Chapter 25 : Dangerous
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Sorry I didn’t get to see you before break. I just wanted to say bye and hope everything’s good in York, you know, with your dad. Have a nice holiday!
“You’re sure you have everything, sweetheart? What’s that you’re holding?” Mum asked and I looked up from the small piece of parchment in my hands.
“Nothing,” I said, crumbling the letter in my hand before tossing it in the nearest bin. “Just a spare bit of parchment. I found it in my pocket.”
I had received that particular letter from a certain Gryffindor prefect shortly after we left for the Christmas holiday. I still couldn’t figure out why he’d bothered at all. From what I’d heard of his conversation with Celia, he hated me.
A train whistle blew from somewhere in King’s Cross and my mum whipped her head around while dad checked his watch.
“You’d better hurry,” he said, setting Darwin’s cage on top of my trunk.
“Have a good term, darling,” Mum engulfed me in a hug so tight I could barely breathe. “Write to us all the time, ok?”
“All the time,” I promised in whatever little breath I had left.
I gave my dad a quick hug and I pushed my trolley towards the barrier between platforms 9 and 10. Petunia had opted out of seeing me off and I honestly couldn’t care less. We had barely spoken over the holiday, much to my parents’ dismay. It seemed that neither of us had anything to say to the other anymore. Maybe it was better that way…
I barely made it through the barrier before two people collided with me, knocking us all to the ground.
“Are you mad?” I half-laughed as Scarlet and Anna pulled me off the ground. “We’re going to get trampled by the next person who comes through that barrier.”
As we brushed off our clothes and moved my trolley out of the way, another student came through the barrier, right where we’d previously been on the ground.
“Merlin, I’m so sorry!” The girl cried when she saw she’d nearly ran us over and with a jolt, I realized it was Celia Carrington. She stared at me for a second as she realized who I was too. I noticed her blush slightly crimson as she recognized me before she turned and walked quickly off without another word.
“Wow… tension,” Anna muttered as she watched Celia join a group of her Ravenclaw friends.
I had, of course, told Anna and Scarlet what Sirius and I had overheard in the library. They were of the same opinion as Sirius, that James had only said those things for the benefit of his girlfriend. I, however, was still inclined to believe the worst, that he actually did hate me.
After we’d loaded our trunks onto the train, we settled in a compartment with the Marauders, which to my dismay included Potter.
“Alright, Evans?” Potter smiled as me as I settled myself between Scarlet and Remus. “Have a good holiday?”
“It was fine,” I replied stonily before engaging Remus in conversation. I saw Potter send Sirius a questioning look, but Sirius just shrugged, his silver eyes flitting briefly to me.
“Slughorn told me at the Christmas Party that we’d be doing love potions this winter. That should make for an interesting lesson,” Potter commented casually, trying to spark a conversation as the train lurched into motion.
“Are you serious?” Anna sat up in her seat, her hazel eyes twinkling excitedly.
“No, I a—“ Sirius started but Scarlet quickly slipped off one of her shoes and chucked it at him, knocking him on the head.
“Shut up, we’ve heard that joke a million times already,” Scarlet giggled as Sirius rubbed his head.
“It’s still funny,” Sirius mumbled fetching Scarlet’s shoe from the floor where it landed. “And I’m keeping this as a hostage until you admit it.”
“Never,” Scarlet smiled defiantly, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Then be prepared to go shoeless all winter,” Sirius smirked triumphantly.
“Sirius, I’m a girl. I have more than one pair of shoes,” Scarlet rolled her eyes, a smile still playing at her lips.
“I never understood that,” Peter shook his head, his eyebrows knit together. “Why girls have so many pairs of shoes.”
“It’s in case some prat steals one of them,” Scarlet said, slipping off her other shoe and chucking it at Sirius, who batted it away with its mate. “Take the other if you’re going to keep it. Wear them if you want, I don’t care.”
“Aren’t they a bit small?” Peter smirked as Sirius stuck his hands into the shoes and started doing the can-can.
“Please. Have you seen his feet? They’re tiny,” Scarlet giggled as Sirius did a particularly elaborate kick with his hands.
“And if what they say about a guy’s feet being small is true, that’s not the only place he’s tiny,” Anna dissolved into a fit of laughter along with the rest of us.
Sirius immediately shook Scarlet’s shoes off his hands and sank back into his seat, a pout spreading across his handsome face.
“I officially hate this conversation,” Sirius muttered, folding his arms across his chest. “What were you saying about the love potion, Prongs?”
Potter was still laughing too hard to answer, though, and that only made Sirius scowl even more.
“Love potions are supposed to be really hard to make,” I supplied for Sirius’s benefit, though I was not quite able to wipe the smile from my face yet. “I wonder why Slughorn’s decided to have us make that one…”
“I doubt it’ll be that hard for you, Evans,” Potter said when he could talk again, flashing that stupid, perfect smile at me. “I mean, you’re brilliant in potions. You know you’ll be the first to finish, and it’ll still be better than the rest of ours.”
I saw Anna and Scarlet glance at me briefly for my reaction to his compliment, but I simply sank back into my seat and pulled my Charms book from my bag, flipping through the pages to find where I’d left off.
“What’s got her wand in a knot?” I heard James mutter to Sirius and I glared at him over the top of my book.
“Just drop it, mate,” Sirius said quietly, hoping to ease some of the tension that had seeped into the compartment.
“Like you even need to ask,” I said quietly, dropping my eyes back to my book.
“Come again, Evans?” Potter asked, all the cheeriness vanishing from his face as he slipped back to the condescending use of my surname. “If you have a problem, don’t be shy. Spit it out.”
“Funny, I could say the same to you,” I said bitterly, slamming my book shut.
“What the bloody hell are you on about?” James frowned, genuine confusion crossing his face. I felt kind of bad for snapping at him, remembering how just a couple weeks ago I had promised myself to never yell at him again. My, how things had changed.
“Look, mate,” Sirius leaned forward slightly, apprehension settling in his eyes. “Lily and I overheard you and Celia in the library before break…”
Comprehension broke across Potter’s face as he realized what conversation Sirius was talking about, followed closely by what I thought might be guilt.
“Oh…” Potter breathed, his eyes finding mine. “Oh, Lily. I didn’t mean—“
“Forget it, alright?” I interrupted him, shrugging indifferently. “It’s better that I know how you really feel about me. You could have just told me, you know, instead of lying to my face.”
“I wasn’t lying,” James insisted quickly, his voice picking up a tone of urgency. “Please, just—“
“I said forget it,” I cut him off, giving him an icy stare. “I’m going to change into my robes. I have to do patrol in a little bit.”
I snatched a bundle of clothes out of my trunk, ignoring the tense atmosphere the compartment had assumed. Everyone was staring between Potter and I, nobody daring to speak. I slid the compartment door shut behind me and leaned back against the narrow corridor wall. I was almost relieved to have the first confrontation between Potter and I over… though I couldn’t help but feel a little disheartened by the abrupt turn our friendship had taken.
I was so sick of bouncing back and forth with him. Why couldn’t we strike a balance as friends? Even when we weren’t friends, we couldn’t even seem to keep our enmity in balance. What was wrong with us? What were we missing here?
“Lily?” A voice stopped me as I turned to head for the loo, and I turned slowly towards its source.
“What do you want, Potter?” I asked in a steady voice, wanting nothing more than to be locked safely in the loo and far away from him. I had established long ago that being around James Potter was dangerous, that what I had begun to feel for him in York was dangerous...
James slid the compartment door closed and took a few steps towards me, his face burning with the guilt I knew he felt.
“I just… I’m really sorry,” he said sincerely, coming to a stop in front of me.
“For what?” I shrugged dully. “You were only telling Celia how you really felt about me. I can’t be mad at you for telling you the truth, if that’s how you really feel.”
“But that’s not how I really feel,” James burst, running his hands through his dark hair distractedly.
“Think of it from my point of view,” I said, furrowing my eyebrows and hugging my robes tightly against my chest. “I come back to school after that weekend, thinking things had kind of changed between us and then I hear you telling Celia that you hate me, and that that weekend had been a complete nightmare. What was I supposed to think?”
James remained silent, his hazel eyes trained on mine. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking… or if he were going to speak anytime soon so I broke the tense silence.
“Things… did… change between us that weekend, right?” I asked quietly. “I mean, at least for me they did. I can’t stand the thought of yelling at you now, or ever… not after everything you did for me. And… talking to you was so easy, and… Maybe I was stupid for thinking things would be different.”
“You weren’t stupid,” James said quietly, his eyes dropping to his hands. “I thought things might be different, too… but then Celia was so upset and understandably so. I can’t believe I just left her there without a thought. She told me she thought I had a thing for you…. so I said the only thing that would make her feel better.”
James trailed off and I tried to keep a furious blush from creeping into my cheeks at the mention of him fancying me. I kept my eyes down, staring resolutely at the folds of fabric in my hands.
“It wasn’t true, what I said to her,” James said, and I could feel his eyes on me again. “I don’t hate you. At all. I’m really sorry if that… hurt you.”
I glanced up at him, surprised by how thoroughly he understood why I was upset.
“And you’re right, about things changing,” James said quietly and I had to tear my eyes away from his to stop the butterflies from erupting in my stomach. “I was worried I was the only one to… feel it. But if you do too, and we really are friends now, I shouldn’t have to hide it from Celia. She’ll just have to deal with it.”
I nodded, but remained silent, letting James’s words wash over me. He felt the change too… and he’d said we were friends. I wish he would address how Celia thought he had a thing for me… but that was a dangerous topic, too. I didn’t need to know. Because what would I do if he did have feelings for me?
“Did you… have a good holiday?” James asked tentatively, when I didn’t speak for a moment. Student jostled past us and we really couldn’t have picked a more awkward place to have a deep, heartfelt conversation.
“It was ok,” I shrugged. “My dad’s loads better. But Petunia barely said a word to me the whole break.”
“I’m sorry,” James grimaced at the mention of my sister. “And your hand?”
“Madam Pomphrey said the scar would probably never go away,” I held out my hand, showing off the long white line that ran crookedly from my knuckles to my wrist.
James reached out and absently traced the back of my hand with his fingers, sending a jolt of hormonal electricity through me at his touch.
“It kind of looks like a lightning bolt, doesn’t it?” James smiled as he ran his fingers down the scar. The memory of how he’d wrapped the bandage that night, how he’d held my hand and brushed the hair out of my face came rushing back to me and I tried desperately not to blush.
“I guess it does,” I agreed, a smile tugging at my mouth. “I’ll have to make up a better story for how I got it though. My sister shoving me into a wall isn’t an impressive enough story for a lightning shaped scar.”
“I’m sure we can come up with something good,” James smiled that wickedly charming smile at me and this time I couldn’t stop the blush that spread through my cheeks.
“Lily?” A low voice behind me made me jump and I quickly pulled my hand from James’s as I turned to greet Severus.
“Sev! Hi,” I said breathlessly, hoping he hadn’t just seen Potter holding my hand, even if it was just to examine my scar. That would be hard to explain. “Did you have a good holiday? I didn’t see you at all.”
“I was at my grandmother’s,” Severus said stonily, his dark eyes trained on Potter.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I tried calling you,” I said quietly, well aware that Potter was standing awkwardly between us.
“Oh, I dunno. Why didn’t you tell me you were dating Potter?” Severus said bluntly and I gaped at him, completely taken aback by his bold assumption. James cleared his throat uncomfortably, but I saw a small smile creep onto his face.
“Sev, you’re mental,” I scoffed. “We’re not dating, you know that.”
“You also told me you hated him, am I supposed to believe that, too?” Severus said pointedly, his dark eyes flickering to James and back to me. I glanced over at James, an apology written plainly on my face, but he seemed unbothered by this. I guess he wasn’t the only one who’d fibbed about our new-found friendship.
“Sev, come on,” I sighed, tugging on his sleeve. “You know I’m friends with all of them. What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal?” Severus repeated, faltering slightly as his eyes flickered to James and back to me. “The big deal is that they’re not as great as you think they are,” Severus hissed at me and I frowned. Where was all of this hostility coming from? I knew he hated the Marauders but he had never objected this vehemently to my being friends with them.
“Your friends aren’t exactly a standup crowd either,” I said defensively, acutely aware that Potter was still between us. This wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have in front of him.
"At least my friends don’t associate with a werewolf,” Severus hissed and James had Severus pinned up against the wall before the shock even registered on my face. Severus knew about Remus?
James’s arm was locked tightly against Severus’s chest, their faces only inches from each other’s.
“You swore you’d never tell,” James hissed violently at Severus, who coughed feebly as James’s elbow dug into his throat. “You bloody bastard, you swore!”
“James, let him go,” I said, forcefully pulling on his arms and he unwillingly took a step back from Severus. What was he talking about? Swore he’d never tell… James knew that Severus knew? Merlin, this was like a bad soap opera or something. It hurt my head to think about.
"She has a right to know who… or what, she’s hanging around with,” Severus said in a raspy voice, his eyes burning with ferocity as he glared at James.
“I already knew, you half-wit,” I smacked his arm with as much force as I could muster but he barely swayed.
“You did?” Severus and James scoffed at the same time.
“Of course I did, I’m not an idiot,” I seethed at Severus, though had I not tricked Remus with Veritaserum, I probably still wouldn’t know.
“How can you even stand to be around him, then?” Severus hissed and I stomped my foot on the ground.
“Enough!” I said loudly, and both pairs of eyes settled on me. “Severus, I need to talk to you. Alone.”
James’s eyebrows rose questioningly at me but I was already pulling Severus down the corridor and out of earshot.
“What the bloody hell is your problem?” I burst, shoving him roughly when we came across a deserted corridor.
“I just thought… you needed to know,” Severus mumbled, rubbing his neck absently.
"Brilliant plan, genius,” I growled irritably.
“But… why are you still friends with him then?” Severus asked and I stared at him blankly.
“I dunno… why are you still friends with a mudblood?” I replied acidly and I saw Severus flinch at the term.
“That’s not the same,” Severus shook his head. “It doesn’t matter to me what your blood status is, that’s not important.”
“Just like it doesn’t matter to me what Remus was bitten by,” I said pointedly and I saw that Severus understood. “And you’re a complete hypocrite for judging my friends like that. I know the kind of people you hang around with. I know what they say about me and my blood status. But I care about you, Sev. Not them. So I look the other way and try not to let it bother me. So if you care about me at all, why can’t you do the same?”
“I do care about you,” Severus said, his eyes burning into mine and I had to look away.
“Then why is it so hard for you to understand that they’re my friends?” I asked quietly, staring at my shoes.
Severus stared at me for a moment, opening his mouth once or twice to say something but then thought better of it and remained silent.
“Sev—“ I started, but he cut me off quickly.
“I have to go,” Severus muttered brusquely before he turned abruptly on his heel and stalked off before I could say anything else.
I stared after him for a second before I rolled my eyes irritably to myself and walked back towards where I left James. My conversation with Severus was still running though my head. My friendship with him had become so strained lately… like we were drifting apart and no matter how hard we paddled, we couldn’t quite make it back to each other even though we were floating down the same river.
James was still standing outside our compartment with his arms folded across his chest, staring out the window at the countryside passing by.
“James,” I said tentatively as I approached him. “I’m really sorry about that. What Sev said about me hating you… well, I think you understand.”
“You know about Remus?” James disregarded my comment and turned his face slightly towards me, a confused expression painted plainly there.
I nodded, hoping it wouldn’t upset him too much that I knew.
“How?” James breathed, turning his face back towards the rolling hills speeding by.
“Remember when we made Veritaserum back in November?” I said tentatively and James glanced over at me, one of his eyebrows raising slightly before he burst out laughing.
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” James said between bouts of laughter and I smiled a little.
“Look, for the sake of being honest, I know about what you and Sirius and Peter do, too,” I said and James straightened up instantly, the laughter vanishing from his face. “I promise, your secret’s safe with me. I won’t tell a soul.”
“I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that you figured that out, too,” James mused, half a smile still lingering on his face.
“Can I ask you something?” I ventured, not wanting to drag out the subject, but curiosity burned deeply in me.
“Go ahead,” James shrugged.
“How does Severus know… about Remus?” I asked and any hint of amusement left on James’s face vanished immediately.
“Ah…well,” James faltered, his voice devoid of any emotion. “That’s not exactly… It’s… complicated.”
I raised a questioning eyebrow at him and he let out a deep sigh.
“Look, it’s just not… something I’m too proud of,” James said, his eyebrows furrowing.
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” I assured him, resting my scarred hand on his arm, trying desperately not to notice how warm he was or how I could feel his muscles under his jumper.
“It’s just… maybe another time,” James looked down at me and I could see that this, like my breakup with Alex, was just something he couldn’t talk about. So I let it go.
“Another time,” I agreed, my eyes meeting his and I knew he and I were thinking the same thing. He’d tell me his secret when I told him mine.
"Want to go back in?" James suggested, nodding his head towards the compartment where our friends were. "I want to see how many insults Sirius can take before before he gives Scarlet her shoes back."
"I think one more crack at his manliness should do it," I suppressed a giggle and James smiled at me, making me completely forget that I had wanted to change into my robes as I followed him back into our compartment.
A/N: Hey everyone! So I know this was kind of a filler chapter and a bit short. But guess what? The next chapter involves a Love Potion!!! Can you say DRAMA?!
So what did you all think of this chapter?
What's the deal with Severus? He's so moody lately...
James and Lily agreed that things are different and they're friends... will this finally stick? What will Celia do when she finds out they're friends?
And what do you think will happen with this love potion? Give me your best guesses!
Thanks to everyone who's reviewed! I can't believe I've gotten over 400 for this story so far! it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :)
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