Chapter 3 : The Better Side
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“Ugh! Face it, Potter, there’s nothing in here!” I cried angrily, slamming the dusty tome in front of me shut and glaring up at him from across the table. We had been scouring the library for nearly three hours, and, as much as I loved the place, it was beginning to feel like a prison.
“Hang on, listen to this,” he said, putting a finger up to silence me then bringing it down to his book and tracing it along the page. “Travel amongst the dimensions is a theory that has existed for hundreds of years, dating as far back as the year 1136. Legend tells us that the famous Merlin himself was the first wizard to travel between universes. Little else is known about this extremely powerful magical phenomenon, and few other cases have ever been reported,” Potter finished, then looked up at me intently.
“That’s it? How could that possibly help us?” I insisted angrily, clearly unaware of what the significance was in that.
“I don’t know; it’s something at least. I’m surprised they mentioned it at all,” he said, closing the book and pushing it aside.
“Okay, so we’re exactly where we started then,” I grumbled, folding my arms on the table and resting my chin on them.
“Not exactly,” Potter shook his head and I raised an eyebrow. “Well,” he elaborated, “now you know I’m not just making things up.”
“As strange as it may seem, I actually did believe you, Potter,” I mumbled, my voice muffled slightly by my arm and he raised his eyebrows at me this time.
“Really?” he asked, sitting up a bit straighter and I rolled my eyes.
“Yes, really,” I muttered, already regretting that I had said anything at all.
“Why?” he pressed curiously and I scowled.
“I don’t know,” I groaned. “It just seemed like the only plausible explanation. I mean, what else could it be?” I sighed and he eyed me with an unreadable expression before replying.
“Fair enough,” he shrugged again, pushed his chair back and stood up. I gave him a weird look, surprised that he would drop something so quickly, but shook my head and stood as well.
“Wait, where are you going now?” I asked, trailing behind him as he headed towards the door.
“Let’s go look around,” he said over his shoulder, “maybe we’ll find something.”
“Like what?” I furrowed my eyebrows.
“We’ll know it when we see it,” he winked, sticking his hand out for me again and, after looking at it for a moment, I took it with a sigh. He smiled smugly and I scowled, but allowed him to pull me along. He dragged me through the castle and I blushed profusely as I looked around at the familiar yet entirely foreign faces that were smiling at us. It was clear that, here, Potter and I were the golden couple. You know, that couple that everyone idolizes and imagines getting married at the wedding of the century, and then they live happily ever after? Yeah, that was us; and I could not have been more repulsed. Potter, on the other hand, was more than happy to go along with it. Every time we walked by someone he would smile and wave, then wrap his arm around my waist and press his lips to the top of my head while I grumbled bitterly and tried to keep the look of disgust off of my face.
“I hate you so much,” I hissed up at him after we were out of earshot of the large group of cooing girls that we had just passed. I smacked his hand away from my arse and he smirked.
“Just keeping up appearances, my dear,” he smiled down at me condescendingly and I glowered.
“I don’t think anyone will suspect anything if you’re not constantly assaulting me,” I spat.
“Just acting like I would if we actually were a couple,” he shrugged happily.
“Right, just another reason not to date you,” I mumbled and I watched with satisfaction as his grin turned to a scowl. We continued on in silence for a bit, though Potter still gripped my hand tightly, much to my dismay. We wandered all the way down to the grounds without seeing anything that gave any sort of hint of how to get back home; surprise, surprise. Eventually we found ourselves at the edge of the lake. It was hard to believe that it was only last night that Potter had pulled me out of it. Well, technically, not that lake I suppose, but still.
“Oi, Prongs!” A familiar voice called out, pulling me from my thoughts. Potter and I both turned to see a smiling Remus Lupin approaching, Peter just a few steps behind him.
“Hey, Moony, Wormtail!” Potter yelled back, waving happily. I was glad to see Remus of course, but I was irritated to discover that while my closest friend hardly knew me, all three of Potter’s seemed to be exactly the same.
“What are you up to?” Remus asked as he and Peter grew closer, and my eyes widened in surprise. Gone were Remus’ premature wrinkles and the grey streaks in his light brown hair. The scratches that had frequently flecked his skin had disappeared, as had the bags from under his eyes and he no longer looked perpetually exhausted. He seemed to carry himself in a completely different manner; his entire persona had changed. He seemed healthier, but he also didn’t seem as sweet and innocent anymore. He had a mischievous glint in his eye that was entirely unlike him. Potter seemed to notice this as well, but his smile just grew wider. It was like he was truly one of them; a Marauder.
“Just taking a romantic walk around the lake with the Mrs.,” Potter said happily, throwing an arm around my shoulders again and pulling me up against him. I glared up at him in disgust before turning back to Remus, whom I was still dumbfounded by.
“Well you’re just going to have to cut mushy shit that short, Prongsie boy,” he said, winking at me before grabbing Potter’s arm and tugging him away from me, to both my relief and confusion.
“What for, Moony?” Potter laughed at his friend’s uncharacteristic enthusiasm.
“Have you forgotten our plans, Prongs?” Peter stepped forward, his eyebrows raised suggestively and my attention turned to him now. There was something different about him as well, it was just not quite as pronounced as Remus. I quirked my head a little as I tried to figure it out. Sure, it was obvious just by that fact that he spoke in the presence of the opposite gender that he was more outgoing, but there was something more. He seemed lighter somehow, happier. He was seemed to have more confidence in himself, but yet still not over confident like the rest of the Marauders.
“Come on mate, it was your idea!” Remus cried, mockingly exasperated, and it was clear that their plans involved some sort of prank. Potter opened his mouth to reply but I interrupted.
“Sorry, Remus,” I said apologetically, regrettably reaching forward and grabbing Potter’s hand again, “but there’s something P- I mean James and I have to take care of.”
“Merlin,” Remus rolled his eyes with a smirk, “can’t you two give it rest?”
“Excuse me?!” I spluttered. Was Remus- Remus Lupin really suggesting such vulgar things?
“Oh don’t act like such a prude, Evans,” he smiled, shaking his head. Evans? Remus never called me Evans.
“I don’t-” I tried before he interrupted.
“Padfoot told me about catching you and Prongsie here in the act this morning,” he snorted with laughter, Peter snickering from beside him. “I’d have thought that’d put a bit of a damper on your sex drive at least for a little while.” I stared at him in disbelief, blushing profusely while James had a goofy grin plastered on his face.
“Remus!” I cried incredulously.
“Lily!” he replied in a mocking tone, causing both Potter and Pettigrew to snigger. I stomped my foot angrily before tugging Potter roughly by the arm and stormed away with him in tow. “Oh, come off it, Evans!” Remus called out after us. “I was just teasing!” I didn’t stop, despite Potter’s whining, until we had reached the giant oak doors that lead to the Entrance Hall.
“Calm down, Lily,” Potter insisted, finally standing his ground so that I could pull him no further. “He was only joking!”
“I don’t care!” I stomped my foot again. “My Remus would never talk to me like that! I want my Remus back! I want my life back! I want to go home!” I couldn’t help but notice Potter’s smile turn into a scowl when I called Remus mine, but I really didn’t care. “Now can we actually try to do something instead of wandering around and looking for nothing?”
“And what would you suggest, almighty genius?” he retorted bitterly and I clenched my jaw angrily.
“I don’t know!” I growled. “I just don’t think- Wait! Dumbledore!”
“What?” Potter quirked his head to the side at my sudden outburst.
“Dumbledore! He’ll know what to do!” I exclaimed before whipping around and speeding off towards his office, Potter keeping pace with me easily.
“You seem to be forgetting something, Evans. This is not our Dumbledore,” he reminded me, his voice laced with frustration. “For all we know he may not even be here! He could be some bumbling idiot living out on the streets somewhere!”
“I highly doubt that,” I scoffed, not wavering in the slightest in my decision.
“Well, he’s still probably not as brilliant as our Dumbledore,” Potter grumbled.
“Or maybe he’s even more brilliant ,” I countered stubbornly and Potter sighed.
“Fine,” he consented cynically, “but don’t get your hopes up.”
“What is your problem?” I hissed, halting suddenly and spinning on my heel to face him again. “It’s like you don’t even want to go home!” I cried angrily, poking him hard in the chest and his eyes flickered to the floor. My eyes widened in realization and I gasped. “That’s it! Isn’t it?! You don’t want to go home!”
“Well, can you blame me?” he yelled crossly. “This is my perfect universe!”
“How can you even say that?!” I cried in disbelief. “You hardly know anything about it!”
“I know that all my mates are still the same, and the girl that I’ve been chasing after for years is finally my girlfriend! That sounds pretty good to me,” he shrugged. I threw my arms up and let out a screech of indignation.
“You are insufferable!” I shrieked before storming off again, causing everyone in the Entrance Hall to stare. I was used to this of course, but I had forgotten that they weren’t.
“Lily, wait!” Potter called after me, rushing forward and grabbing my wrist, which I promptly tried to pull away, but to no avail.
“Did you even consider my feelings?!” I yelled, angry tears springing to my eyes.
“Lily, I-” Potter started but I shook my head furiously and ripped my wrist free from his grip, then ran off. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going, and I didn’t really care as long as it led me away from him. I finally slowed when I had travelled up at least three floors and I had to stop and catch my breath. I found a window with a ledge deep enough to sit on and threw myself down on it, dropping the backpack that had been weighing me down all day. I sighed heavily and pressed my cheek against the cool stone wall, thinking. Sure, it was all well and good for Potter, but my life here was terrible. All I had was him. As far as I knew, everyone I loved either didn’t know me, hated me, or was dead. At that point I wouldn’t have been surprised if You-Know-How walked down the corridor and used an unforgivable on me right then and there. A sudden tapping broke into my melodramatic thoughts and made me jump. I turned to see just the familiar face that I needed.
“Andy!” I cried, jumping forward to unlatch the window that my tawny owl, Andros, was outside of. He flew in and hooted appreciatively as I stroked his soft, feathery head and relieved him of the large package he had been carrying. “You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had,” I grumbled, shaking my head. Andros nipped my finger affectionately, blinking up at me with wide eyes. I smiled down at him and sighed before turning curiously to the brown paper package he had brought me. “Who could this be from?” I asked, more to myself than Andros. I was genuinely curious though, since as far as I knew I didn’t have anyone to send me packages. I flipped the box over in search of a hint and found only my name. I studied the script a bit closer and let out a startled gasp then immediately fought the urge to throw up. Frantically, I tore the paper back and ripped the box open to reveal a silky, pale yellow material. Baffled and nearly hysterical, I yanked the cloth out of the box and desperately searched for a note of some kind. Finally I found it, tucked under one of the cardboard flaps. Hands shaking, I carefully unfolded the thin paper and began reading.
How are you, Sweetie? I hope your classes are going well! As I’m sure you’ve realized, your bridesmaid dress finally came in, so if you could try it on just to be sure it fits alright your sister and I would very much appreciate it. I think Petunia is getting a little impatient, waiting for the big day and all, but you know how she is; she tries so hard to hide it when she gets upset. Bless her. Well, anyway, I’m sure the dress will be fine, but we just wanted to be sure! Daddy, Tuney, Vernon and I can’t wait to see you and James when you come home for the wedding next month! Have a good day, Sweetheart! And be good!
My eyes were swimming with tears by the time I finished the letter. I read it over and over again, savouring each and every word. ‘Love Mum’ ‘Daddy, Tuney, Vernon and I can’t wait to see you’. They were alive. My parents were alive. I let this absolutely irrefutable fact wash over me and the flood gates opened. I began sobbing hysterically, hugging the letter tightly to my chest.
“Lily?!” a familiar voice suddenly called out. “What’s wrong?!” With a startled gasp, I quickly tried to dry my eyes then looked up only to choke back another gasp. Severus’ long, limp hair had been chopped short and was skilfully styled. His robes were no longer dingy and too short, and he was no longer skinny and scrawny. The only thing that was vaguely familiar about him was his face, but even that was different. He no longer looked bitter and brooding. In fact, he looked caring and concerned, staring down at me with a sympathetic expression.
“Are you okay? What happened, Lily?” he asked, putting his arm around me somewhat awkwardly. I could not believe this. How could my dark, stormy, insecure, ex-best friend, the person that had hurt me the most, be sitting there with his arm around my shoulders, the model for the perfect gentleman?
“Nothing, it’s nothing. I’m fine,” I shook my head with a watery chuckle, shrugging out from under his arm to get a better look at him.
“Are you sure?” he pressed, eyeing me uncertainly. “I could go get Marlene if you want to talk to her.”
“Marlene?” I raised my eyebrows, too confused to assure him that I was alright and he gave me another odd look.
“Yes, Marlene. McKinnon? My girlfriend? Your best friend?” Sev said slowly. “Are you sure you’re alright? Did you fall and hit your head or something?”
“Marlene McKinnon is my best friend?” I cried, absolutely appalled. Marlene was not exactly what I would describe as someone I would go to for comforting. She wasn’t very kind at all and she was also not the brightest bulb in the box. She was the definition of the word ‘fan girl’ and she constantly drove Codie and I crazy as she and the other girls in our room gabbed about the Marauders. She was constantly throwing me dirty looks because of the attention (however undesired) that Potter was always giving me. Needless to say I was not exactly thrilled to discover that we were friends.
“Okay, you clearly must have been hit with a memory charm or something, Lily,” Sev said worriedly. “I’m taking you to the hospital wing,” he took my my wrist and gently tried to guide me in that direction, but I laughed a little, and shook my head.
“I’m sorry, I was just a bit... overwhelmed. That’s all. I’m fine; I promise, ” I assured him, my heart swelling as I recounted the reason why I had been sobbing. After a moment of consideration he let me go but still didn’t seem to believe me.
“Is this because of your fight with James?” He inquired gently and I stared up at him with a mixture of disbelief and amusement. As if a fight with Potter could ever upset me that much.
“How could you have possibly known that P- I mean James and I had an argument?” I demanded and Sev seemed to flinch a little at my harsh tone.
“Well, everyone’s talking about it, Lily” he said slowly, eyeing me uncertainly.
“How could everyone be talking about it?!” I cried. “It only happened like five minutes ago!”
“Hogwarts’ golden couple having a screaming match in the middle of the Entrance Hall is kind of big news,” Severus shrugged in response and I groaned. Of course. If we’d been back home, nobody would have thought anything of me and Potter’s little tiff. But here it was like the end of the world.
“Trust me Sev,” I sighed, “that was nothing. I’m fine.”
“Well, alright, if you say so,” he mumbled still looking uncertain.
“I do,” I smiled up at him reassuringly. Then suddenly felt my eyes begin to water again. “And thanks for the concern, Sev. I’ve really missed you.”
“I just saw you an hour ago Lily...,” he said, looking at me like I had two heads. I groaned internally. I couldn’t have just kept my mouth shut, could I?
“Just-er, kidding?” I shrugged sheepishly and he shook his head but smiled.
“You’re a weird one, Lils,” he chuckled, punching my arm lightly before glancing at his watch. “I’m supposed to meet Marlene in the library in a few minutes, you want to come along?”
“No, that’s alright, thanks,” I returned his smile before waving him off, seeing through his attempt to keep an eye on me. “Now go. I’m fine; I swear.”
“Okay, okay,” he finally put his hand up in surrender. “I’ll see you later, yeah?” He said and I nodded with a smirk before he turned and waved. I watched his retreating back for a few seconds before backing up against the wall, clutching my mother’s letter tightly and letting all of this new information wash over me. First of all, and most importantly, my parents were alive and I could not be happier. Secondly, my best friend in the entire world did not even know me, and I was devastated. Thirdly there was the fact that Sev seemed to be happier than ever before, and was dating a complete bimbo, who was also, apparently, my best friend. But my parents were alive! How could anything else matter?
“Lily!” a familiar voice shouted from down the hall and I jumped a little, shaking my head. “There you are!” I looked up and saw Potter striding towards me purposefully.
“Potter!” I exclaimed, my previous anger towards him forgotten, and I was actually happy to see him for once. “You’ll never guess what I just found out!”
“Hang on, Lils,” he said, putting a hand up to stop me. “Before you say anything, I just want to say I’m sorry.” I raised my eyebrows, those were rare words from his mouth, but I still didn’t really care. I opened my mouth to speak, but he continued talking over me. “You were right; I wasn’t thinking about your feelings. And even so, what I said earlier was wrong. Even though this place seems great to me, it’s not where we belong. We belong in our own dimension, in our own lives. So I went and found Dumbledore. You were right, of course, he’s just as brilliant as ever, and he promised that he would do everything in his power to send us back home,” he finished, and I stared up at him, my mouth hanging open.
“I-You-What?” I spluttered, fighting his words as they attempted to settle in my brain. “No! No, you were right! We should stay here! This is a perfect universe!”
“What are you talking about?” he stared at me in disbelief. “You just said-”
“I know what I said,” I cut him short, “but just listen to what I’m saying now! I want to stay here, Potter! I like it here!”
“I don’t understand,” he shook his head incredulously.
“You don’t have to,” I snapped shortly. “Just go tell Dumbledore that you’re a raving lunatic and you were just joking!”
“I can’t do that!” he cried exasperatedly. “You are being ridiculous! We can’t stay here, Lily!”
“Why not?” I demanded angrily, restraining the urge to stomp my foot. “You want to stay too! You said so yourself!”
“Yes, I did,” he admitted through gritted teeth, “but after you yelled at me I realized that we don’t belong here, even it does seem perfect. We belong back home, in reality!”
“That’s easy for you to say!” I yelled, no longer resisting the urge, stamping my shoe against the floor. “Our universe is just as perfect for you as this one is!”
“Lily, I-” he tried, but I didn’t give him the chance to finish.
“I mean it’s not like you have any problems there either,” I continued to rant as though he hadn’t said anything at all. “No, because no matter where you go, even if it’s an entirely different universe, you are always going to be a rich, spoiled brat that gets everything he wants.”
“That’s not true!” he yelled furiously, clenching his fists.
“Oh, really? So you’re telling me that your adoring parents don’t spoil you rotten, that you don’t pull countless amounts of dangerous pranks and get off with nothing more than a detention, that you don’t get top marks in all of your classes without even trying, that girls don’t fall at your feet, begging for so much as a smile?!” I shrieked and he looked down at me through narrowed eyes, his hand still balled up into fists.
“That’s not fair, Evans,” he growled, his narrowed eyes flashing angrily.
“No, you’re right, you’re like me who never, ever gets into trouble, who kills herself to do well in school, who can’t get a single guy to even look at her because some obnoxious prat scares the shit out of all of them, whose sister hates her and whose parents are dead!” I screamed, then paused, breathing heavily while Potter stared down at me with an unfathomable expression. I took a moment to regain my composure before continuing. “Look Potter,” I sighed, “it’s just that everything here is good for both of us, alright? Can’t we just stay?” I begged, gripping his arm tightly. He flinched slightly at the unexpected contact, but his expression softened and he let out a sigh.
“I’m sorry, Lily, but no,” he said softly but firmly and I couldn’t stop the tears from forming in my eyes.
“Fine!” I pulled my hand away and quickly turned so that he couldn’t see my watery eyes. “You can go back, but I’m staying!”
“Lily come on!” he groaned placing taking both my shoulders and turning me back to face him. “Why are you acting like this?” he peered down at me and I tried to turn my head away but to no avail. I felt him slide a hand beneath my chin and gently made me face him again. “Tell me.”
“Because!” I cried, unable to keep a few tears from leaking out of the corners of my eyes. “They’re alive here Potter!”
“What?” He looked down at me in confusion, “Who’s alive?”
“Who do you think!” I shouted furiously. “My parents you insensitive bastard!”
“Lily-” his eyes widened in surprise and unease but I cut him off again.
“No, don’t even Potter!” I yelled. “This is entirely your fault anyway!”
“How the hell is this my fault?!” he demanded angrily, clenching his fists again.
“If you hadn’t been such an arse this morning none of this ever would’ve happened!” I shrieked.
“I wasn’t acting any different than usual!” He fired back defensively.
“Exactly!” I cried, throwing my arms up exasperatedly but he just rolled his eyes.
“Look, Evans,” Potter said, his voice a bit lower, “I was only acting like that because you told me too!"
“I did no such thing!” I yelled indignantly at his ridiculous accusation.
“You told me to act like nothing happened!” he explained, sounded frustrated. “Like I didn’t know about… your parents. So I was just acting like I normally would!” All I could do was stare at him in disbelief. I stood there with my mouth hanging open like an idiot for Merlin knows how long before Potter sighed and spoke again. “Look Lily, you’re right, I’m sorry I was acting like an arse, especially considering you apparently expected me to act differently. It’s no wonder you overreacted and sent us here.”
“Overreacted?!” I screeched furiously and he flinched slightly. “And I did not send us here you arrogant toerag!” I jabbed his chest harshly with my pointer finger. I was already seething and blaming this whole thing on me was not making it better. He grabbed my wrist to make me stop poking him and I felt the familiar feeling of rage begin to build up inside me and was about to scream at him some more when suddenly the room started spinning it felt as if someone had kicked me in the stomach. I looked quickly up at Potter with wide, terrified eyes, my anger rapidly replaced by fear. He returned my frightened stare and I immediately realized what was happening. A split second later the agonizing pain began and I felt myself being pulled apart, splitting straight down the middle. I cried out in anguish and thrashed about, desperately trying to escape the pain. I could just barely feel the pressure of Potters’ hand on my wrist and the last thing I heard was him calling out my name before everything faded to blackness.
A/N So so so sorry for the immensely long wait between chapters. I have been extremely busy for far too long but that is really no excuse. I really hope you enjoy the chapter and I will try my best to publish more quickly next time!