Chapter 31 : Rings and Accidents
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I was awoken on Monday morning not to the alarm that I had set the night prior, but to the dulcet tones of Sirius Black.
“Birthday week! Birthday week! Hey everybody it’s my birthday week!” he sang loudly, banging the bedroom door open and yanking the covers off of the bed. James, of course, was already up and out on his run, so I was left to fend off Sirius by myself. I grumbled angrily and tried to pull the covers back up but he wouldn’t let go. “Don’t you have something to say to me Lily dear?” he asked sweetly, getting so close to my face that we were almost nose to nose.
“Sirius, I’m tired. I slept terribly last night,” I said flatly but he just continued to look down at me expectantly and I rolled my eyes. “Happy birthday day week, Sirius,” I grumbled unenthusiastically before rolling over and burying my face in my pillow.
“Where’s my present?” he asked gleefully, hopping up onto the bed and shaking my shoulders violently.
“It’s. Not. Even. Your. Birthday. Yet!” I cried, pausing between words as my face continuously slammed against the mattress. “NOW. KNOCK. IT. OFF!” I shrieked, finally flipping over and roughly shoving him off the edge of the bed. “You will get your present on Friday, your actual birthday.”
“Fine,” he huffed, getting up and stomping towards the door. “But I expect you to work on your birthday week spirit or you’re just going to have to leave,” he said before slamming the door behind him.
“I’m the one who let you live here in the first place!” I yelled after him then rolled my eyes. It was going to be a long week. Grumbling, I pulled myself out of bed and towards the bathroom. I showered quickly and changed into my healer’s robes, then headed out to the kitchen for some breakfast only to find James and Sirius sitting at the table.
“Morning Flower,” James smiled up at me as I walked around him to peck him on the cheek.
“See Evans!” Sirius exclaimed, suddenly shoving his plate in my face. “Prongs knows how to kick off birthday week!” I rolled my eyes then looked down to see a plate full of chocolate chip pancakes.
“Really James?” I turned back to James and raised my eyebrows at him. “You’re encouraging this?”
“Of course,” he shrugged. “It’s birthday week Lily!” Sirius gave me a smug look and I rolled my eyes again.
“And how old are you turning Sirius?” I asked pleasantly. “Six?”
“What can I say? I’m getting to be a big boy,” he smiled cheekily up at me and I shook my head.
“Yes, okay, well I’ll be going to work now. And you two should get a move on as well. I’d hate to see what Moody would do to you if you were late,” I said smartly but they both just rolled their eyes at me so I snatched a pancake off of Sirius’ plate and took a bite. “These are good James. I’m impressed,” I smirked as they both gave me indignant looks. I kissed James on the cheek again and patted Sirius on the head before heading for the fireplace, but suddenly James grabbed my wrist and pulled me back. I looked down at him in surprise while he stared down at my hand for a moment before looking up at me with sad eyes.
“Where’s your ring Flower?” he asked, looking hurt and I groaned. I was hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“James,” I whined, “we talked about this.”
“All you said was that you did want everyone to know right away,” he said, still holding my hand. “You never said that you wouldn’t wear the ring.”
“And you don’t think an engagement ring on my finger would tip people off?” I raised my eyebrows.
“It’s not that conspicuous,” he shrugged and I snorted in disbelief.
“I’m sorry, have you seen that thing?” I asked, and immediately regretted it when I saw his face fall further. “Not that I don’t love it! I do!” I added quickly. “And I love you too, I just don’t want to have to face all the questions and everything just yet. Okay?” he nodded dismally and I sighed, frustrated, then turned on Sirius. “Don’t you think people will notice if I wear the ring?”
“Hey, the boy made me pancakes, I’m with him,” Sirius shrugged, thumping James on the back. I glared down at him and he smirked before disappearing behind his copy of the Daily Prophet while James looked up at me hopefully.
“Please Flower?” he pleaded, standing up now and slipping a hand under my chin so that I had to look up into his eyes. “For me?” I let out something that sounding like a mix of a groan and a growl, and finally caved in.
“Fine!” I exclaimed angrily and his face broke out into a huge grin before he dashed off to our bedroom to get the ring. “But if anyone says anything I’m taking it off!” I yelled after him but he either ignored me or chose not to respond as he was back with five seconds and slipping the ring back onto my finger. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw how happy it made him but I still wasn’t looking forward to everyone bugging me about it.
“I love you Flower,” he smiled down at me then pulled me into a hug and my heart melted a little.
“I love you too,” I muttered into his chest before standing up on my tip toes and kissing him. I pulled back after a second and he groaned, making me smirk. “Sorry, but I have to go or I’ll be late,” I explained and he sighed.
“I’ll see you at lunch,” he said softly, pecking my lips quickly before letting me go and I nodded and smiled, giving his hand a squeeze.
“I expect you to have a better attitude towards birthday week when you get home Red,” Sirius told me sternly from behind the Prophet and I snorted.
“I will not,” I said, crossing my arms. “Birthday week is stupid and I refuse to participate in it.” Sirius finally appeared from behind the paper and both boys looked up at me in incredulity.
“That’s like saying you hate Quidditch!” James cried in disbelief.
“I do hate Quidditch James...” I reminded him and all he could do was stare at me with his mouth open.
“That settles it!” Sirius yelled, throwing his paper aside angrily. “It is now my mission to bring to you the spirit of birthday week before Friday!”
“And the spirit of Quidditch!” James chimed in and I stared at them for a moment before shaking my head.
“If you say so,” I said with a shrug. “Don’t be late for lunch James,” I said and he nodded, still giving me a stony glare for the Quidditch dig. Shaking my head again I left the kitchen, stepped into the fire place and arrived in the employee break room at St. Mungo’s a few seconds later. I went over to the large chart on the wall to check my schedule and ran my finger across the first column until I found my name and where I would be doing my rounds for the day. I smiled when I saw that I would be working on the fourth floor. I had mentioned to Everard that I hoped to specialize in the spell damage wing and it seemed that he had pulled some strings for me as I had been assigned there for the past three work days.
“So, how about that meeting the other day,” Car’s voice came from behind me and I whipped around.
“Shh!” I hissed looking around to make sure no one had overheard him. “Car! We aren’t supposed to talk about that in public!”
“Sorry, sorry,” he put his hands up with an innocent smile, “I just haven’t really gotten to talk to anyone about it yet. I mean, you and Benjy were the only people I know outside of the Or-”
“Shh!” I cried again and he threw me a sheepish smile.
“Okay, I see your point,” he nodded and I shook my head.
“You really need to be more careful Car,” I whispered and he smirked down at me as if to say ‘sure, whatever,’. “I’m serious! Not another word. To me or anyone else unless were in a private, secure location.”
“Okay, okay,” he said he put his hands on my shoulders in an effort to calm me. “Forget I said anything. Anyway, I think congratulations are in order,” I cocked an eyebrow up at him in confusion so he gently took my left hand and held it up so that my ring was sparkling in the light.
“Damn it,” I groaned pulling my hand back and shoving it in my pocket. I had totally forgotten about the stupid thing on my finger. “If you tell anyone I’ll kill you,” I said quickly and he raised his eyebrows.
“Why are you wearing an enormous ring if you don’t want people to know you’re engaged?” he asked in confusion and I grumbled.
“It wasn’t exactly my idea,” I said gruffly and he nodded but still looked puzzled. “Look, just promise you won’t tell anyone and I promise I’ll explain later.”
“Alright,” he shrugged, “but can I ask you something?”
“I guess,” I said uncertainly.
“Are you happy?” he asked and I felt my lips slowly stretch into a smile and tears of joy formed in my eyes.
“Yes, Car,” I replied, my face shining, “I’m so happy!”
“Then congratulations!” he cried, pulling me into a bone crushing hug and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Thanks,” I grinned, pulling back and he smiled down at me as I wiped my eyes.
“We should probably get going,” he said after a moment and I nodded. “You up in Spell Damage again?" he asked as he stepped forward to check the chart himself
“Mhm,” I said happily. “Where are you?”
“Oh no,” he groaned and I raised my eyebrows up at him, “I’m in Magical Bugs and Diseases.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I asked in confusion.
“Derwent’s there as well,” he grumbled and I grimaced, patting his arm comfortingly.
“Well hey,” I shrugged, “maybe she’ll be in a better mood today.” Car glanced down at me with a look of disbelief when, suddenly, the lovely girl to whom we were just referring came bursting into the room looking furious, “Or maybe not,” I sighed and Car groaned again.
Chandler stormed by us and over to the counter where she poured herself a cup of tea, sloshing it everywhere in her apparent rage. Car and I exchanged looks of confusion and fear, silently daring the other to go talk to her. This went on for a few seconds before I sighed heavily and he smiled triumphantly as I slowly approached the brooding girl.
“Er, Chandler?” I said softly and she grunted in response, her eyes glued to her cup. “Is something wrong?”
“Like you don’t know,” she sneered and I shot Car a flustered look to which he shrugged in response.
“Er-” I began but she cut me off.
“You’re trying to make me look bad!” she exclaimed and gave her a looking that clearly suggested she was insane.
“What are you talking about?” I cried. “I haven’t even been here for more than five minutes!”
“I heard Coleman and Everard talking about how great you are and-” she grumbled and now I cut her off.
“Really? They think I’m great?” I gushed and her glare intensified. Whoops. “Er, sorry.”
“Enjoy it while it lasts Evans,” she spat, “soon they’ll forget all about you and I’ll be the one everyone’s fussing over.”
“Um, okay,” I said tentatively, throwing another uncertain glance at Car and she snorted angrily once more before slamming her cup back down on the counter and stomping back out of the room. “I don’t think I will ever understand that girl,” I said, shaking my head and staring after her in disbelief.
“Just count yourself lucky you don’t have to spend the day with her,” Car grumbled and I threw him a sympathetic smile.
“Well, the sooner we get started the sooner it’ll be over,” I said, gently prodding him towards the door.
“Easy for you to say,” he mumbled and I rolled my eyes, giving him a little push.
“Quit your whining and go,” I said as he stumbled out into the hallway. He glared down at me for a moment before turning and shuffling off towards the second floor with his shoulder slumped. I rolled my eyes again before heading for the fourth floor to begin my rounds. By the time lunch rolled around I had seen nearly forty patients of all ages and I was more than ready for a break, my lack off sleep contributing greatly to that fact. I was on my way back down to the break room before meeting James when I heard my name being called.
“Lily! Lily dear!” Mrs. Potter was rushing towards, me looking edgy. She came up to me and grasped my arm tightly for a moment while attempting to catch her breath. “I’m so glad I found you!”
“Hey, Mrs. Potter. What’s wrong?” I asked apprehensively, shoving my hands in my pockets and avoiding her eyes. Had she somehow managed to see the ring? Had she found out about the engagement? If Car had blabbed I was going to kill him.
“It’s James,” she began and I sighed with relief, obviously this wasn’t about the engagement. James was probably waiting for me and had asked her to tell me to hurry up.
“Oh, I know he’s waiting for me. I’m late for lunch,” I explained with a sheepish smile and began walking again while she followed in my wake, “I just have to change out of these robes real quick and-” I explained, but she cut me off.
“Lily,” she said sternly, grabbing my arm and bringing me to a halt, “James isn’t waiting for you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked uncertainly, the look on her face frightening me a little.
“He- well, there was an accident,” she said slowly, biting her lip, and I felt my heart drop.
“What kind of accident?” I pressed anxiously.
“They were called in on a raid and he, well, he got hurt,” she explained, seeming to get paler as she did so and my throat constricted as tears began to well up.
“Is he okay?” I croaked, desperately trying to stay calm.
“I-I don’t know. They’re not sure what spell he was hit with yet,” she said weakly and I gulped.
“Where is he?” I asked, my voice unsteady.
“Up in the fourth floor,” she told me and I felt a stab of anger.
“I was just there! Why didn’t anyone tell me?” I cried heatedly. “I’m going back up.”
“Lily, you can’t help him,” Mrs. Potter said, grabbing my arm again as I tried to hurry off. “It’s against the rules to treat friends and family.”
“I don’t care! I have to see him!” I whimpered, my lack of control finally causing me to break as tears rolled down my cheeks.
“We can’t Sweetheart. I wish we could, be we can’t,” Mrs. Potter explained, looking quite miserable herself, but at least she was holding it together as she patted my back soothingly. “He’ll be fine Lily, trust me. You know it’s hard to do any damage to that thick head of his.” I let out a watery chuckle at her attempt to lighten the mood and sniffled a little. “Why don’t we go back to my office? Someone will let us know immediately when we can see him, I promise.” I nodded solemnly and let her drag me through the halls and back to her office. We had only been in there for a few minutes when the door suddenly slammed open. My head immediately whipped up hopefully, expecting a healer had come to tell us that James was fine and that we could see him, but I was surprised to see Sirius four other men standing in the door.
“Is he alright? Where is he? No one will tell us anything!” Sirius cried waving his arms frantically and Mrs. Potter quickly darted over to calm him down.
“He’s upstairs Sirius,” she said slowly, gently taking his arms and brings them back down to his sides, “but we’re not sure how he is just yet. A healer will come get us as soon as possible.”
“But-” he tried, but Mrs. Potter silenced him with a stern glare so he clenched his jaw and crossed his arms.
“What happened Sirius?” I asked, my voice seeming to be about five pitches higher as I tired to hold back my tears. “Why were you even there? You’re not even aurors yet!” His eyes lingered over to me as I spoke and grew wide as if he had only just realised that I was there. I come over and sat next to me, and took my hand as he began to explain.
“Well, we had a meeting scheduled at ten thirty so we only just got to work at about ten and when we got there the place was in absolute chaos. So ‘course we go looking for Moody to find out what the hell is going on but he actually finds us first and tells us that a small group of aurors had gone out for a raid early this morning, not expecting to find more than one or two death eaters, but one came back saying that they were sure they had found Voldemort’s headquarters. So, of course, they send out more aurors but after about an hour or two one sends a patronus saying that they need back up, badly. Nearly all of the other aurors were already out on missions so we were all eager to go and help, but Moody wouldn’t budge.”
“He kept telling us that we weren’t ready for a real mission but Potter finally persuaded him to take us,” one of the others that had come in with Sirius said. I looked up and vaguely recognized his face, realizing that he had graduated the year before me. Prince? King? Kingsley? Something like that. “So when we finally got there Moody was trying to keep us all together but through all the chaos we kind of got separated.”
“Moody immediately realized that things were much worse than he had thought and tried to get us all out of there but we couldn’t find Potter and Black,” another auror in training that I didn’t recognize spoke up. “So he sent the rest of back and continued looking for them himself.”
“So where were you two?” I asked, turning back to Sirius.
“Prongs and I were able to penetrate the building and as we were walking through the halls we heard someone calling for help,” he said and I raised my eyebrows in surprise. “I wanted to split up to find whoever was yelling but Prongs refused, said we had to stay together, so we did, but soon we came across more death eaters and got separated somehow. When I finally got away and Moody found me he said that they had found James and had taken him to St. Mungo’s so I disapparated and came straight here and found all of these guys in the lobby. That’s all I know,” he finished with a frustrated sigh before turning back to me with sad eyes. “I’m so sorry Lily. I never should have let us get separated.”
“It’s not your fault,” I shook my head, sniffling a little before setting me jaw and looking back up. “James will be fine. He’s tough,” I said firmly and everyone nodded in agreement
“Helen? Miss Evans? Er- gentlemen?” A voice came from the doorway and we all whipped around to see Healer Everard standing there. “You can see James now. He’s still unconscious, but his vitals are strong. We can’t be sure when he’ll wake up, but hopefully it’ll be soon.”
“Oh, thank Merlin!” I heaved an enormous sigh of relief as tears of joy sprang to my eyes and I shot out of my seat and dashed out the door, Sirius and Mrs. Potter right on my heels. We burst through the large white doors at the head of the Spell Damage Wing and my eyes immediately zeroed in on James. I rushed over to his bed, snatched up his hand and stared intently down at him, silently begging him to wake up.
“Come on Prongs,” Sirius whispered, kneeling beside me while Mrs. Potter went around to the other side of the bed and gently began stroking her sons hair.
“Wake up James,” I pleaded, squeezing his hand and burying my head in the crook of his neck. “Please wake up.” We all stayed this way for a few moments, Mrs. Potter, Sirius, and me on either side of James and the four other men that came in with Sirius standing at the end of the bed.
“Helen, I’m sorry, but this ward only allows four visitors per patient at a time,” I looked up as a healer that I recognized as the head of the wing, Ridgewell, said regretfully and put a tentative hand on Mrs. Potters’ shoulder.
“Oh, right, of course,” one of the men from the end of the bed spoke up quickly, “we should probably report back anyway.” The others nodded in agreement and one shot a questioning look at Sirius but he just clenched his jaw and took James’ other hand tightly. He wasn’t going anywhere.
“Let us know when he wakes up, Mate,” the man that I thought was named Kingsley said, patting Sirius on the back before leading the others back out of the big white doors. After they left we sat in a tense silence, just staring down at James, searching intently for any sign of consciousness.
“What happened to him Hector?” Mrs. Potter asked Ridgewell after a few minutes. Her voice was quiet but it made me jump as I had been focusing so hard on James’ face.
“Well, we know is that he was hit with the Cruciatus Curse for an extended period of time... at least three times,” Ridgewell replied hesitantly and I gasped, burying my head back into James’ shoulder. Why would someone do this to him? “But we are still not certain what other spells they got him with.”
“Other spells?” I asked in disbelief, shooting up again to look up at Ridgewell. “They were already torturing him! Why would they need to hit him with anything else?!” Ridgewell looked back down at me in alarm at my outburst and I immediately felt ashamed. It wasn’t his fault James was there. “Sorry,” I muttered remorsefully, but he shook his head.
“No, no, I understand,” he said hurriedly, putting his hands up to halt my apology, “and I’m truly sorry that we don’t have more information for you all just yet. But I promise, we are doing everything in our power to help James.”
“Thank you Hector,” Mrs. Potter said softly, putting a hand on his shoulder and I nodded, silently thanking him as well. Ridgewell smiled sadly at us before turning with a slight nod and leaving the wing. We all watched him go for a moment before turning back to James, who was just as unconscious as he had been a second ago. “Lily, Sirius, you should sit, we may be here for a while,” Mrs. Potter said gravely, turning to face us and pulling her wand. She took two pillows from the empty bed behind her and transfigured them into two squishy arm chairs for us to sit in.
“What about you?” I asked, gently settling down into the chair, still holding James’ hand tightly.
“I need to floo Harold and Stacy,” she explained, taking a deep breath, “they should know what happened.” I gulped and nodded. Sirius remained stony, perched on the edge of his chair. I sighed heavily as I heard Mrs. Potter’s steps fade away and leaned back in my chair, my eyes automatically shifting back to James, searching for any sign of consciousness. He looked so peaceful for a man who had just been tortured mercilessly.
“Oh James,” I groaned, my heart breaking at the thought. I leaned forward, threw my body over his, and began sobbing into his chest. Immediately I felt Sirius’ comforting hand on my back, but that wasn’t what eventually calmed me down, it was the steady sound of James’ heartbeat. I closed my eyes and just listened. Letting my eyes flutter shut, another wave of exhaustion crashed over me. I couldn’t believe this had happened. Just this morning we were laughing, fighting, hugging, and yelling, but now he was lying in a bed at St. Mungo’s and nobody knew when or even if he would ever wake up. His beating heart seemed to grow louder and encompassed me so completely that I could think of nothing else until I suddenly felt a hand running itself through my hair. I jerked up, looking around, but I was surprised and confused to find that the large room was completely dark. “What-?” I spluttered, attempting to sit up but found an arm was draped around my back and I gasped.
“Morning, Sleeping Beauty,” James whispered in my ear and I nearly started crying.
“James!” I shrieked, pulling his face to mine and kissing him fiercely.
“Hey Lils,” he chuckled, pulling away after a moment and smiling down at me.
“Thank Merlin you’re okay,” I cried, throwing my arms around his neck and clinging to him. “I love you so much James,” I whispered then felt James running his hand through my hair again.
“I love you too Lils,” he murmured softly, “and I’m sorry.”
“For what?” I asked, turning my head to look up at him.
“For worrying you and everyone else,” he said, looking sombre.
“It’s not like it was your fault,” I said incredulously. James opened his mouth to argue but he was suddenly interrupted by a loud snore from Sirius, whom I had forgotten was sitting in the chair beside me. We both looked over at him and I was surprised to find that he was not alone. Stacy was sitting in his lap, her face squished up against his chest as they both slept. Turning to the other side of the bed I saw Mr. and Mrs. Potter were sleeping also. Though they each had their own chair, I did notice, however, that they were holding hands.
“You all should have gone home and slept,” James grumbled, “I would have been fine.”
“You know we would never just leave you here all by yourself,” I shook my head. “We love you too much,” I said, but he just mumbled something under his breath and I sighed. “I don’t care if you don’t want me here, I’m just glad you’re okay.”
“I do want you here! I always want you Lily. I just don’t want to be a burden to you, or to anyone else.” James said, quickly sitting up and wincing slightly at the sudden movement. I frowned both at his words and his wincing.
“You are far from a burden James,” I said, shaking my head again before placing my hands on his cheeks and gently pulling him towards me for another kiss, but he suddenly hissed in pain. “What’s wrong?” I gasped, jumping back and trying not to touch him, my hands fluttering over him helplessly.
“Nothing, nothing, I’m fine,” he said quickly, a forced grin plastered on his face, but I wasn’t fooled.
“I’ll call Healer Ridgewell. You need a potion-” I tried to stand but James pulled me back down.
“I don’t want a potion,” he said firmly. “I’m fine.”
“But-” I tried again but was silenced by rather fierce glare. I returned his glower for a moment, but couldn’t keep it for long. My face immediately fell when I took a second to remember our situation and I gently took his hand. “What happened James?” I asked, my voice breaking slightly.
“A few curses here and there,” he shrugged and I glared again. “Fine,” he sighed, “but we should probably wake up the others. I don’t feel like explaining this a million times.” I nodded and was about to wake Stacy up when James suddenly threw the pitcher of water on his bedside table at her and Sirius. I gave him a stern look as they spluttered, shaking their heads wildly, and James smirked.
“What the hell?!” Sirius exclaimed angrily, wiping water from his eyes and pushing back his wet hair. He looked furious when he first opened his eyes, but the second he saw who it was that threw the water, his face burst into an enormous smile.
“Prongs!” he cried, diving at James and pushing me aside roughly so that I toppled onto the floor with a yelp. Stacy quickly reached down and helped me up before she too dove forward to bombard James with hugs and squeals of joy.
“What’s going on?” Mr. Potter spluttered as he woke with a start and his wife shot out of her seat at all the yelling. She looked around frantically and immediately saw that James was awake.
“Oh, James!” She screeched, throwing her arms around her son while Mr. Potter’s face broke into a large smile of relief. “Oh my Jamey!” Mrs. Potter cried loudly, kissing James’ cheeks repetitively and squeezing him tightly.
“Alright Helen,” Mr. Potter said after a few minutes of this and gently tried to pry his wife off of their suffocating son. “He needs to breathe at some point, Dear.”
“Sorry, sorry,” she sniffled, wiping her tear stained cheeks and smiling apologetically down at James.
“ S’okay Mum,” he smirked, rubbing his neck a little.
“What happened Prongs?” Sirius asked, sounding eager, nervous and upset, all at the same time. “You know- after we got separated.” The room suddenly went deathly still and James sighed heavily before struggling to sit up. He looked around at all of us staring down at him intently, took a deep breath, and began his story.
A/N: Bit of a cliff hanger, I know, but don't worry you'll get a full explanation in the next chapter! Hope everyone enjoyed! Please, please, please review!