Chapter 11 : Chapter 11
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His hair was damp with sweat and he was panting. Lily ducked as his arm went flying overhead to cast a spell at an unknown attacker.
‘Potter?’ Lily said, reaching out to shake his shoulder as he continued to roll around.
‘Mum! Dad! No! Padfoot, help me! No! Help me!’
‘Potter! James!’ Lily shook him harder.
‘Aaargh!’ Potter screamed, sitting upright. He looked around wildly, like a child after a nightmare. ‘Lils?’ he asked, looking confused. She was startled to see tears shining in his hazel eyes. ‘Merlin! What was I saying?’ he said, brushing his tears away.
‘A lot of “no, take me” and something about your parents and Black.’
In the dim moonlight, Lily saw Potter’s face darken and his bottom lip tremble. ‘Sorry for waking you up,’ he muttered and lay down again.
‘I wasn’t asleep anyway,’ Lily murmured. She had actually been lying awake, wondering if the Marauders were really as bad as she thought. ‘Are you all right?’ Potter nodded, but she saw his shoulders shake.
‘No,’ he croaked, punching his pillow.
‘Come here,’ she said gently, patting the mattress next to her.
‘No.’ He really did sound like a stubborn child.
‘James Potter,’ she said dangerously. ‘Come here. Just because I’ve realised you’re not a total toe-rag recently doesn’t mean I won’t hex you if you make me angry.’ He ignored her. ‘Or I’ll wake one of the others and have them sort it out instead.’ That got him moving. He sighed quietly, stood and climbed onto his bed next to her. ‘What were you dreaming of?’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ he muttered.
‘What happened to “James”? I quite like it when you call me by my first name.’
‘James,’ Lily said quietly. She hesitantly took his hand. ‘What were you dreaming about?’
He sighed noisily, eyes scanning her face in the moonlit room. ‘My parents.’
‘Dead. They were murdered in July,’ Potter - James’ - voice cracked on the last word. ‘D-Dad was an Auror. Voldemort targeted him and Mum. All my Uncles and Aunts and Grandparents were killed too,’ he said bitterly. ‘We were at Moony’s for the day. He’d been... er... sick, but he was coming back to the Manor and we were helping him get ready.
‘Then,’ James said, his voice cracking slightly, ‘I got an owl from Dumbledore while we were there, saying I should come home straight away. I did - Padfoot and I Apparated the second I got it - and we got there in time for them to die.’
‘Oh, James!’ Lily whispered. She pulled him toward her with her free arm, but he pushed away.
‘I don’t want your pity!’
‘What? James, I’m not-’
His tone softened. ‘Yes, you are. That’s why I didn’t let the Prophet run the report. I don’t want people to know. I don’t want to be the boy with no parents. I don’t want people to look at me, and feel sorry for me.’ He took a deep breath. ‘It’s nice to know people care but that isn’t going to bring them back, so what’s the point?’ He laughed humourlessly. ‘I just want to remember them in peace, without people springing condolences on me every time I turn around. I want to get through N.E.W.T.’s and I want to do well. I want to make them proud.’ He smiled again, without humour. ‘I actually think that’s why Dumbledore made me Head Boy, as a distraction.’
‘You don’t... blame yourself, do you?’ she asked quietly.
‘I did,’ James said. ‘And then Elaine - Moony’s mum - and Moony and Padfoot talked some sense into me.’
‘Good,’ she said firmly. ‘And... you didn’t have to but you did anyway, so tha- thank you for telling me,’ she said finally. She squeezed his hand once and then let go. He slid off the bed and onto his pile of blankets on the ground.
* * *
Sirius opened his eyes and rolled over. Lily’s eyes snapped up to meet his. She looked exhausted, like she hadn’t slept.
‘You look like hell, Lils.’
‘Thanks,’ she whispered sarcastically. Then she looked guilty. ‘Sorry. I’m tired. I didn’t sleep.’
‘I figured. Any particular reason?’ he whispered, waggling an eyebrow.
She rolled her eyes. ‘I was... thinking.’
‘About?’ he pressed.
She gazed at him appraisingly, with slightly narrowed eyes. She sighed. ‘I’m beginning to think Remus might not be the most perceptive Marauder.’ Sirius grinned. ‘I was wondering if I’m actually right about anything... If you four really are as horrible as I made myself believe you are.’
‘We’re really not that bad,’ Sirius assured her.
‘I know. Or I’m beginning to,’ she said softly. Her bright eyes fell on James’ sleeping form and a small smile touched her lips. Sirius grinned but didn’t say anything. He just watched her watching him.
The peaceful moment was ruined by Remus’ thrashing. He was yelping and snarling and snapping at invisible attackers.
Lily turned to stare at him, worried. ‘Should we wake him up?’
‘No,’ Sirius said quickly. Remus was a Werewolf. Even as a human his bite could be deadly. ‘He always does this.’
‘Oh.’ She grinned suddenly. ‘So does every Marauder have vivid nightmares?’
‘What do you mean?’ he asked cautiously.
‘Well, Remus is having one as we speak, Peter squeaks like a mouse when he dreams and you and James...’ her expression clouded over. Sirius hid a grin. Had she just referred to James as James?!
‘He told you?’ Sirius said, unsurprised. James would tell Lily anything she asked without too much fuss.
‘Last night,’ she whispered. ‘He was yelling and crying. It was horrible. You do it too, you know,’ she said shyly. ‘Call for your parents.’
He shook his head. ‘I call for James’.’
Lily’s eyes filled with tears and before he knew what was happening, she had hugged him. It was an awkward hug, with their hands stuck together, but Sirius appreciated it anyway. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘There are no words for it,’ he croaked. ‘The helplessness...’ He shook his head suddenly, like a dog with wet fur. He smiled weakly. ‘Can we not talk about this?’ Lily nodded and he was grateful. ‘So... new topic...’ He laughed suddenly, his humour returning. ‘Hmm... Who’s the best without a shirt?’
Lily blushed. ‘I’m not answering that!’ she said, mortified. She swatted at his shoulder.
‘Oh, come on! And then I’ll tell you who I think is the best looking girl. Shirtless, of course.’
‘No thank you,’ Lily said looking ill. ‘I really don’t need to hear that.’
‘What if it’s you?’
Lily made a face. ‘I still don’t need to hear it.’
‘It’s not you,’ Sirius said, a little apologetically. Lily didn’t seem to mind. ‘You’re not bad looking though,’ he added honestly. ‘Especially in those pyjamas.’
‘Si- Black-’ Lily started, pulling her quilt up.
‘I’m just messing with you,’ Sirius said grinning.
‘Well, stop,’ Lily said, annoyed.
‘Fine,’ Sirius said shrugging as if it was her loss. ‘In exchange for me being nice, you have to tell me! Who’s the best looking Marauder?’
‘Sirius! I am not having this conversation!’
‘Please?’ Sirius said giving her his best puppy-dog look. She buried her face in her hands. ‘Pretty, pretty, please?!’
‘No,’ Lily groaned. ‘I honestly don’t care how you look.’
‘But I want to know if I’m beautiful inside and out!’ Sirius cried.
Lily laughed but shook her coppery curls, refusing to answer. ‘What are we doing today?’ she asked, changing the subject.
Sirius scowled at the change of topic. ‘Not sure. I think we’ll want to keep out of the public eye as much as possible so we’ll stick around here, or maybe go to the Head’s common room... You should probably sleep at some point today.’
‘I’ll just go to bed early tonigh-’
‘Morning,’ a sleepy voice interrupted. Remus. Sirius glanced at him in concern. His voice was raspy and he was paler than usual.
‘Morning... Rem, you look like shit.’
‘Thanks, Padfoot. What guy doesn’t want to wake up and instantly have their appearance compared to faecal matter?’ Remus snapped.
‘Yeesh! Is it that time of the month?’ Sirius teased. ‘Or did you just wake up on the cranky side of the bed?’
‘Keep talking and you’ll never wake up again,’ Remus promised, flinging a pillow in their direction. Lily looked taken-aback at seeing sweet, friendly Remus acting so narky. Sirius hid a grin. He was always like this on full-moons. Sirius lobbed a balled up sock across the room with such precise aim that it hit Peter, effectively waking him up.
‘Wormy,’ Sirius said, ‘wake Prongs and take Moony to the Hospital Wing. He’s not feeling well.’ Remus groaned.
Peter rolled out of bed and stumbled over to poke James. ‘Prongs. Prongs. James. Prongs.’
Sirius rolled his eyes. James wasn’t a heavy sleeper, but a timid poke and Peter whispering his name wasn’t going to do it. He grinned as an idea came to him. ‘Lils, do me a favour and call James’ name.’
‘His real name.’
‘James?’ she said, confused. James’ hazel eyes snapped open. She grinned. ‘The library’s on fire.’
‘Sweet Merlin!’ James cried, sitting upright. ‘Not the library! Lily loves the library! Wait. Lily?!’ Lily was tearing up with laughter and Sirius would have been, but he was distracted by Remus’ quiet groans of pain. ‘What are you doing up here, Lils?’ James asked confused. ‘Does McG- Oh.’ He laughed, looking at their hands. ‘Right, never mind.’ He stretched and Lily pointedly looked away.
James stood, took one look at Remus and said, ‘Moony, you look like you could use the Hospital Wing. Pete, come with me. Padfoot, stay here.’ He looked at Lily. ‘Obviously you have to stay if Paddy’s staying. You look tired so I’d suggest you get some sleep.’ Lily stared at him with her mouth open. Even Sirius was impressed with how quickly he’d woken and got moving, and that his immediate response was to do exactly what Sirius would have done. They were like brothers after all. ‘Up we get, Moony,’ James said cheerfully. Remus growled. ‘Good morning to you too.’
Remus seemed to snap out of it. He smiled weakly and threw his feet over the side of the bed. James summoned a shirt and helped him get it on and he and Peter helped him to the door. It closed with a crack behind them.
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