Chapter 2 : Surprise to James Potter
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"You shouldn't have said that, mate," James reminded once again.
"Shut up, Prongs," Sirius growled. A very big black and blue bruise covered his left eye. He had said a not very wise thing to Lily about her feelings. A black eye was his reward.
The group walked into the Great Hall and tried to locate an area at the Gryffindor table large enough for them all.
Lily opened her mouth to say something to Sirius, but instead ran off.
"Scared her away with my amazing good looks," Sirius said, somehow managing to maintain his dignity and charm.
"She's talking to Dumbledore," James said and then amended, "Shit! She's talking to Dumbledore!" He moved to go after her, but seemed to think better of it and stood where he was.
"No, I promise Mr Potter is supposed to be Head Boy. It was no accident on my part, Miss Evans," Dumbledore was saying quietly.
"But, Professor, I just don't understand. Could you explain it to me?"
"Maybe you should let him show you," Dumbledore told her, a sparkle in his eye. Lily, never wanting to defy a teacher, nodded her head and walked away. It seemed as though what he had just said hit home with something in Lily's mind.
"That was the weirdest conversation of my life," Lily announced to Clare and Emily.
"About what?" Emily asked.
"James Potter," Lily replied.
"You talk about James Potter?" Clare asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Only to Dumbledore when James Potter is wearing the Head Boy badge."
Her two friends nodded in understanding.
The three sat down at the Gryffindor table as they awaited the Sorting. The Marauders decided they had nothing better to do but torment Lily Evans and her friends and sat down next to them.
"Potter," Lily growled.
"I promise I will leave you alone during the Sorting," he said, raising his right hand.
"Oh, all right," Lily huffed. "One toe out of line, and I will personally see to it you can never have children!"
James gulped, and adjusted his tie.
McGonagall led the First Years into the Great Hall. Lily seemed to sit up a little straighter. There was a fifty percent chance the first First Year Sorted into Gryffindor would sit next to her. She hoped she gave good reflection to the young students.
"Lily, breathe. They're not going to die of fright when they look at you," Clare said, reaching diagonally across the table to squeeze her hand.
"James, on the other hand," Emily said from directly across from Lily.
"Hey, hey. Watch it. Respect the badge," James said. Lily looked at him curiously, putting aside every bit of anger and malice she felt towards him. What did Dumbledore see?
"You okay, Lils?" he asked.
"Don't call me Lils," she snapped.
"Yeah, you're fine." James looked a little hurt, but covered it up and watched as McGonagall read the first student forward. She was sorted into Hufflepuff.
"There's something off with you," James breathed after half the group of First Years was seated with a House, leaning in toward Lily.
"There is not," she replied indignantly, lying through her teeth.
"You're lying," James mumbled.
"What makes you a Lily expert?" she asked scathingly, defensively.
"Years of careful observation." James grinned at her charmingly. It was a serious statement, covered and amended with a joke.
"More like stalking," Lily joked back.
"Okay, so stalking," he grinned cheekily. "But still. There's something wrong. I'm going to figure it out," he said.
"Good luck, then," Lily said, certain he'd never find out what was bothering her.
"Thanks," James replied, smiling kindly. He knew she had given him luck in order to shut him up, but James saw that her luck could be used to his advantage.
Lily rolled her eyes and turned back to the front as Dumbledore announced the beginning of the feast. Food appeared and she reached for her favorites. After a few moments, James said, "Your parents are splitting up."
Lily winced and then smiled slightly, as though this was a preferable tragedy to the one she faced. "Nope."
James snapped his fingers. "Damn."
"You want my parents to get divorced?" Lily asked incredulously.
"No, no, no, no, no! You've got it mixed up! I meant "Damn, that wasn't right"! I don't want your parents to split up!" James pleaded with his eyes.
Lily sighed, and looked away, unwilling to stare James Potter down. Could he see her secret if she looked at him for too long? She wasn't willing to chance it.
James stared in shock at the back of Lily's head. No fighting? No anger, no malice? Where to had Lily Evans disappeared?
"I'm going to walk with you to Gryffindor Tower," Dumbledore told the two Heads.
"All right, Professor," Lily said, nodding her head with as much respect as she could possible muster in the event of her tiredness and full stomach.
"I thought you wouldn't mind," he said with that usual twinkle. "And you, Mr Potter? What do you think?"
"Of course, sir."
Professor Dumbledore explained to them what was to be exactly expected of the two of them this year as they walked along.
"I could have called you to my office to do this, but I figured we could kill two birds with one stone. You could get to your dormitories and I could inform you of this year," Dumbledore began. "This year is more perilous than the previous. Lord Voldemort, as he wishes himself to be known, has begun to rise up at a greater, more frightening speed. Unfortunately, students at Hogwarts are on his side. The corridors are no longer safe at night, therefore you must patrol together. Never split up, no matter the reason. It could be possibly life-threatening, especially for you, Miss Evans."
The two Seventh Years nodded their agreement. Lily had the chills, thinking about students already signing up for a lifelong commitment to evil.
He explained other basic rules, including point deduction and broom-cupboard checking. He announced the password for them to the Fat Lady and walked into the common room with them.
"Good night to you both. Sleep well, be safe. Tomorrow I will require a full castle patrol after hours."
James and Lily bid goodnight to the headmaster.
Dumbledore put one foot out of the portrait and turned back to the two. "Miss Evans?"
"There is a first year in desperate need of your assistance," he said. Lily rushed out of the room after throwing her belongings across the floor and Dumbledore winked at James.
"Good night, James," Dumbledore said nodding, and left.
As James was walking toward the boys' stairs, he tripped over a little green book Lily must have thrown. Cursing fervently, he picked it up and stared at it, still on the ground.
"What the ruddy hell is this?" he demanded, flipping it open as he sat up.
Pages were filled with Lily's handwriting. Beautiful, and probably difficult to read. He watched the dates and came to a recent entry. James quickly glanced over his shoulder and leaned against the door frame. He knew what he was about to do was not right, but somehow he couldn't stop himself.
School begins again tomorrow.
I'm not ready.
I want to stay home forever, never face anyone again. It's still too early. I'm healing too slowly. It still hurts too much. I can't bear to face anyone who knows me.
I cannot handle, cannot manage, cannot survive another year of Potter. Merlin, please let him leave me alone. I need a break, a time of recovery. I am dying, and he will only make it quicker.
My heart has broken. I don't think it will ever be healed correctly.
Dad, why did you pick now to die? Why not five years from now? Why exactly one month before I left for my final year of school? I need you. I need you to send me off tomorrow with your tradition jokes and laughs and hugs. I need you to walk me down the aisle one day. I need you to be with me.
"Oh, dear sweet Lily Evans," he whispered and closed the book. This was not the secret he had been expecting.
He had invaded a world of her privacy he never should have.
Her voice was curious, not at all angry or confused. She asked, "Why are you on the ground?"
"A-a-accident," he stuttered.
"Potter," she growled. "Why are you holding my journal?"
"I-I-I, uh, here?" He handed it to her.
"What did you read?" Lily asked in a low voice.
"Just, just yesterday's."
Her eyebrows knitted together in confusion as she thought of what she wrote. And then Lily Evans was angry.
"That was too far, James Potter. You have crossed the line. That was my private book." Lily's green eyes flung anger and pain and betrayal at James. He cringed.
They stood meter apart. So close yet so very far. Entire universes apart. Her loathing of him and her hurting and his concern and compassion separated them in a way they never had done before.
"No," she muttered. Tears swelled. "You didn't. James, please say you didn't."
It was such a drastic change from the Lily who had been ready to throw him into the next millennium. James just gaped at her.
For the first time in as long as she could remember, Lily Evans ran away from James Potter. Instead of confronting the atrocity he had committed, Lily simply left the room, disreguarding the fact that five minutes earlier, Dumbledore had warned her about the corridors at night. James dropped the book and followed her a fraction of a second later.
James grasped her shoulder and held onto her. She tried desperately to free herself, but she was unsuccessful. Finally, Lily stopped fighting and slumped against James' chest.
"Why did you read it?" she asked quietly.
"It was a stupid mistake. I'm sorry I did that, betrayed you that way."
Lily just nodded, too tired to fight, to argue.
Peter came across the two of them, Lily shuddering a bit from repressed sobs and James looking forlorn and regretful. They didn't bother to ask what
"What happened, Lily?" Peter asked quietly, coming up near her face.
"Oh, Peter," she whispered. Her eyes carried the weight and the sadness of a million people.
"Help me, Pete," James breathed.
For a moment, James was sure Peter would refuse, stick to his normal comfort zone. Instead, Peter walked forward and wrapped his arms around Lily. He whispered quiet words into her ear, soothing her sorrow if only for a few minutes.
James picked Lily up and carried her back to the common room. Peter walked along and ran his fingers through her hair.
Together, the two friends left Lily Evans at the foot of the girls' stairs. They climbed to their dormitory and bid each other a good night.
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