Chapter 5 : Unexplained
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. . .
I leaped up from the chair, causing Potter’s hand to fall from my bare shoulder. A dull thunk sounded as my book hit the floor, and my essay floated lazily after it, my quill already having clattered to the stone floor. I stumbled back a few steps as a nervous laugh came from my mouth, though it bordered on hysteria.“M-must have dozed off! S-silly of me, really. Oh! Look, almost morning! I should, er, should get ready for classes,” I stammered out, my voice about an octave higher than usual. Another nervous laugh as I rubbed the back of my neck, my other arm wrapped around my stomach insecurely.
For the first time, I took in Potter’s appearance. He looked absolutely knackered, with circles under his eyes and his hair more tousled than usual, which was definitely saying something. A cut journeyed from his forehead, across his temple and to his ear and a trail of blood ran down his cheek. He was watching me with a tired expression, though it was oddly..soft. There really was no other word to describe it.
I stared at him, my eyes widening in surprise. I was beginning to notice other injuries. His lip was cracked and swollen, and it looked like a black eye was beginning to appear. Three long gashes were torn through the chest of his robes, and blood was visible through them. “Potter, what happened to you?” I cried out in shock.
Forgetting my revealing attire, I hurried over to him. For some reason, it was his turn to act nervously. He chuckled, the sound obviously uncomfortable and looked away with a shrug. “Nothing really. Just the usual. You know,” he said evasively, still refusing to meet my gaze. My eyes narrowed threateningly.
“No, I don’t know,” I said firmly. Reaching up, I grasped his chin and none too gently turned his face back to mine, forcing him to meet my glare. “What in the name of Merlin happened to your face?”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say, Lily. I think my face is bloody well perfect,” he joked. I ignored this.
“Don’t try and change the subject, Potter. What were you doing when you were supposed to be doing the rounds that I so graciously agreed to take over for you? You said this wasn’t a prank! You lied to me!” My voice had risen in volume. I took a deep breath, and forced myself to talk in quieter tones. The effect was actually quite menacing. “Something happened to you, Potter, and you will tell me what it was.”
He stared down at me with a pained expression. After a deep, preparatory breath, he said, “I’m sorry, Lils, but I can’t. It’s not my secret to tell.”
I swelled up slightly in annoyance. “Potter-” I began, my voice full of menace.
“Lily,” he interrupted, staring hard at me. “Drop it.”
I stared at him intensely, thinking. He got cut up and hurt, and yet it wasn’t his secret to tell? What was he on about? I didn’t know whether to be frustrated at his stubbornness, or impressed by his loyalty. My need to know everything that was happening and my duties as Head Girl was definitely making the first option more prominent at the moment.
He remained silent, his hazel eyes meeting my green ones as I thought. I looked, really looked, into them as I thought, searching them as though the answer lay within. His eyes searched me as well, stubborn and yet almost tender at the same time. The strangest feeling fluttered in my stomach. Almost a queasiness but more pleasant than that. And I definitely did not like it.
“Alright, fine, Potter. But this is not over,” I said warningly and quickly tilted his face to the side again to observe the cut on his face; and also to break eye contact. The fluttering feeling remained. It must be hunger.
“What’s your analysis, Healer Evans? Am I going to live?” he asked in a teasing tone. I rolled my eyes before reaching up with my other hand to lightly touch just below the cut, standing up on the tips of my toes to get more on a level with it.
“A lot of dirt has gotten inside it,” I said slowly, my tone suspicious. What were they doing, rolling around in the muck? His robes certainly made it look like they had. “You should have Madam Pomfery take a look at this, and at your chest and such. She needs to clean it out, to make sure it doesn’t get infect-”
“Prongs, where’d you disappear to? We’ve been looking all...” A voice trailed off, coming from the portrait hole. I turned to look at who had come in the common room.
Black and Peter were on either side of an ashen-faced Remus, whose expression was that of the deepest guilt. He was staring blankly at the floor in front of him, and seemed oblivious to the world. He also sported some bad cuts and bruises, as did Black. Peter seemed to be the only one who escaped without serious injury.
I could tell that Sirius had been the one who had spoken; I recognized his voice. Now however, he was staring at Potter and I with a smug expression, a smirk forming on his face. “..over for you,” he finished, the smirk growing ever larger. “Are we interrupting something?”
I stared at him in confusion before realizing what this looked like. I was standing on my tip toes still, my face only a foot away from Potter’s. One hand was holding his chin, and the fingers of my other hand were resting lightly on his cheek. My clothing definitely did not help the situation.
“N-no, of course not!” I squeaked and snatched my hands back, stumbling back a few steps. “W-what made you think that? There’s n-nothing going on! Ridiculous!”
This only caused Black to raise an eyebrow and run his eyes over me, taking in the tank top and short shorts I was wearing. I narrowed my eyes and crossed my arms across my chest as Peter released a quiet snigger. I turned my heated gaze on him, swelling up angrily and he averted his gaze, paling significantly. I smirked mentally. Good to know I still instilled fear in the hearts of many.
My confidence renewed, I turned back to Potter, quickly turning business-like. “As I said, you should see Madam Pomfrey about those,” I emphasized, gesturing to his cuts and bruises. I looked back at the other Marauders and raised an eyebrow. “You three as well.” My expression turned worried as I took in the appearance of the dead looking Remus again and my voice softened significantly, “Take good care of Remus, boys. He looks...” I didn’t finish the sentence. There were no words for it really. He was feeling a pain I would probably never know. He didn’t even react at all to the conversation, so lost he was in his own mind.
“Don’t worry about good ole Moony here. He’ll be alright,” Potter said. His voice was kind but also determined, as though he felt it a mission to make Moon- er, Remus, feel better about whatever happened.
I gave a terse nod. “We’ll continue our conversation later,” I said, giving him a significant look. Seeing Remus this way made me even more curious about what had happened. “Goodnight, James. Or good morning..whichever,” I said and spun, stalking away and up to the dormitory.
“Thanks, Lily,” he called out from behind me. The flutter returned.
It was hard for me not to fall asleep during the lessons that day. I had collected my supplies from the common room, which were in a neat pile on an end table. Somebody must have stacked them up for me there, presumably a house elf. Though for some reason, it felt like it wasn’t a little elf that did it for me. I was so tired in fact, that I fell asleep during History of Magic. This was a very un-Lily like thing to do, and good thing, too, or else Binns might have given me a detention.
“Lily, what’s on your mind? You’ve been distracted all day,” a familiar soprano voice said from beside me.
Alice and I were walking down a corridor, on our way to dinner. Her question snapped me out of the stupor I had again fallen into. I gave her a look of confusion.
“Haven’t I told you?”
She raised an eyebrow intimidatingly. “No, but you’re about to. Did something happen last night during rounds or something?”
I huffed and rolled my eyes as I thought about the events of that morning. “Something like that. You see, last night I fell asleep in the common room while I was writing my essays, and...” I trailed off as a familiar voice caught my attention. A voice that I had unsettled business with. My eyes narrowed automatically as we entered the Entrance Hall, a group of four particularly mischievous boys walking towards the set of double doors, no doubt on their way to dinner as well.
“Potter!” I called out in a loud, demanding tone. The Marauders froze and visibly cringed as my voice rang out across the Hall and I smirked. That’s right boys, Lily Evans is in the vicinity. We continued towards them and Alice gave me a questioning look, her expression amused. I shrugged, “I have something I have to discuss with him. It’s about something that happened last night, I’ll fill you in once I learn what happened myself.”
The petite girl beside raised her eyebrows even higher, a smirk forming on her face. “Ooohh, about last night is it? With Potter? Oh yes, you will definitely be filling me in,” she laughed evilly and hurried away from me into the Great Hall, leaving me to stare after her in shock and confusion. What in the name of Merlin..?
“Are you sure we can leave you alone, mate?” Sirius was asking Potter in a low voice as I approached. Remus still looked a little under the weather but he wasn’t as bad as he had been that morning. Peter was twisting his hands nervously.
“Yeah, Prongs, she’ll eat you alive! I mean, just look at her-”
“Look at my what, Peter?” I asked from right behind them, my tone dangerously innocent. And yes, that is possible to pull off. My arms were crossed and I was tapping my foot, one eyebrow raised. He spun so quickly he almost fell, emitting a terrified squeak. It was incredibly rat-like.
“See you, mate!” he cried out and scurried off into the Great Hall, a confused Remus being drug behind him, leaving Potter, Black, and I behind. I rolled my eyes.
“Honestly, I wasn’t going to do anything,” I stated. Black chuckled but Potter just sat there looking nervous. He knew what I was there for.
“Well, you’re very convincing, Lily dearest,” Black said with a smirk. This brought a reaction out of Potter. He not-too-discreetly elbowed Sirius in the ribs and growled in what was supposed to be a quiet tone, “Dearest?”
I couldn’t help the grin that spread across my face. Wait..I was grinning? At Potter getting jealous? I cleared my throat and arranged my features into a more serious expression.
“I can’t help the fact that you lot haven’t any backbone,” I said matter-of-factly. “It’s a wonder you’re in Gryffindor.”
“Oi!” they shouted simultaneously.
“We do too have backbone!” Black said indignantly.
I rolled my eyes. “Sure you do, Sirius. Now, if you’d excuse us, I have something I need to discuss with Potter.”
I definitely did not like the look that Sirius gave me when I said this. “Ooohh, right. Something to discuss,” he said, using air quotes. My eyes narrowed.
“Yes, to discuss. Now clear off,” I said, waving a hand at him dismissively. He chuckled and raised his hands up defensively.
“Alright, alright, no need to be feisty. Please, don’t let me get in the way of your discussion. Remember, Prongs, there’s a lovely broom cupboard just over yonder!” he said merrily. My cheeks heated up and I took a step towards him threateningly.
“Black,” I warned and he barked out a laugh, quickly retreating into the Great Hall. As he did so, he called out, “Have fun, you cute couple you!”
“Why that little-!” I said, balling up my fists. Potter chuckled from beside me and I spun to glare at him. He ran a hand through his hair, his cheeks slightly pink and an embarrassed look on his face.
“Don’t mind Padfoot,” he said kindly. “He’s just being..well, Padfoot.” He chuckled again and I took a deep breath, forcing myself to relax my fists.
“Right,” I said firmly, more to myself than Potter. I realized we were standing in front of the entrance to the Great Hall. “Come on,” I said and grabbed his hand, pulling him after me and over to the Grand Staircase. When I spun to face him, I saw him staring down at our hands with a gormless expression on his face. I hastily dropped his and crossed my arms, clearing my throat uncomfortably. “Er, right, so. Tell me, why you and the others were so badly cut up this morning. You look fine now...” I trailed off, raking my eyes over his face and chest. Despite a faint line where he had been cut and the dark circles under his eyes, there was no evidence to how he had looked that morning. He hadn’t been in the morning classes, presumably being cared for by Madam Pomfrey.
“Lily,” he said and sighed, looking anywhere but my face. He finally settled for looking over my shoulder, fixing his eyes on nothing. “We were just-”
“Look at me,” I said firmly.
He dropped his gaze to the floor, his expression guilty. “What?”
“Look at me, James,” I repeated. It was probably the use of his first name that caused it, but he lifted his gaze to meet mine, his expression surprised.
I narrowed my eyes as I studied him, my arms still crossed stubbornly over my chest. “Now, tell me the truth about what happened last night, not some lie you lot cooked up to explain it. What were you doing that bloodied you up and made it so you couldn’t do rounds?” I asked, my tone interrogative.
Students were beginning to mill about in the Entrance Hall, coming down for dinner. Some of them passed by us and gave curious looks. Lily Evans and James Potter having a somewhat civil conversation? Impossible. Potter had noticed, and looked away from me to glance around uncomfortably.
“Now isn’t the best time, Lily,” he said as another student passed close to us, most definitely in hearing range.
I huffed in annoyance. He was most stalling this conversation for later but I couldn’t exactly argue. There were a lot of potential eavesdroppers around us now, and whatever happened was serious enough that Potter wanted to keep it hidden. I gave a terse nod, agreeing. But when Potter moved to head towards the Great Hall, I reached out and grabbed his arm to stop him. He gave me an inquiring look.
“Rounds. Tonight. You’ll explain then,” I stated in a resolute tone. He sighed but nodded.
“Alright. Tonight,” he agreed and walked off towards the Great Hall, a group of girls batting their eyelashes at him as he passed with an echo of, “Hello, James!” and “Alright, Jamesie?” with giggles in between the expressions.
I rolled my eyes in unexplainable annoyance and stalked off towards the Great Hall myself.
When I entered, I saw Alice sitting with Frank. Both of them looked shy but incredibly happy as well. I caught her eye and grinned at her, giving a sly wink. She blushed and gave an embarrassed smile before sticking her tongue out at me. I laughed and shook my head before scanning the table for a place to sit. I wasn’t going to interrupt her and Frank’s little party.
The seats were, for the most part, filled. I groaned as I saw one of the only available spots. Sighing, I resigned myself to accept this horrible fate, and walked towards them with heavy feet.
I sat down on the bench with a grumpy expression on my face and snatched up a fork, annoyance seeping through each of my movements. Angrily, I stabbed a slice of roast beef and put it on my plate. I was happy for Alice and Frank, but I was NOT happy that this was the only available spot to sit at.
After a moment of angry slicing, I realized that the conversation had stopped as soon as I sat down. I looked up to see four faces watching me in shock. Peter’s mouth was actually hanging open, displaying the bite of roast beef inside. I looked away from him, revulsion on my face, to look at Sirius, who had begun to speak.
“Er, Lily, are you sure this is where you meant to sit down?” he asked tentatively, looking at me as though I’d gone mental.
I rolled my eyes. “Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be? Pass a roll, would you, James?” I asked, my tone civil but reserved. I was not a happy camper. He only answered with a shocked stare. I rolled my eyes and looked at Remus instead, who was staring at me with the same expression. “Remus, would you?”
“What? Oh, er, yeah, sure,” he said, and passed me a roll, looking a little bit dazed.
“Thank you,” I said politely, accepting it and beginning to spread butter across it, the boys still remaining silent. I glanced up, eyebrows raised. “Is there a problem?”
Remus was the first to recover completely. He shook his head, ridding himself of the dazed look and gave me a hesitant smile. “No, not at all, Lily. Er...so where’s Alice?”
“With Frank,” I answered simply, taking a bite.
“With Frank?” Peter asked in a confused tone as the others nodded knowingly.
“Honestly, Wormtail, haven’t you noticed the way they drool over each other?” Black asked, rolling his eyes.
“Oh,” Peter said and shrugged, resuming his feast. Apparently, nothing was as interesting to him as the food in front of him. He’d probably ask about it later.
“So Lily, Prongs..that was a short discussion,” Sirius said, smirking. “Is he as bad at snogging as I’ve heard he is, then?” I swallowed automatically to make a sharp retort. Bad idea. I choked on my roll, and he patted my back as he laughed in that strange, barking way of his.
“What?!” three voices shouted.
“Lily?” Remus asked, eyes wide.
“Prongs?” Peter gasped in a shocked voice, actually abandoning his food for a moment.
“Bad at snogging?” James spluttered, indignant.
“Sirius! We weren’t..snogging!” I gasped out, still coughing violently. He only laughed, obviously enjoying himself.
“I know you weren’t, Lily. Calm down,” he said with another laugh. This, of course, only made me swell up more.
“Calm down?” I practically shrieked at the same time that James demanded, “Who said I was bad at snogging?”
Peter, Remus, and Sirius were all laughing now. James and I were still both fuming, glaring at the other three boys in turn. This was going to be an interesting dinner.
Three hours later I found myself sitting in the common room, smiling and nodding as Alice gushed on about Frank. She was more excited about this than I was the day I got my Hogwarts acceptance letter. And that was something to be amazed about. I had screamed in excitement, hugging a stricken Petunia, excited that what Sev..Snape had been explaining to us was real.
“..and he’s just so sweet, he always knows exactly what to say! It’s like he just...” she ranted on, gazing into space like a lovestruck puppy. I smiled and nodded, just like a best friend was supposed to while discreetly peeking out the window to see how late it was getting. Definitely time for rounds.
I waited until she paused to take a breath and tried to interrupt her as kindly as possible. “Hey, Alice, sorry to break in, but I’ve got to go and do rounds,” I said in an amused tone. She blinked and refocused on my face, still looking rather dreamy.
“Hmm? Oh, right, rounds. Have fun, Lily,” she practically sighed, returning to staring off into space, probably continuing her nonstop monologue mentally.
I shook my head, smiling at her dazed state, and rose from my spot in my favorite armchair. Potter would be meeting me outside the portrait hole and he had better have a good story to compensate for his injuries.
True to his word, he was outside, leaning casually against the opposite stone wall and winking at a pair of girls who were entering, causing them to burst into a fit of giggles. I rolled my eyes, my face heating angrily. He didn’t have to be such a smarmy prat all the time!
I stepped aside to allow the girls past me and, after they had giggled their way into the common room, stalked up to him, eyes narrowed. “Having fun, Potter?” I asked venomously.
His expression turned innocent. Too innocent. “Why, whatever are you talking about, Lils?” he asked.
I answered him with a roll of the eyes and jerked my head to the side. “Come on, let’s go. Students should all be back in their respective common rooms by this time of night.”
He nodded and we set off, walking side by side down the corridor. It was quiet for a time, so long that the silence began to turn awkward.
I raised an eyebrow. “Did you just interrupt me?” I asked, my voice..teasing? What in sodding hell?
He raised one of his eyebrows as well, his expression amused. “I believe it was you that interrupted me, Lils.”
“Me? Ha!” I let out a derisive snort. “I only interrupt people who are worth interrupting. Besides, what I have to say is more important,” I said smugly, confident in my statement.
“Oh, is it?” he asked with a smirk. “I was just going to say that I caught Peter snogging Galena Yodunder in a remote corner right after dinner tonight.”
I stopped dead in my tracks, staring at him with an open mouth, eyes wide. “Galena? Peter?” I spluttered, shocked. “You’re kidding!”
He laughed, “Yeah, pretty much. But if it were true, wouldn’t that be pretty important?”
I snapped my mouth closed, scowling at how he’d tricked me. “No, it wouldn’t be,” I said and stalked forward again. He chuckled and followed after me, grinning.
“Well, what were you going to say?” he asked, tone light.
“I was going to ask about your mystery wounds. Or have you forgotten?” I asked, giving him a significant look. The atmosphere instantly became serious, the teasing tone gone as he stopped walking. We were on the fifth floor now.
“Look, Lily,” he sighed, running a hand through his forever messy hair. It looked cute, sort of soft. What would it feel like to-
WOAH! Lily! What is wrong with you lately? This is Ja- POTTER we’re talking about here. Merlin’s beard, I needed more sleep. I shook my head to clear it and focused on what Potter was saying.
“We were, er, in the Forbidden Forest. We got lost. Moony climbed a tree to try and see if he could find a way out. A branch broke off and fell to the ground, and the noise attracted some sort of animal. We were attacked and, well, that’s it,” he said, staring straight into my eyes. I raised an eyebrow, and he crossed his arms over his chest, adopting a defiant stance.
“Oh, really?” I asked sarcastically.
I snorted and rolled my eyes. “Lovely story, I’m sure that took you all day to think up. But spit out the truth, James. Potter,” I corrected myself quickly, clearing my throat as if to cover up the slip.
“That’s what happened,” he said firmly.
“Why are you lying to me?” I asked, crossing my arms as well.
“Lily, that’s what happened okay? Now drop it,” he practically growled. I eyed him curiously. Obviously that was not what had happened. A branch attracted a mysterious beast? Right. And even in that short little lie there were holes as big as the Great Hall itself. I drummed my fingers against my arm, observing him thoughtfully. He wasn’t going to tell me the truth any time soon, but I wasn’t going to give up on this.
I chewed the inside of my cheek, just staring at him, waiting until he felt uncomfortable. Potter didn’t back down, meeting my gaze coolly. Huh. Impressive.
After about a minute had passed, he sighed and took a step towards me. “Lily-”
He was interrupted by a loud crash coming from somewhere down the corridor. I whipped my head around, staring down the dark hallway with narrowed eyes. I pulled my wand slowly out of my pocket, murmuring, “Lumos.” Potter was doing the same thing. We exchanged a look and hurried on towards where the sound had come from, ready to carry out our job as Heads.
I know, I know. I updated?! o.o Impossible! But this chapter sort of came easily to me, so I did it! Woohoo! Don't hate me TOO much, even though you pretty much have every right to. I'm sorry everybody, and I hope this semi-long chapter can make up for it! Reviews would make me very very happy. x]
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