Chapter 5 : To Yourself Be True
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“But I am here,” Lily unexpectedly continued, her voice clear, “to tell you he did it for me.”
Lily Evans had never experienced, not once, the kind of silence that now filled the room. It’s the kind of silence where every single person in the room has a very important thought running through their mind, but not one is courageous enough to voice it. The kind of silence that feels as though it lasts a lifetime but in fact only lasts for one breathless moment.
“Excuse my language Professor, but what the frickin’ hell?”
Remington Oslo of course had to be the one to break the moment.
Professor McGonagall gave a sudden flick of her wand that resulted in Remington spitting and gagging on the soapsuds spilling from her mouth.
“You’re excused,” McGonagall replied.
During the pause in which every one of them stared at Lily Evans, she began to realise that she should have rehearsed what exactly she needed to say. After all, how do you tell a group of your closest friends, a group of those you most despise and a Professor whom you are under threat-of-failure to admire…that James Potter is innocent?
“Evie…” Lily whispered, suddenly unsure.
Evangeline didn’t have to say anything. She did not need to reply. She took Lily’s hand in her own and squeezed gently.
And that was when it hit Lily.
It hit Lily what her boyfriend had actually done to her.
What James had done for her.
The very essence of Henry’s betrayal, of his jerkish actions, of his complete and utter lack of compassion washed over her, hitting Lily like a wave of rushing water. It sucked the breath from her lungs.
But not the strength from her heart.
Henry Vale had made a deal. But he’d underestimated his bait.
“I do believe that is your cue to explain Miss Evans,” Professor McGonagall urged her.
With an overwhelming sense of justice…and a hint of vengeance, Lily cleared her throat and squared her shoulders.
She needed to teach Henry Vale a lesson.
“I’m not going to stand by,” Lily said, “And let you punish him Professor McGonagall when he not only did this to defend me…but also to a guy who well deserved it.”
Cue more silence.
“Wow…” James breathed.
“Were you being attacked Miss Evans?” McGonagall said enquiringly.
“Were you in danger?”
“Then as we have established that he did these things to defend you, yet you weren’t in any immediate danger, then I can assume Potter was in fact taking it upon himself not to defend your person but your dignity?”
“In a way…”
“Miss Evans, if you are going to continue to answer my questions in such an adverse manner then I shall ask you to leave. Potter’s motives clearly carry no weight in my decision.”
All of them began to protest in such a way that Professor McGonagall began to look outraged.
“Professor, I’m sure he had a good reason…”
“But what he did…”
“You’ve got to listen!”
“With all due respect Professor, he was doing your job,” Lily spoke up quite calmly causing them all to cease their objections.
An unusual expression crossed over McGonagall’s face, as though her features were not quite comfortable with forming it. It took a moment for them all to realise she was confused.
“Whatever do you mean Miss Evans?”
“What Henry Vale was doing Professor, may not have been endangering me physically, but had Potter not defended me, and everything had gone according to plan, I would have been scarred emotionally and perhaps psychologically. You can’t pretend that sort of abuse is not as harmful as physical abuse. You are supposed to be protecting us students from that. Potter was merely doing your job.”
Professor McGonagall considered these words carefully. However impertinent Lily Evans was being, it appeared that whatever Henry Vale’s actions were they had deeply affected her. Clearly she had faced some kind of truth and put aside her contempt for James Potter in order to do what she thought was right.
“Very well Miss Evans,” McGonagall said slowly, “But you are yet to inform me what exactly Mr Vale was doing, that led to this defence.”
Lily’s eyes flicked to James, to Evangeline then back to Professor McGonagall. She wasn’t so sure she wanted to be discussing such a private matter in front of so many people.
Well actually, just Sirius Black.
“Uh, to be honest,” said James Potter, “I thought Remington and I only knew the full story…”
Professor McGonagall frowned at James Potter.
“You mean to tell me, that each of these students came to your defence yet the majority of them did not know the full events of yesterday?”
“Yes Professor,” James said shuffling his feet, “I haven’t told any of them about the conversation I overheard, prior to the fight.”
“This conversation…” Professor McGonagall began.
“Please Professor,” Lily suddenly interrupted, “The reason I know about this conversation, is that an eye-witness approached me this morning and told me the entire story.”
“An eye-witness?” Remus piped up, “There was someone else there?”
“Not someone,” Evangeline stepped forward, “Something.”
It is always prudent to remember that things that happen at Hogwarts rarely happen anywhere else. In fact, should you tell a Muggle about the things you’d experienced at the school, they would have you committed to an insane asylum.
So it is rare for Hogwarts students to be surprised by anything at all.
And yet, what was about to happen would have each and every one of them gobsmacked.
“Sir Richard?” Lily called out the classroom door, “Sir Richard, would you join us please?”
Lily’s words resulted in a sudden onslaught of creaks, squeaks and thumps that one would only hear when metal is crunching together from movement. Or perhaps a better way to describe it would be, the type of sound you hear when a suit of armour is moving.
Because that is exactly what had just come through the door.
The very suit of armour that James had hidden behind as he listened in on Vale and Gray and the very suit of armour where Remington Oslo had told Lily and Evie to meet Henry this morning.
Remington Oslo threw a sly wink at James Potter.
“Is there a person…”
“A suit of armour?”
But the dropped jaws and voiced disbelief did not faze the suit of armour in question. Sir Richard Huntington–Muggleton was quite used to it after a millennia of guarding the seventh floor corridor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“Sir Richard is an eye-witness to the fight and the conversation in question,” Lily said as she accompanied the suit of armour into the classroom, “He told me the whole story and based on what he said I am here to tell you that James did it to defend me.”
“Oh that’d be right,” Remington remarked sarcastically, “She believes a bloody jumble of metal but not when I told her...”
“Well wouldn’t you?” Margie turned on her.
Remington opened her mouth angrily and then hesitated.
With a sudden loud creak that made a number of them wince, Sir Richard bowed lowly.
“Apologies my friends,” Sir Richard said standing up very straight, “I stepped me here as quickly as one can, but am not particularly nimble these days.”
And then he winked at Professor McGonagall.
Evangeline and Margie both broke into laughter, which they had to quickly disguise as rather loud coughing.
Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows.
“Are you sure you are fine to do this?” Lily whispered to him as he stood back up.
“To defend one’s friend Lady Lily, is a great honour,” Sir Richard replied softly.
“Well he’s not…oh never mind."
James had to rub his eyes and shake his head a little to make sure what he was seeing was in fact happening. A suit of armour, the suit of armour that he had hidden behind…was here to defend him?
No scrap that. The suit of armour was talking???
Sirius leaned over to whisper to James.
“Do you realise what this means?” Sirius said taking a side-glance at Sir Richard, “We’re going to have to be a lot more careful around the suits of armour in this place.”
“What were you doing in front of the suits of armour before?” James scoffed.
They both started to chuckle under their breaths, before Professor McGonagall caught their eye. Frowning down on them with an extremely disapproving expression, McGonagall was clearly trying to silence them.
Frankly, she’s the only person who could.
“The punishment for Mr Potter’s conduct is immediate expulsion,” she began sternly, “but if Sir Richard insists on defending him…I will hear his story. However I would also have to consider Mr Vale’s perspective.”
“I can go get him if you want Professor…” Sirius Black offered, a little suspiciously.
“I’m sure you would do so diligently Mr Black. But that won’t be necessary. I will summon him myself.”
Professor McGonagall now clasped her hands together and walked towards Sir Richard.
“Now if you please Sir Richard, tell me your story.”
Sir Richard’s chest puffed out as he realised the importance of his account. A student’s place at Hogwarts…his education…his future…all rested on his defence.
It was also painfully apparent that he was enjoying the attentions of one Professor McGonagall.
Sir Richard took them through exactly what he had seen…James and his Invisibility Cloak, Henry Vale and Gray exchanging words about a deal…even to the point that he mentioned Vale demanding double the reward money in order to bed Lily. And all of it revolved around a Quidditch game and James Potter.
As Lily Evans listened, her heart broke a little more. It was one thing to find out that the boy that you thought loved you…who had in fact told you he loved you…was dating you for a reward only payable in galleons.
It was another thing for Lily Evans to find out that her first real relationship was in fact a scam centred on James Potter.
And if it hadn’t have been for James, you would never have found out.
Just as Sir Richard got to the violent part, making it sound as though James was some kind of hero, Professor McGonagall stopped him.
“I see. That will be a satisfactory explanation,” McGonagall cut him off.
They all waited in silence.
“Miss Ford and Mr Black, please accompany Sir Richard back to his post,” she said pensively, “Miss Evans and Mr Potter I would like you to accompany me to the Headmaster’s Office.”
“Then this is farewell,” Sir Richard said bowing to Professor McGonagall and taking her hand, “Until next time Madam.”
Sir Richard leant over and kissed McGonagall’s hand lightly.
And with many more squeaks, creaks and thumps Sir Richard left the room.
There was a hush and then a slight moment of soft giggling and chuckling amongst them.
“You may all return to the Tower now.”
Professor McGonagall held her head high and swept from the room. Lily and James took a look at each other and then rushed after her.
“I think seeing a suit of armour hit on Professor McGonagall made this the weirdest experience of my life,” Evie said with a giggle, “And that’s saying something.”
“Who woulda thought, a suit of armour would come to James’s defence,” Sirius said with a snort.
“Well you know what they say about knights in shining armour…”
“Remus!” Ana shrieked, covering her blushing face in her hands as the rest of them burst forth into laughter again.
Trying to control himself, Sirius Black offered his arm to a beaming Evangeline Ford.
“Well madam,” he said mockingly, “I do believe we have a job to do.”
“You know, none of you seem particularly concerned about James,” Remington snapped, “You’re all acting as though this isn’t a big thing.”
An air of realisation descended on the room. Their laughter died very quickly to be replaced with a number of ashen faces. Ana exchanged a serious look with Evangeline. The expression on her face was as though she had just realised the gravity of the situation.
And for their plan.
“They wouldn’t though…would they?” Margie asked softly.
“What? Expel him? Damn well they would,” Remington answered, “He hit another student. I know James gets away with a heap and a half but this?”
“But what about Lily’s defence? That’s got to count for something right?” Sirius added.
“You bloody well hope so,” Remington said gravely, “Otherwise you can kiss Operation Happy Ending goodbye.”
After a very brief conversation, Professor Dumbledore dismissed James Potter from the room without a decision. McGonagall went with him.
Lily stood there alone in the Headmaster’s Office begrudgingly. She had never been inside the eclectic room for any reason, let alone having to defend James Potter.
For a moment, she wanted to laugh.
“Miss Evans,” Dumbledore addressed her, “Please sit down.”
Lily took a seat at the Headmaster’s desk, feeling a little paranoid with all the paintings staring down at her.
“I will not keep you from what I’m sure will be a very intriguing discussion with your friends, however I merely wish to enquire why you believed Sir Richard’s account and not the defence of Remington Oslo?”
“How did you...”
“I am your Headmaster Miss Evans. You must learn to have a little more faith in me.”
There was a moment in which Lily Evans was a little embarrassed.
“I knew that Sir Richard was held by the same magical force that protects Hogwarts,” Lily went on, “Its occupants are tied to the castle’s protection and can’t lie. I knew he was telling the truth.”
“Ah excellent. I would expect nothing less from you Miss Evans. Now,” the Headmaster said staring down at Lily, “Why did you defend Mr Potter?”
Lily Evans stared at Dumbledore momentarily shocked before looking down to find her hands were wringing. She almost slapped her own hands to stop them.
“Why did I, Sir?”
“It is certainly no secret that you hold some contempt for Mr Potter.”
“Well…then it’s an odd story.”
“I’ve heard a few in my lifetime.”
Lily chuckled then breathed deeply.
“Because…I was the only one who could. He needed me...and it was the right thing to do.”
Dumbledore smiled down at her, much like a proud parent smiles at their small child who has just come home with their first finger painting.
“He’s…He’s not a bad person,” Lily began again, unprompted, “Potter, that is. He’s just…a little misguided. And immature.”
“Oh yes. The definition of immaturity,” Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye.
Lily looked up again at the wise elder before her and posed an interesting observation.
“And if I’m going to be honest Sir…”
“…Not defending James Potter would mean compromising everything I believe in. I wasn’t prepared to do that.”
At that moment, one of the figures in the paintings, a rather proper looking old man with a bored-to-death expression on his face, gave a small cough.
The Headmaster’s intelligent blue eyes sharpened in response to the painting. Nodding to it, he turned back to Lily with a sudden air of urgency and tension.
“That is a very astute observation,” he said, “However, Miss Evans I have some pressing business. Please do forgive me.”
Before Lily had even gathered her thoughts to express her gratuity, Dumbledore had with a very quick step rushed to his door. He swung it open and for a moment hesitated.
“I will let you know, in your Head Girl capacity, when I decide the fate of Mr Potter.”
And with that, the Headmaster of Hogwarts was gone.
Lily shook her head to rid herself of the confusion that muddles one’s thoughts sometimes. But just as she was about to get up and leave herself, something glinted out of the corner of her eye.
Curiosity was too much to resist.
Lily turned to the desktop to see what it was exactly that had caught her eye. A Golden Snitch lay unmoving on top of a rather full file.
Lily had always wondered, as she watched from the Quidditch stands, what it would be like to hold a Golden Snitch.
And so she reached over and picked it up.
And caught the name on the file.
Thinking about it later on, Lily wondered how long she had actually stood there staring at the name on the file before deciding that she wanted to read it.
Deciding or rather giving in to a dangerous sense of curiosity?
Without thinking about the paintings on the walls and their habit of keeping a keen eye out for these sorts of things, she grabbed the file, took a quick look at the door, and opened it to a random spot.
Perhaps it was lucky for Lily Evans that the Headmaster was not a stupid man for there was not a peep from any of the onlookers (and there were many) as she began to read James Potter’s school file.
But as she came across a particularly highlighted incident in his file, Lily’s hands began to shake. Quite slowly she stood up from her chair, closed the file carefully and placed it back in its place on the desk. With an expression of bewilderment and a tinge of fear, Lily Evans left the Headmaster’s office, her mind reeling from what she had just read.
Something that Lily Evans believed very deeply is that when someone lies, the truth behind it would always, no matter what, make its way in hearing shot of the right set of ears.
Lily Evans had been given her fair share of shocking truths today.
The suit of armour creaked along the hallway, past a number of students who were walking the corridors on an otherwise dull Saturday.
Needless to say there were quite a few flabbergasted expressions, dropped jaws and sentences left unfinished as students watched Sir Richard walk past.
Sir Richard turned to Evangeline with an innocent expression.
“Was it something I said?”
Just as Evangeline Ford was thinking how odd it was sharing this moment with a suit of armour plus one Sirius Black, her best friend walked silently around the corner.
Her face was so pale, Evie was afraid Lily might faint then and there. It was as though she’d seen a ghost.
“Something wrong?” Sirius Black asked innocently.
“Of course something is wrong,” Lily snapped at him, “My boyfriend was taking money to date me. And to make that worse, it was centred on James Potter. How would you feel?”
“Woah I’m sorry,” Sirius said throwing his hands up in defence, “Although I don’t know if I can really answer your question…”
Evangeline elbowed Sirius, effectively winding him.
“Lily I think you should come lie down…” Evie began trying to take her arm.
Lily pulled away from her, staring down Sirius.
“But what I really want to know…”she said lowly, “Was when you were going to tell us that Remus Lupin is a werewolf?”
It can be said that Sirius Black’s heart almost stopped.
“What did you just say?” Evie gasped.
Lily took a deep breath before turning to James Potter who had just climbed out of the portrait hole.
“No, I just need to say…”
“I was in the middle of something important.”
“But that was really amazing…today was just…”
“Don’t mention it.”
“No really, I’ve never seen anything like that…”
As the two of them exchanged what could only be called ‘pleasantries’, Lily would flick a glare in the direction of Sirius and Evie every now and then. Shuffling from one foot to the other, all whilst listening to James ramble on, her patience was wearing thin. Lily Evans wanted an answer.
And Sirius couldn’t give her one.
But as they all stood there, a little leap of shock suddenly overcame Sirius Black.
Sirius exchanged a glance with Evangeline Ford that could only mean one thing.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Sirius Black suddenly began to pace.
In fact, he paced back and forth three times.
Although neither James nor Lily noticed, behind them a rather intricately carved door appeared in the wall. As they spoke, the door weaved itself into existence and only Evie and Sirius could see the possibilities.
Sirius tilted his head towards Evie and winked.
The door swung open.
“So I guess…” James said, pushing his hands into his trouser pockets, “I guess what I’m trying to say is thankyou.”
Lily looked him in the eye and crossed her arms.
“No problem,” she said as concern washed over her face, “But don’t think that this somehow means we’re friends. It doesn’t. I still don’t like you.”
James Potter smiled mischievously and leaned forward a little.
“That’s because you don’t know me,” he said with his classic grin.
“You got that right Jim,” Sirius quipped.
All at once, Evangeline and Sirius shoved the two of them into the room. The heavy door snapped shut and with a whoosh the Room of Requirement expelled both Lily’s and James’s wands.
The shouts and protestations of Lily Evans and James Potter could be heard from the other side quite clearly. In fact there were quite a few cuss words thrown in there, and Evie didn’t think that they were coming from James Potter.
There was a moment of silence between Evie and Sirius as it processed, what they had just done. Once it had they both burst into laughter.
“Well done to that!” Evie exclaimed, brushing her hands off.
“We just locked Lily and James in a room together,” Sirius breathed with a disbelieving laugh, “I can’t believe we just locked Lily and James into a room together.”
“EVANGELINE!” Lily Evans screamed from inside, “YOU OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!
“AGAIN?” James shouted angrily, “YOU’VE LOCKED ME IN A ROOM…AGAIN?”
“How long should we leave them for?” Evie asked.
The shock on Sirius Black’s face faded away quickly to be replaced with the cheekiest expression Evangeline Ford had ever seen.
“Oh I think we should play that by ear…”
“I HEARD THAT!” James shouted again.
The two of them broke into laughter again, the laughter that only comes when one has done something devious and is quite enjoying the repercussions. Evie didn’t think she’d laughed this hard since the girls and her had lured Lily into the lake, telling her that their Care of Magical Creatures homework was to somehow converse with the giant squid.
All four of them had been laughing hysterically (and Remington may have been rolling on the grass) when Professor McGonagall discovered them.
“We better get out of here,” Evie said automatically, although the thought of being caught again did not stop her cheeriness, “Let’s check back in on them in the morning.”
Sirius nodded whilst wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes.
“We’re going to pay for this,” Sirius said, “And I am quite looking forward to it.”
On the other side of the door, Lily hit her fist against the solid wood one more time to no avail.
“What are they planning on doing?” she exclaimed, “They can’t leave us in here! Can they?”
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