Chapter 21 : Trust Me
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The cold December air was almost as brutal as our landing. I felt Lily stagger slightly next to me and instinctively I reached out to steady her. Looking around, I noticed that McGonagall had sent us to an alleyway just off of a main road.
Next to me, Lily straightened up having regained her balance. She noticed my arm around her waist and quickly shoved it off, marching off down the alley without a word to me.
Merlin, that girl could hold a grudge.
I hurried after her, trusting that she knew how to get us to the hospital on foot; I had never been to York before.
Lily paused at the end of the alleyway, looking up and down the street to get her bearings. A blast of icy wind met us as we emerged onto the street and I saw Lily wrap her arms around herself. She must be freezing in that dress…
I let out a deep irritated sigh, knowing that somehow my insane, manners-obsessed mother would know that I hadn’t offered my jacket to a girl in need. I quickly shook of my jacket and held it out to Lily begrudgingly. She glanced at the offered jacket then up at me, a small frown appearing on her already worried face.
“Thanks,” she finally sighed, and I had to bite back a smile. I half expected her to tell me where exactly I could stick that jacket, but she roughly shoved her arms into the sleeves and hugged it tightly around herself. She set off at a quick pace down the street and I followed her, neither of us speaking again.
The streets were busy tonight; it was Friday after all. The pubs were full and a roar of boisterous voices met us with each one we passed. What I wouldn’t give to be sneaking down the Hogsmeade for a drink with Sirius right now…
Why had I even agreed to come? I hadn’t even stopped to think when McGonagall suggested I accompany her. Why? I wasn’t particularly fond of Lily; in fact we had been screaming at each other just hours earlier… So why had I said yes? What obligation did I feel to her?
None, that’s what.
I continued to ponder my snap decision to come with Lily as she led me through the winding streets at a quick pace. I assumed she knew where she was going, though her path seemed rather haphazard to me. We finally came across another main road and I sighed in relief when I saw the large hospital just on the other side. Without my jacket I was starting to get a bit frozen and I longed for the warmth of the Gryffindor common room.
Lily hesitated just outside the door and I glanced over at her, impatient to get inside. Her jaw was clenched, but her vivid green eyes were anxious. She was pale—paler than usual—making her freckles even more pronounced on her face and I knew she must be immeasurably worried about her father.
But I was cold, damnit. Get over it already and open the fucking door!
She exhaled slowly and I nearly ripped out my hair in frustration but before I could say anything she pushed open the door and marched up to the reception desk.
“I’m looking for my father,” Lily stated, coming to a halt in front of the receptionist who was filing her nails and reading a tabloid.
“Name?” The receptionist asked in a bored voice, her eyes not leaving the magazine.
“Thomas Evans,” she said sharply, her jaw clenching again. She was getting irritated, I could tell. She was using the same tone of voice that she used whenever she talked to me.
The receptionist finished filing her nail and then swung her chair around to the desk behind her where piles of clipboards were stacked precariously. She glanced through them, finally pulling one from the middle of the stack.
“And you are?” The receptionist turned back to Lily, her eyes sweeping over her appearance and her drawn-on eyebrows raised a fraction of an inch. The receptionist’s eyes flitted to me, lingering longer than they should have, before settling on Lily again.
“I’m his daughter,” Lily replied, taking a deep breath. I saw her hands clenching into fists at her side. “Can you just tell me what room he’s in?”
I held back a smirk, half amused at the receptionist’s obvious attempts to annoy Lily and half amused at the mental image I had of Lily hexing the living daylights out of her for it.
“He’s in room 419,” the receptionist told Lily slowly, irritation coloring her bored voice.
“Thank you,” Lily muttered and set off down the hall. “Bloody incompetent staff. My father could by dying and she just sits there filing her stupid, bloody nails and taking her sweet time.”
“I’m sure he’s fine, Lily,” I said quietly, at a loss for anything else to reply.
We hurried up the stairs to the fourth floor and spotted a waiting room at the end of a long hall. There were several people sitting around and Lily seemed to recognize some of them.
“Mum,” she called, her voice breaking slightly as we entered the waiting room. A blond woman who had previously been staring out the window, biting her nails looked over at us and then jumped out of her seat.
“Lily! Oh my—I didn’t think you’d be able to come,” The woman (I assumed she was Lily’s mother) engulfed her in a hug. I saw Lily’s hands clutch her mother’s sweater, her eyes shut tight as she held on too long.
It was amazing how quickly Lily had gone from her usual irritated self to completely vulnerable. I had never seen her like this, clinging to someone so desperately, not even with her friends. She always seemed so… put together. It was almost unnerving to see her come undone like this. I didn’t like it.
“Thank goodness you’re here, sweetheart,” Lily’s mum said, rubbing her daughter’s back tenderly. “Petunia said she owled you back and we’re so lucky your last letter had just arrived. We didn’t know how else to contact you.”
The girl who had been sitting next to Lily’s mother looked up at their exchange, a mixed expression of annoyance and anxiety on her face. I guessed that this was Lily’s sister, Petunia. The two girls looked nothing alike and I wouldn’t have even known they were related. Petunia’s pale blond hair was cropped short, contrasting wildly with her younger sister’s long, untamed red hair. Her pointed face and her icy blue eyes swept over Lily, a hint of loathing flashing in them.
Lily let go of her mum and turned awkwardly to her sister, her fingers playing with the lace trim on her dress.
“Thanks for letting me know, Tuney,” Lily mumbled, her eyes fixed on the floor.
Seriously, were these two even sisters? They way they acted you’d never know it. It was like they had never even met before. And why did Petunia keep glaring at her like that?
“Your bloody owl nearly bit my fingers off,” Petunia sniffed, her eyes falling back down to the book in her hands.
My, what a pleasant girl. No wonder Lily never mentioned her.
"Where’s dad?” Lily asked tentatively, turning back towards her mother, whose eyes had been flitting suspiciously between me and the jacket draped around her daughter’s shoulders. “What happened?”
Her mother blinked and looked away from me back towards her daughter.
“They’re running some tests now… they think it might have been a heart attack,” Her mother said uncertainly, pulling Lily down into the chair next to her. Lily blanched at that, but didn’t say anything. I remained standing awkwardly in front of them all.
I felt like an intruder on this family crisis. Maybe I should go wait outside… but Lily still had my jacket…
“I don’t really know what happened,” Lily’s mum said quietly, shaking her head. “He was at work and apparently he just collapsed all of a sudden…”
“At the flower shop?” Lily asked but her mum shook her head.
“At the market,” Her mother said and Lily’s eyes flitted briefly to me, her cheeks turning faintly pink. “He’s been working too many hours, I tried to tell him that. But you know your father, he wouldn’t listen…”
Lily remained silent after that, her cheeks still stained pink at the mention of her father’s multiple jobs. Was she embarrassed?
Lily’s mother however turned her eyes back to me where I was still standing awkwardly with my hands shoved in my pockets.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think we’ve been introduced,” Lily’s mother stood up again and Lily jumped to her feet as well.
“I’m sorry,” Lily said quickly. “Mum, this is Pot—James. James, this is my mum.”
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Evans,” I said, reaching out a hand to shake hers.
“Call me Claire,” Lily’s mum said, grasping my hand firmly with both of hers. Her eyes were the exact same vivid green as Lily’s, and a few freckles dotted her otherwise creamy complexion.
“I’m so sorry, we didn’t mean to pull you from your…er, date,” Claire apologized awkwardly, her eyes sweeping over mine and Lily’s formal apparel and once again to my jacket on Lily.
“We weren’t on a date,” Lily snapped sharply and I had to stop myself from laughing. “We were just at a Christmas party one of our professors was holding. James is the other Gryffindor prefect – they just didn’t want me to come by myself.”
“Well, it was very nice of you to accompany Lily here,” Claire said sincerely, her eyes sweeping over me once more.
I gave her a small smile and took the seat next to Lily. We all sat in silence for a bit. Petunia was absorbed in her book, Claire had gone back to staring out the window and Lily and I sat awkwardly next to each other, not speaking.
Once or twice I saw her look over at me and her expression would harden before she turned away, sighing deeply and folding her arms tightly across her chest.
I could guess where her thoughts were. She was still mad at me from our fight earlier. I thought maybe she would have eased up a bit since I’d inexplicably given up my weekend to come with her. But apparently not.
Merlin’s beard, that girl was hard to please.
I glanced over at her again. She was tapping her foot sharply on the floor, her emerald eyes fixed resolutely at the opposite wall. Her fiery red hair was tousled slightly from the wind and starting to escape from its side-swept ponytail.
If I had to be completely honest, she looked extraordinary tonight— the way her dark green dress complimented her pale skin so perfectly, the way her hair was pulled to the side and curling ever so slightly. She was truly beautiful, sitting there, lost in thought.
Beautiful, but that didn’t mean I liked her. She was still absolutely infuriating. I still couldn’t believe she had gone with Snape tonight. Snape, of all people! As annoying as Lily was, she shouldn’t have a friend like him. I knew the kind of filth he was… the kind of filth he and his Death Eater friends thought she was, just because of her blood. And yet she claimed he was different, that he didn’t feel that way about her, too.
How could she be so deluded into thinking he was any different from the rest? How could she believe him and not me? I had never actually lied to her before. Sure, I pranked her on a daily basis and got on her last nerve but I had never lied. I couldn’t lie. There was just something in the way she looked at me that made it impossible… like she knew my every secret.
Those damn eyes.
So why wouldn’t she trust me on this?
Honestly, how could one small girl be so bloody stubborn?
A doctor appeared in the waiting room interrupting my thoughts and Lily and her mother and sister jumped to their feet, awaiting any news about her dad.
I stayed in my seat, feeling like I didn’t belong in this conversation but I overheard the doctor confirm that he had had a heart attack but wouldn’t need surgery (whatever that was) and they’d be keeping him at the hospital through the weekend to stabilize him.
I saw Lily give an immense sigh of relief at the news and the doctor informed them that they could go in and see him now if they wished.
Lily glanced back at me and frowned slightly though it wasn’t a frown of dislike. Her mother and sister followed the doctor down the hall to Thomas Evans’s room and Lily paused, hesitating in front of me. It was like she didn’t know what to say to me, whether to invite me to come along or leave me sitting here on my own.
“You go on,” I pushed myself off the seat. It was amazing how even though she was wearing heels, I was still taller than her. “I’m going to go find something to eat.”
Lily nodded, a grateful look crossing her face as she turned without a word and followed her mother and sister.
I wandered down the halls for a while, looking for a vending machine or a café. But then I realized I didn’t even have any muggle money on me (or any idea how to operate a vending machine for that matter) and I was sure there wouldn’t be a place to change my wizard money here.
I kept walking, at a loss of what else to do. I stopped suddenly when I came across an empty nurses station, a large machine resting against the wall with the words “COFFEE” stamped across the top.
It was an odd looking machine, big and square with a portion in the middle cut out where there were several buttons, a stack of cups, and a silver spout.
Coffee sounded immensely good at the moment but I was at a complete loss as to how this contraption worked. Muggle machines were so weird.
I cautiously approached the coffee machine and took a cup off the stack, placing it under the spout where several arrows pointed and a small sign indicated that I “place cup here”. Nothing happened when I placed the cup under the spout and I frowned. How was the coffee supposed to come out?
I prodded the cup slightly with my finger, becoming more baffled by the second. Only then did I notice the buttons above the spout reading “decaf” and “regular”.
I pressed the “regular” one and jumped back when coffee shot out of the spout with surprising force. The cup was nearly knocked over but I steadied it quickly while it filled.
The coffee kept spewing from the spout and it was getting dangerously close to the rim, showing no signs of stopping.
I quickly grabbed another cup from the stack and switched out the full one, but the coffee just kept coming.
“Stop,” I hissed frantically at the machine as I placed another empty cup under the spout. The machine didn’t comply and I glanced around, panicked for someone to help me with this infernal contraption.
Leave it to a muggle coffee machine to be the downfall of James Potter.
“Stupid coffee robot,” I muttered irritably, switching out another full cup for an empty one so that I was balancing three cups of coffee in my arms.
“What on earth are you doing?” A voice behind me startled me but I let out a sigh when I realized it was Lily.
I spun towards the sound of her voice, three cups of coffee now balanced precariously in my arms.
“Help me!” I begged, hot coffee sloshing out of the cups and staining my white shirt. “It won’t stop!”
Lily bit her lip to stop herself from laughing as she took in the sight of me, but came quickly to my aid.
She gave me a haughty smile, maintaining amused eye contact with me as she reached out and simply pressed the “regular” button again above the spout. The coffee dribbled to a stop immediately and I mentally kicked myself for not having thought of that myself.
“Er… I got you some coffee,” I said awkwardly, holding out one of the cups to her.
A small giggle burst from Lily’s lips, but she didn’t take the offered cup.
“You haven’t put another obedience potion in there, have you?” she asked, her voice shaking with laughter still. She definitely seemed in a better mood after having seen her father… hopefully it would last, but somehow I highly doubted it. That girl had more mood swings than a pregnant hippogriff.
“No, I haven’t. I promise,” I sighed, offering her one of the cups again which she stared at suspiciously, her lips still curved up in a smile. “Don’t you trust me?”
“Not as far as I can throw you,” Lily said, rolling her eyes at me. “My trust is something you have to earn, Potter. It’s not just something you get.”
“Ah, come on. I’ve been getting better, haven’t I?” I flashed her a charming smile.
“Well, if you don’t count trying to get me into detention on numerous occasions, insulting my friends, arguing with me every chance you get, and drugging me up,” a smile fought against Lily’s lips, “then yes, you have been getting better.”
“Alright, alright, will you just take the bloody coffee already? I think I’m getting third degree burns here,” I said, holding out the coffee for Lily again.
She took it reluctantly, bringing the cup to her face and inhaling the scent. She closed her eyes as she breathed in deeply and for the second time tonight I was struck by how beautiful she looked, doing something as simple (and strange) as smelling coffee.
“I love the smell of coffee, don’t you?” She said quietly, as I set the remaining cups down on the counter and dabbed at my shirt with a napkin. “There’s something really comforting about it. It smells like home. And winter.”
I glanced up at her as she took a drink. Sometime between when we left Hogwarts and now Lily had completely let her guard down around me. I had never seen her be more natural than she was right now. She wasn’t yelling at me, she wasn’t carefully thinking over everything she said, she wasn’t trying to impress professors…It was refreshing.
But I still didn’t like her.
“Thank you,” she said, her voice suddenly somber as she traced her finger around the rim of her cup. “For everything… you know, coming with me here.”
“It’s nothing,” I shrugged, though she and I both knew that it wasn’t. “Is… is your dad ok?”
Her eyes flitted up to me briefly before she turned and walked back down the hall towards her father’s room.
“He’ll be fine,” she answered with another deep sigh as I followed her. “It was only a minor heart attack, but a heart attack all the same. He won’t be able to work for a while, and when he does he’ll have to take it easy. But he’ll be alright and that’s all that matters…”
“That’s good,” I muttered and Lily gave me a questioning look. “Not that he won’t be able to work, I didn’t mean—I just, its good that he’s alright,” I finished lamely and mentally kicked myself. Why did I have no control over my mouth when I talked to Lily?
Lily let out another small giggle, a knowing look flashing behind her eyes that I didn’t understand.
Lily’s mum emerged from her dad’s room and hurried over when she spotted us.
“Your dad’s asleep now,” Claire said, tucking a loose strand of Lily’s hair behind her ear. “You two can head home if you want. I’m going to stay the night. Tuney’s going to stop at Vernon’s but she’ll be home shortly.”
“Great,” Lily muttered and her mother sent her a scolding look. “You sure you don’t want us to stay?”
“No, no,” Claire said quickly. “You go on, you must be exhausted. Dad’ll be asleep for a while, I expect. I’ll be home in the morning to run the shop.”
“Don’t be stupid, mum,” it was Lily’s turn to scold now. “Stay here with Dad. I can take care of the shop tomorrow.”
I didn’t know what “shop” they were talking about, but whatever it was, it definitely beat burying myself under books in the library to catch up on homework.
“Do you want some money for a cab?” Claire asked, quickly reaching for her purse. “I think I have a few—“
“No,” Lily said quickly, her eyes flitting briefly to me, a blush rising in her cheeks again. “We can walk, it’s not that far.”
Claire frowned but it seemed that she knew better than to argue with Lily.
“Well, alright,” she finally sighed, reaching into her pocket. “Here are the keys, make sure to—“
“Lock up behind me, I know,” Lily took the keys and her mother frowned slightly at her interruption.
“Do you interrupt your professors like that?” Claire asked, giving Lily a stern look. Merlin, it was scary how alike those two looked aside from the hair. I had seen Lily give me that look so many times…
“Of course not, mum,” Lily said absently, averting her eyes as she shoved the keys into the pocket of my jacket that she was still wearing.
I tried to stifle my laugh, but it ended up sounding like I was choking.
Claire and Lily both turned their haunting green eyes on me and I quickly cleared my throat.
“No, Lily’s always very… er, polite and pleasant,” I said quickly and Claire seemed satisfied though Lily gave me a nasty look.
“Right,” Lily said curtly, turning away from me. “Keep me posted on dad. I’ll drop by tomorrow.”
Lily gave her mum a quick kiss on the cheek and then turned and stalked past me down the hall. So much for her good mood…
I watched her go for a second and then turned back to Lily’s mother, unsure of what to say.
“Er… she really is a pleasant girl when we’re at school,” I shrugged and Claire’s mouth twitched in a knowing smile.
“It was nice meeting you, James,” Claire smiled at me. “Thank you so much for accompanying Lily here. It means a lot to us.”
“It was nothing,” I insisted and Claire nodded. “Er… have a good night.”
I turned and followed Lily out of the hospital.
Have a good night? I’m a bloody idiot. Claire would be spending the night in the hospital with her husband who had just had a heart attack and I told her to have a good night?
Word vomit is induced by the entire Evans family apparently.
I caught up quickly with Lily who was waiting just outside the front door for me. When she saw me she turned quickly and marched down the street in a different direction than we had come.
I jogged to keep up with her.
“So are we going to your house now?” I asked, trying to picture what the Evans household would look like.
“Yes, of course,” Lily said stiffly. “Where else would we go?”
Oy, she was mad again. But she had been fine when I got her coffee… I wonder what set her off again. Girls are bloody confusing.
“Does this mean I get to see your bedroom?” I asked, grinning. I was trying desperately to ease the tension. Usually a cheeky comment from me softened her up a bit. Or set her off on another tirade, but she’d changed so much lately that I hoped it was the former. Honestly, either would be better than this stony silence.
Lily stopped walking and glanced over at me, her eyes growing wide with realization.
“Yeah, I suppose you will,” She answered quietly and her eyes focused on something beyond me, lost again in her thoughts.
“Do I get to sleep in your room too?” I asked, nudging her playfully in the side. “Or are you going to make me sleep on the couch like a dog.”
“Actually, I was thinking the front steps,” Lily replied, a hint of a smile appearing on her face but it disappeared quickly and she regained that lost look.
What in Merlin’s name was she thinking about? Sometimes I wished I could be a Legilimens so I could read her thoughts… she got that lost look so often at school and it always drove me crazy.
Lily didn’t say anything after that and we walked in silence for a bit, the scraping of her heels on the stone streets the only sound that followed us.
I opened my mouth to say something but Lily stopped suddenly, doubling over and clutching the rail of the bridge we were crossing.
“Are you alright?” I asked quickly, bending over her.
“It’s these bloody shoes,” Lily hissed, her free hand grabbing at the strappy heel and pulling it off. It clattered to the ground and Lily quickly freed her other foot so that she was standing barefoot.
“Won’t your feet be cold?” I asked, shivering at the thought of walking on the cold stones barefoot.
“They already are,” Lily straightened up, snatching her shoes and setting off across the bridge. “It’s kind of freeing actually. You should try it.”
“Me?” I laughed as Lily turned us down a street that ran along the river we had just crossed. The street was lined with shops on one side and little stone benches dotted the walkway by the river. “I’d look ridiculous if I took my shoes off.”
“And I don’t?” Lily raised her eyebrows at me. “You need to loosen up, Potter. Have a little fun?”
Lily flashed a mocking smile at me and I rolled my eyes at the way she had turned my words from the beginning of the year around on me.
“Fun or not, I don’t want my feet to get frostbitten,” I said reasonably and Lily just smirked— that damn smirk that drove me insane.
Lily stopped abruptly and I nearly ran into her, but I caught myself quickly. She had turned towards the shops and was fiddling with the keys in my jacket pocket.
“Erm… well, this is it,” Lily said uncertainly, gazing up at the building. I followed her gaze and took in the sight of the tall, brick building. It was an old building, that much was obvious and the floors above the shop were stacked precariously, much like all of the other shops on the strip.
“You live in a flower shop?” I asked tentatively as Lily unlocked the door and pushed it open.
“Upstairs,” Lily said quietly and I almost didn’t hear her.
The shop was dark and I could see the silhouettes of hundreds of flowers and bouquets rising up from the floor.
“Come on,” Lily said, grabbing my hand and leading me through the maze of flowers towards the back of the store. I was amazed that even though we’d been outside in the cold for the past half hour, her small hand was surprisingly warm as it pulled me though the shop. Lily had never willingly touched me before and I was surprised by the sensation that accompanied it, though maybe that was only because I wasn’t expecting the contact.
That had to be it, because I still didn’t like her. Not like that.
She led me up a flight of stairs into a rather small living room, a kitchen visible around the corner and a hall leading to the bedrooms. It seemed like rather a small flat for four people, but I kept my thoughts to myself, not wanting to embarrass Lily by mentioning it.
“So… this is our flat,” Lily wrinkled her nose at the shabby appearance of her living room. The wooden floors were scuffed and paint was chipping on some parts of the wall. A few photographs were hung in simple frames depicting Lily and Petunia when they were younger. In the corner was a series of pencil lines etched into the wall indicating how the girls had grown each year.
“Er… come on, I’ll show you to my room,” Lily mumbled awkwardly and she headed down the hall. I expected her to turn into one of the two bedrooms situated there but she led me straight into the open linen closet where a ladder was stuffed awkwardly into the space. I glanced up, seeing a square hole in the ceiling where the ladder led.
“You go first, I’m wearing a dress,” Lily stated, gesturing to the ladder.
“Ah, come on, don’t you trust me yet?” I flashed her my most charming smile but she just glared at me, crossing her arms. “Right… fine, I’ll go first.”
The room was dark when I emerged and I squinted, trying to get my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I heard Lily ascend the ladder behind me and then the room was quickly filled with light as she flipped on a switch.
The room was quite large, though the ceiling slanted down on both sides. Every inch of the walls was covered with hundreds upon hundreds of squares of wallpaper, each of them different. It gave the large room a cozy feel, though it was sparse it terms of furniture. I saw Lily’s bed shoved against the wall by the window overlooking the river with a shabby dresser next to it. A vanity mirror and desk rested against the other wall and an old shaggy rug filled up the center of the room.
“I know it’s not very nice looking,” Lily said quickly, glancing over at me nervously. “Nowhere near as nice as where you live, probably, but I—“
“Stop,” I shook my head, silencing her with a quick look. “I think it’s brilliant.”
“You don’t have to say that,” Lily said quietly, walking over to her dresser and pulling open the top drawer.
I sauntered around her room, gazing at the different patterns of wallpapers. I had never seen anything like it before… it was utterly unique. It was so Lily.
My eyes rested on her bed in the corner and a grin spread across my face.
“So are we going to be sharing that bed tonight?” I asked and Lily scowled at me, pulling some clothes out of her drawer.
“Don’t get any bright ideas, Potter,” Lily huffed, spinning around to face me. She marched past me towards her ladder and then turned to glare at me. “I’m going to change real quick and try and find something for you to sleep on. Please just… try not to break anything, will you?”
I gave her my best angelic smile and she rolled her eyes before disappearing down the ladder.
As soon as she was out of sight, I turned back towards her room, a mischievous grin spreading across my face.
As much as I wanted Lily to trust me, I couldn’t just ignore the fact that I was alone in her bedroom. So there was really only one thing left to decide…
Do I start with her underwear drawer? Or her diary?
A/N: Ok new chapter! And James's POV!!! I'm not entirely thrilled with how this chapter turned out, but I AM excited for the next chapter :) LOTS of drama!!! And still from James's POV.
So on that note, what did you think of this chapter? Lily's dad is ok (for now) and so far she hasn't killed James...
So do you think he'll actually go through her stuff? What will he find?
Are there tender moments in their future?
They have to work at the flower shop tomorrow, how's that going to go?
Anyways, hope you liked it! I'd love to hear what you think!
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