Chapter 18 : Inconvenient Truths
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I hope school is going well and you’re studying lot (but not too much… take a break once in a while)! We all miss you at home, even Petunia, though she won’t say as much out loud. Dad’s started working early mornings at that little corner market where we get those wonderful peaches. It’s nothing to worry about, but with winter coming up people haven’t been buying many flowers. I do hope you’ll come home for Christmas this year! Petunia’s having Vernon over and your Nana and Grandad are coming down from Aberdeen for the week so we’ll have a full house! We all miss you, Lilykins. It’s not the same around here without you!
Love you lots,
I sighed heavily and folded the letter back up, slipping it carefully into its envelope. I sank back into the squashy red couch in the common room, thinking over what my mother had written.
“You alright, Lils?” Scarlet asked from her spot on the floor where she was painting her toenails a vivid red color.
“Yeah, just… letter from home,” I mumbled, staring idly into the roaring fireplace.
“Is something wrong?” Anna asked, looking up from her Transfiguration notes.
“No… well, my dad’s gotten a second job,” I said quietly. The common room was full of students milling about and I wasn’t particularly keen on everyone in Gryffindor knowing that my family had money problems.
Scarlet frowned slightly, a small crease forming between her dark eyebrows. “I don’t understand… why would he need a second job? What about the flower shop?”
“Well, that’s just it,” I slid off the couch so that I was sitting on the floor between her and Anna. “Mum said they haven’t been getting enough business lately, with winter coming up. I just don’t want him to overwork himself.”
“I’m sure he’ll be fine, Lily,” Anna comforted me. “Christmas is coming up, people buy loads of flowers at Christmas.”
“And Petunia’s bringing her whale of a boyfriend around for the holidays,” I grumbled, wrapping a strand of my red hair absently around my fingers.
“If only you were seventeen already,” Scarlet sighed, a mischievous grin playing at her lips. “Or else you could have some real fun with them.”
I refrained from lecturing her on the dangers of doing magic in front of muggles (particularly Vernon who didn’t even know magic existed) and instead pulled out a clean piece of parchment to write a reply.
I scrawled a quick note, saying I would in fact be home for Christmas and couldn’t wait to see everyone. I slipped on my cloak, muttering to Anna and Scarlet that I’d be back shortly and set off towards the owlery.
The sun was low in the sky as I made my way across the grounds and as I neared the owlery, I glanced instinctively up towards the rising moon. I had started doing that ever since I found out about Remus. I knew perfectly well that it wouldn’t be a full moon tonight, but it had become habit now every time I neared the forbidden forest.
I hurried up the steps to the owlery with my letter in hand and stopped abruptly in the doorway when I spotted someone perched in the open window.
“Sirius!” I said, surprised as I recognized his shaggy mane of dark hair silhouetted against the setting sun.
“Oh, hey Evans,” he responded glumly, glancing at me only briefly before looking back down at the letter in his hands.
“Are you alright?” I asked tentatively. I hadn’t spoken to him at all since the night he found me in the forest. I had tried a few times after I spoke with Remus, but he still found ways to avoid me.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Sirius muttered, not looking at me. “Letter from my mum.”
He waved the letter he was holding at me and with a sinking feeling, I remembered the brutal way he left home over the summer.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I ventured, stepping lightly across the owlery floor towards him. I had never seen Sirius Black upset about anything before and it was oddly discomforting. Even right after he left home, he had been cheerful.
“Not much to talk about, is there?” Sirius said blandly, looking up at me. “It’s just a long list of curses she’s written this time... They stopped paying for my tuition here, you know.”
“They what?” I stuttered, surprised by this information.
“S’not a big deal, really,” Sirius shrugged, but I scoffed. “My uncle Alphard heard about the whole thing and offered to pay the rest. He’s always been more of a father to me than my real parents anyways.”
“Sirius, I’m so sorry,” I said quietly, sitting on the window ledge next to him. I had never realized that Sirius came from such a complicated background. I mean, my parents barely managed to pay my tuition here as it was, but I couldn’t even imagine what I’d do if they disowned me, then stopped paying for it altogether. I’d probably just curl up in a ball and cry.
“It’s alright,” Sirius said earnestly, meeting my sympathetic gaze. “Mum’s blasted me off the family tree, along with poor old Uncle Alphard now. Her own brother… can you imagine? The whole lot of them are seriously twisted… I’m better off rid of them.”
“That’s awful,” I muttered, at a loss for anything else to say. “If it makes you feel any better, my sister said she’d rather tell people I’m dead than a witch.”
Sirius looked up at me, surprise written all over his face.
“You have a sister?” He asked, frowning slightly.
“Yeah, Petunia,” I answered curtly. “She’s a year older than I am and a right pain in my arse.”
A small smile appeared on Sirius face at my words and I raised my eyebrows questioningly at him.
“I’ve never heard you say a single bad thing about someone before, ‘cept James of course,” Sirius smirked and I rolled my eyes.
It felt strange, yet comfortable sitting here talking to Sirius about our families. I never pictured Sirius Black as the kind of person I would ever get along with, even though he was close with one of my best friends, but then again I’d been wrong about so many people recently that it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
I pushed myself off the window ledge and quickly tied my letter to my owl Darwin’s leg, giving him a small nudge out the window.
“I want to show you something,” I said slowly to Sirius, who was watching me still from his spot in the window.
“You’re not going to flash me, are you?” Sirius grinned and I scowled at him. I guess it wouldn’t be a real conversation with Sirius Black if he didn’t mention something lewd.
“Don’t be a perv,” I rolled my eyes at him as I hopped over a pile of mice skeletons on the floor. “Follow me.”
Sirius extracted himself from the window, following curiously behind me as I lead him around the back of the owlery towards the path Anna, Scarlet and I routinely took towards the Well.
“You’re not taking me into the forest to kill me, are you?” Sirius asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.
“Merlin, why does everyone think that?” I grumbled as we emerged into the clearing.
“You wanted to show me a shabby well?” Sirius asked skeptically, his eyebrows almost disappearing beneath his shaggy hair.
“It’s not just a well,” I explained, leading him closer.
“It looks like just a well,” Sirius muttered and I shot him a look.
“It’s a wishing well,” I corrected him and he frowned. “Scarlet, Anna and I have been coming out here pretty regularly lately. We’ve been trying to figure it out. It’s what I was doing here the other night when you found me.”
I dragged my hand across the brim of the Well absently, so used to performing this action that it had become second nature. Feeling the thick rope under my hand I pulled the Book of Wishes towards the surface.
“Er… right, about the other night,” Sirius said quietly, dragging a hand distractedly through his dark hair.
“It’s ok, Sirius, I know,” I said brusquely, heaving the large book over the edge of the Well. “I know about Remus.”
“Veritaserum,” I said, wincing slightly as I recalled how I thought Remus had been joking.
“You sly little minx,” Sirius barked out a laugh, his eyes twinkling in the dim light.
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” I sighed, lowering myself to the ground and resting my back against the Well. Sirius followed suit. “I was trying to figure out what you were doing in the forest that night, actually. And Remus said you were in there because of him… because it’s where he has to stay when he transforms.”
“Right…” Sirius mumbled and I could tell he was wondering if I knew the real reason he’d been in the forest.
“Remus didn’t tell me why you were there,” I said quietly, staring at him as he avoided eye contact. “He said it was your secret to tell, not his.”
“So you don’t know then?”
“Oh, of course I know. I’m not stupid, Sirius,” I clarified, watching with amusement as Sirius’s face clouded over with dread. “You’re an animagus—an illegal one at that, I checked. But it’s the only way you’d be able to be around him while he’s in his wolf form and not get torn to pieces.”
“So what, you going to turn me in?” Sirius asked defensively, his normally jovial face darkening significantly with betrayal.
“Absolutely not,” I hissed, offended that he could even think I would. “I think it’s brilliant.”
“You do?” Sirius stuttered, shock replacing the betrayal on his face.
“Of course,” I shrugged like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Sirius, that’s really advanced magic you’ve done for your age. I don’t even think I could do that….Not to mention risking your life for you friend, just so he doesn’t have to be alone when he transforms. I’ve never heard of anything so selfless.”
“You know, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this new side of you… the side that will completely overlook that fact that I’m breaking wizarding law,” Sirius muttered and I disregarded that comment.
“Look, I’m guessing that Scarlet doesn’t know anything about this,” I said and I saw Sirius tense up slightly at the mention of her. “And I promise I won’t say anything to her.”
“Thank you,” Sirius let out a long breath. “I’ve wanted to tell her… I just can’t think of a way to go about it without revealing what Remus is either.”
I nodded, completely understanding.
“Can I ask you one last question?” I ventured, running my fingers around the edge of the book.
“What do you transform into?” I asked and Sirius rolled his eyes.
“Do you really need to know that?” He sighed.
“Yes,” I insisted, putting on mock-serious voice. “I mean, what if I’m out hunting one night and shoot a rabbit and it turned out to be you. That would be terrible.”
“Since when do you go hunting?” Sirius snorted and I smacked him on the arm.
“Hypothetically,” I rolled my eyes.
“Well then if you’re hypothetically hunting anytime in the near future, don’t shoot any black dogs… or rats…. Better not shoot any deer either, ‘Cause I’d miss James if you shot him. Y’know, you better not go hunting at all, I don’t think I’d trust you with a gun,” Sirius shrugged and I gaped at him.
“Wait, James is an animagus too?” I stuttered.
“Well, yeah. I thought you’d figured that much out. We all are…” Sirius frowned.
“I probably should have realized that…” I cringed, mentally kicking myself for missing that. I had been so focused on the werewolf bit that I hadn’t given the animagus bit a second thought. I guess it made sense though…
“And here I thought you were actually smart,” Sirius shook his head sadly at me.
“So you’re a dog, huh?” I shot back at him. “How fitting.”
“So… this Well,” Sirius said loudly, gesturing towards the book in my hands and I rolled my eyes at his turn of conversation.
“Right, the Well,” I sighed, handing him the Book of Wishes. “We think it’s an enchanted wishing well… any wishes that are said at the Well are recorded in this book. Some are crossed off, which we figure means they’ve come true. We know that the Well only grants wishes to those who are being truthful, not greedy or anything. But that’s about it…”
“So it just grants wishes willy-nilly, as long as the wisher isn’t a liar or a cheat?” Sirius asked skeptically, flipping through the pages of the book.
“That’s as much as we can guess. We’re missing something though, something important,” I muttered irritably, my frustration with the Well building in my chest again.
“Why are you telling me about all this?” Sirius asked, looking up at me, his silvery eyes intent on my face.
“Well, I found out about your secret… and I promised I’d tell you what I’d been doing in here,” I shrugged. “Plus…I figure it’s the kind of thing friends tell each other.”
“We’re friends, then?” Sirius asked, raising one eyebrow at me.
“I think it’s safe to say we are,” I smiled wryly at him.
“Does Remus know about this?” Sirius asked, looking down at the book.
“No,” I shook my head, guilt tugging at the edges of my brain. “I figured he had enough on his mind already.”
“That’s true…” Sirius nodded slowly, still gazing down at the book.
“So, any ideas?” I asked, watching as Sirius turned page after page of wishes.
“I think…” Sirius began, pursing his lips in thought. “We have quite a mystery on our hands…”
* * * *
“This is bloody impossible,” Anna griped, tossing her quill onto the table in frustration and yanking her hands through her tangled blond hair.
“It’s not that hard, Annie,” I said soothingly, fetching her quill for her before it skidded off the table. “Antidotes aren’t about memorizing; They’re purely logical. You just need to look at the facts—the ingredients—and you should be able to deduce the antidote from there.”
Anna glared up at me and Scarlet chuckled quietly next to her.
“Evening, ladies,” Sirius’s voice floated towards us as he appeared from between two rows of books in the library with Remus and Peter in tow. “How’s the potion’s essay coming along?”
“Shove it, Black,” Anna growled, snatching her quill from my hand. Sirius gave Scarlet and I a questioning look before taking the empty seat next to me. Remus and Peter pulled up chairs as well, completely filling our table.
“She’s having a bit of difficulty with the antidotes…”I said quietly to him and he smirked. Anna threw us a dirty look.
I giggled quietly and turned back to my own essay. I added a quick conclusion and stuffed the essay into my bag, glad to be done.
“Looks like Potter’s doing some studying of his own tonight,” Scarlet whispered and we all followed her gaze to a couple several tables down from ours. I recognized the fiery red hair of Celia Carrington and the messy black hair of Potter, though the two appeared to be glued together at the lips.
I wrinkled my nose slightly, not in the mood to watch Potter swap spit with some Ravenclaw bimbo tonight. I had seen Alex towing some poor girl into a broom closet on my way to the library and was in no mood to talk about relationships.
“Are they actually dating now?” Anna asked, glad to have something to distract her from antidotes.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Peter muttered, rolling his eyes at his friend and turning back to us.
“You don’t like her,” I guessed, trying to hide the satisfied smile that was pushing against my lips.
“She’s perfectly nice,” Remus shrugged, but I could tell he didn’t think so.
“You hate her,” Scarlet smirked, her blue eyes twinkling devilishly.
“We don’t hate her,” Sirius contradicted. “She really is nice. And she has a great sense of humor, she’s smart, pretty… but, haven’t you noticed?”
Anna, Scarlet and I exchanged a confused look.
“Noticed what?” Anna asked, looking over at James and Celia again.
“Come on, it’s obvious,” Peter squeaked, resting his elbows on the table and leaning forward. His watery blue eyes found their way to mine and he raised his pale blond eyebrows slightly. “Lily, Celia’s basically you.”
“Oh, come off it,” I scoffed impatiently. “She’s nothing like me.”
“Actually…” Scarlet said slowly, her eyes darting between the red-headed Ravenclaw and myself. “I see what they mean…”
“You’re off your rocker,” I folded my arms across my chest and shook my head at them.
“Lily, remember what I told you about James?” Remus spoke up, leaning around Sirius to look at me.
“Yes, and I meant to speak to you about that little theory of yours,” I snapped, flashing Remus my best death glare. “It’s bullocks is what it is. I asked him if he was intimidated by me and you know what he did? He laughed… for a good solid ten minutes.”
“Well, of course he wouldn’t admit it to you,” Peter muttered and Sirius elbowed him in the side, shooting him a look.
“No, I think I see what you’re getting at,” Anna said suddenly, sitting up in her seat. I gave her a confused look and she turned towards me. “You told us that Remus said you’re kind of like the ultimate challenge for James… its why he asks you out all the time. You’re the one person he can’t have, the only thing that’s unattainable to him. And if you say yes—”
“But I haven’t said yes, have I?” I frowned at her and Scarlet shook her head impatiently.
“No, you haven’t and we all know you’d sooner eat a hippogriff than go out with him,” Scarlet said suppressing a smile. “But Celia said yes… and Lily, you have to see the similarities between you two. You’re both incredibly smart, you’re both prefects, you even look similar – ‘cept for the eyes.”
“Don’t you get it?” Remus asked and I wrinkled my nose. This was all very confusing. “James is substituting Celia for you. He figures this is as close to you as he’ll ever get. In his mind, he’s won. But we all know he’s just kidding himself. Hell, I think even Celia knows it. Everyone knows that what he really wants… is you.”
“But James doesn’t want to date me. He just wants the satisfaction of knowing he can have me (which he most certainly cannot). This is all completely ridiculous,” I scoffed, hastily dropping my things in my bag and shoving myself away from the table. “You’re all cracked.”
“You’re in denial,” Scarlet pointed out and I clenched my teeth together.
“James Potter does not like me,” I said furiously through my teeth. “He doesn’t care about me at all. He ruined my date with Amos Diggory, humiliated me in front of the entire Slug Club, and badgers me mercilessly about my ex-boyfriend. Now, we may have finally struck up a real truce with each other, but that does not mean he sees me as anything more than a friend and fellow prefect.”
Everyone at the table stared at me for a moment after my outburst.
“Don’t get your wand in a knot,” Scarlet rolled her eyes at me impatiently, showing no tolerance for my temper. “All we did was suggest that maybe James fancies you a bit in some round-about twisted way.”
“Is everything alright?” Anna asked, peering at me intently with her brown eyes. “You’ve been awfully tense all night…”
I took a deep breath to steady myself. “I saw Alex and some girl slipping into a broom cupboard on my way here. I just… can’t talk about relationships right now—mine or anyone else’s. I just need to clear my head.”
I slung my bag over my shoulder and turned quickly down one of the many rows of books heading towards the exit. Once I was out of sight of my friends I stopped and leaned against the shelf, taking a few more deep breaths.
“She’s still really upset about Alex, isn’t she?” I heard Remus ask quietly. I stiffened slightly and moved back towards the table, making sure I was still hidden from view.
“I think she’s more hurt than she lets on,” Anna said and I could almost picture her concerned face.
“But they weren’t even dating for that long, were they?” Sirius voice was low, but full of curiosity.
“A couple months, actually,” Scarlet corrected him. “They didn’t tell anyone for a while.”
“But I can understand where she’s coming from,” Anna’s voice said. “I mean, If someone said to me what Alex said to her, I’d be put off dating for a while too.”
“Anna…” Scarlet’s voice hissed a warning.
“Wait, what did he say to her?” Peter asked and I was surprised to hear a note of protectiveness in his voice.
I winced, hoping that Scarlet and Anna had more sense than to tell them Alex cheated on me. Please, don’t tell them that.
“It was nothing really,” Anna said lightly, trying to back-pedal. “Forget I mentioned it.”
“Come on girls, spill,” Sirius demanded.
“Well, essentially Alex said that Lily wasn’t what he expected her to be,” Anna said slowly. “You know, once he got to really know her, he thought she was a know-it-all, she was too interested in school and not interested enough in how she looked, or… or what they did together.”
“You’re joking right?” Remus hissed and I swallowed hard. It hurt to hear all of this again and I felt something prickle behind my eyes, though I tried desperately to will it away.
“Look,” I heard Scarlet say quietly. “I think deep down, Lily is resisting James so much because she’s worried he’ll do to her what Alex did. That he’ll see the real her, and decide he doesn’t like it after all.”
“James wouldn’t do that, though,” Sirius said fiercely and I heard Remus and Peter agree.
“But Lily doesn’t know that,” Scarlet contradicted him. “You said that James needed to realize his feelings for her on his own… why don’t you let her do the same? She’s been through a lot with Alex… it’s going to take her a while to be able to trust anyone like that again.”
I pushed myself away from the bookshelf, not wanting to hear anymore. The angry tears that were pushing against my eyes finally spilled over as I hurried from the library.
These were tears of frustration—frustration at my friends’ insistence of James Potter’s nonexistent feelings for me, frustration that I was still very much affected by what Alex had done to me, but most of all frustration that what Scarlet had said could very well be true.
A/N: Ok, so I lied. James wasn't really in this chapter (unless you count him snogging celia, which I don't). BUT I gave you lots of Sirius so I hope you'll forgive me. And there's a very tender James/Lily moment in the next chapter, I PROMISE.
So now Sirius knows about the Well... do you think he'll tell the other Marauders? Or will he keep it a secret and help them figure it out?
Do we think Potter's actually replaced Lily with Celia? Or are they all insane?
Do you think Lily will say anything to James about being an animagus? Or will she keep it to herself?
I'd love to hear what you all think! Leave a review!
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