Chapter 6 : Left Speechless
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“For the hundredth time today, no!”
“Please, Lily, it’s been three weeks! Just let us explain-” Liz began.
“Don’t you defend him,” I whispered dangerously. I watched with a solemn expression as the flowers James had sent me - again - went up in flames. I suppose I could have simply thrown them out, but there was more satisfaction in burning them.
“Lily.” Mary’s calm voice came from her bed across the room. “I know this looks bad, but you should really talk to him. There are certain things you need to know about what happened.”
“I’ve told you this before,” I sighed. “I was there, I saw what he did, and there’s nothing you can say that changes that fact.”
“But there is something we-”
“Don’t bother.” I stood up and strode out of our room, down the spiral staircase and into the common room. I prayed that it would be empty, but who else could be sitting there but the four Marauders. I considered spinning back around and returning to my room but I was spotted by Sirius.
“Oi! Evans!” he called from the couch. Peter and Remus were seated on either side of him and James was in the armchair by the hearth. He glanced up at me but averted his eyes quickly. What a coward. He cheats on me and doesn’t even have the decency to look me in the eye.
“Sit,” Sirius commanded.
“I’d rather not, Black,” I answered coolly.
Remus spoke up next, much less arrogant and rude than Sirius. “Lily, I think you need to let James explain himself. There’s something you need to know.”
“I think my eyes saw it all.”
“But you don't know about-”
“I don't care.”
“But we do. So shut up and listen.”
“Don't tell me what to do Black.”
James interrupted my banter with Sirius by standing up. “Shut up Padfoot.” Sirius looked surprised but pretended to lock his lips shut with an imaginary key.
“Lily,” his hazel eyes bore into my green ones. “will you please come outside and talk to me?”
Truth be told, the way he was looking at me made me shiver. He looked gorgeous, even in a baggy shirt and torn jeans. I almost had to physically shake that thought out of my head. He had cheated on me; I couldn’t allow myself to fall for the same trick twice.
His head fell forward in defeat and he flinched; I resisted the urge to tell him off for putting on such an act. But when he looked back up, his expression startled me. His brow was scrunched and he was biting his lip, almost as if he was stifling an emotion. Pain, I realized, was burning in his eyes.
“Fine,” he muttered, staring at his feet. “I’m going to bed then.” Without another word, he turned on his heel and slouched up the stairs to the boys’ common room.
“Happy now, are you?” Sirius muttered.
I normally would have had a remark ready on my lips, but I was still watching the spot where James had been previously standing. I was as angry as I had been three weeks ago, but just then, he had seemed so upset. It made me question the way I had acted for a moment.
“Shut up Padfoot.” Remus echoed James’ earlier words. He stood up, gently took me by the hand and led me to the couch. I sat next to him, waiting nervously as three sets of eyes stared expectantly at me.
“You know how irrational you’re being, right?”
“You’ve got to be joking Black! He snogged another girl while we were dating! How is my anger anywhere near irrational?”
“Because you see how different this is, don't deny it,” Remus said gently. “If any other girl caught him, he would apologize and move on. He’s been persisting with you for weeks now because he truly feels bad. You mean more to him than just a quick romance.”
“Well-I-” I had no idea how to respond to that.
“You should see him when you’re not around,” Peter added. “He just mopes.”
“He always asks us how he can get you back-”
“-so far nothing we’ve said has worked-“
“-and when it doesn’t, he’s shattered.”
This was news to me. It was true as well. James was known for his smooth ways and ability to woo any girl he liked, but the more I thought about it, I realized that he had never tried to make anything work with a girl for more than a few weeks. And he had been sending me flowers and notes since that horrible Halloween night. A hundred different thoughts tumbled around in my mind.
“When are you going to apologize then?” Sirius asked. I raised my eyebrows at him.
“What in Merlin’s name do I have to apologize for? I wasn’t the one caught snogging a total stranger.”
“But there was a reason!” Peter piped up.
“Not a good one.” I said stubbornly.
“Do you know anything about Veela?” Remus asked, cutting off what an angry Sirius was about to say.
That caught me off guard, I’ll admit it. “They were the ones who performed at the match, weren’t they?”
The three friends started smiling eagerly, as if they had made some form of progress. I stifled the urge to wipe the giddy grin off Sirius’ face with a quick hex.
“Yes, they were,” Remus said encouragingly. “Now do you know what they do?”
What did that have to do with anything? “Dance?” I muttered. I hated not knowing what they were talking about. Call me a know-it-all, but normally I prided myself on being knowledgeable.
“Well, you see, Veela-”
“LILY!” I heard my name being called by two female voices, which was quickly followed by the sound of hurried footsteps. Mary and Liz appeared from the common room staircase and ran over to the radio, which sat on one of the work tables in the corner of the room.
“Did you hear about the attacks?”
“Attacks?” That certainly didn’t sound good.
The Marauders and I jumped up off the couch and crowded around the table where Mary and Liz sat; we arrived just in time for the radio to be tuned in;
“...streets blown apart, bodies lying everywhere. It is truly a terrible sight. Thirty people have been pronounced dead, and six injured from attempting to fight off the Death Eaters. The attack on the wizarding community of Evergreen Crescent happened in a matter of minutes, and was quick and efficient. Believed to be the work of Dark wizards. Wizarding families are advised to recast any protective spells around their homes and watch closely over family and friends. A few precautions one could take are...”
Liz shut off the radio, looking up at us with wide eyes. “It’s horrible.”
Mary, seated opposite Liz, shuddered. “Who would do such a thing?” Remus moved to stand behind her chair, placing his hands comfortingly on her shoulders.
“Death Eaters,” Sirius said grimly. “They work for an evil bloke – Volley-something, can’t recall his name - but apparently they call him the Dark Lord. They want to take over the Ministry.”
We all stood there in awe, astonished at this horrific knowledge and how he knew it all.
“My cousin Bellatrix ran off to join them,” he explained, seeing our wide-eyed expressions. “Don’t worry; I have no intention to join her.”
“Good,” Liz said softly, reaching out to take his hand. He gripped it back, but still looked bothered.
“There’s something about that name though...Evergreen Crescent...where have I heard that before?” he muttered, looking deep in thought. We stood - and sat - in silence, each one of us wrapped up in our own individual thoughts about such horrible news. “Thirty people dead...” That was so many innocent lives lost for no good reason. To think that so many families were being torn apart...
“We should go to bed,” Mary said, breaking the sad silence that hung over us all.
We nodded our agreement and after short goodnights, I headed back to my dorm with Mary and Liz. We slid into our pyjamas without speaking and even after we had turned out all the lights, I knew that they were staring up at their four-poster beds just like I was.
My thoughts bounced around like a ball from the Muggle game of tennis, back and forth, over and over. James...thirty people dead...James...it was like a never-ending match going on in my head.
What the Marauders told me had hit a nerve. James really wasn’t the type to chase after a girl for too long...but he had been on my case since first year. That was a sign so obvious that even I couldn’t ignore it.
No one understood why I couldn’t forgive James because they didn’t comprehend how I felt about the situation. I had trusted James with my heart, something I had never done before, and he had discarded it. How was I supposed to believe in him after that?
Even though James was the main source of my anger, some of it was directed back to my own self. I didn’t like being made the fool by falling for a boy; it made me feel stupid, which was something I did not enjoy.
However, I was confused by the actions of my friends. Even Liz and Mary made it sound like I was missing something huge; plus, whatever a Veela was, that had something to do with him cheating. I made a mental note to myself to visit the library during my third period spare the next day.
I fell asleep that night with troubled thoughts. I dreamed that Hogwarts got attacked; bodies were strewn all over the place, and children were screaming for their parents. Flashes of light and smoke clouded my view, yet I could clearly see James standing at the other end of a ruined hallway, the sad look from earlier on in the night clearly visible in his eyes.
I woke in a cold sweat, and found it very difficult to fall asleep after that.
I dropped heavily onto my bed, not even bothering to kick my shoes off. Lily had rejected me countless times in the past, yet all that hurt put together didn’t amount to what I felt right now.
I understood why she was angry, and I couldn’t blame her for it, but I hated that she wouldn’t hear me out. She was stubborn and in her world, ‘no’ really meant ‘no’.
It was frustrating, but who was I kidding, her strong personality was one of the reasons I loved her.
Oh yes, there was no denying it now; I loved Lily Evans.
I couldn’t believe how I wrecked something so great in such a short span of time. I was finally able to experience Lily – and all her beauty – and less than twenty-four hours later, a stupid Veela had crept up on me and ruined everything. Even though my friends always assured me that this wasn’t my fault, I still felt horribly guilty. I should have done something; I should have been able to resist the Veela; I shouldn’t have been so weak.
My poor mood and emotions remained with me through the night and into the next morning’s breakfast. I knew that my friends were worried about me; they kept shooting me sideways glances as we ate, but – thankfully – didn’t mention Lily.
Almost as if on cue, Lily and her friends sat down opposite Peter and I at the table. Lily didn’t look at me as she sat, but then again, she hadn’t voluntarily made eye contact with me in weeks. Remus greeted Mary with a warm smile and Sirius playfully bumped Liz with his elbow, making her giggle. These shows of affection were difficult for me to watch, so I put extreme focus into cutting my sausage. Perhaps a bit too much, since I didn’t notice a tapping on my shoulder until Peter shoved me to get my attention. I turned around in my seat to see Professor McGonagall standing behind me.
“Mr. Potter, I would like you to come with me.” A loud chorus of ‘oooooh’ from the Marauders followed her request but she didn’t reprimand them as per usual. I decided that this must be serious, so I got up and followed her out of the Great Hall.
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked her, speeding up to keep pace with her. Whatever was going on, she appeared to be in a hurry.
“Where are we going?” I tried again.
“The Headmaster’s office,” she answered briskly.
“For once, I haven’t done anything wrong Professor,” I said truthfully.
McGonagoll slowed down and cast me a sympathetic look. “I know,” she replied, before returning to her quick trot. Utterly puzzled, I followed her to a stone gargoyle, to which she muttered “wool socks” before it jumped out of the way, revealing a spiral staircase. We ascended the stairs and walked into Dumbledore’s office without knocking. Based on the way his blue eyes surveyed me upon entry, I knew he had been expecting us.
“Please sit down, Mr. Potter.”
“Whatever happened, sir, I swear I didn’t do it.”
Dumbledore gave me a sad smile. “I do not believe that you are at fault for anything. I would merely like to speak to you about a rather sensitive topic.”
McGonagall walked around the desk to stand behind Dumbledore. Something about the way this was unfolding made me uneasy.
“Alright. What happened?”
“Have you heard the news about the latest set of attacks?” Dumbledore asked patiently. That didn’t sound good.
“No I haven’t, not until now. Does this have something to do with me?”
The two professors exchanged a worried glance. “Does the name ‘Evergreen Crescent’ mean anything to you?” McGonagall asked softly.
It was almost as if the world stopped turning for a second. My heart jumped into my throat, rendering me incapable of speech. The most I could force myself to do was nod.
“James, I think you should sit down.”
It had been over an hour since McGonagall had taken James from breakfast and he still hadn’t returned yet. I was certain that this wasn’t about a prank, because I would have been in on it from the beginning. I was stumped as to why he had been pulled out from breakfast on a Tuesday morning.
Sitting next to Liz in first period Potions, I was totally zoned out, so when Slughorn called on me, I had no idea what the question was.
“Mr. Black, can you please tell me how many rat tails are necessary in the Polyjuice potion?”
I knew I was wrong, but Slughorn laughed anyways. Oh, how I loved the perks of being a likeable student.
“Actually sir, I had a question for you.” A sudden flare of inspiration had come to me, an idea that might just solve this whole James problem. “Is there any sort of potion that could prevent the Veela from having their ‘effect’ on us?” I asked, air-quoting the word ‘effect’. Lily, who was sitting at the table beside me, threw me a suspicious glare.
“Oh, Mr. Black, if only!” Slughorn chuckled. “Perhaps then, the male specimen would not be so affected by them.”
I glanced sideways at Lily; her head was tilted, eyes narrowed, deep in thought.
“What exactly does a Veela do Professor? I don't know the exact definition,” I asked eagerly.
“Well, to put it simply, Veela are beautiful creatures who enchant men with their appearances. Their dances are also known to put men under quite the spell, making their willpower nonexistent, as we saw at the Quidditch match,” Slughorn winked.
“Thank you sir.” He carried on with his lesson; five pairs of eyes didn’t refocus forwards, but at Lily. Her mouth was slightly agape, eyes wide with understanding.
I swear, I could hear the angels singing hallelujah.
She finally knew.
Her head snapped to each of us in turn, Remus, Liz, me, Peter, Mary and back to Remus; she looked startled. None of us could stifle a grin of relief.
“That girl...she was a Veela, wasn’t she?” Lily whispered to Remus. He nodded and she returned it solemnly. I could tell that she now realized that James truly wasn’t at fault.
“Mr. Black.” I turned back to the front of the class, where McGonagall was standing. I hadn’t even heard her entry. “I require your presence please. Misters Pettigrew and Lupin, and Miss Evans, you as well.”
Confused, the four of us stood and followed her into the hall. She led us, surprisingly, outside; we wound down the path to the castle’s entry gates. There were two men in ministry robes awaiting our arrival.
Lily was the first to ask what we were all thinking. “What’s going on?”
“Have you heard about the Evergreen Crescent attacks?” McGonagall asked. We nodded in unanimous response.
That name...somehow I knew it. I was certain I hadn’t heard it at my old place, with my blood relatives; they never talked to me unless they were screaming. I had been in fourth year when I moved in with the Potters, so it was probably there that I had heard it.
“Does this have something to do with why James isn’t in class?” Remus asked cautiously.
Just then, it all clicked in my mind. I had heard about Evergreen Crescent at the Potters’ because...
“That’s where his uncle lives.” I could feel the colour draining from my face.
“James’ uncle, aunt and baby cousin live in Evergreen Crescent.”
Lily gasped and her hands flew to her mouth; Remus and Peter were speechless.
“Yes, they do,” McGonagall answered grimly. “Mr. Potter, James’ uncle, was found dead in his home. His aunt and cousin are missing.”
My stomach twisted into knots. I had met James’ family countless times since I moved in; they were good people, and his cousin was only one and a half years old. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“How is he?” Lily whispered.
“Grieving,” McGonagall replied sadly. “He has been taken home to be with his family until there is news about his aunt and cousin, and for the funeral of his uncle.”
“What do you need us for?” Peter asked.
“Well, he’s been thoroughly non-responsive ever since his return home and his parents are extremely worried about him. They believe that his friends may be able to get through to him and help. Are you all willing to go? I already have parental permission for you all to go.”
“Of course,” Remus replied.
“Then you will be traveling by Portkey to the outskirts of Godric’s Hollow. You will ride by broom to the Potter’s mansion, as there are protective enchantments around many wizarding residencies now,” McGonagall explained.
Lily look terrified at this prospect; I knew that she was afraid of heights.
“Let’s go,” she said resolutely, surprising me.
McGonagall led us to the Portkey, a small couch cushion, and indicated that we all should grab hold of it. As soon as the last person touched it, we were surrounded by what seemed to be a tornado. Once it all stopped, we hit hard ground with a series of thumps.
The two Ministry officials, who had landed gracefully on their feet, turned to the four of us still sprawled on the grass.
“We are here.”
Alright, this chapter was written just to give some needed information. I promise that the next one will bring a little more action ;) . Two chapters to go! Thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed my story. If you wouldn't mind leaving me a review, that would mean the absolute world to me. They make me soooo happy and help me fix my story. Thanks. :)
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