest room.
Henn slumped down on her bed, not even bothering to change or get under the covers, and immediately fell asleep. After taking off my clothes, taking a long, nice shower, and changing into my pajamas, I found that James was on my bed waiting for me, watching Henn amusedly from a few feet away, where she was snoring.
I smiled as I made my way towards him. “Hey, you.”
“Hey,” he said, grinning as I threw myself next to him. I yawned loudly, stretching and gazing up at him from heavily drooping eyelids. I waited for him to say something, but he didn’t. He merely leaned over and kissed me softly on the lips, running a hand up my throat and cradling the back of my neck. His comforting smell was back now that he no longer smelled like the hospital—he had taken a shower, clear from the way his wet hair was dripping on my face. I giggled as a particularly big drop fell between my eyes.
After a while he pulled away, tucking a lock of my hair behind my ear tenderly. He took my left hand and felt the ring there, still looking at me. “I’m glad that you were with me,” he said finally.
“Where else would I be?” I asked, suddenly serious. “I know that you’d do the same for me.”
James gazed deep into my eyes. Usually I broke a look so full of emotions, but this time I didn’t. I needed to be stronger now—for James, for me, for both of us at once. I pushed away my lingering feelings of vulnerability. “I would,” he said, as if I didn’t know already and he was convincing me. He thought that perhaps I didn’t think he’d do the same for me. He wanted to make sure that I knew he was grateful and I did. I felt him stroking my hand with his thumb, shivers traveling up my spine.
I suddenly felt naked under his raw and intense eyes. For a moment I faltered, not knowing what else to say to reassure him except, “I know.” There was a silence and James lowered his head to kiss me; deeply, passionately, as if he could show me his whole soul in that one, heartfelt kiss. Then quite unexpectedly, I felt a rush of emotions all at once—love, tenderness, affection, need, and underneath of it all something else. I broke away for air and then realized that I also felt a certain fear. I was still afraid of letting myself completely go—to drop all defenses and give myself entirely to him, despite how much I tried. There were still things he didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have the courage to tell him. Unconsciously my fingers reached towards my wrists, where there had once been bruises.
I felt that I somehow needed to lighten the mood and not let myself succumb to such powerful emotions—at least not yet. I forced myself to look up at him and smile. “You’re beating yourself up when you shouldn’t.”
James was breathing heavily as he blinked; he had apparently been thrown off by my sudden and apparent disinterest in him. Sometimes we stayed hours testing each other boundaries, feeling each other’s heartbeats, getting closer and closer to what we both wanted—but not this time. Still, he recovered almost immediately as he straightened again.
“It’s hard not to,” James said, this time not meeting my eyes. “Sirius told me about Jeremy.”
I was glad I didn’t have to tell him myself, but James’s expression didn’t comfort me at all. “It’s just—” he started, then faltered.
I took his hand like he had taken mine. “I know,” I said. He didn’t have to say anything. “I know.”
He just sat there for a while, unconsciously still rubbing the ring on my finger. Finally, after glancing at the clock, he said, “I better go. Good night.”
“’Night,” I said. My stomach sank as I realized what he’d do next—lean over and kiss me. Soon I’d be in that strong current again, and perhaps I would be unable to stop myself. The thought that I might be unable to give in to release terrified me just as much as the possibility that I might also be perfectly able. And as he moved his head towards me, I deliberately turned and said, “It’s late. I’m tired.” And I hated how I sounded—mechanical and forced. I couldn’t look at him.
There was a long silence in which I felt my heart thump wildly against my chest. “Of course,” he murmured finally, and then got up from my bed before I could see his expression. As he paused at the door, ready to close it, I said quickly before he thought otherwise, “I love you.”
This time he smiled and my heart fluttered with relief. Maybe he understands. But as his hand reached for the door knob I saw the hurt that flashed in his eyes. “I know,” he said, then closed the door.
It took a while for me to finally pull my covers over my shoulders and lay down, and when I did I found myself staring at the ceiling instead of trying to close my eyes and doze off. I heard a meow and felt Jinx’s weight as he jumped on my bed, curling up next to my feet (he and all the rest of my belongings had been brought from Hogwarts. Dumbledore seemed to know where I was). I couldn’t help but be surprised at this, since Jinx didn’t like physical contact much. He was quite impersonal, even for a cat, and sometimes I became concerned at how stoic and dispassionate he could be.
Like me, I couldn’t help but think. James’ expression came immediately to mind.
But perhaps he felt my distress or something of that sort, because he soon started purring next to me. I sat up and reached towards him, but he only turned his back to me and moved away. He was offering me comfort, but wouldn’t condescend to giving me attention also.
This made me laugh a little as I lay back down and watched Henn sleeping across from me, her hair blowing away from her face with each breath she took. Somehow my heart felt lighter at the thought that even though we were no longer at Hogwarts, no longer children, we were still sharing the same room at least for one more night. It was good that some things didn’t change.
For now, I admitted. She’d be gone soon.
I closed my eyes and scooted closer to Jinx, waiting for him to hiss and move away, punishing me for my ungratefulness of this rare moment of proximity. I raised my eyebrows as I felt him purr again. Perhaps he was not as cold as I had presumed.
I fell asleep sooner than I thought I would.
I was surprised to see that when I awoke the next morning the sunlight was blazing strongly overhead and Henn was already up. I opened my eyes and glanced at the alarm clock on my bedside cabinet as it read 4:30. I had never woken up so late in my life.
“Good morning,” Henn said as she noticed I was awake. As I stretched my arms, yawning, she said, “Actually, I think here in England we’re accustomed to say good afternoon at this time of the day.”
“I can’t believe I slept so much,” I said, embarrassed.
“I do,” Henn said. To my dismay, she was folding and repacking her clothes into her trunk at the foot of her bed. “You hadn’t slept for more than twenty-four hours, after all. You deserved a bit of rest”
“Are you leaving already?” I asked, glancing at Jinx as he slept on top of her trunk. “I thought you’d stay here for a bit more.”
“Nah, my parents are already really worried,” Henn said. “Besides, they want to spend as much time with me before their little girl goes off to Sweden.” For a moment her lips tilted slightly upwards, but after glancing at me she quickly rearranged her face.
“When are you going?”
Henn paused in her packing, holding up her fingers as she counted. “In—let’s see…six days. Saturday then.” Upon seeing my expression she smiled comfortingly, striding over to my bed. “It’s not a big deal,” she said. “Once we can all Apparate I’ll be over here all the time. And the test is in two weeks, so you’ll only be without me until then.”
I forced a smile, trying to believe her. I had no doubt that Henn would miss us all terribly at first, but I wasn’t naïve enough to think that she was unhappy about going. Henn had always had a free and wild spirit—she loved trying new things and seeing where they’d take her. It was one of her qualities that I admired most about her and wished I could have. She was trying to hide it for our sakes’ but I knew she was excited to be moving and starting her adult life.
And then there was me, who was just as old as Henn but who still hadn’t taken the slightest incentive to start her life. This made me slightly nauseous and anxious, like I was suddenly being pulled with the current of time, no longer able to stay stationary like I longed to do. I tried changing the subject to a more cheerful and easy topic, but I couldn’t help but say the first thing that came to my mind as I saw Henn’s clothes separated on her bed. “When is the funeral?”
Henn’s eyes instantly darkened and her lips curved slightly downwards. “In an hour,” she said after checking her watch. “I better go and get ready. Unless you want to take a shower first?”
I stretched my arms high above my head, unable to force myself to any excessive movement. “No, it’s fine. Go on ahead.”
A few moments after Henn closed the door, I heard thundering footsteps in the hall and my door burst open. The sunlight glared through the window, obscuring the two figures’ faces, but I knew immediately who they were.
“Alas, she awakes!” Sirius boomed, jumping unceremoniously onto my bed, crushing my legs. I gasped, shooing him away. As he straightened he grinned at me. “And with a foul temper, too.”
“Want some breakfast?” I widened my eyes to see that James was coming towards me, holding a tray.
“It’s actually more of a lunch,” Sirius said. “You better eat it too—James nearly beat us with a stick to keep Peter and me from devouring it.”
“Thanks,” I said as James set the tray on my lap, complete with eggs, toast, and bacon. Not to mention the glass of orange juice perched precariously on the edge. James bent down and kissed me on the cheek, sitting carefully on my mattress to not crush me like Sirius. As his lips’ warmth lingered on my skin I tried to forget the way I had cringed and shunned him away last night.
I was just wondering why they were in such high spirits, when I saw the dark circles under James’ eyes. Then I knew that he had had trouble sleeping last night, and was just putting up a cheery face for everyone’s sake. James was not one to show weakness, although he was not one to repress his emotions either. He would talk to me when he was ready.
As I bit a piece of the toast, I smiled at him. “This was all really thoughtful,” I said. “Especially the part of how you waited all this time to feed me.”
“It’s the least I can do,” James said, and I knew that he was talking about St. Mungo’s. From the way he looked furtively at his shoes I knew that he still felt guilty about how he had supposedly left me to take care of him. I knew that it would take a while for him to be rid of that guilt, and I would need to be patient and gentle with him, just as he had been with me countless times before.
Sirius seemed to have noticed his best friend’s worsened mood, for he was now looking at James with quiet concern. Once again, I tried changing the subject to something lighter, and once again, I failed.
“Henn’s leaving on Saturday,” I blurted out.
Both of them looked up at me. “Really? Already?” James asked.
“We should throw her a party!” Sirius exclaimed, always the first to see the best of a situation.
“You just want to throw a party,” I said sternly. Sirius merely shrugged.
“It would certainly make things a little happier around here,” he said.
I couldn’t help but feel that Sirius was being a little insensitive to everything that was happening, but then I remembered that he was an emotionally complex man—sometimes showing coolness and distance; other times overwhelming us with his intensity that he often repressed. I knew that he was upset as all of us were, but he had different ways of showing it. For a moment I wondered what would happen to him if someone he truly loved passed away—and then I shuddered to think if it was one of us.
I was jerked out of my reverie as I heard Sirius continue, “And maybe Grace would cheer up. Do you see the way she’s moping? It’s very…disturbing.”
“She is not moping,” I said defensively. “She’s just a little…upset. We all are. And of course there are other problems—”
“—with Remus. Yeah, yeah. We’ve all been caught up in that whole mess before,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes.
James and I exchanged looks. “I recall that Remus was not the only one moaning about his relationship troubles this year,” he said, a slow and devious grin appearing on his face. His smile was a relief to me. I hid my own smirk behind my glass of orange juice as Sirius glared at him.
“Oh please,” Sirius scoffed. “Don’t try and pretend that you’re not the one who was the most annoying when it came to these kinds of things. ‘I think Lily hates me, but I’m hoping that she loves me and just doesn’t know it. And although I’m positive that’s a lie, I think I’ll just take the chances, ask her out again anyway and aggravate her even more. I know that I’ve asked her out before but I think she just might come around this time. After all, six hundred seventy-seven thousandth time is the charm—’” Sirius stopped his imitation abruptly upon being hit on the face with a piece of toast. He grinned widely at me as I snickered loudly.
James’s ears were slightly pink as he said, “Okay, maybe I was the most annoying, but either way I’m the only one out of all of you who actually got my girl.” He smiled at me as he said this and I couldn’t help but grin sheepishly.
“I consider you to be by far the unluckiest, then,” Sirius said jokingly.
I gave him a reproachful look. “Don’t listen to him,” James said, grinning. “He’s just unhappy that no one loves him and hasn’t for a while.”
“Aye,” Sirius said seriously. “If it’s the kind of loving I think you’re talking about, then yes, I am unhappy.”
It was then that Henn opened the door of the bathroom wearing only a towel. At the sight of the two boys she gasped and ran inside again. “Sirius! James! What the hell are you doing in here? Get out!” she shrieked, revealing only her arm as she held her slipper menacingly.
James and Sirius were both laughing as they got up to leave the room. “With pleasure, Henn. But I must say I’ll miss seeing that when you go to Sweden. It would certainly make me happy if you stay with me.” I rolled my eyes at their immaturity but couldn’t help laugh a bit as they guffawed.
Henn responded by sending her slipper flying out of the bathroom and hitting him on the head. It must’ve been charmed because even after the door closed I heard the shoe repeatedly bang on Sirius’s head as he progressed down the stairs, James laughing along the way.
After getting ready rather quickly Henn and I went downstairs dressed to find everyone in the foyer waiting for us. We were all wearing our dressrobes, although we made sure we did not look nearly as extravagant as we did when we went to the Graduation Ball. This was not a cheerful event, after all. My hair was pulled up in a modest bun, and I didn’t feel enthused to wear makeup. But we all looked absolutely fitting for a funeral; James was standing with his hands in his pockets, looking down at the ground with furrowed eyebrows; Gaby was sitting on a chair, stuffing tissues and handkerchiefs in her purse that she knew we’d need later on; Remus and Peter were talking in hushed tones, as if were at the cemetery already; Sirius for once, was not smiling and cracking a joke but sitting quietly; and Grace was separated from the rest of the group staring off into the window, not talking to anybody else. As Mr. and Mrs. Potter strode towards us, we all held on tight as they turned on their heel and Apparated us to the site.
After steadying myself I looked around and gathered my surroundings. We were in a calm, neat and trimmed little cemetery. From what I could see we were in the remote side of the country, with nothing around us except a small chapel, a village in the distance, and the green hills.
The sky was blue with only a slight amount of clouds and a breeze was lightly tugging at our robes. It seemed like such a normal day with no sadness. Even the fact that I was in a cemetery could’ve not perturbed me if I didn’t know the brutal nature in which the person we were visiting died.
Slowly, we made our way across the grass towards the group of people that were streaming inside the chapel. But before we reached them, there was a slight confusion in the back when Gaby suddenly gasped and grabbed Henn’s arm, pulling her away from something.
“What? What is it?”
“The grave,” Gaby whispered superstitiously as she pointed at the ground. “You almost stepped on it. It’s bad luck.”
There was a pause as we all looked at the grave. We had all heard when we were children and as we were growing up that it was bad luck to step on one. As we all contemplated this, suddenly apprehensive, Sirius came forward and stepped across it, looking bitter.
“Like there can be any more bad luck than this,” he said grimly.
“Jeremy was kind as his parents had always taught him. They knew that when he was accepted into Hogwarts he wouldn’t have any trouble finding friends, for he was always generous, giving, and caring. And throughout his whole seventeen years he always had friends, and always did well in school…”
As I sat on a bench in the back of the chapel and listened to the man talk, I realized that everything he was saying was entirely new to me. I hadn’t known Jeremy, and had barely had a conversation with him the whole time I had been at Hogwarts. I started to wonder if I had known that he was going to die at the end of our seventh year, if I would’ve talked to him, gotten to know him and even befriended him. I heard a soft noise next to me and saw that Gaby was already putting her handkerchief to use as she unashamedly cried in front of everyone. For some reason I found myself admiring this, but then I saw Crystal in the front with Jeremy’s parents, sobbing as she had that day I saw her at the Hospital Wing. I looked around and felt my stomach drop as I saw all the silent tears roll down the faces of our classmates and Jeremy’s relatives. I spotted Kat, Leah, and Marcus sitting close together as their shoulders shook with uncontrollable sadness. I touched my own cheek and felt that it was dry, and for some reason I bowed my head down so that no one would see it.
“All who knew him loved him, just as he loved them as well. He was a good man, a good son, a good brother, a good boyfriend, a good friend…”
James was sitting on my other side, looking solemn. I wondered what was going past his mind, and when he would share it with me. He was not crying but even his eyes were filling with tears, when mine were so undeniably dry.
Finally, the man finished his eulogy and stepped aside as a line formed to say their last goodbyes to Jeremy. His mahogany coffin was still open, revealing his handsome dark face which undoubtedly had been fixed with magic. As I neared his body, however, I saw a thin white line reach from his jaw to his forehead. Apparently, not all of his scars had been removed and healed, just as the hearts of those who had loved him.
I found myself reaching behind me and grabbing James’s hand for a brief moment as I neared the coffin; to give him strength or to receive it from him I did not know. I stopped at Jeremy’s coffin, staring down at his face. I couldn’t help but stop. His face looked so calm, so serene—if I didn’t know any better I would’ve assumed he died a peaceful and painless death and not by murder. How could he look so restful? How could that have happened? He was viciously killed and could’ve lived if St. Mungo’s had taken him yet he just laid there, resigned to his fate. How could he be so accepting?
“Lily,” I heard behind me. I turned around to see James looking at me, along with everyone else at my apparently long pause. I stared at them instead. They can see that I’m not crying, I found myself wildly thinking. They think I don’t care that he died.
I quickly moved away from the line and out of the chapel, not waiting for James or anyone else as I followed the people going outside. Soon the coffin itself was closed and carried out of the chapel by what seemed to be Jeremy’s father and brother, Aaron, and Jeremy’s other snobbish friend Ralph. Even Ralph, who had always been such an insensitive prat, was looking emotionally and physically drained. This made me feel slightly panicked, like I needed to cry soon or else I would become completely heartless.
They made their slow progress to the cemetery and the funeral party slowly followed them. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a flower, and then I lost myself in the crowd as we steadily moved towards Jeremy’s grave, where people were already standing around.
And then, so quickly, the coffin was already being lowered into the ground. Once again I found myself staring as I clutched the flower in my hand. Then, as if in slow motion, I let it drop down onto the coffin, along with my own bit of dirt.
“I can’t believe this,” I heard a woman behind me sob. “My baby—”
I knew it was his mother. And as I moved away from the coffin I looked back and saw her kneel to the ground, clutching her face in pure agony. I had never seen someone suffer so much, and I realized that the most painful death you could ever experience was that of one of your own children, for in a way that killed you too. It was like you were going against the natural order of things to live longer than that person you raised and loved beyond anything else.
I looked around at the people still watching as dirt was being thrown upon Jeremy’s coffin. Some of them would miss him; some of them would never be the same without him. And once I realized that I was in neither of those categories, I wondered why I came and if I was insulting his memory by it
“Rest in peace,” I heard a voice say as it was carried in the wind.
As I sat against the back chapel wall outside I was shocked to see that it was not James or Henn who was striding towards me, but Mrs. Potter.
For a moment, despite my utter dullness that threatened to consume me, my heart thudded against my chest. We hadn’t spoken properly in a very long time. Two days ago she made it clear that she did not want me with her son. Two days ago…I closed my eyes. So much had happened that it seemed actually weeks, not days before
I felt a shadow overhead and opened my eyes, standing up and brushing the grass away from my robes. Again it struck me how old Mrs. Potter was getting, and how it was showing. She used to be a woman of such life, of such exuberance; I knew that James had gotten that from her side. But now her brown eyes stared at me dully, swimming with tears. I didn’t know what to do, especially since I was finding it so hard to come to tears myself.
“Lily,” she said, and I was shocked to see that she was reaching for my hand. “Please, don’t think that I don’t like you. I really think that James couldn’t have found a better girl.”
I was surprised that she was bringing this up now, and I was also speechless—I had no idea what to say, even though a part of me still was questioning resentfully why she had treated me that way she did before. I kept my lips sealed shut and let her continue, not trusting myself to speak out of anger or in the delicate state that I was in now because of the funeral.
“The truth is, Lily, I was scared,” she said, her tears streaming freely down her face. I wondered how she could cry so liberally in front of me when I did not know her very well. But then I realized that there had been many people crying in front of me at the funeral who I too didn’t know at all. “I was scared of having someone take my son away from me— I still am.” She exhaled slowly, closing her eyes for a moment and staring at me again. Suddenly her shield was down and her gaze showed me what she felt—sorrow and perhaps even regret. “But after what happened at Hogwarts…after coming here and seeing that poor girl crying the way she was…” I knew she was talking about Crystal, who was sobbing nearly the entire time. “The thing is—” She faltered, and this time I was ready to coax her, to say something to encourage her to continue.
To my surprise, my voice was soft and even understanding. I suddenly knew how hard it must’ve been for Mrs. Potter to watch Mrs. Adams suffering—it must’ve stirred something deep inside her and reminded her that it could’ve been her in such pain. “What, Mrs. Potter?” I asked as my heart softened and the last bits of my resentment for her melted away.
Her eyes were shining brightly as she spoke. “The thing is—I…don’t want James or you to suffer that way. I want you two to be happy while you have the chance in these dangerous times.” She then looked at me again, her tears stopping. “Not a lot of people experience what you and James are experiencing, Lily. And the people who do or have sometimes end up losing it.” I saw something flicker beneath her gaze; a deep and hurtful reminisce, but I didn’t prod her into telling me about her problems with Mr. Potter, which were already obvious by the way they both looked so strained.
She then gave me a watery smile and let go of my hands to open her arms. “I’m happy for you,” she said softly.
For a moment I did not know if I wanted to end up in Mrs. Potter’s embrace. I was suddenly reminded of my mother, who had never opened her arms like that to me. But before I really had any time to think, I was already stepping forward and sinking into her weight, and as she wrapped her arms around me and I tried to let the tears come to no avail, I heard her say, “Daughter-in-law.”
After wiping some of her tears away Mrs. Potter and I made our way back to our friends. Henn was off to the side talking softly to Aaron, who looked devastated. Most people had already left the cemetery, except of course, Jeremy’s close relatives and friends. I saw that Crystal and the Adams were still by the grave, while the Ravenclaw snobs Natalie and Ralph were by the chapel, standing silently by one another. It touched me to know that they had truly loved Jeremy and that they would miss him.
James and Mr. Potter were shocked to see that Mrs. Potter and I were walking together. I caught James’ eye and nodded. From the way he looked at us I could see he understood, and he didn’t ask us what had happened or what we had talked about. He was merely thankful that whatever we had talked about had brought some understanding between us. After all, we already had enough conflicts that we would eventually have to deal with.
Gaby was wiping her tears away with a rather soiled handkerchief, Sirius standing beside her. He was not hugging her, but his hand was poised lightly on her shoulder as he handed her another handkerchief. She smiled up at him and blew her nose, and Sirius, who had always been one to be awkward near crying women, hardly looked perturbed.
James was suddenly at my side, holding my hand. “I think we’re ready to go,” he said as we watched Henn kiss Aaron, and then come towards us.
Grace sighed, her eyes red. “Yes, I think so.”
As we huddled around Mr. and Mrs. Potter, I heard Crystal’s cry throughout the cemetery.
“Now what will we do?”
A/N: Here we go then, the first chapter of 2007. Speaking of which, I wish everyone a happy new year (belated, but still)! And of course happy holidays, whichever ones you celebrate.
As you can see, issues are arising! For those who are wondering what the heck happened to Lily's problem about hurting herself, you will now see it again. Why is Lily remembering it all of a sudden? Will James find out? And how about Lily's mom, what happened to her? Ah, the suspense!!
On another note, I just want to say that Henn is not disappearing from the story. As you can see, she is still going to be around due to J.K. Rowling's wonderful and brilliant idea of Apparating.
Well, I think that's it. Sorry that this took so long. Hopefully the next chapter will come sooner.