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Chapter 3 : Difficult Recollections
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I swear I don’t know where my subconscious gets its ideas for my dreams. A werewolf attacking me and the Marauders....honestly, I needed to stop doing history homework right before I slept, it was messing me up.
Unfamiliarity began to wake me up. My dorm smelled like Liz’s perfume and Mary’s vanilla hand lotion; wherever I was now smelled like old, musty wood. My eyes flashed opened and I realized with horror that I wasn’t in my dorm, wasn’t even in the castle.
I didn’t dare move. Had the werewolf kidnapped me? Did werewolves even kidnap people? No, that just sounded stupid. Normally they would eat their victims, I remembered from class.
A victim. I had been a victim.
It wasn’t a dream as all, I had truly been attacked. I sat bolt upright in the unknown bed I was in, panic gripping me. The bed I sat on was the main part of the room which was dimly lit by a fire in the hearth. There was a single couch by the fireplace and an old clothes dresser near the door. It didn’t even appear to be daytime yet; the one window in the corner showed a dark sky lined with a bit of pink. I had no clue where in the hell I could be. I was about to completely lose it when a figure in a chair near the bed snapped their head up. I stared into James Potter’s eyes, my breathing heavy, trying desperately to understand through one look. He got up and came to sit on the edge of the bed across from me, his expression solemn.
“It really happened didn’t it?” I whispered, dangerously on the edge of sobbing hysterically. James nodded, never looking away from me. I suddenly felt dizzy as the room swam before me, and I realized that I was shaking slightly. A sob burst from my throat, though my eyes remained dry, and I pulled my knee up to my chin (because I remembered now how I had hurt my ankle, so I dangled it over the edge of the bed).
A pair of arms enveloped me in a tight hug and I felt warm breath near my ear. I let the panic I felt wash over me, allowing myself a minute of utter confusion and horror. I curled up under James’ arms with my eyes shut tight, resting my forehead on his broad chest while I hugged myself. My breathing was shallow as I did my best not to cry; feeling this, his arms constricted, bringing me closer to his body, and he rubbed my back with one of his hands.
James didn’t speak but I took comfort from his embrace; he held me tightly until I stopped shaking and controlled my breathing. I felt really safe with him (which was so weird) so even after I had calmed down, I let him hold me.
Nice moments can’t last forever though and I had to know what had happened to me. I pulled back slowly, keeping my body still curled up. James pulled back a bit too but kept his hands on my arms, which was good because I felt like I was about to pass out again. His hazel eyes searched mine worriedly, filled with concern.
Concern...my mind flashed back to the stag that had rescued me last night, whose eyes had been so strikingly similar. There was no way...it couldn’t be. But then again, the Marauders had done stupider things...
“You were the stag.” I surprised myself with the certainness of my tone. James didn’t deny it, just stared down at his knees.
“Hey,” I whispered; he looked up at me uncertainly. “Thank you so much for helping me.”
He put his hand on top of mine for a brief second; “You’re welcome.”
I could now picture it clearly, think of him as the brown stag I had seen, running alongside the black dog. My other hero, the big, shaggy, black dog.
“Sirius.” My lips formed the words before my mind really came to that conclusion. I grinned at the thought of Sirius chasing his tail or fetching a bone.
James looked up at me and smirked. “Yup. Two of three illegal Animagi in the school.”
“Peter. He’s a rat, though I bet you could have guessed that one yourself.”
My lips turned up ever so slightly at the thought. Peter would make a damn good rat. But that still left one...
“Does Remus know about you guys? I didn’t think you’d leave him out of the...” Another recollection of my night came back. “Remus! Is he okay? I heard you call him! Did he get attacked too?” My previous panic was about to come back again when I heard James’ bitter laugh.
“What’s so funny?” I demanded with irritation, folding my arms across my chest.
“Remus wasn’t attacked, but he was there,” he said; his smirk faded completely from his face, replaced by a frown. “Look, it’s a big deal, and me telling you this has to stay confidential, because no one can find out.”
“What’s a big deal Potter?”
“This! Everything! You shouldn’t have been out there tonight, you shouldn’t have gotten hurt,” he stopped to take a deep breath. “He shouldn’t have been there either.”
“Who shouldn’t have been there?” I was getting irritated with not knowing what the hell was going on.
James clenched his hands until his knuckles were white and gnashed his teeth together. “Remus.”
I sat there observing his anger and frustration with utter confusion; I hadn’t seen Remus when the werewolf attacked.
“Well...it’s not great that he was there, but isn’t it a good thing he wasn’t attacked?”
“You don’t understand-” James said.
I threw my hands up into the air; “Well, I’d sure as hell like to! You aren’t telling me something and I want to know what! What in Merlin’s name happened last night?”
He didn’t answer at first and I was beginning to really lose my temper when I noticed his behaviour change. His hands remained in a tight knot but the rest of him seemed to slump in defeat.
“You deserve to know,” he whispered sadly.
His troubled look bothered me a lot, to the point where I felt the need to make him feel better. Wait, when did I ever feel bad for James, ego-maniac, cocky James Potter? On a normal day, I would have thought of this as an acting bit he would use to try and convince me to snog him. But then I remembered; this had hardly been a normal day.
His sad eyes wandered everywhere but me, so I took his hands in both of mine and squeezed them.
“You can tell me.”
He held my hands back, took a deep breath, and when he spoke, it was like floodgates opening.
He told me everything.
Remus had been bitten by a werewolf as a child and had carried the curse ever since. He had come to Hogwarts under the assurance of help from Dumbledore and was to be hidden in the Shrieking Shack (which, I found out was where I was now) during the nights of his transformation. The Whomping Willow had been planted as a precaution to keep students away from the passageway that led there. James, Sirius and Peter had found out about Remus’ problem and had become illegal Animagi to help him through the night. They could connect to him better as animals and didn’t pose as a threat so he wouldn’t attack them. They kept him company every full moon and snuck him in and out of the school so he could transform in privacy in the Shrieking Shack. They had been doing this since second year.
My mind reeled. There was so much to take in that I couldn’t seem to grasp it all. I still held onto James’ hands as I tried to make sense of everything he said.
“So...that creature from last night...the one that attacked me...that was...Remus?”
“Yes,” James whispered sadly.
“But...,” I stammered, feeling horror creep back into me. Remus, whom I had thought of as a friend, had come after me, attacked me, without a second glance. “Why would he...? I mean, we’re friends...”
James stared at me with wide eyes. “No! Oh Merlin no, he didn’t hurt you on purpose! He can’t control his actions as a werewolf, so he had no idea that he was attacking his friend.”
I shivered a little but felt as though a sudden weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. “Thank God.”
James placed both of his hands over one of mine. “I promise he would never hurt you intentionally. This isn’t his fault. Please don’t hate him.” I hadn’t realized that he was pleading with me until now.
“You’re right,” I said for the second time tonight (and ever). “This isn’t his fault at all. He can’t help what he is, so I’m not mad.” I spoke the truth, I realized, and I honestly meant it. How could I possibly blame him for something he had no control over?
The next thing I knew, I had been pulled into a bone-crushing hug; I felt the air get pushed out of my lungs by the strong arms that held me.
“Thank you so much,” James said gratefully from over my shoulder.
“Can’t breathe Potter...”
He released me with a goofy grin as I caught my breath. “Sorry there Evans.”
“Mhmm,” I rolled my eyes and rubbed my ribs; the normal irritation I felt towards James came back, which was a sort of relief. I was really freaking myself out here. “So when will Remus turn back into himself?”
“When the sun rises,” James replied, turning to the window which was allowing a bit of light to shine in from the thin sliver of sun that rose over the horizon. “So any minute now. He’s going to want to come talk to you, I imagine. He’ll remember everything that happened as a wolf once he turns back into his human form. Sirius will bring him here.”
I nodded, wondering how I was going to react to him, or how he would react to me. I mean, I don't know how I would be able to live with the guilt of hurting my friend, even if I hadn’t meant to. This wasn’t going to be easy for anyone, I could already tell. Suddenly, a strangled howl came from the woods nearby, starting me and scaring me out of my wits. James rose off the bed and went to look out the window.
“I think he’s changing now,” he murmured as another howl sounded.
“So he’ll be coming soon?” I didn’t realize that I was nervous to see Remus until I found out that he was coming. I didn’t want to think that anything would be different, but hell, how could it not be?
“You alright there, Evans?”
“Fine,” I answered a bit too quickly.
James must have sensed my unease because he came over to the bed and sat across from me again, a little closer than before.
“Everything will be fine,” he told me certainly. “I promise.”
Never before today had I felt anything but hatred, irritation, or the beginnings of friendship towards James Potter. This new side of him that I was seeing - an emotional, caring side - was a little strange, but I found myself liking it (which was also strange; this whole night had been strange). I was so used to seeing him act cocky and condescending, so it was sort of a comfort to see that even James had a soft side.
I hadn’t noticed it, but I was smiling at him and he smiled right back. Not a smirk or a cocky grin, but a sweet, genuine smile. And the next thing I knew, we were leaning towards each other.
I thought back to earlier in the night, when James and I had been together in the common room – alone - kind of like right now. He had tried to kiss me then, but Mary’s interruption had prevented anything from happening. At first, I couldn’t believe I had almost done it, but the more I thought about it, the more I wished something had happened. And now, as James came so close that I could smell his sweet cologne, it was about to, and all I could do was have a long inner monologue.
Just shut up and enjoy it Lily.
So I did.
He was so close that I could feel his breath against my mouth, and my heart was racing so fast I swear I could hear it. I had a brief second of uncertainness, wondering what I was doing, but as his lips found mine, any doubts (or thoughts as all) flew from my mind.
I hadn’t expected to feel so...good. His lips were fierce yet gentle as they moulded around mine. His hand cupped my cheek and I did the same, knotting my fingers in the tangle of black hair.
Not Evans, or Lilywilly, or any other dumb nickname he’d given me in the past. He had called me Lily.
And I loved it.
His other hand found the small of my back, bowing me slightly and pushing me closer to his toned body. I tried to lift my leg to get more comfortable, forgetting about my injured ankle and twisting it the wrong way.
“Ow!” I exclaimed, pulling away briefly in my moment of pain. James chuckled but helped me move my foot so I wasn’t straining it. His hands took my waist and he shifted forward on the bed until our bodies were close once more.
I didn’t answer because I couldn’t; he was kissing me again and it was suddenly quite difficult to think. One hand on the back of my neck, the other on my back, I melted into his arms and sighed contently. The passion and heat that burned between us was both surprising and amazing; I had never felt better in my life. It was almost as if we were trying to fit six years of not being together into this one amazing kiss and it felt great. I felt like I could sit here with James forever...
Sirius’ loud voice was unmistakeable as it rang out from downstairs.
“Damn,” James growled against my skin. He moved slower now, kissing me softly up my neck until his lips found mine once more. We shared a soft, sweet kiss and pulled back slightly, keeping our foreheads together as we waited for our ragged breathing to slow.
“Wow,” I began, not even sure what to say. I had kissed Potter. James Potter. I couldn’t believe I had done it, but heck...I had enjoyed it. That little voice in my head told me to shut up again, so I kept my mouth shut and my hands in his hair; he did the same.
“Are you ready?” he asked me, moving his head back so that his hazel eyes could hold my gaze. They were full of wonder and awe and I'm pretty sure I was looking back in the exact same way. The incredible bliss I felt faded as nervousness took hold of me once more.
I tried to swallow away my fear, but I just felt worse. How would this go? I was doing my best to picture the Remus I knew and loved like a brother but those large yellow eyes kept haunting my imagination. I knew that I was being unreasonable but I couldn’t seem to shake that image.
James took my face in his hands and kissed my forehead.
“Lily, you’re going to be fine.”
I nodded nervously and allowed James to help me stand awkwardly on my good leg. He carried most of my weight as we walked around the bed to stand at its foot, facing the doorway. I heard two sets of footsteps climbing the stairs and exhaled shakily. James, who was still holding me as he stood behind me, wound his arms around my waist and squeezed me reassuringly. I placed my hands on his arms and smiled a little, despite everything. What was I scared of? This was Remus, my friend. I had nothing to worry about. A new determination took hold of me and I waited patiently for the two marauders to enter.
Sirius came bouncing into view first; I swear, nothing could ever faze him. He was always so happy!
“’Ello Prongsy and Lillykins!” he grinned broadly. “Have a good...sleep?”
I realized that James had untangled his arms before Sirius’ entrance but still held me steady. Realizing what Sirius implied, I would have normally given him a good punch in the arm but my temporary injury prevented much movement. I settled for a solid glare but heard James chuckle behind me.
“Come on Padfoot, I can't kiss and tell!” he cried in mock insult. Now he was within punching distance for me, so I gave him a good one in the arm.
“Yikes! Sorry there Evans, didn’t mean to insult you.”
There it was; jokester James Potter was back.
“A little pissed with himself. Actually, really pissed. And sad.” Sirius turned to me now and for once I saw a little pleading in his eyes. “Go easy on him, Evans.”
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