A/N: Samantha (the mother) was a phoenix! For those who haven’t read the previous story, let’s just pretend she was an animagus, to keep it simple! ;) AND she was awesome, so that’s why Sirius was madly in love with her.
Lily re-entered the kitchen after writing a letter to Lisa, asking her why she hadn’t been at the hospital today. In the meantime Sirius had arrived and sat down at the kitchen table.
“Hey,” Lily greeted him soberly, walking straight to the fridge. “What do you want for diner?”
“I already ate at Hogwarts.” Sirius replied, using a more apologising tone. “I thought you wouldn’t wait for me. We didn’t plan anything, did we?”
“No, it’s okay.” Lily quickly said. “I’m not hungry.”
Normally, when Sirius and Lily saw each other in the evening, they chatted amicably, even when they had nothing to say. But now it was different. Lily’s lack of enthusiasm when she talked, and not even asking about his talk with Dumbledore, told Sirius that something had happened today.
The fact that Sirius didn’t distract her from her worries by spontaneously telling her about what Dumbledore had said, told Lily it hadn’t gone as he had expected either.
“So...” Sirius said as Lily sat across of him.
“So...” Lily repeated. She waited for Sirius to say something, anything that didn’t involve James Potter, because he was the only thing she could think about.
“I saw James today.” She eventually said, not being able to take the silence anymore. Sirius’ eyes widened in surprise. He hadn’t anticipated this; he had been thinking more in the lines of Eli bothering her, rather than James! “In the hospital.”
She stopped there, suddenly doubting whether it would be good for Sirius to hear this.
“Why was he there?” Sirius asked.
“Oh, he’s fine.” Lily quickly reassured him. “He wasn’t there for himself.”
Sirius remained silent, waiting for her to continue. But Lily doubted; she didn’t want to bring up Sam. It still hurt him too much.
“The little one, Sammy, had been bitten by a dog. It was nothing.” Lily softly said. Sirius’ face dropped, staring at his folded hands on the table. Lily regretted saying it, and wanted to say something else, for she knew his mind had gone back to the older Samantha by now.
“She was really happy... and beautiful.” Lily said, remembering how she called James ‘daddy’. The poor kid didn’t know any better, and neither did the rest of the world. She knew my name, Lily wanted to add but she didn’t. Instead she said: “And James looked sad.”
“Probably out of nostalgia.” Sirius said, knowing James never really wanted to leave Lily.
“He left me! I hear nothing from him for a year and a half, so he doesn’t get to pine after what he has lost! No reason for him to be sad. He brought it all upon himself.” Lily huffed, getting out the anger. She needed to be angry with him because when she didn’t feel angry, she felt the emptiness and it scared her.
They both remained silent for a long while, processing the effect James and Sam had on them.
“Dumbledore offered me a job.” Sirius suddenly said, a crooked smile on his lips. “Well, kind of. It’s not what you think!”
Lily’s face had brightened upon hearing she was right.
“What ‘kind of’ job?” She asked, glad to get her mind of James.
“Well, it’s not really a job. I wouldn’t get paid. He sort of wants me to join a group of resistance against You-Know-Who.” Sirius tried to explain.
“What, like in World War II against Hitler?” Lily asked, a little disbelieving. “The situation is not that bad, is it? I mean, it’s not like he’s taken over our ministry.”
“The ministry is one of his priorities yes, and apparently he’s not far from succeeding.” Sirius said, and Lily’s eyes widened. How come they didn’t know that? “It seems that the situation is a lot worse than the prophet says it is. And Dumbledore thinks individual people should stand up because the ministry is too busy getting rid of You-Know-Who’s spies within their own system. He doesn’t trust the ministry anymore.”
“What? But how come the prophet hasn’t said anything? With all their gossip about every hot-shot person’s private life, they couldn’t find a tiny spot to warn us?” Lily said frustrated. She hadn’t thoroughly read an entire Daily Prophet for months because all of the excessive gossiping.
“They got orders from the ministry not to alarm the people, to refrain from causing chaos. So, gossip is all they have left to talk about. The previous editor quit when he heard this, and someone of the ministry took over of course.” Sirius sarcastically lifted his eyebrows.
“How can they do that? No wonder Dumbledore doesn’t trust them.” Lily said, thinking. “So what things would you have to do?”
“Protecting people mostly, certainly Hogwarts. There are a lot of kids he could use to get something done from their parents.” Sirius explained. “Basically, we’d try to sabotage his plans.”
“What do you mean, he uses children?” She asked.
“Yeah, that’s how he does it, threatens your family when you won’t cooperate. “ He explained, shaking his head.
“So, are you going to join?”Lily asked. It was a great risk to fight so forwardly against You-Know-Who. Sirius slowly nodded.
“Like you said, I need something to do. Besides, it’s not like he’ll go after my family if he wants to hurt me. They’re all on his side.” Sirius smiled humourlessly. “He asked me to ask you too.”
Lily’s eyes suddenly widened. She had expected Sirius to join from the moment he started explaining, but she hadn’t thought of herself.
After all, why not? She agreed with Dumbledore and was against You-Know-Who. She and her muggle family would be an easy target of course, just for being muggles, but then again she could warn them to get out of the country or have less contact with Lily. Neither possibilities would be a problem for Petunia. But before she could answer him, he added:
“There is one thing you need to know. Dumbledore didn’t really start the group. It was James’ idea.” Lily looked up in surprise. James? “He wanted to do it in honour of Sam; that’s why it’s called ‘The Order of the Phoenix’.”
Lily didn’t know what to think. She had decided to join already for ideological reasons, but now she doubted for ethical reasons. Would she be able to see James every day? What if his life was... perfect, now that he wasn’t with her anymore?
But Lily knew she had to be strong and independent. That’s what Sam had kept telling her. She wouldn’t refrain from helping others just to protect her own feelings.
“I’m in.” She suddenly said, after a long silence. “But I want to finish my internship at St. Mungo’s.”
“Yes, of course. Dumbledore wants you to stay there. You’ll probably have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. You know, people who won’t tell you what happened to them or who hurt them.” Sirius explained. Lily nodded and sighed.
What a difference this day would make for the rest of their lives.
The next evening, Lily was sitting at a small wooden table across of her father, who had not shut up from the moment Lily had arrived. She was only listening with one ear, looking around the small bistro that looked really modern on the inside, despite its old-fashioned front. Why her father had insisted so on dining here tonight, was still a mystery to Lily, but no matter, she quite liked it here.
“Lily?” Her father tried to get her attention. “Hunny, there is something I wanted to tell you.”
Lily realised she hadn’t been following her father’s monologue anymore at the end. She had been distracted by the bar who stood in the far right corner. Unwillingly, it reminded her of the one in Hogwarts’ Room of Requirement, during the Christmas Ball when James and she...
She was glad her father pulled her away from that thought.
“Kid, I was just talking about the cruise I went on two weeks ago.” Ian said carefully. Lily nodded, still proud of herself for giving her dad such a gift. Petunia had been so jealous! “Well, I... it was really beautiful! Thank you again.”
“You’re welcome.” Lily said, warily. What had he done wrong?
“So, on one of the trips ashore I met Holly, and... we have sort of started dating.” He looked positively frightened of what Lily’s reaction would.
“Already? Mum...” Lily didn’t want to bring up her mother, but still how could he? “You don’t date, you’re old!”
Ian chuckled ,which triggered Lily’s fury. She got up, trying to keep her voice down, so other people wouldn’t notice how angry she was.
“Is that why you brought me here? So I wouldn’t make a scene?” She said through her teeth. She wasn’t staying here now!
“No, hunny.” Ian said, taking hold of one of her hands, wanting her to sit back down. “I brought you here because James Potter owns this place.”
Lily felt as if a full bucket of ice cold water had been dropped on her. It didn’t make her angry, just disorientated. That was it, she had to get away from this place. How could her father bring her here?
As she grabbed her purse she mindlessly set off for the door. She didn’t get far though, because after one step she blindly walked into a waitress carrying two plates, one of which was a full plate of spaghetti Bolognese. Karma, of course made sure the plate spilled all over Lily’s clothes.
“You cow, are you blind?” Lily said, looking down at her dress, which had been blue before but now was smeared with red.
“What? I am just doing my job and minding where I am going!” She snapped back at Lily, sending her an evil glare from where she was picking up pieces of the shattered plate. “Drama queen.”
“What? You haven’t yet seen what level of drama I can get to! An apology is too much to ask, I guess?”Lily said, feeling the anger at her father being used against the waitress.
“Yeah, I guess it is because I’m not hearing one from you!” The blond waitress said leaving the spilled spaghetti for what it was, getting up. She was slightly smaller than Lily. “If you want everybody to walk on eggshells around you, you’ve come to the wrong place!”
“Oh don’t worry, I realise all too well that I came to the wrong place!” Lily had to hold herself back not to reach for her wand. Merlin, how she could loath someone so quickly and so easily.
“Hey, hey, stop!” A black haired man said, stepping in between them facing the waitress. “Clean this mess up and get back to business.”
The blonde girl glared at him, not wanting to give up the fight.
“People are getting annoyed by you two!” The girl gave in and got back to picking up the pieces of the plate.
“Lily.” Of course, Lily had immediately recognised his voice. Hell, she had even recognised the muscles on his back. But hearing him say her name, made her heart jump a little. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.”
Lily automatically followed him as he led the way, momentarily not being able to think.
“They’re eating for free.” He whispered back at the waitress, who raised her eyes in an offended way. “Cindy, it’s on the house!”
Oh, the girl who couldn’t even perform a healing spell. Lily thought triumphantly , as she followed James into a small room behind the bar. It looked a lot like St. Mungo’s lunch room.
“Are you okay? Did you get burnt?” James asked as he started dabbing the places where the spaghetti touched Lily’s skin with a wet towel. She hadn’t even noticed it stung until he pointed it out. It looked quite red. But now she was distracted by James carefully taking care of her, so close to her she could smell his once familiar scent.
“I’m fine. Let me.” She said, pulling out her wand and putting a cleaning spell on her dress, making the spaghetti vanish immediately.
“Err- If you haven’t noticed, this is a place full of muggles. If you go back in the exact same outfit without a smudge on it, it’ll be suspicious.” He said, scratching the back of his neck. That was something so typical of him. Sirius did it sometimes as well.
“James?” Cindy called, entering the room. Seeing them stand so close together, made her face turn angry. “I could really use your help out there. There’s a family of five asking if they can eat in half an hour.”
As she looked at James, she tried to look sweet and innocent but Lily thought it was only a mask. James sighed.
“Tell them we’re full for tonight. I want to close early.” He replied. Cindy nodded cheerfully and turned around. “Cindy!”
She looked over her shoulder, with the sweetest smile, which Lily wanted to wipe of her face.
“Can Lily borrow some of your clothes?” He asked.
“No!” The two girls said both at the same time, staring at each other angrily. James snorted, as Cindy left.
Lily kept looking heatedly at the door, but when she looked back at James she caught him staring at her. He looked embarrassed.
“Err- You sh... Follow me.” He said, quickly started to mount the stairs in the left corner. Lily smiled to herself, feeling excited despite her usual frustration when she thought of James.
As she slowly mounted the stairs, she looked at the pictures on the wall. Most of them were of James’ parents and other people Lily didn’t recognise. As she arrived on the first level, the sitting room was to her left and she walked into it, her attention being caught by a picture.
As she got closer, her vision became blurry, the rims of her eyes threatening to flood with tears. It was a picture of her and Sam, more specifically the picture she had used to make a poster for Lily’s birthday. It was still the best gift Lily had ever received. As she picked up the frame with the two best friends hugging, her eyes fell on another picture behind it. It was one of Cindy, holding little Sammy behind a cake with one candle on it.
Lily’s heart sunk, looking around the room and noticing that it seemed like James wasn’t living here alone. Was she his girlfriend?
“Lily?” James called from inside a different room. She quickly wiped the tears away, just in time before James stood next to her, looking down at the picture in her hands as well.
Lily looked at the side of his face, studying him. How he had changed. He looked exactly the same, yet he was not the usual James Potter, a marauder and madly in love with... Lily.
No, he definitely wasn’t that. He was older now, she could see it in his face. Older? Or just less cheerful?
Whatever Cindy was to him, Lily was glad to see she couldn’t make his face light up like Lily used to be able to.
She put back the frame and silently walked behind him, staring at his back, still as broad as before, his hair still as messy. Then what was so different?
“I found a pair of old jeans from Sam. They should fit you perfectly. I don’t have a shirt, but I thought you could maybe shrink one of mine.” He explained, turning to his closet. Lily had frozen upon hearing Sam’s name. Wouldn’t it feel weird to wear it? They used to swap clothes all the time in Hogwarts, but still.
Though, when she looked at the pair of jeans before her, she burst out laughing.
“Seriously?” Lily exclaimed, still chuckling. James frowned at her. “Those weren’t Sam’s! Those are my jeans! I thought I had lost them! That little...”
James now smiled too, some elements of the old James returning. Lily smelled the pants, and it made her head go fuzzy for a moment. It smelled so much like James, it made Lily momentarily remember how it felt to lie in bed with him –something she hadn’t thought about in a very long time. She shook her head and quickly kicked off her sandals, putting on the pants beneath her dress.
James returned from his closet with a normal dark green button up shirt. She nodded and put it on the bed, pointing her wand at it. It shrunk to what looked like the right size to Lily and she pulled her blue dress over her head.
James immediately turned around, giving her some privacy, the back of his neck turning red. Lily chuckled.
“It’s okay. I’m used to changing with Sirius around all the time.” Lily said without thinking. James turned around sharply, just when Lily started buttoning his shirt. The sight stopped him for a moment.
“You live with Sirius?” James whispered, not sure what tone to use.
“No, but we live a couple of streets apart, so we...” practically live together, Lily was about to say until she saw James’ face. It looked troubled. “... hang out a lot.”
He frowned, biting the inside of his cheek. Lily regretting saying Sirius’ name. James and Sirius had been best friends since the day they met, but when Sirius was cruelly robbed from Sam’s love, he couldn’t understand how James could hurt Lily that same way... deliberately. Therefore he had supported Lily the last months of their last year, becoming Lily’s new best friend.
James had to be missing him. Who wouldn’t miss someone like Sirius?
“Let me heal that.” James suddenly said, getting closer and running a finger across the red patches on Lily’s chest. Although it stung a little, Lily was frozen under his touch, her heart beating as if it hadn’t truly been beating since the last time he had touched her. His healing spell immediately made the stinging go away, and Lily whispered a small thank you. James remained standing there, still staring at her bare chest, until it got a bit awkward.
“As long as Cindy doesn’t try to heal it, I’m fine.” She said, making the tension disappear. James rolled his eyes at her and stepped back a little.
“Don’t be stubborn, Lily. She’s a good girl.” James said, chuckling. Lily’s eyes fell to the floor.
“What does she mean, though? To you?” Lily finally asked the scary question. “Is she your girlfriend?”
She looked up again to see his reaction, only to notice he had averted his eyes as well. He hesitated.
“I guess... But no, not really.” He stuttered. Lily frowned at him. “It’s just that with her looking after Sammy and helping me run the business, I guess you might think of us as a family.”
Lily slowly nodded, suddenly struck by his use of the word ‘family’. She looked at the unmade bed and the bedside tables for any hints of Cindy sleeping in the same bed with him. There was a clear dent in the middle of the mattress. Maybe they snuggled close together at night.
She quickly grabbed her dress from said bed, slightly disgusted with her own thoughts, and turned away from James, wanting to get out of there as soon as possible.
“Lily!” James called from behind her, grabbing her wrist. Despite her disappointment after finding out about Cindy, Lily still felt the tingling on her skin where he touched her. She looked back at him, as he stared at his own hand around wrist. He didn’t let go. “Are you coming to the Order meeting later tonight?”
Not trusting her own voice, she just nodded before pulling away her hand and running out. As she appeared behind the bar, her father got up immediately, seeing her distressed face.
“Let’s go.” He just said, grabbing his coat and leaving with his daughter.
Once Lily was outside, she calmed down, feeling the cold air against her face. They silently walked to the car. It wasn’t until they both sat down in her father’s living room that he spoke.
“I’m sorry, kid. I should’ve handled that better. I just... I guess you wouldn’t go there if you knew it was James’...”He began apologising.
“Of course I wouldn’t!” Lily interrupted him, crossing her arms across her chest.
“But he really wanted to see you again.” He continued. Lily held her breath.
“How do you know that? Did you talk to him?” Lily asked him.
“I have dined a couple of times there, yes. I’ve known the place for a little more than a month, just before I went on your cruise.”
Lily stared at him disbelievingly. Was he serious? Was he really helping James after everything he did to Lily? She felt the usual anger rise, the anger she had expected to feel when she saw James.
“He is a good kid, Lily...”
“Urgh, Dad!” Lily didn’t want to hear about how good James Potter was. She knew!
“I know there are things I don’t know, how things truly went last year, but that...” He said but Lily couldn’t hear it.
“Yes! You don’t know, alright? So stop defending him! He broke my heart! And there’s no excuse.” She yelled, getting out of the couch and walking to the window, wanting to avoid his eyes. “And if there was one, it shouldn’t be you trying to apologise.”
“I am not. I don’t know what happened between you two, because you never told me...” Ian tried to explain.
“Because I don’t want to talk about it!” Lily snapped.
“But I just know that he would very much like a second change, and I’m just scared you’ll be too stubborn to give him one.” He continued. Lily shook her head and bit on her tongue, too angry to even look at her father. She closed her eyes and told herself to just drop the whole subject, because it would make her only more angry with her father, while there was only one person who deserved her anger.
“Whatever, Dad. Just drop it, please.” Lily pleaded looking over shoulder at her father. He nodded. “There was also a thing I wanted to talk about.”
Ian patted the spot next to him on the couch but Lily stayed where she was.
“Since you are so close to James these days, he might have told you about ‘The Order of the Phoenix’?” She didn’t look at her father but accepted his silence as a yes. “I want to join the order, which means I might be putting you in more danger, as you are not a wizard. You could get out of the country or move somewhere far off, but if you really don’t want to, I guess I can’t obligate you to, so I wouldn’t join if you don’t want to. I know Petunia won’t mind losing contact with me, not that we really keep in contact at the moment... Anyway, she would get enough magical protection from us to keep her safe. So... It’s up to you.”
Lily didn’t really feel like leaving it up to her father after what happened tonight. She felt more sure of joining than ever, and if her dad was going to be difficult, she was going to even more angry with him.
“I do want you to join! The good ones have to fight, if no one else does.” Oh, he so talked to James about this before I even knew anything of it. Lily thought heatedly. “But I don’t want to lose contact with you.”
“Dad, I’m not leaving you all alone in this house. And I have to work 6 days a week.” Lily immediately said, knowing her father wouldn’t be as keen as Petunia to not see Lily.
“James has offered me a place at his house to stay, if you were to join the order. He assured I’d be safest there.”
So, they had discussed it already! AND they had premeditated everything. Did she even have a choice in anything that happened around her? No, her father and James had it all planned out for her!
She had to admit, though, that her father would be safe at James’ place. Lily was sure James did everything he could to ensure Sammy’s safety against outsiders, so why couldn’t he do the same for her father? And then, he wouldn’t be alone, something Ian greatly appreciated.
Before she knew it, she was nodding in approval. Her father sighed and got up, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Thank you, sweety.” He said, before walking into the kitchen.
Lily sighed as well. She couldn’t be selfish when it came to her father’s safety, but she already hated the awkward feeling the whole situation gave her.