Chapter 30 : Chapter 30 - Devastation
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Lily was incredibly worried as she and James raced their way quickly toward the living room so they could use his fireplace to floo directly to Dumbledore’s office. James’ face was also creased in concern. They both had reason to be this way, considering it had been Sirius and Christina’s night to stake out Hogsmeade. Diagon Alley was supposedly left to Fabian and Gideon Prewett tonight.
Christina had borrowed James’ invisibility cloak so she could wander around freely while Sirius was using human transfiguration, hanging out at the Three Broomsticks and making his way through the town. He had planned on going to the Hogs Head, a more likely hang-out, but Dumbledore had claimed this spot to be taken care of. He had had a particular twinkle in his eye when he had mentioned this, which Lily had been confused about, but James later told her that Aberforth, Dumbledore’s brother, owned and ran the unsavory pub. Anyway, if anything had happened to either Sirius or Christina, they were both going to be upset. Very upset.
James pointed his wand at the fireplace, igniting the green flames silently, while Lily grabbed some floo powder off the mantle. He pulled her towards him, and she immediately dropped the floo powder while calling out, “Headmaster’s Office at Hogwarts.”
The two of them eventually fell out of the fireplace, a bit less gracefully than usual, but James managed to keep them both upright. They both turned their attention toward Dumbledore’s desk, which had a rather disheartened old wizard sitting behind it. He definitely did not seem to want to deliver whatever news he was about to deliver. James took a deep breath, bracing himself for whatever he was about to hear, and asked, “What happened?”
Lily nodded at the question, feeling equally apprehensive about the upcoming news. Dumbledore’s normally bright blue eyes were sad and even hesitant. He looked them both over before saying softly, “I’m terribly sorry to say what I’m about to tell you… There was an unplanned attack. It seemed rather last minute and was more to make a point than anything else, although I am rather disturbed by their actions tonight. It was more than a bit unexpected.”
Lily didn’t like what she was hearing, particularly because his glances seemed to be a bit more in her direction. “Who was it? Not in Diagon Alley…”
Dumbledore’s brow furrowed. “No, both Sirius and Christina should be fine, although they will be sad to hear this. I just found out a few minutes before. I’m terribly sorry, Lily.” He paused briefly before finally admitting, “It was your parents.”
Lily heard James’ breath hitch and felt him tense next to her, but she just shook her head slowly, not really comprehending what she was hearing. “No, not them… No, please…”
Dumbledore’s grimace told her all she needed to know. James’ arms had gone around her from behind, and she could feel tears start to fall from her eyes as she tried to listen further to what Dumbledore was saying, but she really only absorbed bits and pieces. “..lots of magic in a muggle area…Aurors arrived on the scene…Death Eaters disapparated…Alastor sent a patronus…must’ve just happened…her sister will be notified soon…terrible and disturbing…she shouldn’t go to the scene…”
That last bit caught her attention. Something horrible must’ve happened if he didn’t want her to go to the scene. She wanted to go. She had to go. This was her parents. The house where she grew up. This was not fair. She had to see this for herself before she would truly believe it. She suddenly wrenched herself out of James’ comforting arms and managed to get to the fireplace, throwing some floo powder down so she could go back to Potter Manor. James called for her, but although she heard the pain in his voice as he said her name, she didn’t stop. As soon as she arrived in Potter Manor, she spun to apparate to her backyard. She caught a brief glimpse of James falling out of the flames before she disappeared.
As soon as she landed and saw her childhood home in front of her in its devastation with Aurors checking around for magical traces, she immediately broke out in sobs. This was sick. It was horrible to even look at. She couldn’t even imagine what her parents must’ve gone through before they were killed. She would’ve crumpled to the ground, but someone’s arms stopped her from falling, and she knew without looking that it was James. He turned her gently so she was crying into his chest rather than looking at the mess in front of them.
James was horrified at what was left of the Evans’ home. He was slowly realizing that this had nothing to do with Lily at all, but rather…him.
The house had been defiled in the worst possible way, and that didn’t even include the horrendous sight of the Dark Mark still left blazing in the night sky above the home. There were scorch marks all over the house from random spell fire; the roof had been blown away; and there were words in red paint (or more likely blood, considering Thor’s head was located on a stick near his doghouse) written all over the once white home. The phrases included things like ‘stupid, filthy mudblood,’ ‘how dare you taint a pure-blood line,’ ‘even a blood traitor wouldn’t marry you,’ and many more untrue and nasty comments. It was clear by their work that her parents must’ve been tortured and killed in some gruesome way. He felt ill just thinking about what the inside of the house must look like. He was going to make sure Lily never saw it. The Aurors would fix everything back to its original state when they were finished collecting evidence, but even then, it would just make things worse. The one thing the Aurors could not do was bring her parents back to life.
The sound of Lily sobbing into his shirt tore at his heart, particularly because he felt himself the cause. Even though he had no idea how they had gotten wind of their engagement, if he hadn’t asked her to marry him in the first place, her parents would be fine. The pure-blood Death Eaters would have left her and her family alone. He did the only thing he could and held her as she cried, gently running his fingers through her hair to soothe her. He knew there were really no words that he could say to make her feel better. He had gone through this type of loss himself, but at least his parents had died when they had willingly placed themselves in danger and when they had had the ability to fight back. The unfairness of her parents’ murders was something he himself could not really help her with.
He lowered the two of them so he was sitting with her as she continued to cry, although she wasn’t as loud as she had been. He briefly saw Alastor looking in their general direction with concerned eyes, but James just shook his head at him, indicating that they all could talk later. He lowered his head down to whisper near Lily’s ear, “Sweetie, would you like me to take you away from here?”
Lily was still sniffling and crying, but he felt her nod into his chest. He made sure to alert Alastor with a hand that they were leaving before apparting the two of them directly into his bedroom. They were now sitting exactly the same way, only on his bed. They just sat there like that for a while before James finally broke the silence, “You should get some rest, Lils. We can talk in the morning. Did you want me to get you anything?”
She shook her head as she wiped at her tears. When her pretty green eyes met his, he felt horrible when he could see the pain deep within their depths. His brow furrowed, and he wished he could erase the whole incident from ever happening. The guilt he was feeling seemed to increase exponentially. “I’m so sorry this happened, beautiful.”
Lily just stared at him, her lower lip trembling lightly. Everything still didn’t seem to have sunk in just yet. She eventually nodded and said softly, “I know.”
They didn’t really bother changing or anything; he just lowered them down so they were more comfortable and pulled her to lie on his chest. He removed his glasses before turning out the lights with a wave of his hand. It took a while, but soon, Lily’s breathing evened out into what he was sure going to be a restless sleep. James, however, couldn’t fall asleep at all. He continued to gently run his hands through Lily’s soft red hair. He couldn’t help wondering what was going to happen when the shock wore off and Lily realized that this was entirely his fault. He was dreading that very moment.
Lily awoke gradually, feeling like she hadn’t really slept at all. Everything seemed to come back to her in an instant. Her parents. Her family. All just gone. Her eyes welled up with tears as she just thought about it. Not to mention what had been done to her childhood home. The phrase ‘stupid, filthy mudblood’ seemed to ring inside of her head like a mantra that wouldn’t end. She dreaded hearing what Petunia would say to her once she found out. She would blame her for everything— and rightly so.
She closed her eyes briefly. This was all her fault. She had placed her family in danger the moment she became a witch. Maybe she was a freak after all. At the very least, she should’ve done more to protect them from getting hurt.
The next thing she noticed as she sat up was that James was no longer there. Her brow furrowed, wondering where he would go, but then a new thought occurred to her. James had seen her home and everything that had been written about her last night too. What if he finally realized that he had asked someone so unworthy to marry him? Her heart seemed to break at the thought. She didn’t think she could make it without him. It seemed so long ago that she couldn’t stand him, but now, he had come to mean so much to her. She loved him so much.
She didn’t really have time to ponder anything else because James walked in just then with a blueberry muffin and some pumpkin juice. His face was incredibly sad and he looked exhausted, but he sat down next to her, handing her the items. “You’re awake… I know you’re probably not hungry— I wasn’t either when it happened to me— but you need to eat something.”
She nodded slowly, her mind swirling with a bunch of dismal thoughts. He seemed distant with her. This just furthered her ideas that he was finally realizing he shouldn’t be marrying a freak and a mudblood. Her mind was in a near panic. She couldn’t look at him right now, especially if it would only confirm her fears. She couldn’t lose him too. “Does Petunia know yet?”
James sighed as he looked at the top of his fiancée’s head, the only thing he could see for the moment. She couldn’t even look at him. He wondered if she was already mad at him for what had happened. He somehow managed to give her a reply, “I believe Alastor informed her last night. He wants to talk to you too.”
Lily took a sip of the pumpkin juice he had brought for her. “Ok.”
There was a pause as the two of them just sat there, neither touching the other. As the silence stretched on, James began to feel more and more guilty. She probably didn’t even want him there— at least, that’s how it felt. He tensed and quickly kissed the top of her head. “Well, I had wanted to be alone for a bit when it happened to me. Why don’t you finish this food, take a shower, and then come downstairs? I’ll let everyone know what’s going on. Don’t worry about a thing.”
Lily felt ill. He was already pushing her away. He didn’t even want to stay with her. She just nodded, still not looking at him. She felt him get up, but couldn’t watch him walk away. As soon as the door closed, she let the tears fall. Only this time, she wasn’t sure if they were for her parents or for James.
Meanwhile, James felt like throwing up as he walked down the hallway of the West Wing. Lily hadn’t called him back or done anything remotely affectionate to let him know that things were ok. He slowly made his way down the stairs, each step he took feeling heavier than the last. He was supposed to be taking Lauren to King’s Cross tomorrow morning so Lauren had been up early packing. He had already let her know the bad news so that left everyone else, if they hadn’t already heard sometime last night or in the Daily Prophet that morning. He made his way over to the floo and made a couple of floo calls. Everyone seemed to react similarly to the horrifying news. It was completely unexpected and unfair. He began to wonder uneasily if other people might blame him for what happened too. This made him feel like getting away from the house, but as people slowly started trickling over, he was forced to be somewhat hospitable. However, this didn’t stop him from maintaining his sullen silence, due to his guilt overwhelming his ability to communicate normally.
Lily had come downstairs after an hour or so, immediately getting hugged profusely by a number of people. Christina remained on one side of her while James sat on the other. He had tentatively reached out to hold her hand, which had gotten him a small smile, but it did little to reassure him about anything. Alastor had arrived a bit later in the morning to talk with Lily. She had let everyone stay to hear whatever he was going to say. Alastor told her about how they had fixed the home to its original state, told her sister about the incident (who he thought was a little bit lost in the head because she had nearly killed him with a broom the moment he had appeared through apparition), and then finally discussed her parents.
Lily had then told them all that she had to go see her sister. James had gone with her, the both of them leaving the large group of people at Potter Manor. Petunia had been irate upon the both of them arriving in Little Whinging unannounced. She called them both a large number of nasty names, clearly blaming the both of them for the Evans’ deaths, before anything got discussed properly. Lily and James half-heartedly defended each other, but neither noticed that the other never said anything in defense of themselves. Petunia had eventually stuck her nose up at the both of them, saying that she would take care of the arrangements for the funeral and the Evans’ home and belongings. The will that was delivered that morning after Mr. and Mrs. Evans had been taken to the coroner left Petunia in charge of their estate. Whatever was to go to Lily would be given to her, but that was the last Petunia ever wanted to see of her sister. Her pale brown eyes were dark in anger as she had spoken, and neither he nor Lily chose to argue with her all that much.
By the time they got back to Potter Manor in the evening, his house elves had made a huge amount of food for all of the people suddenly staying there. His parents’ portraits had offered their condolences to Lily, clearly saddened by the unexpected loss. He and Lily had been planning to take her parents to Potter Manor in one of the next coming weekends to meet his parents. Obviously, this would never occur now. James made sure that some guestrooms were made up for everyone, and it was all too soon that he was once again alone with Lily in his room. There was hardly any talking at all. Lily had started crying once more at some point, and James had just pulled her to lie with him because the sound of Lily crying was too much for him to handle. Lily hadn’t pulled away and had let him hold her. He wasn’t sure what to make of that, but he hoped it was something good even if he still felt like this was all clearly his fault.
The next morning, he had left Lily to her own devices. There was still an awkwardness there that he could only attribute to her slowly hating him once more and him feeling too guilty to do anything to dispute it, but he had to take Lauren to King’s Cross anyway. Lauren had given Lily a huge hug before she left, telling her that if she needed anything, she would do what she could for her. At approximately a quarter to eleven, James had grabbed a hold of Lauren’s empty cage, considering King was out hunting, and her shrunken trunk before taking them both to the station. After watching Lauren sneak through platform 9 ¾ first, James followed shortly after. He enlarged her belongings, but didn’t really say much. Lauren furrowed her brow at him, obviously concerned for him too. “Don’t worry, Jimmy. She’ll come around. She sort of reminds me of how I was when Uncle Drew and Aunt Judy died. You were there to help me through it, and I know you’ll do the same for her.”
James nodded half-heartedly, clearly not believing her at all. “Thanks, Lauren. I’m going to miss having you around, you know. I suppose I should give you the lecture to behave yourself like my Mum used to, but those aren’t my sentiments at all. I suppose you should be careful though. Lots of stuff going on, as you can obviously tell now.”
Lauren rolled her eyes at him, ruffling his hair. “I’ll miss you too. Give Lily a big hug from me everyday. Je t’aime.”
James actually smiled fully at that, even if it was only for a moment. He gave her a brotherly hug while replying, “Je t’aime aussi, Lauren.”
He helped her get her things on board before waving goodbye as she made her way onto the train for the last time. He waited until he couldn’t see her anymore before he let his emotional mask fall over him once again. As soon as the train began moving a few minutes later, he apparated back to Potter Manor.
Over the next few days, things remained rather tense, although James and Lily’s troubles remained muted due to the constant flow of people flooding in and out of the Manor. The funeral was the worst. Petunia and Vernon had ignored both Lily and James during the entire thing. Other family and friends offered their condolences to both sisters, but James could see how much Petunia’s dismissal bothered Lily. When it was all finally over, Petunia had stepped up to Lily and merely handed her a piece of paper with something written on it and a set of keys. She then told her sister icily that she was to have their mother’s car and half of the selling price of the house, which Petunia would place in the bank account number she had just handed to her. If there was anything of their mother’s or father’s she might want to keep, she was to go to the house to get it herself. Everything Petunia had wanted, she had already taken, and everything else was to be sold with the house or disposed of. James had no idea that anyone could be so cold. Lily had just remained silent, nodding at the appropriate times.
Lily had told him that she didn’t want to go back to the house, but after he asked her if there was anything she wanted that he could go look for, she told him reluctantly that there had been a locket of her mother’s and a pocket watch her father used to carry that she wouldn’t mind having. James had kissed her forehead before he watched her apparate back to Potter Manor with barely any emotion on her face. It was the only place he’d kissed since he had found out what had happened, considering he didn’t think he should try and push his luck to ever get to kiss her pretty lips again. She looked angry and distant enough with him already without him making it worse.
He quickly apparated himself to the Evans’ home and was deeply saddened at looking at the home in its original state without Mr. and Mrs. Evans there to greet him. He made his way inside the now immaculate house and up into her parents’ bedroom. After a short search, he found the pieces Lily had wanted, but noticed her father’s bookshelves in the corner. With a flick of his wand, all of the books were sent to his library at Potter Manor; he was sure Lily would probably like having them. He also made a stop in her old bedroom, wondering if there was anything else left there that he could bring back for her. When he found there wasn’t, he went down to their garage. He finished by using a powerful placement charm on her mother’s car to send it to the front of Potter Manor before he apparated back there himself.
The next month was equally unpleasant. The two of them rarely talked, although they seemed to like having the other nearby for some reason. With work, order stuff, and their friends constantly around, they never talked about anything meaningful when they did actually speak. Their friends had commented on them both being quiet, but hardly anything else. It wasn’t until Sirius and Christina had dragged the both of them out on a lunch date that the two friends started to feel something was amiss. By the time the four of them all apparated back to Potter Manor, Christina was trying desperately to figure out what was up. Every time she had talked with Lily over the last month, she had mentioned things were ok with her and James, but then again, that was the end of the discussion on her and James. She wondered why she hadn’t picked up on that before. She gave them both a look and was about to say something now that they all had some privacy within the confines of Potter Manor, but was interrupted by Lily saying softly, “I think I’m going to go see Shelley today. I haven’t talked with her in a while.”
Christina didn’t say anything, but that excuse was weak. She had personally seen Lily talking with Shelley the other day. James didn’t argue with her either, which seemed unlike him, instead bringing her hand up to his lips to kiss before saying resignedly, “Ok, Lils. I’ll see you later then.”
Lily gave the three of them a small, somewhat fake smile before apparating away. Sirius was oblivious, but Christina had watched James’ face fall the moment Lily was gone before he became sullen once more. He looked absolutely miserable. Sirius seemed to finally notice the silence. “So Prongs, where did you say that joke stuff was that I was going to grab for Moody?”
James mumbled something about it being in Sirius’ old room before he just apparated away silently. Christina and Sirius were both startled by his abrupt disappearance. Christina turned to Sirius, her blue eyes wide. “How long have they been like this, Sirius?”
Sirius’ brow furrowed, obviously still astounded by his best mate’s actions. “I have no idea. I guess I’ve noticed they’ve been quiet for a while, but this distance thing is brand new. They used to be really close. James has been quiet at work too, and then there was...”
When he trailed off and his face scrunched with concern, Christina prodded him. “What?”
Sirius looked pained. “Ok, you know I’d never admit this to anyone but you, but James is way better than me at Transfiguration. He’s taught me all that I know. We had our test for the disguise and concealment stuff two weeks ago, and he barely passed. He should have passed with a 200%, but he only did what was required of him.”
Christina sat down on the couch, shocked. “Really?”
Sirius nodded, sitting down next to her. “When he’s upset, he usually goes off by himself. I’ve caught him flying out by himself more than a few times, but I didn’t really think much of it. Lauren usually wouldn’t let him isolate himself, but she’s been back at school. He also used to get upset with her and me for intruding on him so we both try and give him some space now. Every time I’ve brought something up though, he’s changed the subject. What about Lily?”
As Christina was listening to this, something was beginning to dawn on her. Lily had been equally withdrawn and obviously, from the sound of it anyway, Lily and James were not talking to each other. This could only mean that they were both feeling rotten for reasons they were keeping to themselves. What would be so bad that they wouldn’t want to tell the other? They had always told each other everything before. It suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. Christina shot up off the couch, pulling at her blonde hair in frustration. “Oh. My. God. Those IDIOTS!”
Sirius was looking at her like she had gone mad. “Ummm, Chrissy? What is it?”
She pointed at him with a crazed look in her blue eyes. “You. Go find James.”
She then moved quickly away from the couch, spinning on the spot. All Sirius could hear before she disappeared was her mumbling something about bloody Gryffindors. Sirius was perplexed as to his girlfriend’s behavior, but he was sure she was doing something about their best mates which was a good thing.
He made his way up to the West Wing, quickly grabbing the stuff for Moody before heading to James’ room. He wondered vaguely why he and Lily hadn’t moved into the master bedroom yet like they had talked about doing before the whole thing with her parents had happened. He didn’t bother to knock on James’ door and just walked in, but he quickly noticed his best mate wasn’t even there. His brow furrowed as he called out for his friend, only to hear nothing in response. He frowned and tried to think what James would do if he was upset. It didn’t take him long to start heading up the stairs to go to what he referred to as ‘the tower.’ James often went there when he wanted some space. However, upon making it up to the top, no one was there. Sirius was confused, but on a perusal of the Potter grounds, his grey eyes hit the quidditch pitch. Maybe James had gone out for a fly. He quickly turned around and headed back down the stairs so he could go outside.
After only a few minutes, Sirius was no longer present to hear the sigh that was released into the tower room. James carefully pulled the invisibility cloak off of his head and continued to look troubled out the many windows. The colorful display of autumn all over the grounds and the overall beautiful view soothed him a bit, but they didn’t change the fact that Lily was probably going to break up with him at any moment because it was clear that she blamed him for everything that had happened. He had been staring at his watch for days now, and while she was constantly thinking about him and this should be a good thing, it could only mean something bad because they still weren’t talking and she had practically stopped looking at him altogether. Besides, the torment of being physically close to her, but not mentally or emotionally close to her was driving him insane. What made him feel worse was that he would let her do it. He would rather see her happy.
Christina was furious as she appeared with a crack in Shelley’s kitchen. She turned her narrowed blue eyes at the redhead who had her head in her arms while she sniffled as she sat at the kitchen table. Shelley had made tea and was currently pouring some out for Lily and herself. With a wave of her wand, a third cup appeared for Christina. She gave Christina a look of concern and with a curious nod in Lily’s direction said, “What happened? She just came in here and started to cry.”
Christina rolled her eyes and practically shouted in frustration, “It’s because they’re both being bloody Gryffindors!”
Lily’s head shot up at her outburst, her green eyes still full of tears. “What are you talking about?”
Christina sat down in the chair next to her, her arms flailing around her. “What in the world are you doing to yourself? And to James? He’s miserable!”
Shelley’s brow furrowed. “Lily, you said that you and James were doing just fine. What is really going on?”
Lily’s tears slowly fell down her cheeks as she shook her head, clearly upset. “I don’t know! He obviously doesn’t want to be with someone like me anymore. It’s all my fault. My parents wouldn’t have been killed if I hadn’t been a stupid, filthy mudblood. Why would he want to be with me anyway? He could be with someone so much better…”
Both girls gasped in outrage. Christina scoffed at Lily. “Are you trying to take the mickey right now?!?! James has been in love with you for years, and you think he suddenly woke up and thought you less of a person for being muggleborn? Are you out of your damn mind?”
Shelley sat down, equally upset. “What she said. And why in the world are you calling yourself that? I’m a muggleborn too, you know, and I personally know that I’m more skilled than a lot of people. You, of all people, are more gifted at magic than a lot of people. You shouldn’t put yourself down that way. Not to mention, there is no way in hell that your parents’ murders were your fault. Voldemort and those pure-blood crazed Death Eaters are the ones responsible, Lily. No one else.”
Lily shook her head, looking hopelessly miserable. “You don’t know. He can hardly look at me! Obviously, that’s what it is.”
Christina grabbed her shoulders so she would face her. “Sweetie, you should know exactly what he’s doing because you are doing the same…damn…thing.”
Shelley’s eyes widened in surprise, but Lily still looked perplexed and even angry. “What are you on about?”
Christina sighed in exasperation. This should be so bloody obvious. Why she was the only one realizing what the both of them were doing was beyond her. “He’s blaming himself, Lily! He thinks your parents’ murders were all HIS fault!”
Lily’s tilted her head in confusion, sniffing slightly. “But it wasn’t!”
Christina nodded triumphantly, gesturing around wildly. Finally, she was getting somewhere. “Thank you!”
Lily still had no idea what Christina was getting at. “Why would he blame himself? He didn’t even do anything.”
Shelley sighed, and Lily immediately turned to look at her. She spoke softly, “Think about it, Lily. He probably thinks that by asking you to marry him he set the whole thing in motion. From what I know of James, he is well aware that his family is known as a blood traitor. By inviting you into his family, he did it knowing that you would be included in their hate.”
Lily looked appalled. “He couldn’t possibly have thought that. That’s ridiculous. Besides, I love him. I don’t care about all that.”
Christina just nodded slowly. “Exactly. Lily, you’re both blaming yourselves for absolutely no reason. You’re both hurting each other for absolutely no reason. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were both thinking of giving the other up to make the other happy. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.”
Lily just sat there, staring hard at the table in front of her. Was that really what they both had been doing? Were they both being too noble and too stubborn for their own good? She suddenly looked up horrified. “Oh my God! What the hell are we doing?”
Christina smiled. “Will you go already? I think you’ve lost too much time as it is.”
Lily immediately hugged Christina. “Thank you.” She pulled back some, wiping some remaining tears from her eyes before looking at her expectantly. “Will you be my Maid of Honor?”
Christina laughed. “You bet your ass I will. Now, go already!”
Lily laughed for the first time in a long time before getting up quickly and apparating back to Potter Manor. Christina sighed and turned back to Shelley with an amused expression on her face. “Did that really just happen?”
Shelley nodded her head wearily as she mindlessly stirred sugar into her tea. “Yup. I have never been so happy to be a former Hufflepuff. All that Gryffindor nobility crap is a bit much for me.”
Christina snickered and then picked up her own tea, holding it out. “Tell me about it. Perhaps I should’ve let the sorting hat place me in Ravenclaw. Cheers.”
Shelley held out her teacup, clipping it with Christina’s. “Cheers. Let’s hope she fixes this mess. I’ve never seen two people more in love than they are.”
Christina rolled her eyes, nodding affirmatively. “I’ll drink to that.”
With a soft crack, Lily found herself in the living room at Potter Manor. No one could be seen so she hurried upstairs, only to find his room empty. She frowned, but then realized that if James wasn’t seeking comfort from her, he would go off by himself. She quickly ran up the stairs to get to the tower room.
She couldn’t believe how stupid they both had been acting. The longer she thought about it, the more ridiculous it was. Every little thing the two of them had been doing had just been perpetuating the other’s false beliefs. When he wouldn’t look at her, she had assumed it was because he didn’t know how to break her heart and tell her he deserved better, but he was really just too ashamed to look at her because he thought the whole thing was his fault. When she wouldn’t look at him, he probably assumed she did think it was his fault, but she had really thought herself too unworthy to have his attention. When he hadn’t kissed her, she had assumed it was because he no longer wanted to be with her, but he probably just didn’t want to make her more upset at him than he thought she already was. It was mind-boggling to think about. She supposed it was the price they paid to be so similar to one another. From now on, she would make a point to just talk with him, whatever the problem. There should be no reason for them to avoid the issue like they had been doing. The first week or so after it happened with the funeral and all of the other distractions, maybe, but after that, there was no excuse.
As she approached the tower room, she suddenly became nervous, although she had no idea why. This was James. They talked about everything so why would this be any different? She hesitantly pushed open the door and found herself staring at James’ profile. He hadn’t even heard her approach, likely too immersed in his own thoughts. He looked utterly miserable, and it broke her heart. She spoke hesitantly into the silence, “James?”
His head whipped around quickly in surprise, and he gave her a forced smile when he saw her there. “Lily…hey…I thought you were going over to see Shelley.”
Lily felt awful when he wouldn’t meet her eyes. She paused for a few seconds before finally saying softly, “Christina told me what we’re doing.”
James barely batted an eye, and Lily was positive that he looked like he was bracing himself for her to break up with him. She couldn’t stand it anymore, and instead, just ran over and plopped onto his lap while throwing her arms around his neck. She felt tears sting her eyes when she felt his arms come around her tentatively. She had missed this even more than she had thought. Finally having the contact she had been craving relieved so much weight from her shoulders. She sighed into his neck. “We’re such idiots, you know that?”
James was thoroughly confused. The girl he loved, who would barely look at or touch him, was finally in his arms, and yet, it didn’t make any sense. “Ummm, what do you mean?”
She pulled her head back and looked at him, but he still would barely meet her eyes. She gently pulled his face around so she could see his hazel eyes before saying, “James, I don’t blame you at all for what happened.”
James’ face scrunched up in pain. He hadn’t expected her to say that, and her saying it didn’t make him believe it even though he desperately wanted to. “But it was my fault! The whole thing! I should’ve known they’d do something! I even told Sirius I didn’t want to ask you yet because of the danger involved, and look what happened! If I hadn’t asked, then your family would be fine.”
She shook her head as he spoke, feeling horrible that this had been festering inside of him for a month. She insisted, “No, it wasn’t. I was happy that you asked me. I wanted you to ask me. You could never have predicted this to happen, and the fact that it did happen was an unfortunate side effect, but not your fault. There’s no one to blame here except Voldemort and his Death Eaters.”
James was searching her face as she said all this and could find no reason not to believe her. However, if this was how she felt, then things still didn’t make any sense. “Then, why have you been avoiding me, if not for you blaming me for it all?”
Lily instantly looked sad, and she was now the one who could no longer meet his eyes. She felt so stupid for believing he wouldn’t want her anymore. He had never given her a reason to think that, and yet, she had thought it anyway. “I blamed myself for it happening.”
James looked surprised. He gently ran his hand through her soft red hair in comfort. “How could this ever be your fault, Lily?”
Lily grimaced. The words sounded so ridiculous now as she grudgingly admitted softly, “Because I’m muggleborn.”
James was shocked. “Are you out of your mind? That means nothing.”
Lily nodded wearily and still looked away. “I know, but after seeing the house and then when you wouldn’t look at me…well, I felt that was why.”
James lifted her chin up so she was looking at him once more, and his expression was fierce. “That has never mattered to me. Ever. And it shouldn’t matter to you. You are a better witch than the whole lot of them. I love you not because of all that, but because of who you are. You know that.”
Lily struggled to hold back her tears as she nodded. “I know. I’m sorry. Call it a crisis of faith?”
James rolled his eyes playfully, and she was happy to see a hint of his former mischievousness starting to shine through once more. “I suppose you had just lost your parents so I guess I can forgive you just this once.”
She smiled weakly at him. “Thanks, I think.”
He pulled her close to him so he was hugging her once more. “I’m sorry too. We really are idiots.”
Lily chuckled quietly into his neck, feeling better than she had in a long time. He always made her feel better. Even when they hadn’t been talking all that much, she still had felt the need to be in his presence. Now that all of that nonsense was gone, it was even better. “Christina was ready to come after us.”
James sighed, resting more comfortably against the windows while running his fingers gently across Lily’s back as he held her on his lap. “Well, I’m glad she finally pointed out our stupidity. I missed you.”
She nodded slightly. “I missed you more.”
His voice was soft, “Nonsense.”
When his lips finally met hers for the first time in a month, she was quite sure she was happier than she had ever been. It was contact she had been craving for so long that she was more than willing to lose herself within the kiss. She had no recollection of how much time had gone by as they continued to reacquaint themselves with each other. When they finally did break the kiss, they were both breathing rather heavily against one another. James nuzzled her neck a bit, his lips lingering along her collarbone. Lily couldn’t help thinking that there was nowhere else she’d rather be than in his arms like this. “James?”
His arms tightened around her as he thoroughly enjoyed merely being that close to her again. “Hmmm?”
“I think we should just get married. Everyone else can just sod off for all I care.”
James pulled back to look at her curiously, but smiled at the idea. “Yeah?”
She nodded with a similar smile, tightening her hold around his neck. “Yeah.”
He chuckled. “I would marry you any day of the week. Whatever you want, Lily love. Consider it done.”
Her green eyes sparkled. “Good. Now, where were we?”
She was pretty sure she saw James grin wickedly at her before his lips reached hers once again, but after that, Lily preferred not to think about anything else at all.
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