Chapter 14 : Epilogue
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Just after dinner, James had gone back to his old dormitory in the Gryffindor tower with Sirius, Peter and Remus. He looked around; it felt like ages since he’s been up here. Of course, now he lived in the Heads room, which was further down the corridor from the circular portrait of the fat lady. It was good to spend a bit of time with the marauders – he hadn’t gone out of a night time with them since last year. A fact which, he had no idea, they planned to address him on.
“We’re going out for a bit of a run tonight, come with us!” Peter said immediately, forgetting that Remus had told him earlier that he wanted to speak first.
“You’ve been spending all your time with Lily lately, which we totally get, but you can’t just forget about us,” Remus began gently. “I know things have changed, and we’ve all grown up a bit, but we’re still the same four guys we always were, you know?”
“Yeah, come on Prongs,” Sirius encouraged. “Bros before-“
“Don’t say that!” James dramatically clapped a hand over Sirius’ mouth. “We’re semi-respectable now, remember?”
Sirius shrugged, said something muffled under James hand, pointed at himself, and then at James, and folded his arms.
“Exactly,” Remus nodded towards Sirius. “What he just said.”
James sighed and dropped his hand.
“Look – I promised Lily that we’d never spend a night apart. I can’t just abandon her for you guys!”
“But you’ve had no problem abandoning us for the past few months,” Remus said moodily. “Just come out tonight with us, I’m not even changing tonight, we’ll just mess about, come on.”
“I haven’t been abandoning you, come on Moons, that’s not like you to get all grouchy.”
“Friends are...important to me,” Remus said quietly, taking a few steps back.
“Me, too,” added Peter, after a pause.
“Just once in the whole year, I’m sure she won’t hate you, come on Prongs it’s not the same without you out there,” Sirius implored, his eyes burning into James’.
“We all know it’s not exactly safe around here,” James whispered, glancing around the empty room as though suddenly worried about being overheard. “I know Lily can look after herself but I don’t feel right leaving her alone.”
“There are Aurors, like, every third corridor along,” Peter mumbled, shrugging.
“Yeah, and not Aurors two out of three corridors,” James replied.
“Huh?” Peter scratched his head.
“I don’t know, it made sense in my mind,” James threw up his hands in frustration. “You know what I mean.”
“Two out of three marauders know what you mean,” Remus said cheekily, the joke about Peter had no effect on the none the wiser animagus who was still scratching his head.
“Please James?” Sirius asked, looking hopeful. “We miss you.”
“Well, okay. But Lily’s not going to like this,” he said worriedly. The other marauders whooped and hugged him, already jabbering on about their plans for later that night.
Eventually, it came time for James to explain to Lily what was happening.
“I sort of expected this to happen. You’re tired of me, aren’t you?” She asked, as he finished telling her where he was going (of course, he had waited until the last minute to tell Lily, he was about to walk out the door.)
“No! Look, I didn’t want to do this, they talked me into it. You know I’d rather be here, but, well...I’ve been a pretty lousy friend lately. I haven’t spent anytime with the guys.”
“You spend all day with them!” She had begun shouting. This was not a good sign.
“It’s not the same,” James said feebly.
“Well fine, just go then,” she grunted out, not looking at him.
“Er...can I have a kiss goodnight?” He asked.
“Of course not!” She said angrily. He nodded, and headed towards the door. Just as he was leaving, she ran up to him, and placed a hand on his shoulder, turning him around to face her.
James laid his hands on her shoulders, stroking them lightly, as she ran her hands through his hair.
“I’m still angry,” she whispered into his ear, nibbling slightly on his earlobe. “I’m so not talking to you tomorrow.”
He swallowed hard, and kissed her neck, marvelling at the softness of her skin.
“Still want to go?” She asked.
“Urgh, fine then, leave,” she almost shouted, kicking his backside as he hurried out the door. She slammed it behind him, then sank down to the floor in front of it, arms folded, as a tear slipped out.
“See if I care,” she whispered, resting her chin on her knees which were drawn up to her chest. Suddenly the room looked very large and she felt very small in it.
Lily tried to go to bed that night around ten o’clock, but just couldn’t bring herself to lie down in it. She wrapped her black cloak around her body and shivered slightly in the cold air, wondering when James’ would get back. A few moments passed, and she just couldn’t stand waiting any longer. She decided to go and find him.
Peeking her head around the door, she saw the Auror guarding the corridor was otherwise engaged, about ten metres down the hall he was reprimanding a Hufflepuff sixth-year who had apparently just emerged from the Gryffindor tower. Lily smiled a little, imagining exactly what that student had been doing in there and what excuses he would be coming up with. She snuck away down the corridor with backwards glances towards the Auror every now and then to make sure she wasn’t seen.
She turned onto the main corridor that lead to the stairwell when the hair at the back of her neck prickled. Unsheathing her wand from her belt loop she spun around, and instinctively cried out a shielding spell.
About ten cloaked and masked figures stood before her, their wands out and pointing at her in a non-mistakable threatening way. And then the spells started.
Lily could feel her shield weakening as the Death Eaters attempted to break through the blue, shimmering force field around her. It took all her effort to keep it in place, when all of a sudden, she felt it strengthening. At first she thought it was taking less effort because it was fading, but her eyes did not deceive her – the protego charm was getting slightly stronger.
She thought wildly of James, of Aurors, anybody, she tried to see exactly who it was that was helping her, so she could find an island of safety in this terribly dangerous sea. Then realisation hit her – there was no safety here. Only a person who truly loved her. A person whom she truly detested.
A tiny bluish glow was on the tip of a wand belonging to one of the figures in the middle of the crowd. His words came back to her.
I’ll do all I can...I’ll try to protect you.
Even now, as the Death Eaters crowded around, trying to kill her, Severus Snape was saving her life.
“Stupefy!” An Auror’s voice called out, and Lily sighed with utter relief. The group before her scattered as a pair of Aurors appeared. One gave chase, the other stayed with Lily.
“Are you alright?” He asked, looking surprised to find Lily shaken yet unhurt.
“Yes, I suppose,” Lily answered softly, unsure of the sound of her own voice. “I want to speak with Professor Dumbledore.”
“Of course,” the Auror nodded. “I’ll take you to his office.”
Dumbledore was getting ready for bed when the knock came at the door. He sat Lily down and she told him the same story she had recounted before – that the Death Eaters were trying to kill her.
Lily felt fresh tears burn her cheeks as she told Dumbledore about Snape, and how he had saved her life.
“I wondered, if it really came to it, and they were about to execute me, if he would step out, you know, if he would turn and face them,” she took a shuddering breath in and her face shook as she tried to hold back her anguish. “And I knew that he wouldn’t. He’s such a coward.”
She bent forward, weeping into her lap. Dumbledore rose and walked around his desk slowly. Lily sensed him standing next to her moments before he placed a comforting hand on her back.
“I’m sorry you had to go through that,” he said. “I can’t imagine why the Aurors didn’t find you sooner. Surely they were making noise.”
Lily knew about muffliato – she remembered when the brilliant mind of Severus had invented it back in second year. He’d run up to her – she was studying by the lake – and had excitedly told her about it. He’d then demonstrated it, shouting “James is a stupid head” towards the marauders who were only a few yards away. She smiled sadly, wishing that boy had never left her, the ambitious, genius; sweet, troubled boy who had been her best friend during those times. She reminded herself he was gone now – replaced by a twisted, ugly, evil version – but just couldn’t bring herself to tell Dumbledore about muffliato. Fresh tears came to her eyes as she felt so ashamed – but she just didn’t want to betray the twelve year old boy she pictured in her mind.
Meanwhile, James was returning to the Heads room, having left the other marauders playfully shoving each other in the common room. He knocked tentatively on his girlfriends door.
“Lily? I’m back. Are you still mad at me?” Getting no answer, he pushed her door open. Her bed was cold, unslept in.
“Oh my God,” he said under his breath, immediately panicking. He quickly checked his bed – maybe she’d slipped in there, missing him – but she was nowhere to be seen. Without thinking, almost like on auto pilot, James left and headed to the Headmasters office. He had to remind himself to keep breathing.
As he approached the Headmasters office, he saw Dumbledore walking down the spiral staircase that marked its entrance.
“Professor! Lily’s missing; I don’t know where she is!”
“Relax, Potter, I’m right here,” said a curt voice, as Lily came down the stairs behind Dumbledore.
“Lily!” James cried, running towards her and nearly knocking her over as he hugged her fiercely. “Oh my God, I’m sorry, I went back to the room, I didn’t know where you were, and I’m so sorry I just, I feel so bad.”
He was babbling. Lily pushed him off her. He grabbed her hands, she shook them off, refusing to meet his eyes.
“What are you doing here?” James asked, as though he’d just realised Lily had descended from the office.
“There was an incident tonight, Mr Potter,” Dumbledore said, walking off and motioning for the pair to follow him. “The unfortunate students who have succumbed to the Dark Lords desires found her and attempted to execute her, which I had hoped was no longer a familiar routine, but for some reason Miss Evans was out of bed and the patrolling Aurors didn’t seem to notice what was happening.”
“What on earth were you doing out of bed?” James yelled, grabbing onto her hands again.
“I was looking for you!” She shouted back, throwing her hands up in the air. His face crumbled.
“I’m so, so sorry,” he said softly.
“So you keep saying,” she grunted, still angry at him.
“I think you’d both better go to bed,” Professor Dumbledore said quietly, they had indeed reached the Heads room. “Calm down and talk to each other in the morning. In times like this, we shouldn’t spend our time yelling at our loved ones.”
“I do love you, Lils,” James said seriously.
“I know you do,” she replied, before turning to enter the room. As she did, something came over her, and she suddenly felt incredibly stupid for not being completely truthful with Dumbledore earlier.
“Muffliato,” she whispered.
“What was that, Miss Evans?” He asked.
“Sev...Snape, he, he invented a charm. Muffliato. It’s a silencing charm in reverse, so no one can hear you. Kind of like sound proofing a room,” she kept her eyes to the ground. She knew she was doing the right thing, but still felt absurdly guilty, as if she were betraying Snape. “I thought I should tell you, so you can figure out how to reverse it.”
She expected him to ask why she had waited until the eleventh hour to tell him. But he surprised her.
“Thank you for telling me, Miss Evans.”
“Goodnight, Professor,” she said, pointedly not saying goodnight to James. She then entered the heads room and shut the door behind her. James went to follow her, but Dumbledore stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“Keep yourself between them and her,” Dumbledore said softly, leaning towards James slightly. “They won’t want to spill pure blood.”
James nodded and stood a little straighter.
“I will,” he said, before adding more to emphasise how much he would try to protect her. “I’ll die for her if I have to.”
Dumbledore looked at him gravely, a sad expression in his eyes, as though he despaired for James.
“Well, I hope it never comes to that,” he said, not quite meeting James’ eyes. He made sure James was inside the room before turning and heading back to the little room behind his office, where he slept.
James looked around the empty room; Lily’s door was shut, as he had expected it to be.
“Lily?” He called out. There was no answer. She was ignoring him. After a while, Lily still hadn’t fallen asleep. She felt suitably shaken up by the evening’s events, and she felt horrible for the way she had gotten angry at James. Perhaps he had deserved it, perhaps not, but she felt as though she could have handled the situation better. She decided to apologise right then and there, and headed towards the threshold, planning to go to his room.
Lily opened her door to see James curled on the floor in front of it, sleeping, with his mouth slightly agape. She looked at him for a long time, before gathering a blanket off her bed and throwing it over him. Then, she crawled in next to him, and slept the rest of the night on the floor, as she never wanted to spend a night apart from him again.
Author’s Note: I’m so sorry this took so long to get up!! I got carried away writing ‘Fighting Back”. I hope you enjoyed the little bonus chapter! I just had to put Snape in, he’s one of the most interesting characters, don’t you think?
Anyway, thank you to everyone who reviewed this story! Over 200 reviews!! I’m so grateful :D