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Chapter 3 : A Bar
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“So you own a restaurant.” Sirius bluntly said to James, without greeting him first. James looked up from the two glasses of red wine that he had just put on the bar. A woman took them and thanked James.
“A bar.” James replied. “Well, it started out as a bar, but we wanted to make a bit more modern and soon people started asking if they could dine here, so… But to me it’s still basically a bar.”
Sirius nodded and frowned a little, not understanding why James would want to work in a bar in the first place. He and Lily both refused to sit down on one of the bar stools in front of them.
“It’s fun. Nice place to throw a party… and the free drinks, of course.” James smugly said, putting a glass of firewhiskey in front of Sirius.
Sirius started to grin mischievously at James as he sat down on a bar stool and took the firewhiskey. Lily knew those looks. In Hogwarts it had meant they had just both thought of the same prank or the same person to prank. Here it meant everything that had happened was water under the bridge.
They were friends again, and Lily selfishly wished they wouldn’t be so that Sirius would still be her best friend. But of course they would be best friends again, somehow they had never stopped being best friends.
Lily turned around and spotted Remus and Peter coming in, along with Frank Longbottom. She waved at the three of them and they walked straight to her.
“Hey, Frank! I didn’t know you joined the order.” Lily said, hugging Frank whom she had not seen since he graduated 2 years ago. Although he was a year older, Frank and Lily had been friends, well more like study buddies. They had gone on a date once, but that was before Frank and Alice became the power couple. “How’s Alice?”
Lily regretted asking that. She didn’t even know if they were still together. But Frank just kept smiling at her, so she assumed they hadn’t broken up.
“We got married!” He suddenly said, practically jumping with excitement. “Two weeks ago. We’ve just gotten back from our Honeymoon. It was all very secret and private, just family, you know. We didn’t want to draw attention, not in these dangerous times.”
Recovering from the shock of the news, they all started to congratulate him.
“She couldn’t be here tonight though, it’s her parents’ anniversary. We’ll throw a small celebration for our friends soon. You’re all invited.” Frank quickly added while everybody started to gather around the long row of tables put together. Dumbledore had just arrived and sat down at the head of the table.
Lily looked around at the mostly unfamiliar faces. She didn’t know whether to be surprised by how many people were in the order (as it was very dangerous for them and their family if they got caught plotting against You-Know-Who) or to ask herself why there weren’t more members here. Surely there were a lot more witches and wizards who were against You-Know-Who as well.
Right when Dumbledore was about to start speaking, Cindy appeared from upstairs and sat down next to James, whispering to him and avoiding Lily’s eye.
“What did she say?” Lily whispered to Sirius, who was sitting in between Lily and James. He raised his eyebrows at her, a knowing smile on his lips, and shrugged showing her that he didn’t know. “Whatever, I don’t care.”
Sirius chuckled and gently patted Lily’s back. Lily shrugged him off and turned her attention back to Dumbledore.
“Welcome everybody. I am very glad to see four new members among us.” Dumbledore smiled at them. “Lily Evans. “
Lily smiled modestly, feeling a little self-conscious.
“Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.” They all nodded when they were introduced to the rest. Peter seemed to be very uncomfortable, but didn’t he always?
“I’m sure you will get to know everyone in time.” He warmly said to us. “Now, let’s address the most pressing matter. This is not a good place to meet in the future. We meet here out of necessity but we need to find a new Head Quarters since we cannot use Godfried’s house anymore.”
There was a low murmur and some bowed their head upon hearing Godfried’s name. What had happened to him? Lily didn’t dare to ask about it.
“Why is this such a bad place for head quarters?” A middle-aged man with dark orange hair asked. Next to him sat an exact copy of him. His twin, Lily assumed.
“Because this is a restaurant.” Dumbledore politely replied. “Everybody can walk in and out. It also would make the muggles who come here an easy target for an attack. And more practically, we wouldn’t be able to meet until every costumer has left, which might be a little too late for some.”
Everybody nodded slightly, while Lily was considering what she was about to say.
“You could use my father’s house?” She said. Everybody looked at her. “Well, my father told me James had offered him a room here, so he would be safer than alone at home. So if that offer still stands, my father would be glad to move in here, which means his house would be empty.”
“That’s very generous of you.” Dumbledore smiled at Lily. “And I think that is a very good plan. Does anybody else have a better offer?”
“We’ll go over the formalities later.” Dumbledore said to Lily, who nodded. “Let’s move on.”
And so the meeting went on. Lily learned that the twins across of her were Fabian and Gideon Prewett, who were both very concerned about the safety of their sister and her five children. Apparently some parents had stopped sending their children to Hogwarts, believing it wasn’t safe anymore. This seemed rather stupid to Lily. She thought Hogwarts was the safest place of all. But Dumbledore somehow agreed that maybe the order should start patrolling the hallways of Hogwarts at night, just to be safe.
And so a chart was made of what everybody had to do for the following month. Sirius, James, Remus and Peter were giving the job of patrolling at Hogwarts, and with this the Marauders were reunited again. Something both Sirius and James seemed to find fantastic.
Lily could continue her internship at St. Mungo’s and keep an eye out just like Sirius had said. But she also had to look after a special patient. None other than Godfried McKinnon, father of Marlene McKinnon, who had bravely stayed with the order after her father was attacked inside his own house, which had been the previous Head Quarters but had been destroyed during the attack. Poor Godfried had been tossed around cruelly by the Death Eaters and had suffered a lot of brain damage, which had landed him in St. Mungo’s for the rest of his life.
While Lily was talking to Dumbledore about the location of her father’s house and when they would put up all the necessary spells to protect it, Alastor Moody came bursting in and talked to Dumbledore alone for the rest of the evening. Lily had seen Moody one time before, when he was brought into St. Mungo’s a couple of month ago, screaming that he still had Death Eaters to catch. The other aurors insisted he let his injuries be looked at, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Lily had been stuck with babysitting him, but ten minutes later he had disappeared from his hospital bed anyway.
“Hey.” James said, making Lily jump a little. “Do you want something to drink?”
Lily shook her head noiselessly. She couldn’t get the thoughts of him and Cindy being a family, out of her head. Seeing her tonight at the order meeting and then seeing the Marauders being as close as ever, made her feel left out and small. She missed Sam.
“Oh come on, it’s on the house.” James pushed.
“A glass of wine, please.” Lily said eventually.
“Red?” He asked, with a sly grin. He still knew she preferred red wine. She ignored him.
When James walked away, Lily caught Sirius staring at her and turned away from him immediately. She talked to Sirius about everything, except about James. To her father and Sirius it seemed like Lily just didn’t want to talk about her feelings for James, but Lily knew whom she would talk to normally… Sam. But that wasn’t possible anymore now.
“Here you go.” James said, handing her a full glass of red wine.
“Thank you.” Lily said politely and took a sip.
“So have you been properly introduced to everyone yet?” James cheerfully asked. Why was he suddenly so happy? Hadn’t he been sad upon seeing her?
“I don’t really have anyone to introduce me, do I?” Lily bitterly said, feeling lonely as she looked at all the others talking among each other. She recognized 2 or 3 faces maybe, but wouldn’t know their name if her life depended upon it.
“I’m here.” James said, and Lily could hear the dubiety in his voice. She smiled sarcastically and shook her head slightly. James waited for her to say something, but she didn’t.
“The one talking to Dumbledore is Alastor Moody. He’s a very talented auror…” James began whispering to her. Lily nodded strongly, showing him she already knew Moody. “The woman over there is Emmeline Vance. She was in Ravenclaw, four years above us. She’s nice but has a horrible taste in humour. The man to her right is Edgar Bones, brother of Amelia Bones.”
Apparently that name had to ring a bell with Lily, but it didn’t and the wine made her feel a little too sluggish to rack her brain.
“Then we have the Prewett twins, Fabian and Gideon; hilarious fellows. They’re talking to Benjy Fenwick and Sturgis Podmore. Then we only have Caradoc Dearborn and Dorcas Meadowes and Marlene McKinnon left, over there. But where’s...? Oh, that’s Elphias Doge, who just left the men’s room.”
Lily watched the short wizard with his purple hat as he walked over to Dumbledore and Moody, while James stared at Lily, seeing her take it all in.
“Hagrid is in the order too, but he almost never comes to the meetings. He stays at Hogwarts. And of course Dedalus Diggle, but he couldn’t make it tonight.” James continued, drawing Lily’s attention back to him. “So what do you think of the order?”
“I guess I expected more male testosterone wanting to play the hero. It’s more formal than I expected, more real.” Lily gravely said. James nodded. “It’s scarier.”
“We’ve fought him together before.” James said, trying to be comforting.
“And we lost.” Lily pointed out, thinking of Sam’s death. She didn’t want to be reminded of that any more than he did, but she wanted to hurt him a little, pull him back to reality. They could just talk like this, as if nothing had happened, but Lily didn’t want that.
“Lily... I-“ James began but he was interrupted by a cry that seemed to come out of nowhere. Lily was the only one who looked panicked, until she recognised the sound of a crying baby.
James looked at Cindy, expecting her to go upstairs to find out why Sammy was crying, but Cindy kept staring at James’ hand, which he had just now placed on Lily’s arm. James sighed and threw Lily an apology before walking away.
This time Lily didn’t feel like being left alone anymore, so she joined Sirius, Peter, Frank and Remus, who were sitting together at a table. She wasn’t really listening to their conversation though, she just kept staring at the door behind the bar, waiting for James to return.
When he did, Lily unconsciously started to smile at the small girl that had her hands tightly wrapped around James’ neck.
Cindy immediately sped towards James, offering to take Sammy off his hands, but he just ignored her and made his way back to Lily and the rest. Sammy had her head on James’ shoulder and looked rather tired, but her eyes were wide open, looking around at all the people.
Lily felt Sirius suddenly freeze next to her, as he noticed the little girl in James’ arms. This was the first time he saw her, and she looked so much like Sam. Lily suddenly found it a bad idea of James to take her downstairs with him. She squeezed Sirius hand.
“She didn’t want to go back to sleep.” He sheepishly said, noticing the tense mood little Sammy brought to the Marauders.
Peter was obviously scared of Sammy, which he also had been of the older Sam. Remus was more scared of himself than of Sammy. He was very careful not to hurt her, while Sammy just jumped in his lap and gave him a hug. Lily was next, but Sammy didn’t greet her as familiarly as she had Remus. After all, they had only met once before, as far as Sammy could remember. But somehow it felt all very similar as Lily pulled her into her arms.
They stared at each other, like they had done in the hospital. Sammy put one hand on Lily’s left eye and played a little with its eyelashes, making Lily laugh.
When Sammy seemed tired of playing with Lily’s face, she put her forehead against Lily’s neck not letting go of the lock of hair clutched in her right hand. Lily looked sideways at Sirius, who had been staring at Sammy the entire time with a blank look on his face. She didn’t know what he was thinking or how he felt about Sammy.
“Sammy, this is Sirius. Sirius, meet Sammy.” Lily introduced them. A shy but dazzling smile crept up Sirius’ face, which made Sammy blush and hide her face in Lily’s neck. It was very endearing and immediately melted Sirius’ rather cautious approach.
Sirius and Sammy had staring matches, just like she and Lily had, but still Sammy stayed in Lily’s lap, touching Sirius’ cheek when he came close enough and laughing cutely as he made a funny face.
After half an hour, Lily felt Sammy head become heavier on her shoulder and five minutes later she had fallen asleep again. James got up and told her to follow him. So Lily followed him upstairs, entering his bedroom and crossing it to another small room; Sammy’s bedroom.
As she put Sammy in her crib, her eyes fluttered open again and she suddenly gripped the lock Lily’s hair tighter again.
“Ssh.” James soother her, gently putting his hand on the one that was not letting go of Lily’s hair. Sammy’s eyes went from Lily to James and let go of Lily’s hair immediately. “Night night, Sammy.”
James bent down to give her a kiss and Sammy soundlessly fell asleep. Lily was feeling very mellow as she watched the scene.
This James was too perfect for words, but that made it only harder to be angry with him. And Lily had to be angry with him; she couldn’t just forgive him, because that meant she would never trust him again. She would never be able to give herself completely to him if she just ignored everything this perfect man had done wrong.
“James,” Lily said, forgetting she had to keep quiet, but James quickly put his finger to her lips. She followed him back into his bedroom and he closes the door gently, before looking up expectantly.
“What did you want to say?” He asked when Lily didn’t say anything.
She didn’t know what she was going to say, really. She had just felt the need to say his name, to call his attention to her, and to the problems she was having by being in the same room as him.
“Nothing.” Lily quickly mumbled, glad he couldn’t see her red cheeks in the dark room. “She’s beautiful.”
James nodded and turned to leave, but Lily didn’t want him to. They were finally alone, shouldn’t they talk? But how? Would it really matter? Whatever he said, it would not change what had happened. Maybe she should yell at him, for old time’s sake, but she knew she would only make a fool out of herself... and wake Sammy.
“How did she know my name?”Lily asked the first thing that came to her mind, just to keep James here with her. “Sammy... she recognised me in the hospital. She knew my name.”
James turned back around and looked at Lily, as if she had just said something very sweet.
“I talk about you.” He said as if it was completely normal. Lily raised her eyebrows, surprised that he hadn’t been as eager to never think of them again, as she had been. He noticed that look and came back to stand before her. Lily couldn’t tear her eyes away from his t-shirt, afraid of looking him in the eye.
“Lily... What we had, meant a lot to me. You meant a lot to me. You still do, Lily.” He stopped there for a moment, while Lily tried to block out the feelings his words set loose inside her. Not all of them were very nice. “I know you saw the picture I have... of you and Sam?”
Lily slowly nodded, while James seemed to stand even closer than before. He was trying to get through to her, but she wasn’t letting him.
“I tell her stories about her mother, about you, about you and me together, even about Sirius, Remus and Peter. I’ll always want all of you to be a part of her life.”James explained, putting his hand on her upper arm, sending shivers up her spine. She hoped he wouldn’t notice. “You’ll always be a part of my life, and there’s never going to come a moment I’d want to forget that part.”
Lily was silent and didn’t move, afraid of her own actions. James sighed and stepped even closer, putting his other hand in her neck and kissing the top of her head. It was very fatherly of him, but it didn’t sooth Lily. She had already enough father figures in her life.
But when he turned away, she once again wanted him to stay. His words hadn’t changed anything; they only made it more painful for her. She felt that there had to change something before he left.
“Then why?” Lily asked when he had reached the door. This was it. She had to ask the real, painful questions. “Why are you here with Cindy, being a family...” She couldn’t get rid of that word. “When you apparently couldn’t be one with me.”
James didn’t turn around but stopped walking away, taking a moment before answering.
“Because you deserved more... more than raising a child, more than running a restaurant.” James said evenly, but he wasn’t brave enough to look her in the eye again as he left.
“A bar...” Lily muttered to herself as she was left behind in the dark room.
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