Chapter 2 : Reflections
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Every Summer, time would fly by so fast that the return to school often caught me off-guard.
I would repaint my room a new colour. Then I’d write several long letters to dorm mates, Quinn Dalton, Caitlyn Sommers, Mary McDonald, and Edith Banks and an extra-long one to my mentor, occasional big sister and my only other best friend, Alice Fairwick.
Afterwards, each summer I’d spend nearly all of my time down by the park, in the shade where the two willow trees embraced each other.
Its leaves formed a trellis that filtered the sunlight into small patches of gold while we would sit in the cool shade reading though magic well beyond our years, sometimes even beyond our understanding. That place was our own little keep.
He would sit by me for hours and together we’d learn something new every day. Time flowed when I was with him. I envied the dusk that always came too early to steal him away from me.
Severus was always ambitious. He had been so since the first day I had met him. His passion and curiosity was so contagious that I too began to have the same craving for knowledge, things I didn’t know. It was something I shared with him and him alone. I adored his love for magic. To be truly honest, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that at some point I may have even idolised him. Severus was truly his own person. In a world that bent so easily to the ideals of others, Severus strived to be unique, resilient to what people may think of him.
I admired that nature he had. Nothing, nothing, could bring him down.
But that was then. Things changed quickly in our third year. He began to befriend the wrong sort of people; Evan Rosier, Mulciber and the lot. People who were similarly opinionated and different from the rest, but unlike him, underneath their avid thirst for knowledge they lusted for control over things no one should have control upon. It worried me that Severus could not see the difference between him and the people he befriended. He insisted that they were like brothers to him and what they strived for would one day bring salvation to all like him.
I could never understand how he defended their actions when Potter’s crew and their antics paled in comparison. Severus seemed to turn a blind eye and I could feel us pull further and further. As hard as I tried to hold on, they stole Severus away from me piece by piece and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
It was a long time before he realised this and when he did. A few weeks before our OWL exams began he confronted me about us...
He found me heading back to Gryffindor tower one evening, already tired and not in the mood for a chat.
“Lily, come on... I know you have a few minutes to talk?”
I turned sharply to face him in the empty corridor as the rest of the students headed down for lunch. My eyes studied him as he tried to put a small smile upon his face hiding the rest safely behind a mask he’d recently adopted.
“Please?” He said in a soft voice.
“I have a few minutes,” I said shortly.
“Good,” his smile stretched as he walked up to me happily, “Cos I’ve been waiting to tell you about this new spell-”
“Let’s start with why you weren’t in Transfiguration, shall we?”
Severus’ expression instantly turned sour and he looked at me as if I was purposely trying to pick a fight.
“Lily, please, I don’t want to argue. We haven’t really talked in a while and I… I…” he struggled and I felt myself scowl as I waited wondering why suddenly he could not admit it anymore. His eyes shifted around before he whispered, “I missed you”.
I disregarded his pleading.
“And whose fault is that? Where were you, Sev? And don’t you dare lie to me!” I warned him.
“Research,” he said flatly after a moment.
I sighed impatiently. “Sure,” I said through my clenched teeth. Clutching my bag I turned to leave.
“Lily, what is this? Why are you so against me spending time with anyone other than you?”
“Arrgh!” the frustration just escaped me as I wheeled around to face him, “I cannot believe this! Someone other than me? Severus, I don’t care who you spend your time with. I just can’t watch you waste your life with THEM!”
“They’re the malicious pests in this entire school!” I spat at him, “You could not have picked worse. They don’t care about you, Sev! How can you not see that? They only care that you can show them how to do what they need to. They’re using you.”
Seveus said nothing as he avoided my gaze.
“You don’t believe me? Fine. It’s your life. It’s about time you make choices for yourself!” I looked away and picked up the books I’d dropped on the floor earlier.
“What’s that supposed mean?” he asked with a hint of urgency in his voice.
I paused, standing in the deserted hallway a few feet apart from my closest friend, which somehow felt like a thousand miles between us. My eyes closed accepting that I couldn’t continue being like this. I had to say it.
I had to save him, even if it meant I had to guilt him into it.
“It means I’m done fighting this battle for you, Sev. I’m done pulling you back every time you get too blinded to see where you’re heading. I’m tired.” I paused watching him. Severus looked at me as if he was seeing me for the first time. It was a deep thoughtful calculating look that unnerved me. However I continued, “You are free to make your own choices, Sev. But you can’t have both, it’s either them or me. I will not watch you become one of them... I can’t. If you insist on being their friend, then you lose me.”
I turned to leave pausing to look over my shoulder just so I could just see him out of the corner of my eye. “Forever,” I added and began to walk away from him as the possibility that he would still choose them began to choke me.
I had barely taken three steps before his voice called out to me, tragic and painful.
I couldn’t help myself. I came to a standstill and slowly turned around. He was inches from me stealing my breath in shock. I stepped back involuntarily. His eyes bore into mine for a short second and closed, his lips trembled seamlessly over an incoherent word before his eyes reopened and I was swallowed by its black abyss...
I could hear Sev’s laughter in my head…
It was third year, we were best friends. There had been no problems, no evil Slytherins poisoning Sev’s mind. The scene was watery but I remembered it well. Sitting in the Great Hall at breakfast one day just before Transfiguration. Potter had tried to catapult grapes into a girl’s partially open blouse with a large silver spoon. The first two admirably went straight into her cleavage as she talked animatedly with her friend blissfully unaware but the third, by a miscalculated degree, released with excessive force and shot straight up his own nose. Severus and I both doubled up with laughter sitting over at the Slytherin table that day.
The scene began to haze and then dissolved before reforming again…
We were sitting by the willow trees as usual in the park midway between our homes.
“Your boyfriend could do with a bath!” Tuney spat at me as she held my red diary victim in her hand.
“Shut up! And give it back!” I yelled at her.
“I’m just curious as to what secrets you’re hiding,” Tuney grazed the spine of my diary with a bony finger and a malicious grin.
“She said give it back!” Severus thundered more loudly standing up. Rattled, Tuney dropped the diary onto the floor as her eyes shifted to his hand clenched over his wand in his pocket. While she was distracted I quickly leaped forward and scooped up the book.
“You wouldn’t dare!” she said in clearly terrified but defiant voice.
“You should start running,” Severus smiled maliciously. I knew to call his bluff so I sat content watching. Tuney looked at me incredulously before scarpering down the dirt road falling a few times.
“I’m telling mum!” she screamed at me when she was safely out of range but continued to run.
The watery glaze returned reforming the image…
I was passing by a deserted hallway on my way to the library, maybe in my third or fourth year.
“Why don’t you just play with your chemistry set and leave the rest of us be?” Black smirked at Severus, “It’s bad enough we need to breathe the same air as you! Then you go and follow us so you can tattle to the teachers and become their little pet! Revolting irksome little pest!”
Potter, Lupin, Pettigrew and Black circled around him while he was held bound by thick ropes from his neck to his toes. Severus was shaking with anger, his face livid.
“DIMITTOS!” I directed my wand at Severus and instantly he was released from the binds as I marched furiously towards the group.
“What the HELL do you think you’re doing?”
“Oh great! Here she come!” Sirius said without even turning to look at me. I was fuming. My glare turned to Remus who I generally thought had some self-control. Apparently I was wrong.
Potter turned to me with his usual half-guilty-at-being-caught-but-still-pretty-cocky grin as Severus picked himself up off the ground slowly rubbing his wrists where the ropes had cut into his flesh.
“You’re such a spoilsport, Lily” he shook his head.
“And you’re a heartless bully!” I shoved him aside forcefully and pulled Severus away with me.
“He’s not worth your time, Evans!”
We both cursed at Potter under our breath as we rounded the corner. Severus pulled his arms free from me and walked faster. I tried to keep up.
“Lily,” he spun around sharply and I nearly skidded on the polished marble before coming to a standstill in front of him, “I didn’t need saving...Not from you”
“I... I was just trying to help!”
“Well you didn’t! All it was, was showing off for Potter!”
Stung I recoiled from him.
“Mulciber is right!” Severus spat scathingly, “They’ll only respond to their own medicine.” He turned away and left without another word leaving me standing there hurt and fighting tears.
We were on the train. Me, Severus, Remus Lupin, Adrian Flint and Abbey Morgan. Severus and I were friends again. The arguments forgotten over a long summer together with no one to interfere.
I hugged Severus when I saw the gleaming silver badge on his chest that said ‘Prefect’ on it. His blush was contrastingly memorable on his usually pale face.
It was past noon. The sun warm and bright shone over the school courtyard as we walked across it after lunch. I was arguing with him because of something I’d heard about what that horrible Mulciber had done to Mary. He countered saying Potter and his friends weren’t saints either. I was surprised that he could not only tolerate but defend the evilness of his friends.
Potter's antics were nothing compared to his so called 'friends'. But Potter had recently made a mess of things and I wasn’t too forgiving.
We’d won the Quidditch match against Slytherin last year, I was cheering with the rest of the team. Remus had his arm around me and we were both singing a victory song the Gryffindors themselves had invented. I’d met Severus later that day. He didn’t want to talk me… as an explanation he offered that I’d become a turncoat! Becoming just like the rest of them! All because I’d supported my friends and my house…
We didn’t speak for a week.
I was crying myself to sleep. Another day. Another fight.
Potter was driving me insane at Potions pretending to forget every instruction as we were paired together. He used me as entertainment whenever he was bored. But I remember looking at his satisfied smirk and thinking, ‘At least he doesn’t actually hurt people…’ My mind kept racing to horrid pictures of death eater illustrations in the Prophet earlier that day. I wished I could find a way to snatch Severus back the same way those horrible Slytherins snatched him away from me.
My knees began to shake and I knew that Severus was pulling my thoughts to him more forcefully. I couldn’t break the trance he had me in. I didn’t know how to break a connection with a Legilimens. I was defenceless…
It was late night. The library was almost empty. Potter sat at a table organising the books left behind by the students while I sat on a stool overlooking his detention. He made small talk and when I didn’t respond he began to comically imitate me in a high-pitched lofty voice giving replies to his own comments.
“So, Lily I was thinking maybe we could go out sometime? Say Three Broomsticks next Saturday at seven?”
“Potter, just go jump out of the Astronomy tower if you please!” He replied with his imitation of me.
I laughed involuntarily. He turned abruptly to me, not expecting it. Regretting giving incentive for him to continue, I looked away…
I was in the stands with Quinn and Edith on either side of me watching the Quidditch game against Ravenclaw. They were a good team but I knew we could beat them. Sirius took a loop around the pitch whizzing past us. Quinn gave a roaring cheer and I rolled my eyes. James streaked past next with the Quaffle tucked under his arm. He was swarmed though, with all three Ravenclaw chasers on his tail. Sirius’s intevening managed to shove away one of them. James was six feet from the goal post, he had to shoot now! He abruptly turned his broom up and climbed fast leaving two confused Ravenclaws behind him wondering where he’d gone. By the time they had figured it out James had zoomed back in behind them and scored! I immediately jumped to my feet and cheered at the impressive goal! Edith and Quinn looked at me sheepishly as I blushed and sat back down.
“Mr Potter, since you so compassionately decided to sleep during my last lesson would you please join Ms Evans on the front bench?” Professor McGonagall scowled as James shuffled his way to the back of the class.
With a heavy sigh Potter slumped into the empty seat next to mine. I groaned internally. Something about him really got on my nerves and with OWLs so close I didn’t want to lose my concentration in class. Revision classes were especially important.
We were each handed a small box with a white mouse in it. While I proceeded to turn mine into a fluffy pin cushion in under five minutes, when I turned I found James Potter snoozing with his head balanced on his elbow while his mouse fed on pieces of a cracker he’d provided. I stared at him disbelievingly at how someone could feel so relaxed with exams just around the corner.
His eyes opened again and he stared back at me with a vacant stupor, “You look pretty!”
I arched my eyebrow wondering what on earth he’d had for breakfast.
“You should put your mouse back in the box at least,” I commented.
“What!?” James sat up so fast his mouse scurried over to my table in fright.
He looked down at his pants and double-checked his zipper at which point I realised he’d taken the wrong meaning of my words but decided the expression on his face was worth not correcting him. I laughed hysterically as his face turned bright red.
“Very funny, Evans! Hilarious!”
“You have no idea!”
Three weeks later, same classroom, a different day. OWLs to follow in a week…
Having finished my tasks before the time permitted, my eyes wondered. Suddenly from the benches in front of me James Potter turned over his shoulder to check the wall clock behind me. Our eyes met… he smiled. A very different, almost genuine smile for a change. And for some reason, I smiled back.
Even Potter himself seemed to find it odd, but his smile stretched in pleasant surprise and his eyebrow arched upwards questioningly. He looked at the perfect tea cup and saucer sitting on my desk in front of me, matching patterns and all, and gave me a thumbs-up. I smiled wider, nodding curtly to acknowledge it.
His ever-iridescent eyes crinkled as he beamed. I envied his pearly-whites as he grinned and I found myself unable to deny that it made him look so…
“Urrgh!” Severus pulled away from me. I shook my head trying to find my way back to reality, staggering back as I surfaced from the memories he’d trapped me in only to find his face livid and his expression murderous. I swallowed knowing exactly what had upset him. My face flushed hot. I couldn’t believe Severus would rake though my brain like that! That wasn't fair!
What he discovered, however was far worse, but he was mistaken! I had no feelings for Potter! I DIDN'T! It wasn't true!
His black eyes were cold and haunting as they glared at me.
“Shut up!” he spat at me. “Don’t lie to me anymore!” he turned away from me making me recoil from him as his hatred turned for the first time on me.
I began to break apart right there in front of him, “It’s not like that, Sev, please listen to me!”
He turned back to me with the same ghastly expression, “How could you?” his hands stiffened into spider-like claws as if trying to strangle the air inches from my neck. “How. Could. You?” his voice was a mere whisper, but I had never been more terrified of it.
“Him? You said… You never… How could you?”
“No… I swear I never-”
The word ran through me like an icicle, piercing my heart and soul. Even after more than two weeks, that word in his voice made me shiver unpleasantly.
Severus had been such a big part of my life but he’d also hurt me, broken me in a way I couldn’t bring myself to heal. He was gone now. The whole he left behind in my life was wide and painful, a memory that still managed to reduce me to tears.
I swallowed and picked up the brush in my shaking hand biting back my tears. The bristles of my paint brush glided over the lilac walls of my room as I tried to paint them yellow, possibly in the hope it would light up the gloomy corners of my heart.
In his absence the days moved slowly making me realise how entwined our young lives had been. We were almost inseparable since the time I found out what I was and Severus had introduced me to the wonders of the magical world before I’d even taken a step inside it. But now without him, the time that stood still was a constant reminder of what I had lost, what had become of us. All I had left now to do was to paint the long hours away.
On top of it all where Severus left me, leaving my heart sore and wounded, James Potter came into it, crushing me with guilt at the memory of the last words I said to him.
I rarely did anything that truly hurt anyone, so I seldom had the need to apologise. But now I knew, I had hurt someone with my words. Someone who didn’t deserve it although I’d led myself to believe so long enough. He had been unkind to Severus on many occasions since we started at Hogwarts, but he had tried to apologise, possibly even make amends…
I used him and then when he trusted me to let his guard down, I became cold and mirthless. I’d hurt him…
A shiver ran down my spine as I thought of myself at my worst. How could I be so selfish? I was no better than all I accused James Potter of being. In fact, what I had done was far worse.
It was time to apologise but I wasn’t strong enough yet to face the boy I’d grown up despising, let alone apologise to him!
Yet, even as we convince ourselves otherwise, consider the ‘other option’, a better course of action or finally resign and take the easy way out, unbeknown to us, fate often has other plans.
“LILY!” my sisters screech came through the open door of my room.
We both hated the holidays for the exact same reason. Each other.
Living across the small corridor from her room, all throughout the holidays I had to endure snide remarks about my school, how my friends and I were ‘freaks’ with an inborn deformity and how this school was just a pretence to isolate us from the rest of humankind. Talk about sour grapes.
It was also the reason I kept Christmas and Easter holidays very short, never exceeding more than three or four days. I only even returned because I missed my parents very much while I was away. Mum often complained of not having me around for New Year but that’s the price of having a psycho jealous sister.
After a few years of trying to reconcile with her I finally gave up. Now we spent the few weeks we had to live under the same roof trying to tolerate each other.
“I TOLD YOU NEVER TO GIVE OUR ADDRESS TO YOUR FREAKY FRIENDS! COME DOWN HERE AT ONCE!” she yelled up the stairs at the top of her voice.
I groaned and dropped the paint brush onto the tray. Petunia made a huge spectacle whenever an owl came into our kitchen. All she wanted was an excuse to pick a fight. She still hadn’t forgiven our parents for accepting me as a witch, something she decided was unforgivably abnormal once she’d been rejected from joining Hogwarts.
I hurried downstairs before she could set fire to the letter or something. She was waiting at the foot of the stairs with her arms crossed over her chest, her face contorted looking daggers at me.
“That’s a really nice look on you Tuney, hope it sticks!” I said sarcastically as I reached her, earning a scathing look.
“What the heck is that?” she asked pointing her bony finger at the window sill. I rolled my eyes.
I walked over to the windowsill and beckoned the owl forward. It fluttered onto our kitchen table and held out its leg for me. I could hear Tuney hiss and scurry over to the end of the dining room.
“Don’t be such a clot, Tuney! Owls come each year to our house and you still manage to have a stroke each time you see them!” I said both annoyed and angry at my sister’s act and untied the letter from the owl’s leg. The moment I’d set him free of the letter, it flew out the window, possibly feeling the hostility from my sister’s end.
I didn’t even look at her face as I walked out onto the porch and sat on the lawn chair. My fingers ripped through the envelope in a hurry already recognising the writing on the address. I pulled out a short piece of parchment and I could feel a pout on my lips as I’d expected more. Regardless I read quickly through the round minuscule handwriting.
My dear Lily,
I got your letter. So sorry that the summer proves to be so difficult and I’m sorry to hear about Severus. There is much to discuss Lils and I hope you can meet me in Diagon Alley to do so. I will be coming back to London next Saturday and will be spending a few days in the Leaky Cauldron while I’m meeting a few friends. I do hope you can make it. How about Saturday for lunch?
I’ve missed you so much already. Hope to see you there.
Love and hugs, Alice.
A very predictable joyous smile spread across my face as I read. Just what I needed.
My eyes snapped open.
I’d woken up suddenly from another intense dream. Something about falling off a speeding broom. I shook my head to dislodge the disturbing thought and looked around. The morning light came into my room through the windows playing across the ceiling.
I got up and reached blindly for my glasses on the bedside table squinting against the brightness. Once I found them and managed to push them into place the room came into clearer view.
Tibbs the elf appeared next to my bed. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed just as he bowed low making his batty ears fall over his head. It was useless telling Tibbs he didn’t need to courtesy, he never listened anyway.
“Your morning juice, Master Potter!” Tibbs hovered the tray over his head.
“Thank you, Tibbs,” I picked up the juice and set it on the bedside table, “Please wake Sirius up if you don’t mind,” I said as I picked a clean navy t-shirt out of one of the drawers and pulled it over my head. Remembering a vital piece of information I suddenly turned back, “Oh and Tibbs, please try not to give him a heart attack?”
“Tibbs will do his best, Master,” the elf squeaked and vanished with another crack.
I picked up the juice and took two gulps.
At the Black Manor, Mrs Black ordered elves to remain out of sight and sound as much as possible. They were also forbidden to use Elf magic within the house. It was cruel really, to take away the one thing they could use to make their lives at least a bit better. As such it made Sirius jump whenever Tibbs Apparated next to him. Even after nearly two weeks spent in the Potter Manor since he’d run away and gotten himself emancipated, he wasn’t still quite used to it…
“WHAT THE FU-. TIBBS!!!”
I choked on my juice. Still bloody hilarious.
I was outside my room leaning against the baluster overlooking the foyer when Sirius wrenched open the door beside mine and stormed out swinging it shut loudly behind him.
“I swear that elf is going to kill me someday!” He was buttoning up a white shirt, his hair still dripping onto his shoulders. I was surprised he was still miffed after a shower but Sirius wasn’t one to let go easily. I smiled to myself.
“What are you upto?” he asked curiously joining me at the marble banister and looking down at the vast clearing in the below where house elves scurried about readying the breakfast table.
We often found ways to entertain ourselves that sadly didn’t agree well with those on the receiving end. On the particular day it was throwing grapes at a portrait of Great Uncle Bernard downstairs who, to our great amusement searched vehemently for his attacker(s) squinting through his monocle looking thoroughly annoyed. Sirius gleefully joined in borrowing some grapes from me.
“James! Sirius!” my mother’s voice called up to us, “would you both come down to the kitchens? Quickly!”
I looked at Sirius questioningly. He stared blankly back at me.
“Whatever it is, I wasn’t involved!” Sirius said raising his hands up in defence and dropping the grapes he was holding. I laughed at his attempts to convince me of his innocence.
“What is it, mother?” I called back.
“There are some owls over here...” came the reply.
Sirius visibly relaxed and we both made our way down the stairs.
“I think your OWL results are here!”
Both of us froze on the steps.
"It's only been two weeks!"
"I know I failed Astronomy!” Sirius said shaking his head.
I looked at him oddly, "So? It’s Astronomy"
"In case you didn't notice Potter, my entire family's named after blooming stars! Astronomy is a pretty big deal for the Black family"
I laughed, "Well in case you didn't notice, you're not exactly a Black anymore! In this house where Astronomy is concerned," I slapped a hand my best friend's shoulder, "trust me, you're off the hook!"
"You know McGonagall will feed us to the Giant Squid if we fail Transfiguration right?"
“Fail? She’ll have us hanged if we get anything below an Exceeds Expectations!”
We debated on who’d done worse all the way to the kitchens where my mum sat at the large oak table, already laden with a full English breakfast. She folded the Daily Prophet she was reading when she heard us approach and turned around to face us.
“There you are!” she smiled warmly.
I returned the smile a little unsurely. This was actually the first determining exam I’d had to retell the results to my parents for, I wasn’t sure how they’d take it if I didn’t do well. My mind was already concocting a ridiculous scenario of me leaving school early to join Dad at his business. I looked past mum at the large owl perch that sat in the corner, by the windows of the well-lit kitchen. Sure enough, there were two handsome tawny owls sitting there with their letters.
“Breakfast?” mum pulled my attention to her again.
“Umm...” I deliberated, between my hunger and my nerves, “No, thanks. I think we’ll get the gut-wrenching over with first!”
“Oh come now,” she held my shoulder as I made to move past her, “We know you gave it your best effort. That is what truly matters.”
I gave her a patronising smile, “So if I get all Trolls, you’ll still be happy it was my best effort?” I asked, blinking innocently. Sirius snickered behind me.
Mum rolled her eyes, “You’re not going to get all Trolls!” she assured.
“That’s a ‘No’ then. Thanks Mum!” I nodded and headed to the owl perch with Sirius in tow.
“Mate, I just want you to know. If I’ve failed everything I’m transferring to Durmstrang!” Sirius said swallowing nervously.
“I’m right there with you!”
We untied our letters and opened them together. I pulled out the sheet of parchment hurriedly and read.
ORDINARY WIZARDING LEVEL RESULTS
Pass grades :
Exceeds Expectations (E)
JAMES ALEXANDER POTTER HAS ACHIEVED
Herbology: Exceeds Expectations
Defence Against the Dark Arts: Outstanding
Astronomy: Exceeds Expectations
History of Magic: Acceptable
Ancient Runes: Outstanding
Magical Languages: Outstanding
Care of Magical Creatures: Exceeds Expectations
Elemental Magic and Deciphering: Outstanding
As I read and reread quickly I calmed. My dreams weren’t dead. Yet.
A smile spread slowly on my face and I looked up to find my mum beaming at me from afar, already having read my expression. Mums are intuitive that way I suppose.
I turned to Sirius who was scanning his paper with an unremarkable expression. When he was done he held out his paper for me wordlessly and we swapped our results. Sirius had done equally well, despite not sitting through half the revision sessions that Remus had organised for the four of us, even going as far as to score a questionable Outstanding for Astronomy. He had always been a naturally bright kid.
Mum stared at us expectantly as we looked up, “Well?” she prompted.
I shrugged and smiled, “We did alright, mum!”
“Oh! Thank Merlin!” she rushed to us and embraced both of us. “I’ve been so afraid, since you boys love that bloody broomstick more than anything else in the world! I was scared you’d neglected your studies-”
“Hey! I played Quidditch and I knocked down seven OWLs just fine!”
Mum released me and I was swept up by a one armed hug from my father.
“Well done Son, we’ve never been more proud.”
He placed his hands on my shoulders pulling back looking at me intently and in his eyes I read just that.
“Be proud of yourself for your achievements. Both of you!” he pulled me and Sirius who was beginning to awkwardly back away into a tight hug once more.
“Enjoy it now, go on!” he released us and smiled, ruffling up my already messy hair.
Dad was always a ridiculously jovial person who I could not imagine being serious about anything. He was a dreamer and yet he did all the cool things. He aced his OWLS and NEWTs, played Quidditch for Gryffindor, stole my mum off a bloke three years older than him, invented a business just out of school and quadrupled the family wealth, build a mansion that had all my mum’s favourite things ‘cause nothing like that was available to buy, became a board member for Hogwarts but left when I joined probably because he knew he’d be getting an earful each week from McGonagall. He wasn’t just my hero growing up. Kids wanted to be just like him and I grew up always sharing him with the world. Still I felt an intense loyalty to him that I could only parallel with the love I had for my mother. They were everything to me and they were happy. That was more than enough for me.
Sirius and I looked at each other in high spirits. I hadn’t felt this good in a while.
“You know there’s only one place in London we can celebrate properly right?”
“Diagon Alley it is!” I smirked.
We were sitting inside a small coffee shop in Diagon Alley after lunch. The street outside was still busy with people doing their daily shopping. Inside however, was mostly quiet and empty apart from a wizened couple a few tables away.
“Thank you,” Alice said politely as the waiter served her a second cup of coffee. He smiled and nodded before handing me my own and leaving us. I sipped my coffee slowly. After lunch I didn’t really want anything else but being a coffee addict I couldn’t pass up a cup when Alice ordered hers.
“I still can’t believe Severus would say something like that!” she shook her head with her brow furrowed at the centre. Alice had known Severus as long as she’d known me. She was in third year when both of us joined Hogwarts and I’d followed her around most of that year learning anything I could and she was kind enough to let me. They’d never been friends Alice and Severus, but he respected her.
“I’m sorry for the part James played in all of it. He can be a little... short-sighted at times...” she said looking at me as I put two lumps of sugar in my cup, “I know you won’t hear a word of it, but he is a good kid.” She insisted.
I could sense the earnestness in her voice though I avoided her eyes. She’d always been partial to James. They were family friends since they were very young. I gave her a small flickering smile.
Alice reached out and placed a hand on mine, “Lily... you’re different. What’s really bothering you?”
Apart from Severus she was the only one who knew me more than I knew myself. I couldn’t hide much from her.
She sighed at my silence, “I know Severus was your best friend and losing someone like that is-”
“It’s not that,” I finally said.
“Then what is it?”
I sighed heavily. Admitting it to myself was one thing. But saying it out loud was another.
“What happened... Sev... It hurts horribly, sure... but right now I’m the one I can’t forgive!” I turned to her and Alice looked back at me with a mixture of confusion and concern in her eyes. She was always so caring. I felt like I could tell her anything. Everything I had reflected upon since school had ended came flooding back to me.
“Alice, I have to tell you something,”
She waited patiently, squeezing my hand gently.
“It wasn’t James that made him say that word, it was me.” I bit down on my jaws as the memory refreshed.
“What do you mean?” she asked softly.
I retold her everything about the arguments that Severus and I had before the exams began and how he had used Legilimency against me to filter through my memories finally finding one he could use to blame me for betraying him instead of the other way around.
I looked up at her dark brown eyes that empathised with me.
“He was just so angry at me... and when I tried to defend him against James hoping I’d get a chance to talk sense into him-”
The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. His voice had held such powerful hatred. Something I’d never received from him.
“That’s when he said it...” Alice voiced my thoughts.
I nodded sadly.
“I see,” Alice said slowly, “I’m so sorry, Lils. It was not your fault! I’m afraid he just was his worst self that day. ” She said calmly taking another sip from her cup.
“Yeah, but so was I...” I said thoughtfully staring into my cup.
“What do you mean?’
“That night, after I told Severus our friendship was over. I couldn’t sleep. I was a mess, I was crying and lost and...angry. You wouldn’t believe who got me through that night.”
Alice waited, her face expectant.
Her eyebrows travelled up her forehead in surprise. I could literally see her lips part as her jaw subtly dropped open. “James Potter?”
I nodded. “I asked him to study with me. I can never for the love of me understand why! But I know that I wasn’t angry at him! Because inside I knew it wasn’t his fault... it just wasn’t” I swallowed reliving it, “I’ve been thinking back these past two weeks and I couldn’t come up with a single instance that I had been nice to him. Genuinely nice. I’ve never even been much polite to him.”
Alice smiled sympathetically as my self-repugnance surfaced.
“Alice, he was so nice to me, I didn’t even deserve it! He actually sat through that night reading through Transfiguration notes and doing OWL past papers with me when he could have written that paper blindfolded!” The guilt I felt was threatening to overpower me.
“So that’s a good thing Lil! You can both be polite to each other and just move on.”
“Oh I wish. The next day after Transfiguration, Severus came up to me. He gave me this silver medallion I got him from Hogsmeade in third year. He said I should have it back because I didn’t want him in my life anymore. Cheap of him, I thought. Anyway I refused to take it and he shoved it into my hand and just left. I was unnerved and upset. I was barely holding it together and then James!” I stopped.
“Oh no,” Alice predicted, “What did you say to him?”
I bit down on my lip as I could feel even her pure heart judge my horrible actions.
“I basically told him that I wished he didn’t exist!”
Alice closed her eyes gravely.
“I know! I know! I’m such an awful awful person!” I cried out hysterically making a waiter look at us alarmed. Alice instantly put her hand on my shoulder and soothed me. I took a deep breath and swallowed to compose myself.
“I know..." I sighed and I drew another deep breath, "I have to apologise.” This would be so much easier if I didn’t have the conscience of what a bitch I’d been hanging in the back of my mind.
I wondered if James would respond to a letter after what I’d said to him. But I couldn’t apologise in a letter! That would be gutless! I’ll ask him to meet me, I thought.
My heart started beating on double speed at that. He’d surely be cursing me right now, why in the world would he agree to meet me?
“Well, I think that’s very mature of you,” Alice commended, “and very brave.” A small smile was playing in the corner of her mouth when I turned to her.
“What?” I asked failing to grasp what had amused her.
“Well,” she paused and set her cup down, “I’m just glad to be witnessing this,” she smiled.
When my confusion did not clear she pointed out of the coffee shop window. My self-calming routine hit a snag and my breath hitched. Across the street, two boys walked along the pavement as thick as thieves. Laughing heartily at his best friend's joke was none other than James Potter himself.
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