Chapter 32 : Chapter Thirty Two
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He’d been back at Hogwarts for about a week now and he’d already got back into the jumbled way of things- breakfast, teaching, lunch, teaching, marking, dinner, marking, bed. He’d barely seen Lily; Dumbledore had made her stay in the Hospital Wing until she was fully fit to teach again. Despite the fact she had woken up quickly after the traumatic event, it had taken a while for her to recover properly. Today was her first day out of that despicable place and he couldn’t wait to see her again.
“Professor Potter,” said Nick, waving his hand in front of James’s glasses. “Sir, the bell just went. Are we okay to go?”
“What? Oh yes, yeah of course,” said James distracted, running his hand through his dishevelled hair. “Sorry about that; I was deep in thought. I’ll see all you lot tomorrow.”
He watched as his Seventh Years shuffled out of the classroom with only thoughts of their school work and what they’d be doing tonight. When they’d graduate they’ll get a shock to the system, thought James with a cynical laugh. Everything gets so much harder. He remembered when he was a student without a care in the world; the only problems he had were trying to win the Quidditch cup and Lily’s heart.
He had missed her. Just a week and he knew he’d have to last a life time without her; he couldn’t do it. Sure, he’d get by with a smile on his face but it wouldn’t be real. Soulless. He couldn’t even imagine himself like that. He was usually the person who brightened up the room. He was the one who made people smile, laugh. Would Lily feel soulless as well?
He grabbed his ink pot and an elegant eagle feather quill and snatched up a large stack of Seventh Year essays on Advanced Conjuring Spells. Marking was a tedious chore, a past time he had to endure. A smile graced his lips as he watched the emerald green ink slither onto the yellowing parchment. He remembered months ago when he and Lily sat marking together whilst Nick was in detention; playing footsie under the desk. It was a sweet and innocent memory, long before they’d even got together. He wanted that image of her to linger in his mind forever. With a fond grin he set about marking the numerous amounts of essays.
With a slight spring in his step he made his way down a narrow staircase towards the Charms classroom. He’d always liked that classroom as it was never any trouble to get to the Third Floor. Also his seat was next to the window which over looked the school drive. Being a nosy Marauder, he liked seeing who was coming and going to Hogwarts. Charms itself was a lesson of no importance; to him it was only a few spells that could come of use and a whole barrel of ones that humoured him. Of course he would never admit this as it was one of Lily’s specialities. She was clever enough to know when they were applicable and useful.
He pushed the wooden door open with very little strength and stepped into the class room with a big grin on his face. All he wanted to do was wrap his arms around her and feel her lips on his.
He’d forgotten that just because he didn’t have a class did not mean she hadn’t either. The room full of students looked at him in slight amusement and bemusement. Lily herself who was stood at the front of the classroom, writing something on the board, turned to look at him, her eyebrow raised. He gave her a sheepish smile and his cheeks turned a little rosy.
“Sorry, I didn’t realise you were teaching at the moment,” smiled James, apologetically. “I’ll come back later.”
“No wait,” said Lily, with her radiant smile. “What is it that you wanted, Professor Potter? I’m sure my Third Years won’t mind you interrupting their Cheering Charm theory lesson.”
“It was nothing that important; I just wanted a quick word with you,” said James, his hazel eyes twinkling.
“Oh well, take a seat at the back of the room,” suggested Lily. “After all, lessons are almost over for the day. I’ll be with you in five minutes.”
He smiled and walked towards the back of the room. He watched Lily teach with interest. It was the first time ever he had seen her interact with a class despite the fact he’d taught at Hogwarts for two terms now.
“Alright girls, as much as you find Professor Potter attractive, I’d prefer it if you stared at him in his lessons and not mine,” reprimanded Lily. “Please face the front, there is still five minutes of class left.”
A group of red faced teenage girls shuffled around in their seats, embarrassed. James chuckled lightly, he was teaching those girls tomorrow morning. However, he was always tactful enough not to embarrass them, purely because he found fawning fourteen year old girls partially embarrassing for him.
“Could you all turn to page 256 in your text books please,” instructed Lily, as she turned to write something on the board. “For your homework, I would like you to use this page to help you write a foot long essay on the uses and dangers of the Cheering Charm. Not only will it be good preparation for your practical class later on week, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Cheering Charm features in your end of year theory exam.”
He stopped listening as she explained exactly what she wanted them to put in their homework. He stared at her properly; there were slight differences in her appearance. No one but him would probably notice- he’d taken it upon himself to notice these things ever since he was a thirteen year old boy. She looked smart as per usual. Her long, wavy, fiery red hair had been tied back, swishing around as she moved. Her emerald green eyes accentuated with a bit of light makeup. Her clothes weren’t creased, they never were, the black pencil skirt that showed off her lovely legs and the green, silk blouse that matched her eyes so well. Her appearance was immaculate.
There were just subtle differences. Her complexion was paler than usual, not deathly white as it had been but not the creaminess it should be. The skin under her eyes was dark, she looked tired. She was thin. Well, she’d always been slim, her stomach always flat but she had curves- like a real woman James used to say. She had lost weight. That was to be expected but it still came as a bit of a shock to him.
His fingers came to the piece of parchment in his pocket; a letter from Gwen. He knew he had to show it to Lily but he really didn’t want to make her feel any worse than she already did. He sighed as he heard the general rowdy sounds of a class hurrying to get out of a class room.
He looked up to see Lily stood up in front of him, looking down questioningly at him. There was a look of concern lingering in her eyes.
“James, what’s the matter?” asked Lily, sitting down in the seat beside his and taking a hold of his hands gently. “You look... broken.”
He silently handed her the parchment that he hadn’t even intended to show her just yet. The reason he came was to see her not to think about what lies ahead. He watched as she read the letter, her face turning into a frown.
I hope you’re having a good time back at Hogwarts. I don’t understand why you prefer it to playing Quidditch but for some reason I feel you’re more at home there than anyway in the world. That was one of the reasons I decided that the wedding should be held at Hogwarts.
I have finished arranging everything with Dumbledore. The wedding is going to be this Saturday! Can you believe that soon me, you and our baby are all going to be one little family soon enough?
I’ve been thinking about after the wedding as well. We could buy a little house in Hogsmeade and live there until you’ve finished teaching. That way we’ll be able to live together and you can still teach at Hogwarts at the same time. It’s the perfect solution. Although I’m used to a much higher class standard of living I do find the little village very quaint.
I know what you’re like James, and you probably think that the wedding and the house arrangements are all a big rush but although you are at Hogwarts you are not a teenager. Life is all one big rush!
I know you hate wearing dress robes so I’ve been researching muggle weddings and I love them! So I can’t wait to see you in your tux!
Lots of Love,
Lily placed the letter down on the table calmly. “At least now we know,” she said, staring at it.
“Is knowing exactly when I have to get married, really a good thing?” asked James with a bitter laugh.
“James, please don’t be like that,” requested Lily, sadly. “Of course it’s not a good thing. It was never going to be a good thing whenever you had to get married. Whether it was this Saturday or next year it would still be hard on the both of us.”
“This wasn’t the plan though,” frowned James. “It was supposed to be easier than this. We were supposed to have until the end of the year and then we’d never have to see each other after my wedding. A clean break. Now though, now we’ll have to see each other every day for a good three months, knowing we can’t be together.”
“You’re very naive if you thought it would have been a clean break,” said Lily, with a sigh. “I think we both know it never would have been. It’s going to be really hard at first. After all, we are used to being together every day. Gradually it will get better though, because you’ll have your daughter to occupy your thoughts and I’ll be working back at the hospital most likely. Working there I won’t even have time to think about anything let alone you.”
“How can you talk about that so calmly?”
“Because I know I can talk about it calmly or hysterically but either way it’s going to happen,” replied Lily with a sad smile. “I can’t prevent the wedding from happening so there isn’t any point in being hysterical.”
“You’re a better person than me,” smiled James, fondly. “If it was you that was getting married, I would be screaming, stomping hitting your fiancé. Anything I could do to stop it.”
“I would do too if I knew it would have any impact,” smiled Lily. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Proud of me? Why?” asked James, surprised.
“Because you have matured so much,” said Lily, with a tear rolling down her cheek despite the smile on her face. “You matured from an arrogant git to a decent person in Seventh Year and since then you have just become so much more. You’re brave, strong, sensitive, caring, loving. You affect so many people’s lives with your mere presence just because you are you. I don’t know whether you actually changed or I just changed my prospective on you but I am proud either way and I am so happy I got to be a part of your life if only for a few months.”
“Why does this feel like a good bye?” asked James, his cheek damp, he hadn’t even noticed he was crying.
“Because it is one,” said Lily, shakily placing a kiss on top of his forehead.
“But we still have a couple of days left,” protested James, his voice breaking mid sentence, as he wrapped his arm around Lily, clinging on for all his might. “It’s only Tuesday, the wedding is on Saturday.”
“If I don’t say goodbye now, James, I don’t think I’ll ever be strong enough to,” cried Lily into his chest. “If I spend any more time with you I won’t be able to let go.”
“You were never in my life for just a few months, Lily,” admitted James, breathing in the scent of her sweet hair, his tears spilling onto it. “You have been my life since I was thirteen years old. It has always been about you.”