Chapter 1 : Chess, Essays and Ex-friends
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“Checkmate! I win again Potter!” I punched the air triumphantly. James groaned and watched helplessly as my knight smashed his king to bits. Again. He slumped dramatically from his cross-legged position on the floor in front of me.
“No fair Evans!” he whined, sounding a lot like a small child. “You can’t pull moves when I’m not looking!”
“Something tells me she could still kick your ass, even if she wasn’t looking,” Remus laughed from his place on the couch above us. He had looked up from his book to laugh at James’ defeat, and was actually laughing so hard he had a coughing fit.
For me, beating James at Wizard Chess, or anything, never got old.
Sirius joined in on the ‘James Roast’ from the other couch. “Evans could probably beat you blindfolded, man. Give it up.” He had his arm thrown around my friend Liz’s shoulders, the latter of who looked extremely pleased. For a girl who was stubborn as hell, it was quite the surprise to all of us that Sirius had taken an interest in her. He normally went for the easier girls, the ones who would put themselves out there faster, so we were all taken a little aback when it became obvious that he fancied Liz. For a while, we had all thought that my other friend Mary had liked Sirius, but she had been far more attracted to Remus, another surprise. He was quiet; though still a jokester, and an all-around good bloke, so I guess I could see why Mary liked him so much. The two of them were the new not-yet couple of our strange little social group. Poor Peter was the unfortunate extra wheel.
You see, in the past years I had hated James and his pack of friends, but now I could live with them and actually enjoyed hanging around them. Although James’ constant efforts to get me to snog him still pissed me off.
“One more round?” James enquired, jiggling his eyebrows at me.
I sighed in mock exhaustion. “Did you really want to lose again? Well, your wish is my command.” I raised my wand and the chess pieces reformed and took their positions on the board again. Everyone laughed with me as James began ordering pieces around with extreme focus. Remus had started coughing again, looking pale.
“Are you feeling alright?” I asked him while moving my castle a few spaces.
Mary put her hand on his forehead and frowned. “You feel hot. Do you want to go lie down?” Sirius chuckled to himself at the double meaning of the words.
He took the hand she had on him, moved it to his lips and kissed it. I thought I saw his eyes dart to the window, where the sun was beginning to set, and back very quickly, though I probably imagined it.
“Don’t worry about me,” he gave her a sweet smile and stood up. “I’ll just go talk to Madame Promfrey. She’ll know what I need.”
“And I’ll take you!” Sirius jumped up suddenly, cutting off what Mary was about to say.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come?” she asked with a frown, sounding concerned.
“Don’t worry,” he repeated himself. “I can always get Sirius to sweet-talk Madame Promfrey, she loves him, Merlin knows why anyone would...” We all laughed along and bid Sirius and Remus goodbye. They left with a wave, leaving Mary and Liz to sit uncomfortably beside a happy-looking Peter while James and I kept playing chess. Eventually, the girls grew sick of Peter and his sad attempts at flirting, so they started a game of Exploding Snap on the floor next to me and James; a disgruntled Peter headed off upstairs. After an hour or so, my friends and I decided (grudgingly) to start homework. James, of course, didn’t even remove his from his bag, so he just sat and antagonized me as I tried to complete a History of Magic essay. I noticed that his head kept snapping to the window, then the door and back.
“Since when did you develop a twitch Potter?” I joked, poking him with my quill. I expected a smart remark, of which never came.
After another hour or so of James’ twitching, he got up and left, mentioning that he’d go check on Remus. He looked kind of nervous, which was a far cry from his normal confident and cocky attitude.
Mary threw down her quill in exasperation. “I can’t focus anymore! Anyone want some brain food?”
I leaned back in my chair and grinned. “What did you have in mind?”
“The many bags of chips I always bring from home!” Mary, a Muggle-born like me, grew up around all of the kinds of junk food I was familiar with, not like the Chocolate Frogs and Bertie’s Every Flavour Beans Liz knew and loved.
Mary got up and ran up the stairs to our dormitory, returning shortly with two bags of nacho-flavoured chips.
“You Muggles and your food,” Liz shook her head with a smile and ripped open a bag.
“You know you love it,” Mary said smugly, taking a handful. “Speaking of love, guess what Molly just told me on my way to our room? Severus Snape is sitting outside the portrait hole and apparently won’t leave until he talks to you, Lil.”
“Well he can sit there all he wants, I'm not speaking with him,” I said with finality, although I was groaning internally. After that nice little episode where the Marauders had hung him upside down and he had called me a Mudblood when I tried to help, I had given up all hope in trying to be Severus’ friend. If he wanted to be an ass, then fine, but I wasn’t going to associate with him or his little Death Eater friends any longer.
“What are you going to say to him Lil?” Liz inquired.
“Absolutely nothing,” I said firmly. “I'm not going to speak to him at all.”
“Good for you, Lily, he doesn’t deserve it!” Liz said with a grin; Mary, on the other hand, still looked uncertain. “What is it Mary?” Liz said in exasperation. “You can’t think that Snape deserves anything right now!”
“No, I don’t,” she said. “But Molly said he’s already been there for almost two hours! I think he’s serious about staying until he sees Lily.”
“Well, he’s going to be waiting until tomorrow’s breakfast then,” I said stubbornly, turning my attention back to my essay, which was beginning to stress me out. I couldn’t get my point across just right, and this essay was a big portion of my mark. Leave it to old Binns to give us a huge project on a Saturday, the Saturday before Halloween, even. We stayed up until almost midnight doing our work before Liz called it quits and went to bed. Mary got up shortly after, yawning and stretching like a cat.
“Are you coming to bed?” she asked me, stuffing her essay, quill and ink into her bag.
“Soon, I promise,” I said, looking up from my work for the first time in hours. The common room was deserted except for us two. It occurred to me that Sirius, Remus and James hadn’t returned yet from the hospital wing, and concern grew in me.
“I wonder whether or not Severus is still outside,” Mary said curiously. Oh Merlin, I thought to myself, please don’t check...
Too late. She had already opened the portrait hole, stepped outside and then screamed. I watched her squeal as a huge rat, that I hadn’t noticed, ran from our common room out the door. Ugh, I hate rats. Composing herself, she stopped to speak, and I groaned aloud. He couldn’t still be out there! Damn him and his persistence...
Mary returned inside and gave me a sad look. “He’s not leaving,” she informed me. “He says he’ll sleep out there if he has to.”
I put my head down on the desk. I didn’t want to see him anymore; I didn’t even consider him a friend. He had proved to me that I could do better, and I wasn’t going to be called a Mudblood by someone who was supposed to be my best friend.
“I’ll let you think about it,” Mary hugged me comfortingly and went upstairs to our room.
I put my head back down and was considering whether or not to go see Severus when I heard a rapping at the window. I got up to see one of the Hogwarts Messenger Owls flying outside, a letter tied to its leg. I opened the window, and it flew in and landed on my outstretched arm; I noticed that the letter was addressed to me. I untied it from the owl’s leg, gave it a Sickle and watched it fly off to the Owlery. I opened the letter curiously to find that it was from my parents. I smiled to myself, thinking about all the times my Muggle parents had tried to send me letters by owl and how they had struggled every time with it. They enjoyed being a part of my life as a witch, which was good, and they tried to participate in it every chance they could. I still missed Petunia, even though now she wouldn’t even consider me family.
I read their letter eagerly, smiling as they told me everything that was going on with my family; but when I finished reading it, somehow I was sad. I missed my family and wished Petunia would speak to me. My parents had given up trying to make her see reason and she wasn’t even mentioned in the letter; I put it down and sighed, my mood feeling darkened. This night really wasn’t turning out well.
I remembered that Severus was still outside, waiting for me. Lily, this night can’t get any worse for you, might as well face it. So I squared my shoulders and went out to talk to him, though I couldn’t help but think that this wasn’t going to make me feel any better.
That damn laugh is so loud and boisterous. Sirius really needed to learn to tone it down, or we were in trouble. Especially when we were out of bed. At midnight. Returning from a visit with our werewolf friend. Who we had visited as illegal Animagi. Silence would have been golden at the moment. But not with our Sirius.
“Did you see Remus when he fell down the hill?” Sirius howled. “Hilarious!”
Peter snickered as well, his weird rat-like chuckle nowhere near as loud as Sirius’. I pulled my Invisibility Cloak tighter around the three of us to make sure our feet weren’t showing. We had seriously started outgrowing it over the years.
“Damn Sirius, it was funny and all but GET A GRIP!!! Do you really want McGonagoll or Peeves to find us? We can talk in the common room,” I tried to reason with him while keeping as straight a face as I could. Sirius did quiet down as we climbed the staircase, but couldn’t stop himself from chuckling. We had just been out with Remus, since tonight was the night that his “furry little problem” acted up. Damn full moon. It really messed him up but once Sirius, Peter and I changed to our animal forms, it made the night go a little bit easier for him. Normally, we would have stayed all night as animals, but I had a Quidditch game the next day and everyone agreed that I should get lots of sleep to kick Slytherin’s sorry ass on Halloween.
After a long ten minutes of trying to walk fast and shut Sirius the hell up, we arrived at the entrance to the common room. I threw the cloak off of myself so it wouldn’t look suspicious if anyone was in the common room and the door opened on its own. I muttered the password to an irritated Fat Lady and climbed through the portrait hole, Sirius and Peter, still invisible, behind me.
“Whew,” Sirius exclaimed, appearing from thin air as he threw the cloak off himself. “That walk took-” but he shut up once I gave him a fierce elbow to the ribs. I had noticed a figure curled up on one of the armchairs by the glowing embers of the fireplace. Sirius quickly threw the cloak back over himself and disappeared. I moved closer to the figure, trying to identify them, when I saw the fire-hydrant-red hair.
I smiled to myself; it was Lily Evans. I took immense pleasure in trying to hit on her, much to the laughter of the other Marauders. She was fun to mess with, partly because she was hard to crack, partly because she seemed to hate me, and partly because I kinda liked Lily. Not liked, just like the other girls I had been with in the past. They didn’t really matter to me much. But Lily was fun, special...different. Of course, if I told the others this, especially Sirius, the taunts and jokes would haunt me to my grave, so I stayed silent about the matter.
Sirius must have recognized her too because he extended a hand from the cloak, waving me on. The disembodied hand looked creepy in the dull lighting. I nodded in response, and then cocked my head towards the staircase. He seemed to take my hint to leave; he showed his face briefly behind Lily’s back, grinning, then disappeared once more under the cloak. I was surprised that Lily hadn’t heard their retreat or my entry, but it didn’t matter. I walked up behind her as quietly as I could and then jolted her by the shoulders.
“Hey! Mary I told you I’m-oh, it’s you Potter.” Ouch. Not the warmest of welcomes.
“What’s got your wand in a knot, Evans?” My hands on her shoulders, I leaned over her to give her a cocky grin.
“Please just leave me alone,” she sniffled. Hold on, now. Sniffled? As in crying? I had never seen Lily Evans get emotional, let alone cry! I was beginning to think she wasn’t capable of it. I let her go and walked around the armchair to see her better. She was holding a pillow to her chest, staring pointedly at the fire with puffy eyes.
Well, I’ll be damned; Lily Evans had actually been crying. She wasn’t crying anymore, but she still looked miserable. My first instinct was to make a joke, but she seriously didn’t look okay, so I held back a bit.
‘“What’s wrong Evans?” I asked again, trying to sound less like an asshole.
“Look Potter, I’m fine. Even if I wasn’t, I’d doubt you would want to hear about it, so just go tell your Marauders what a wimp I am. I don’t care.” She hadn’t looked me in the eye the entire time and her voice was cracking, like she was trying to hold it together. This was a side of Lily I’d never seen and it was bothering me to see her like this. I sat on the arm of her chair and put an arm around her shoulders.
“You can tell me, you know,” I told her. It’s not like I was going to laugh at her problems or something.
She looked up at me, her eyes searching mine as if to see if I was serious. Whatever she saw must have convinced her that I was being sincere and much to my surprise, she hadn’t pulled away from my arm.
“I have way too much homework and I got a letter from home and Severus waited outside our common room all night to try to talk to me and I basically told him I didn’t want to speak with him anymore and I meant it but I still feel so mean because we used to be great friends and now it’s all over and I'm stressed,” she said it all in one breath and I actually had to focus to catch every word. Her hands were clenched and she was staring at the ground again. I sat there in silence the whole time and when she finished, I felt the strong urge to comfort her.
I tightened my hold on her and she shocked me by actually leaning into me a bit. I covered my surprise and slid down so we were both squished together in the armchair.
“Don’t worry about him,” I said softly. “He’s being an ass because he screwed up bad. You have friends who are there for you and believe me; you can do way better than old Snivelus.” I heard her giggle a little at my nickname for Snape. “Chances are Professor Binns will hate every essay because we weren’t alive at the time these stupid events happened like he was. He still hasn’t noticed that we aren’t dead.”
She giggled to herself again. “I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but you’re right.” I felt pleased to have cheered her up. She looked up at me with those striking green eyes and smiled. “Thanks.”
I realized right then how close our faces were and I held my breath for a fraction of a second. “Anytime,” I whispered, subconsciously leaning a little closer to her. She held my eye contact, her lips slightly parted as she stared back at me. I wondered whether she’d actually let me do it, kiss her, which I’d been trying to do for so long as a taunt but might...actually mean now. Ya, I realized, I really wanted to kiss Lily Evans.
She leaned in a bit too, her head tipped slightly to the side, her eyelids closing. My other arm found hers, and I went to pull her closer when I heard footsteps. She must have heard them too, because she immediately jumped up, leaving me alone on the couch. Mary came down the stairs and hugged Lily. She obviously had no idea that she had just walked in on and messed up the perfect moment; she only had eyes for her friend.
“Are you okay? Did you talk to him?” she asked worriedly, releasing Lily from the hug.
“Don’t worry, I'm fine,” Lily reassured her. “I’m positive he will leave me alone now.”
“That’s good. Now come on, it’s late, let’s go to bed,” Mary began pulling her towards the staircase. “Bye Potter,” she said over her shoulder. I didn’t stare at her, just at Lily, who was staring right back. I probably looked like a goof just sitting there, so I formed words.
She smiled back at me. “Goodnight.” She let Mary pull her away, and then she was gone.
I leaned back in the armchair and exhaled. Wow. It was amazing what her smile could do to me. It was dazzling. The way her green eyes glowed as she spoke, it sent shivers through me.
I entered my room to Sirius’ loud snores. Even in his sleep, the guy couldn’t keep it down. Tonight, they didn’t seem to bother me as much. All I could think about was how close I had been to her; how great it felt to hold her, how she leaned into me, how her breath tickled my cheek as she drew closer...
I shook myself mentally. I needed to slow it down. Lily had hated me for so long; she was only just warming up to me. What if I had gone too far too soon? Would she act weird around me now? What if she hadn’t even wanted to kiss me? I slowly started to panic when a thought came to mind.
No way. She had wanted to; otherwise she would have pushed me off, just like she normally does. I smiled to myself at that peace of mind and walked to my bed. I stopped by the window and couldn’t help but stare outside, noticing the giant moon. I had started to hate full moons because of what they did to Remus but it was two in the morning; at least the night was almost over.
I was about to walk away when a small figure outside caught my eye. For a second, I thought that maybe I had imagined it. But when I looked closer, I could make out the slim silhouette and that red hair.
My heart stopped beating for a second. She couldn’t be outside. Not tonight. Remus normally stayed in the heart of the forest but as a werewolf, he couldn’t control his actions. He moved solely on animalistic instinct.
I scrambled through the dark to Sirius’ bed and shook him awake. He grumbled and tried to turn away from me. He was strong, but I was stronger. I managed to pull him into a sitting position and whispered to him urgently.
“Sirius, get up! Now! We have a problem!”
“What the hell James?” he grumbled angrily. “I was sleeping, asshole.”
“It’s Lily! She’s outside, right now!”
“I get it, you like her dude, you had to wake me up to tell me that?” he clearly hadn’t even heard me; his eyes were still shut.
“NO!!! Lily is outside right now! During a full moon! Tonight is the night of Remus’ ‘furry little problem’!” I hissed.
Sirius seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation and jumped out of bed, wide-eyed and cursing.
“Let’s go!” he pulled on a sweater, I grabbed the Invisibility Cloak and threw it over both of us. We jumped down the stairs, through the portrait hole and sprinted down the halls. I just hoped we’d find her in time.