Chapter 2 : Appearances Can Be Deceiving
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Lily was fully convinced that she was dreaming. She had been under a lot of stress during the past few days, so it was normal to have a few hallucinations. There was just no other possible explanation as to why James Potter was standing in front of her in full Death Eater uniform, smirking as if she were a rabbit and he a wolf.
Her James would never look at her like that.
So naturally, she had to be imagining this.
Lily risked a glance at the man standing in front of her. But oh, she was so certain that he was James. There could be no mistaking that unruly hair and the roguish smirk.
But it was impossible for James to be a Death Eater. The Potters were loyal Aurors ever since the very beginning, and James had always despised the Dark Arts.
“You’re a…well, you know…” she trailed off and opted for another approach. “You’re James Potter? As in…that Potter? And not any other Potter?”
He appeared amused. “And exactly how many Potters do you know?”
Lily bit her lip. “Just one…but Potter is a very common surname. I’m pretty sure you’re not that James Potter.”
“You mean the James Potter who you fell in love with?” He cocked his head, the gleam in his eyes ever-present.
Seeing no other way around the question, she reluctantly nodded.
He pursed his lips as if in deep thought. “Well,” he said after a few moments. “I think you’ll find that I am indeed, that James Potter, the one you fell in love with.”
Surely he must’ve been joking. There was no way her James would turn evil.
“You…” She paused to find the right words. “You can’t possibly be James. Well, at least you can’t be my James.”
“Why not?” James, or rather, imposter James smiled and pulled up a chair next to her. “I have the same face, the same voice, and the same height. I’m just as handsome, if not even more, just as witty and appealing and brilliant and talented and…”
“And just as cocky, pompous, and arrogant,” Lily cut in dryly. Her eyes narrowed. “You must be an imposter.”
His hazel eyes widened dramatically. “Imposter? Oh Evans, surely you jest,” he cried. “Me? The one and only James Potter? An imposter?”
She stiffened. “Then prove it to me.”
James lifted an eyebrow. “Prove what? That I’m an imposter?”
“No. Prove that you’re James.”
His shoulders sagged. “Oh just grand,” he muttered. “How do I prove my own bloody identity? This is so stupid.”
“Not as stupid as you becoming a Death Eater.”
Lily regretted the line immediately after she said it. James perked up and his grin returned, full force. “People do have changes of heart, Lily,” he said, somewhat smugly. “What if I just happened to realize that being an Auror didn’t really suit me?”
“And becoming a Death Eater did?” she said incredulously and then scoffed. “Oh please, James. Everyone in your family has become an Auror and has done remarkably. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
“But apples do roll,” he reminded her. “And if the tree is on a rather steep slope, then…”
“So you rolled right into the devil’s lair.”
He shrugged. “You could say that, though calling the Dark Lord a devil won’t earn you any brownie points.” He smiled, then. “And since we have an abundance of time…”
Lily gritted her teeth. “We do not have an abundance of time! At least I don’t. Merlin knows what you do with your life, but I have an urgent schedule to keep up with. So if you could…”
“If I could?” James cut in. “Of course I could. But do I want to?”
Lily took in a deep breath. She finally saw James after two years and this was how their first conversation went? It certainly was not what she had imagined over multiple sleepless nights when she had relived memories of the two of them at Hogwarts.
She had repetitiously wondered what James would be like when she saw him again. Would he be a prominent Auror? Had he managed to complete his training earlier than she? Would he be any more handsome than he had been? But there was no way that she would have believed that he had turned into a Death Eater.
Perhaps people did change after all. And some changes were more drastic than others. In this case, it was a startling one-eighty.
Lily stared at him. “If you still love me, you would.”
His lips curved. “Do what?”
So now he was playing dumb. She could deal with that. “You would release me, return my wand, and make sure I get out of here safe and sound.”
“Oh. That’s easy.”
Her eyebrow lifted. “Easy?” James nodded again. “Okay.” She paused. “Then leave Voldemort and speak with the Aurors. They wouldn’t be entirely understanding of your betrayal, but at least you would be on the right side again.”
He lounged in his chair and propped a leg up on the footrest he had conjured. “That’s simple too.” He clucked his tongue. “Lily, I would’ve thought you’d come up with harder tasks. I’ve always believed you were more advanced than this.”
It would’ve been an understatement to say that Lily was skeptical. What was James playing at? If he were any normal Death Eater, he would’ve killed her for suggesting that he betray Voldemort. Then again, she was bound and wandless. There was no reason for him to feel threatened, and James had always been more easy-going than others.
“What do you mean?” Lily wriggled a bit, just in case the bonds had loosened. They hadn’t.
“Like I said before, I could do all those things.” James’ hazel eyes brightened. “And I do love you.”
Lily felt her pulse speed up. Despite the fact that they weren’t exactly in the best of situations, she was still thrilled upon hearing those words. Two years had been much too long.
“But,” he continued, bringing her back to the situation at hand, “loving you is one thing and betraying the Dark Lord is another. They don’t go together.”
Her breath hitched. “How does that make sense?”
“It makes perfect sense,” James said. He tapped his head with his wand. “It’s in here, Lily, and in here.” He gestured towards his heart. “You need a mind to be loyal but only a heart to love. I’m sorry, but loyalty comes before love.”
Lily couldn’t even hide her disgust. Reality was slowly beginning to sink in, but there was still a small part of her that refused to believe it.
“Fine then,” she snapped. “Keep your loyalty. Just get it over with.”
Now he seemed genuinely surprised. “Get what over with?”
“Don’t you have limited cell space? Aren’t you going to kill me?”
“True,” he replied, and moved closer so that they were practically sitting next to each other. “But I figured that I might as well give you another chance. I don’t love you for nothing.” Lily clenched her teeth when James gave her a light peck on the cheek. She was unable to still her abnormally quick heartbeat, but she refused to give into it. No matter what, Lily Evans would never love a Death Eater.
She waited till he pulled away and shot him the darkest glare that she could muster. “I don’t want you to give me another chance. I won’t tell you anything.” She tilted her chin up to emphasize her point.
James laughed. “Oh come on, Lily. Don’t be so stiff. Loosen up. Relax. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“No,” she responded dryly, “you’re going to kill me instead.”
He shook his head and wagged a finger in front of her face. “Nope. I’m not the executioner, merely the interrogator. It gets boring after a while, like I said. And since you and I had a very complicated past together, why not catch up? I’ve got time till the Dark Lord visits.”
Lily paled remarkably. Voldemort? Voldemort was coming?
James glanced at her chalk-white face and smirked. “Chill, love. The Dark Lord’s not here to eat you. In fact, he’s here for recruits, if you’re interested.”
Her eyes narrowed, and she got some of her coloring back. Now that she had gotten used to the James-as-a-Death Eater idea, she found it relatively simple to revert back to their old banter. It had hardly taken any effort. “And I suppose that’s what happened to you as well? What, couldn’t stand the torture?”
“Well now, I wouldn’t put it that way,” he drawled, and then smiled charmingly. “In actuality, I volunteered. And let me tell you, I would never be captured.”
“You volunteered?” Lily scoffed. “That’s worse than getting captured! At least Alice and I…” She abruptly stopped. A sudden and rather horrifying notion struck her. She had forgotten about her partner!
“Where’s Alice?” she demanded. “What’d you do with her?”
James smiled airily. “She’s alive.”
Lily bristled at the hidden implications. What did alive mean? Surely Alice would’ve been more than just alive. She was strong-willed. She wouldn’t go down so easily.
James sighed exasperatedly, bringing Lily out of her thoughts. “Allow me to rephrase and say that Alice is alive and well.” He rolled his eyes. “Does that make you feel better?”
“You could just tell me where she is right now,” Lily offered.
“I’ll pass,” he said offhandedly, and then conjured two goblets of butterbeer. He floated one close to her and gestured at it. “Have a drink. It’ll sooth your nerves.” James followed his own suggestion and took a large gulp.
Lily just glared. “Do you really think I’m capable of doing so right now?”
He lifted an eyebrow. “Why wouldn’t you be?”
She snorted. For a person who was supposed to be sharp at all times, he was rather blind to some things. Or had he forgotten that he had bound her to the chair?
“You tied me to a bloody chair, Potter!” she shouted, causing James to choke on his drink at the sudden outburst. He burst into a hacking cough, but she didn’t relent. “How the hell do you expect me to drink when I’m handicapped?”
Lily waited rather smugly as he dislodged the drink that had gone down the wrong pipe.
“Bloody hell, Lily,” he finally said, voice a little hoarse. “Can’t you control yourself? I’m trying to drink.”
“Well so am I,” she said huffily. “And I can’t when I’m tied down.”
James surveyed her with a critical eye. “If I untie you, will you promise not to run?”
She smiled slyly. “I can’t promise that, Potter. Then again, I didn’t think you’d be worried about me escaping.” At his look of suspicion, her smirk grew wider. “I always thought you were capable enough to prevent your captive from running out on you.”
Instead of feeling threatened, James merely smiled and tilted his head. “You’re getting good, Lily. I’m impressed.” He nodded his approval. “A few years of Auror work really spruced you up a bit. You’re no longer the sputtering and cowardly Hogwarts prefect I remember so well.”
“Sputtering and cowardly?” Lily gritted out, her eyebrow twitching. “If I remember correctly, you were the one who went all ballistic over Aileen’s supposed death.”
She flinched the second that name came out of her mouth. Oh she was asking for it. Why had she brought her up, of all things? Aileen Hollister was a sore topic for both she and James. Lily mentally kicked herself.
But like everything else that Lily had said, her words seemed to breeze by James without hitting him. In fact, save for the sudden twitch of his lips, it appeared as if he hadn’t even heard her.
“That wasn’t really cowering or sputtering,” he said calmly. “It was more of worrying my arse off.” He waved his hand dismissively. “But that was ages ago. Everything is perfectly fine now.”
Lily couldn’t resist her curiosity. “You found her?”
James’ smile was dazzling. “That I did. Glad you cared to ask.”
Her heart gave a jerky thud and the room suddenly seemed too small and too warm. Her ears were ringing and she knew she had to get away from James as quickly as possible. From his tone of voice and the smile on his face, he seemed incredibly pleased to have Aileen back. And that could only lead to one thing.
But it was something that Lily did not want to have to realize. If it were up to her, she would’ve been content staying in the dark her entire life. Reality was damnably cruel.
“I’m merely being polite,” she finally managed to reply. “I could care less what happens between you and her.”
“Really now?” James sounded amused. “Why does it seem like someone is lying here?”
“Then that would be you,” she said snappily, and twisted around to make her point. “Didn’t you say you were going to release me?”
He nodded. “And you said you weren’t going to escape.”
“No, I said you were capable enough to stop me if I were to,” she corrected. Only a subtle difference in the wording, but it implied a world of difference. She could use this as her ticket of escape.
James flicked his wand and the ropes were gone. Lily had never appreciated the ability to move her arms as much as she did now. It was freedom, and it was the first step to her getaway. Now all she had to do was distract James long enough for her to reach the door. Things would be a lot simpler once she was out of the room.
She reached out and took the goblet of butterbeer, but she didn’t drink it. How did she know that he hadn’t poisoned it? James had conjured up the drinks after all. He could’ve added something to hers and his would’ve been completely fine. Besides, he was a prankster, and she knew all too well what pranksters were capable of.
“I thought you were thirsty.”
Lily looked up at him. “ I am.”
“Then why don’t you drink? You’ve been staring at it for the past few minutes.”
She scowled. “How do I know you haven’t put something in it? I could die after I drink this.”
James’ hazel eyes glittered. “Don’t you trust me, Lily?”
“You got me here in the first place, didn’t you?” she challenged. “And I did trust you before, but look where it got me.” Her eyes narrowed. “Like I already said, I’d never trust the word of a Death Eater.”
He clucked his tongue and vanished his goblet with a flick of his wand. “Sorry, but I was told to get you here using any means necessary.”
“Heartless prat,” she hissed.
“Not heartless,” he corrected. “Prat maybe, but not heartless.”
“Oh but don’t you get it?” Lily said sweetly, taking an experimental sip from the butterbeer. James didn’t seem like the type to murder someone through poison. If he truly wanted to kill, he’d probably use more advanced levels, such as the Avada Kedavra curse. “I was emphasizing the ‘heartless’ part of it.”
James rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Think whatever you want.”
Lily’s eyes trailed down to the wand poking out of his pocket. He had carelessly stashed it there after vanishing his goblet, and it only made things easier for her. She had no chance to get her wand back, but there was a good probability that she could steal James’.
And if she wanted to get out of here, she had to do it quickly. Moody had always said that lagging would result in undesirable repercussions.
“So Potter,” she said conversationally. “What would you do if I attempted to run right now?”
He shifted his gaze to her and grinned. “What do you think? I have my obligations.”
“And I have mine,” Lily replied. Her green eyes stared determinedly at him. “And I’m going to fulfill them.”
She jerked into action. James had only enough time to jump out of his chair before Lily sprang forward. She steadied herself and surveyed him. His hazel eyes were wide and alert, but the rest of his body seemed languid and relaxed. It was a strange combination, but it was an indication of a good fighter.
Lily smiled wryly. Voldemort must’ve been positively gleeful to have James on his side.
“Now, now, Lily. Are you really thinking of escaping?” James gestured towards the door with his wand.
“No, I’m not thinking of escaping. I know I will.”
James sighed. “Oh come on, Lily. This is reality, not some fantasy of yours. You’ve never been better than me in school, so what makes you think you can beat me now? You may be an Auror, but I’m a Death Eater. I have Dark Magic on my side. You have nothing.”
Lily smirked inwardly. He thought that she was an Auror already? Clearly, he had not gotten far in his training before he decided to follow Voldemort.
“Now I wouldn’t be so sure.”
She swung her chair at him. James managed to jump away, but Lily released the wooden object at the last minute. It went flying and smacked him with a resounding crash. Lily made for his wand, but he flung the chair off him before she got there.
He smirked. “Smart move, Lily, I concede that.” His eyes flickered dangerously. “But is that all you can do?”
Lily answered by throwing the second chair at him, and this time, she didn’t even bother retrieving his wand. She had noticed a metal bar of some kind off in the corner of the room. It would be sufficient to break down the door, as long as it wasn’t secured by magic.
James suddenly appeared in front of her, blocking her path. His eyes were narrowed dangerously, his stance sharp and unyielding. His lips curled. “Don’t make me hex you, Lily.”
She scoffed, even though she knew the odds were against her. “You couldn’t even if you tried.”
“You want to bet?”
“Sure.” Months of long strenuous training took into effect and Lily twisted herself away from the spell that James had shot at her. She landed on her side painlessly and rolled a good distance away before standing again.
She smiled and quoted, “Is that all you can do?”
James laughed. “Afraid not, darling.” He paused just long enough for Lily to realize what he had said and then shouted, “Crucio!”
Lily was stunned. Her jaw fell open briefly and then the pain hit her. It was blinding, more so than any other curse that she had ever felt before. It felt as if her insides were literally being ripped out from her body. Her brain no longer functioned, which explained her lack of coordination as she blindly threw herself in James’ general direction. The pain intensified for a moment, before it abruptly went away.
She crashed into James and they tumbled onto the floor in a tangle of limbs. Lily shook away the shock and darted towards the wand that had flown across the room. She retrieved it before James got to it and pointed it at him, her hand shaking, not from fear, but from a mixture of anger, shock, and disappointment.
“You…you…” Her voice shook, and she did her best to steady it. “You used an Unforgivable!”
James’ expression remained blank. “I’m a Death Eater. What did you expect?”
“You’ll go to Azkaban for this, you know,” she spat.
He shrugged. “I had my name tagged onto a cell the day I chose to become a Death Eater. I would think that using an Unforgivable is the least of my worries at this point.”
Lily gritted her teeth and balled her hand into a fist. She was no longer feeling the pain from the Cruciatus Curse, but she was shaking with rage. James Potter of all people had been the first person ever to use the curse on her. James Potter. The irony was practically tangible.
“Potter, you just signed your death contract.” She lifted his wand. “Stupefy!”
Either he had seen that coming, or he just had extremely fast reflexes. He managed to dodge the spell, but was forced to throw himself against the wall due to the successive curses that Lily threw at him. It gave her sufficient time to bolt towards the door.
To her immense relief, the door unlocked without protest and Lily sprinted into the hallway. She was about to run towards the right when she saw a figure coming towards her. Her green eyes narrowed, and a second later, her jaw dropped to the ground.
Lily yelped and threw herself at her partner, hugging the brunette for all her worth. “Alice, you’re all right!”
Alice laughed and then made a face. “Of course I’m alive, you dope. You think I’d die so easily?”
Lily was close to shedding tears by now. She hugged Alice once more and then pulled away…only to jump in alarm. Moody was behind her, his good eye focused on her and his magical eye whirling. There were several other Aurors flanking him. What were they doing here?
“Moody?” Lily said slowly. “What…”
“Cat got your tongue, girl?” Moody said gruffly. Both eyes were focused on her now. “Never expected it from you, Evans.”
She ran a hand through her hair in embarrassment. “Sorry, but what are you guys doing here? Did you receive some sort of information about this?”
“Let’s just say we already knew about this,” another Auror said. She smiled at Lily. “How are you feeling?”
Upon hearing this, Alice suddenly frowned and yanked Lily back a step. “You’re hurt?” She spun Lily around, inspecting her from all angles. “Where?” And then her eyes widened. “Did the Death Eater hurt you? He did, didn’t he?”
Lily blinked in surprise. “How’d you know about the Death Eater? He was…”
“Someone captured me too,” Alice cut in. “I managed to kick his arse.” She rolled her eyes. “Honestly, the guy was pathetic. He couldn’t even hold his wand properly.”
The woman who had spoken sounded amused. “He couldn’t hold his wand properly? Are you sure?”
Lily glanced at her friend, who merely shrugged. “Well maybe I’m exaggerating, but I didn’t really get the chance to see. I snapped his wand.”
Moody let out a loud, triumphant yell and smashed his cane on the ground so abruptly that Lily nearly jumped out of her skin. Merlin, she was feeling incredibly jittery. “See!” he roared, jabbing his finger at her and Alice. “I told you they’d be successful! Mindless girls, most of the time, but they’re capable.”
Another Auror on Moody’s right sighed exasperatedly. “No one said you were wrong, Alastor. Now will you please lower your voice?”
Moody laughed loudly and clambered forward. He rested a hand on each of their shoulders. “Congratulations, you two.”
Lily shifted, glancing from one Auror to the next. “I’m sorry, but I’m a little confused.”
“I ditto that,” Alice said, her brows lifting. “Will someone in this little hallway here explain just what the hell is going on?”
“You passed,” the third Auror said.
“I like how they’re speaking like a broken record,” Lily grumbled.
Alice ignored her. “What did we pass?”
“Your entrance exam.”
The two girls exchanged a bewildered glance and then stared at the Aurors. “The what?”
“Entrance exam,” Moody repeated. He appeared to have gotten hold of bearings again. “A test to see if you’re fit to be an Auror.”
“What is this, Hogwarts all over again?” Alice huffed. She crossed her arms. “I thought we had gotten away from all that years ago!”
Lily’s mind, however, was focused on something else. If all that had been an entrance exam, as Moody had called it, then did that mean…
“You mean, the Death Eater wasn’t a Death Eater?” she said incredulously. “All of that was just a pretense?”
“That’s correct,” the women replied.
Lily promptly fainted.
Author's Note: I had quite a few complaints about James turning into a Death Eater. And yes, I realize as well as you all do that him trailing Voldemort around and kissing his shoes is highly improbable. I hope this chapter cleared things up for you all :) And hopefully, you all enjoyed the little twist, if it was even considered one.
Thanks for all your wonderful reviews. You really kept me going. Please review :)
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