“Can you believe this essay Slughorn gave us?! I know you like the guy, Lils, but the man has to learn there’s more to life than Potions,” Amberle raved.
“I’ll be sure to tell him that next time I see him,” Lily replied calmly, not removing her eyes from their frantic search of Advanced Potion Making.
Lily and Amberle, accompanied by Gabriella, were in the Head Dorms which they had transformed into their study sanctuary, spreading all manor of textbooks and notes around the room. After trying the library (which was too full of eager, and aggravating, Marauder fans), Gryffindor common room (far and away too noisy and loud) and the seventh year girl’s rooms (far too many curious and gossip-starved teenagers), they’d opted the Head Rooms as the safest area to complete any academic tasks, not just for themselves, but for the poor unfortunate souls who liked to play Exploding Snap during Lily’s study sessions (which lasted pretty much twenty four-seven).
“Maybe we should take a break? We’ve been at this for hours,” Gabriella suggested eventually.
Amberle immediately slammed her unfinished essay inside her book and deposited the whole lot on the ground. She would take any excuse for a break, especially one she didn’t have to suggest herself. That lesson had been learned earlier in the week, compliments of Lily Evans’ infamous temper.
Lily looked extremely reluctant to release her books as easily, however.
“Come on, Lil. You need a bit of a break, you’ll be run into the ground, and we can’t have that before Friday,” Gabriella said, trying to pry the essay from Lily’s hands.
For Friday would be Lily’s seventeenth birthday, her big day, when she would finally become of age. She would be the last of her friends to reach this milestone, the baby of the group, so it felt kind of special in a way.
“Yeah,” Amberle agreed, joining Gabriella in the struggle. “I bet if James were here you wouldn’t mind taking a break.”
“I would so, I have to get this done, there’s so much I have to do!” Lily said in her voice that clearly stated stressing. “Besides, James hasn’t been here much lately.”
This was true. Lily hadn’t spoken to her boyfriend since the night before, when he had joined her at the fire for a fleeting two minutes before claiming exhaustion and going to bed. Over the last week he had become suddenly, yet increasingly, distant with her, always seeming to be running here or there all the time.
Maybe he felt she wasn’t putting enough effort into their relationship? That she didn’t value it as much as he did? She couldn’t really blame him if he thought that, it was true in a way. He’d gone and spilt plenty of his big secrets to her, and she hadn’t told him any in return, she’d been too scared to.
She hadn’t even told him what the whole encounter with the Ravenclaw in Hogsmeade had really been about.
Lily felt her stomach tighten as that memory took her over, accompanied by the guilt she felt about James, almost feeling she was betraying him somehow.
“Lily, hun? Are you ok?” Gabriella asked with a note of worry at how white and fragile her friend looked at that moment. She recognised those signs.
“You know what this situation needs? Ice-cream and a girls day in, we haven’t sat around and done nothing in so long, I think we’ve earned it,” Amberle said convincingly, also noting the vulnerable look that had grabbed hold of her usually strong friend.
Gabriella nodded enthusiastically and Amberle, not needing further encouragement, waved her wand to vanish their books and conjured three tubs of ice-cream with spoons, as well as the necessary equipment for making tea.
Sometimes relaxing and clearing your mind is the best way to rid yourself of the horrors of the past.
And Lily’s friends were always ready to help her do just that.
“Prongs, long time, no see,” Remus greeted the messy-haired Head Boy, who came panting into the seventh year boys dormitories.
“What took you so long? Even Wormtail made it here before you. You lose two stars for this I’m afraid, Prongs,” Sirius exclaimed by way of a greeting.
Peter didn’t say anything to the fourth Marauder, instead just smiled nervously from his bed where he sat rolled in a ball.
“Where’ve you been? With Lily? What, she made you clean your room before you were allowed out?” Sirius teased.
“Eh…not exactly.” When James had been late for meeting up with his friends lately, he’d said he was with Lily. But he felt guilty putting all the blame on her when he’d hardly even seen her at all over the last few days.
He hated not having time to spend with Lily, but between classes, homework, Quidditch and his own plans he was trying to put into action, he’d run out of hours in the day during which he could spend with the Marauders or his girlfriend.
“You’re still working on this? Don’t you think Lily’s going to be suspicious with you being so ‘busy’ this week?” Remus asked him.
The Marauders were the only ones in on James plans. He needed it to be as big as surprise as possible, but he knew Lily would be getting suspicious, it was in her nature. It was also natural to her to figure out what someone was doing.
“We need a distraction!” Sirius exclaimed excitedly.
Remus couldn’t help but groan. Sirius’ idea of a distraction didn’t usually fall into everyone else’s description of the word.
“It would take a lot to distract Lily, she’s a very stubborn witch,” James pointed out.
“Very true, but you just need to put someone as brilliant as she is stubborn on the case! And I volunteer, of course, since you couldn‘t possibly find someone better.”
“Or someone as big-headed,” Remus added, but Sirius ignored him.
“So, since she doesn’t know what you’ve really been doing, we just plan something else to happen so she thinks it was that you were preparing for, and not what you really are up to,” Sirius told them. It took James and Remus a few moments to wrap their heads around what Sirius said, but when they eventually understood him they were surprised how smart it was.
“What’ve you got in mind, Padfoot?” James asked, intrigued.
“Marauder prank!” Sirius beamed.
“And how does you causing chaos distract Lily?” Lupin asked.
“All will be revealed, if you’d let me continue, Moony,” Sirius said with a proud grin. “If we pull a prank, which we haven’t done in a very long time I’d like to point out, it will look to Lily as though James has been with us the entire time instead of what he’s been doing.”
“Padfoot, that’s brilliant!” James exclaimed.
Sirius looked affronted. “Why do people always sound so surprised when I say these things?”
“’Cause no one believes you to be the smart type, Padfoot. Can you really blame them?” Remus told him with a grin. Sirius scowled but decided to overlook the comment.
“So this is what we do,” Sirius said and explained what he had in mind.
The weather had been growing colder every day for a while now, winter being well on its way to settling in. This morning the Hogwarts students entered the Great Hall to see the ceiling covered with frost.
“You lazy sods need to learn the magic of an alarm one of these days. You’re late…again,” Amberle pointed out with a wide grin to the four exhausted and sleepy looking Marauders who had just slumped into the seats around the girls.
“You’re far too cheery in the mornings, it’s not natural,” Sirius grumbled from the seat across from her, helping himself to toast.
“You should try it sometime, it beats looking like you lot in the mornings.”
Sirius grumbled a reply, but his words were lost in the flapping of wings as hundreds of owls streamed into the Great Hall with the morning post.
Four owls dispatched themselves and headed to where Lily sat with her friends. Two were delivering copies of the Daily Prophet, one each for Lily and Remus, while the remaining two deposited a letter a piece in front of James and Amberle.
By the horrified and tearful looks on the faces of those already searching their papers, it was obvious something had happened. This had been happening increasingly over the months, everyone terrified of receiving a letter for fear of the worst, but praying for one at the same time to tell them their families were safe.
Remus and Lily unfolded their papers in fearful silence, James and Amberle’s hands shaking slightly over their letters before setting them aside to hear what happened in the paper first, stalling the inevitable. The others sat and watched, everyone praying the same;
“Let them be ok.”
Lily let out a gasp as she reached the first horrific article, drawing the attention of half the Hall. Speaking in a low, terrified whisper, she read out the article to those without a paper.
“London Attacks,” she said, reading the headline. “Last night, a series of attacks were carried out on Muggle London by the one known as You-Know-Who and his followers. It is suspected these attacks were committed in an attempt to draw out the Minister for Magic into the open, for the main destruction caused was outside the entrance to the Ministry itself.”
“Dozens of bodies, both of the magical and Muggle race, were removed from the scene hours later when You-Know-Who’s followers, known as Death Eaters, withdrew,” Lily read.
“One spokesperson at St Mungo’s hospital stated; “The Healers are nearly over-run by the vast number of injuries to both Muggles and wizards. It is advised that no one come to the hospital unless in dire need of attention.” When asked if there were any severe casualties, the Healer replied; “Some cases are very severe. One Muggle, who is currently in intensive care, Jake E-”
Here Lily cut off and her hand flew to her mouth, tears springing rapidly to her fill her eyes. James, in a move of lightening speed, jumped across the table to Lily, holding her against him.
“What is it, Lils?” Gabriella asked. James shot her a warning look, after reading the end of the sentence himself, but Lily sat up and read on.
“One Muggle, who is currently in intensive care, Jake Evans, (uncle of Hogwarts Head Girl; Lily Evans), is in a critical condition after suffering the effects of repetitive use of the Cruciatus Curse, suspected at the wand of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
She said this in a calm, emotionless voice, and if it weren’t for the fact her whole body was shaking, no one would have guessed she was the niece mentioned. Again, Lily read on.
“The wizarding world has also suffered greatly in the attack with the death of Ministry Aurors; Thomas Longbottom and Alex White.”
Lily let out another cry and turned to Amberle who was no longer paying attention to the newspaper article, but rather the letter she held in her steady hand.
Sirius, imitating James’ earlier move, leaped across the table to comfort his girlfriend, but she simply shook off his embrace and stood up.
“Ready to go? We’d better get a move on or we’ll be late for Charms,” she said as if nothing had happened.
Lily still sat in her seat, unable to stand, but she looked at Gabriella who nodded and stood up to follow Amberle to class. Sirius and the rest rushed after them as well, until only James and Lily remained.
“Are you ok, Lils?” James asked, his arms still around her shaking body.
She didn’t make any reply. Too many images were going through her mind; her uncle, being tortured, it wasn’t right. Flash backs of six years ago came back to her and she began to cry. But she couldn’t tell James why she was in such a state, he didn’t know.
“Amberle’s brother, he’s dead. I can’t believe it,” she said instead, telling part of the truth. Alex had been like a brother to Lily as well, his death hit her almost as hard as Amberle.
Lily stood up suddenly, clutching on to James for support after nearly falling. James looked at her worriedly.
“Maybe you should go to the Hospital Wing, Lily? Or at least sit down? You’re in shock,” he said, but Lily shook her head stubbornly.
“No, I have to go to class.”
She blocked out all those horrible, distressing images that were coming to her of six years ago. She couldn’t let it control her life, she couldn’t break down like this every time she heard of someone getting tortured by Voldemort; especially when her best friend needed her.
“Amberle, please…please, just talk to me. Who was it?” Sirius asked his girlfriend, who was walking slightly ahead of him, making her way as calmly as ever to class.
“My brother,” she stated simply, not letting her pace slow.
Sirius couldn’t make any reply to that. What could you really say to someone who had just lost their brother, but was making no recognition of it?
“Just leave her, Sirius. This is what she does,” Gabriella said, putting her hand on his arm to stop him. Sirius let out a sigh, this wasn’t fair.
Nobody should have to deal with these type of things, all because one man wanted power.
They all went inside the classroom and took their seats, James and Lily arriving just in front of Professor Flitwick. People kept glancing over at Amberle and Lily, waiting to see if either of them would break.
Since the rise of Voldemort, things like this were fairly common. The students estimated that at least once a week, someone would flee the class in tears over something that had happened. It wasn’t a game, something they betted on with pleasure. It was just a fact. A terrible, hurtful, dark fact.
But neither of the girls showed any signs of grief or remorse during the lesson. They wouldn’t give in to the terror that plagued everyone else, Amberle was sure of that, Lily even more so.
But if the class could see inside the heads of these girls, they’d see they weren’t as calm as they appeared to the public. Amberle’s mind was reeling with memories of her brother, hardly daring to accept he was gone.
Alex was three years older than his sister, but had the same dark hair and eyes. It was obvious to everyone they were related, something they both frequently denied to anyone who suggested it. He’d left Hogwarts three years ago and pursued his career as an Auror, the same steps to be followed by his sister. Their mother hated what their ambition was, terrified of the possible dangers. It seemed she was right to be afraid.
Amberle grew angry at herself for the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She never cried, she wasn’t going to let this get to her. She was going to remain stony to it. It didn’t bother her, she told herself. It didn’t change anything, it was just something that had to happen. Getting upset wouldn’t change anything, she had to get on with her life, Alex told her that himself after her sixth year.
But despite her best efforts, the tears kept coming, pushing against her will to stop them, finally overcoming the boundaries as the bell for the end of class rang out. She whispered something about going to the bathroom before rushing out of the room. Sirius, knowing she was just making an excuse, followed her, not caring he was going to miss his next class.
He followed her all the way to the bathrooms which were, thankfully, empty. He opened the door to see her sitting at the sinks, tears already streaming down her pale cheeks. She didn’t make any signs to show she knew he was there, but she started muttering, whether to him or herself Sirius didn’t know, but he listened anyway.
“He warned me this could happen, he said he was joining the forces against Voldemort. He said I wasn’t to get upset, that I wasn’t to let it control me. But I can’t even do what he asked me! The last thing he said and I can’t even do that one simple thing!” she said, her voice growing louder as she went on. Sirius went to her side and sat down on the tiled floor, putting his arm around her.
“It’s not a simple thing, Amb, and he’d be just as upset if it were you. He’s right that you shouldn’t let it control you, but you’re allowed to be upset about it. I have a feeling everyone’s going to come out without someone when this whole thing with Voldemort is over, but we just have to stick with those we don’t lose. Don’t let it change who you are, Amb. Please, I love you the way you are,” Sirius said in the most serious voice anyone had ever heard come from him before.
Amberle looked up at him through her tear-filled eyes. “I don’t think it’s me changing we need to worry about, Sirius. That’s the most heartfelt, Un-Sirius like thing you’ve ever said. It was quite scary.”
Sirius laughed. “I’m a man of mystery, have to keep you guessing.”
Amberle smiled and wiped away her tears, standing up again. She held her hand out to Sirius who took it, kissing it as he did.
Inside relief was flooding through him; She would be ok now.
“So she’s ok?” Gabriella interrogated Sirius when he came into the Gryffindor common room with James that evening after Quidditch practice. Amberle had gone upstairs to take a shower the minute she came back, claiming James was working them too hard.
“Yes, Gabriella, she is fine now. You can stop fretting,” he told her for what felt like the millionth time.
“I can’t stop, it’s all just so horrible!” Gabriella cried. She was more afraid of the events than any of the rest of them. She let every death, every injury get to her unlike the others who would just block it all out. She wasn’t sure which way was better, but she couldn’t help how she dealt with these things.
“I know it is, Gab. No one likes it, but we have to get through it. It’ll end soon, I promise,” Remus said, cuddling her closer to him. He, too, had changed with all the attacks, but in a different way to everyone else. All the loss had made him appreciate the fact he had someone special to spend the time with. He’d gotten over his fear of being near people and had finally let his heart open to Gabriella. It was a good turn of events in all the terror everyone was going through.
“I hope you’re right,” his girlfriend sighed.
“Of course he’s right. He’s Moony, and Moony’s always right!” Sirius exclaimed with a grin. Everyone laughed, the heavy tension broken by the joke.
In times like these, it really helped to be dating the Marauders; they could joke in any situation.
It’s when the Marauders stop their jokes it was time to worry.
“Ah, and here’s the beautiful, and clean, woman of the moment now,” Sirius said, spotting Amberle descending the stairs.
“You know, Sirius, you could make it a little less obvious you were talking about me,” she commented.
Sirius shrugged. “Nah, no point, I talk about you constantly. Almost as much as James talks about Lily, but that‘s bordering on stalker-ish” he said, and reaching up to her, dragged her down on to his lap.
The group laughed, even Lily was grinning from her own place on James’ knee. She was delighted to see him returning with Sirius after Quidditch instead of Sirius making some excuse for him. It eased the guilt pit in her stomach.
James gave her a squeeze, seeing the smile that had come to her face for the first time that day. But he knew she wasn’t as at ease as she acted, for the smile didn’t light up her beautiful emerald eyes.
“Oi, can you two keep that sort of thing to when you’re alone?” James said, his eyes on Sirius and Amberle who had recently decided to attach themselves to each other. Sirius looked up and just grinned, nodding in the direction of Remus and Gabriella who were in pretty much the same position.
“Tell that to them two,” Sirius said. “We’re only following their lead, you should too, Prongs,” he added with a wink.
“God I hate my friends dating my girlfriend’s friends. It puts too much out in the open that I never wanted to know,” James said dryly to Lily, since she was the only one listening to him.
“Well, lucky for you, you don’t have to watch anymore,” Lily told him.
“Why? Are we going to take Sirius’ advice?” James grinned suggestively, pulling her to him. Lily smiled but stood up.
“Nope. It’s time for rounds. Up you get,” she said. James groaned but stood to follow her. At least he’d be along with her, just not in the way he imagined.
“Ha, stung there, Prongs,” he heard Sirius call out as he and Lily climbed through the portrait hole before it closed behind them.
Once the sounds of Gryffindor Tower were extinguished, the castle seemed very quite and still. Lily liked it this way, the eerie, ancient atmosphere of the castle washing over her that was over-shadowed during the day with the hustle and bustle of the students.
“Are you sure you’re ok, Lils?” James asked as they began their patrol. “It’s just, you haven’t seemed yourself at all since this morning. I was just wondering if there was something going on you wanted to talk about.”
Well, there it was. Out in the open. James had given Lily the window, now it was up to her. She could either take it, and tell James what really had she so shook up, or she could lie again and keep it to herself.
The lather was what she had always done, to everyone bar her two best friends who had broken her a year ago. She didn’t like to tell people about her past, she hated the sympathetic looks they always gave her and the change in their attitude towards her once they knew. She much preferred to cover it up than tell anyone. But something made her think James wouldn’t be like that, that James would just hear her out and treat her as the same Lily he always knew. And loved.
There was only one way to find out.
“Do you remember that night we promised to tell each other our secrets, but I never told you any?”
James nodded, he remembered that night very well. Why was she bringing it up, though? He’d only asked her if she was ok…
“Well, there was something I could have told you, shouldhave told you, but I was afraid of what you’d say. But after you told me so much, and after meeting the guy in Hogsmeade, and the whole thing this morning, I don’t really have much of an excuse to keep it from you anymore.”
“Lils, what’s going on? What’s any of this got to do with?” James asked, completely at a loss. What had the Ravenclaw from Hogsmeade got in common with her injured uncle?
Lily stopped walking and turned to face James. She gripped the edges of her jumper, rolling the fabric up slowly to expose her flat stomach.
James couldn’t stop the gasp that came through his lips. For making complete circles the whole way around her stomach and back were three purple, slightly faded, scars.
“What the hell, Lily?! What happened to you?!” James exclaimed. When Lily had said she was going to tell him something, he thought maybe it was something like the Ravenclaw had been an old jealous boyfriend, or a long lost brother maybe. But not this. This seemed to serious in comparison to the stuff he had told her.
“I’ve had these scars since I was twelve years old,” she informed him. James said nothing, for which she was grateful, for it made it easier to keep going.
“I got them when…when I was captured by Voldemort.”
Whatever James had been expecting, it most certainly had not been that.
“How…Wha…When?” he stammered.
“The summer after first year, I went on holidays with my parents to Switzerland. I met Marc Jacob there, the boy dressed in Ravenclaw robes that we met in Hogsmeade. He said he went to Hogwarts as well so we became friends. It was only after I was on a walk with him one day that I found out he was not my friend and he’d never set foot in Hogwarts.”
“But it was too late by then. His dad was a Death Eater who brought me to Voldemort. He told Voldemort I was a very powerful witch and thought he could use my talents for something. But I said I didn’t want to be a Death Eater, they were the people who killed Gabriella’s dad. So Voldemort, he…he tor-tortured me to try and change my mind, but I didn’t want to. I thought for sure he would kill me then, but he said he wanted me to feel the pain I would cause for others before he killed me, he thought he could change my mind. Then he let me go.”
Lily stopped speaking, her eyes, full of unshed tears for the second time that day, staring up at James. He moved to her and held her to his chest, being careful not to squeeze her too hard, now that he knew what lay beneath he jumper he always cuddled against.
“Do they hurt?” he asked quietly. Lily shook her head.
“Not always. I think they’re cursed though, never to fade but to burn when someone gets hurt by him, to remind me of my choice.”
James said nothing. Here he was, holding on to the girl he loved, the girl he thought he knew, but actually finding there was so much more to Lily Evans than he ever thought possible. Her sheer level of bravery astounded him; as a mere little girl of twelve, she had stood up against the most feared wizard in the world, and living with that memory for her life.
There was so much left unanswered; what exactly had Voldemort wanted her for? How did he know how gifted she was? Did she have a gift that even Lily herself didn’t know? He guessed these questions plagued Lily all the time, and decided it best to let the topic drop for now, it had taken a lot to tell him this much, no point pushing it.
“How come you never told me before?”
Lily lifted her head from his chest and looked into his face again. “I was afraid you would think I was stupid, that you wouldn’t love me because I’m so maimed and cursed.”
“Lily, the only remotely stupid thing about you is that statement you just made,” he said with a laugh. “You are an amazing witch, even more so than I even thought. You don’t have to be afraid of telling me anything, you can’t scare me off no matter what it is. If that temper of yours didn’t turn me off in the first six years, nothing will.”
Lily laughed and kissed him, more grateful to be dating James Potter than he’d ever know.
“Sheesh,” James thought, “one day of seventh year really packs a punch.”
But it’s worth it in the end.
And he held Lily closer still, ending a bad day with a very good kiss.
A/N:…..That chapter took the weirdest turn ever. It was only meant to be a filler chapter in between all the main ones that are coming soon but once I got into it, it just seemed to flow and let that out about Lily…odd chapter in my opinion.
But my opinion doesn’t matter! Please review and tell me what you thought! Thanks so much for reading, sorry about such a big delay again.
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