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Chapter 8 : At the match
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Lily walked back to Gryffindor common room dragging her feet. Her conversation with Severus had given her a lot to think about, but it definitely hadn’t made her day any better. Now she had to figure out how to approach Sirius about his brother, and she knew he would probably react badly – who was she to interfere? She shouldn’t really be getting involved in his family problems. She had been on friendly terms with the marauders for only a few weeks, and she didn’t really want to go back to the old days, where every encounter with them had been a trial. Then again, if she wanted to repair her friendship with Severus, she would probably need to break off all ties with Sirius and James. She stopped still in the corridor and covered her face with her hands. Why did things have to be so complicated?
It was James Potter’s voice. He must have been on his way back from the hospital wing. She sighed and dropped her hands to her sides.
“Hi James.” She answered him wearily, giving him a half-hearted smile.
“Are you alright?” he asked her. “You look a bit stressed.”
“No I’m fine,” she said. “It’s just…”
She stopped, as it came to her that James would know better than anyone, how to speak to Sirius about Regulus.
“James,” she began again. “This might seem like a weird question, but has Sirius talked to you much about… his brother?”
James was surprised by the subject, but even more surprised that Lily Evans was starting up a conversation with him – it was an unheard of situation. He suppressed his delight in order to answer her coolly, and casually.
“A bit – they don’t get on. From what Sirius has said, Regulus is a bit of a brat. Why do you ask?”
“Oh it’s just that…” she took a breath. “Well, he’s kind of asked me to speak to Sirius for him.”
“You? Why you?”
“Well, I think it’s because me and Severus were…are… well you know, because I don’t hate all Sytherins.”
James ruffled up his hair, before looking back at Lily, puzzled.
“What does he want you to tell him?”
Lily worried that she might be betraying Regulus’s confidence by confiding in James, but decided that Sirius would probably relate anything she told him back to his best friend anyway.
“He’s having trouble at home, with his mum and dad. He wants Sirius to move back, you know, so he’s got some support.”
James looked at her, as if she was mad. He gave a low whistle.
“I doubt Sirius’ll like that.” He said. “If Regulus had given him some support when he’d needed it, he mightn’t have had to move out in the first place.”
Lily was silent, thinking. James continued.
“Regulus was always the favourite, from what Sirius says. He wasn’t a rebel like Sirius.”
“I can imagine Sirius to be a handful.” She said with a smile. James however, didn’t smile back.
“It wasn’t like that.” He said, in defence of his friend. “Sirius’s family are all into dark magic and stuff, rebelling against that isn’t a bad thing.”
“Oh, of course not.” Lily replied quickly, shame-faced.
“It’s okay.” James reasurred her, anxious that she shouldn’t feel bad. “It’s just that I think Regulus went in for all the pure-blood, dark-side stuff, to impress the parents, and Sirius didn’t. I think Sirius felt that Regulus should have taken his side more, and their side less – if you know what I mean.”
Lily nodded. She could understand how a little brother like that, might be infuriating. She also understood that it would be awkward to talk to Sirius about him.
“Still,” she said. “You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for Regulus.”
James gave a non-commital shrug.
“Maybe.” He said, “But the stupid kid sent Sirius back a load of his stuff on his birthday. Clearing all his things out of the house – if he wanted him home then why would he go out of his way to piss him off like that?”
“Maybe that wasn’t what he was trying to do…” Lily suggested. “Maybe he thought Sirius might want his stuff?”
James looked startled, as if he hadn’t considered this possibility.
“You could be right.” He said.
“So,” Lily said, after a moment of quiet between them. “Do you think Sirius’d mind me mentioning it to him? I sort of promised I would.”
“Better you than me.” James laughed – then appeared to change his mind.
“Actually, that’s a bit, what’s the word? Un-chivalrous. Do you want me to ask him about it for you?”
Lily shook her head.
“Sounds great, but I think I should do it. He asked me after all. Thanks for offering anyway.”
“Oh that’s fine.” James replied. “Happy to help.”
There was an awkward moment – the first in the conversation, and Lily shifted her feet awkwardly.
“Right then, I’ll see you around?” she said.
“Yeah.” He replied. Lily turned to go.
“Wait..” James stopped her. “You coming to watch the match against Slytherin tomorrow? It might be a chance to talk to Sirius. And you can watch us completely destroy the other team while you’re there.” He grinned, but Lily thought he looked less sure of himself than usual.
“Probably.” She answered. “I normally come to the matches anyway.”
“You do?” James looked shocked by this piece of information, though why he should she had no idea. Most people did go to watch, and cheer for their houses.
“Yeah.” She continued. “I love Quidditch – although I can’t play it to save my life. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
They parted, and Lily headed up to Gryffindor tower. She didn’t feel much better about the looming conversation with Sirius, but at least she knew enough about the situation now to tread carefully. James had been quite helpful, and surprisingly easy to talk to. Looking back she wished he had got over his strange fixation with her earlier. She would have liked to have had him as a friend.
The next day dawned bright and clear – excellent Quidditch conditions, Lily realised. The match against Slytherin was that morning, and she was quite eager to go and watch. If Gryffindor lost, then they would be out of the cup, if they won, they would play Ravenclaw in the final. She walked down to breakfast with Mary, Rachel and Alice (Elizabeth would rather sleep in), and took seats at the far end of the Gryffindor table, not wanting to disturb the team, who were all eating together. James Potter caught Lily’s eye and smiled – she mouthed a ‘good luck’ back to him.
“You and Potter seem to be getting on better.” Rachel observed, as she helped herself to toast and jam. Lily shrugged.
“Well, there’s no use in holding a grudge.” She replied. “He’s not as annoying as he used to be.”
“True.” Mary joined in. “But you don’t think he might be getting the wrong idea, about your whole new attitude to him?”
Lily rolled her eyes.
“The other day you thought I liked Black, now this. Honestly, I have no romantic interest in any of the marauders.”
“You mean you don’t even fancy the gorgeous Peter Pettigrew?”
“Don’t be mean!”Lily giggled, as Rachel snorted into her pumpkin juice.
Once they’d finished their breakfast, Lily and the others headed down towards the Quidditch pitch. They took seats in the stands beside two Hufflepuff girls who they knew reasonably well – Jenny Nightshade, and her friend Rowan.
“Thank Merlin, now I can get some decent conversation.” Jenny told them as they sat down. “Rowan’s gone all moody on me, just because I said Gryffindor is clearly better than any of the other house teams.” (Rowan played seeker for Hufflepuff.) Despite her wish for conversation, Jenny barely let anyone else get a word in as she began chattering away to the Gryffindor girls, not even halting when the match kicked off. Lily was considering telling her to shut up, but felt it might be a bit rude – she would put up with it, at least until Mary came to the end of her patience, which she was bound to do soon.
“Does that girl ever shut up?”
Sirius Black had turned round in his seat two rows in front of Lily, where he sat with Remus and Peter. Lily giggled.
“Shush,” she told him, glancing at Jenny, who had not heard anything, absorbed as she was in lecturing Alice about something or other.
“James said you wanted to speak to me?” Sirius looked up at her, interested. He was wearing his Hogwarts cloak over muggle clothing, for warmth, and had a Gryffindor scarf draped casually around his neck. His hair was windswept.
“After the game.” She answered, realising that this obviously wasn’t the best time. “Or whenever, really.”
“Hmmm.” He pondered with a raise of his eyebrows, before turning back to face the pitch, with a bellow of “GO ON PRONGSIE!” as James flew towards goal with the quaffle. Three quarters of the stands rose to their feet, as James scored ten points for Gryffindor, but as the crowd settled, Sirius turned to Lily again.
“So you always come to the games eh?”
Lily was confused.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?”
“Because you ‘hate the smugness and big-headed arrogance of Quidditch players like James Potter.’” Sirius imitated her voice. She had said something like that once.
“It doesn’t stop me enjoying the Game itself though. What are you getting at anyway?”
“Nothing – we just thought you didn’t go to watch the Quidditch.”
His tone was casual, but there was a question behind his words. She couldn’t decipher his meaning however, as his expression was guarded. Lily shrugged at him, still miffed at his un-flattering imitation of her voice. He turned back to the pitch.
“What was that about?” Mary muttered to her.
“No idea.” Lily replied, truthfully.
Back on the Quidditch pitch, Gryffindor were doing well. James, who had always been the star of the team, had scored three goals by now, and the Sytherins were getting desperate. One of their chasers deserted his team mates, to hold a whispered conversation with the burliest of the two Slytherin beaters, giving Lily (and probably many other Gryffindor supporters) reason for suspicion. Their reasoning was proved to be correct, when the minute James gained possession of the Quaffle, the opposing chaser cut straight across his path, blocking him long enough for the beater to aim a bludger, squarely at James’s unprotected back. An angry roar issued from the Gryffindor supporters, as the bludger made contact, and their star player crumpled, clutching his broom and beginning to spiral towards the ground. So far were they occupied in fact, that nobody noticed the glint of gold, hovering by the Gryffindor goalposts.
“The snitch!” somebody finally yelled out, but it was too late. The Sytherin seeker was already zooming towards it, his opponent too far away to realistically have a chance. In a moment it was over – the Gryffindors dejected, James Potter lying on the floor of the pitch, and Regulus Black, Sytherin’s star player, soaring above the stands in a lap of triumph, the snitch clutched tight in his fist.
“Merlin, I hope Potter’s all right.” Mary muttered to Lily, who had gone white as a sheet. “The force of that could have cracked his spine….”
Lily made a strangled noise.
“Don’t worry,” Alice assured her, rubbing her arm gently. “He’ll be fine.”
The stands were beginning to evacuate, three quarters of it’s occupants grumbling at Slytherin’s triumph. Lily could see Sirius and the other two marauders pushing through the crowd, fighting to get to their friend who still lay on the pitch. Through her anxiety for James, Lily realised that due to the outcome of the match, this must be the worst possible time to discuss with Sirius the merits of forgiving his little brother. She resolved to put it off until a much later date.
Despite the efforts of the marauders to move faster, Sirius and co. reached the pitch only around the same time as Lily and her friends. They dashed onto the field, only to be told by Proffessors Mcgonagal and Sprout, not to crowd him. Lily craned her neck from her position at the edge of the field – was James in a lot of pain?
“Lily, are you coming or not?” Mary asked. Lily looked back – her eyes full of worry. The expression on her face made Mary smile. “Lover boy will be fine.” She assured her, her words insinuating (as Alice’s had) that Lily’s concern was more than that of an objective third party. “Madame Pomfry can mend bones in a second.”
“Yeah, of course.” Lily replied, casually. “Potter’ll be fine.”
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