Chapter 2 : Sorrow
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The days after the news broke of James Potter’s death brought an eerie sort of quiet to the Hogwarts castle. The seventh years walked around with their heads bowed in grief, some of them bursting into tears at random intervals. The other years became disheartened by the loss of their Head Boy, the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and one of the best pranksters the school had ever seen. James Potter was a model student, the best in his class at Defence Against The Dark Arts; if the Death Eaters got him, what chance did anyone else have?
The Professors too seemed shaken by the death of James Potter. He had been liked by the majority of the staff, and his murder served as a reminder of just how close the war was. Despite the fact that he did get into trouble every other week, the teachers found him more of an amusement than a nuisance.
A memorial service was held for James a few days after the news of his death. The Hogwarts students assembled in the Great Hall, all dressed in black, to remember their fallen comrade. The Hall was draped in black too and Professors, Ministry officials and random students spoke of James, and offered words to the student body that were supposed to comfort them.
Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin sat together near the front. Some of the younger students craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the remaining three Marauders; they were so strange to behold, so incomplete without James beside them.
Sirius hadn’t listened to a word that was said about James at the memorial. The teachers were remembering him as an O-student, a Head Boy, a fair sportsman, a joker, a friend to everyone. He preferred to remember James in his own way, as a brother, a first class best mate, a troublemaker, and quite frankly one of the most appalling human beings he’d ever met – in the best way possible, of course. Sirius knew that Remus and Peter were remembering James the same way he was. The memorial was so forced and staged. Sirius felt uncomfortable. James wouldn’t have wanted it this way.
Lily hadn’t gone to the memorial. In fact, Lily hadn’t gone anywhere outside of her dormitory since she found out James had died. Teachers had excused her from class for a few days on account of her grief, accepting the fact that if Lily had turned up to class she would have taken absolutely nothing in anyway.
She had never quite understood before the actual physical pain of missing someone as much as she missed James. His smell, his hands, his hair, his eyes, his cheeky smile, his mocking tone, his loving kisses; she ached for him in a way that she considered completely pathetic. She missed things about him that she didn’t even realised she liked, or noticed, in the first place. Her head was sore from crying, her nose was stuffed up and she couldn’t eat properly, only what little food her dorm-mates forced into her. Most of the time they left her alone, completely lost for words of comfort, but they felt it their duty to make sure Lily Evans didn’t waste away before their eyes.
She kept replaying their last conversation in her head. He’d been planning on stocking up on sweets and alcohol for the upcoming Gryffindor Quidditch team victory party. She utterly disapproved of his disregard for school rules; he was Head Boy, after all. If he didn’t implement them, nobody would.
“You can’t just swan off to Hogsmeade whenever you fancy, James!” she’d nagged. She nagged him so much throughout their short three-month relationship. How she wished she had been more relaxed, let him have his fun while he could. “You’re the Head Boy; you’re supposed to be setting the example!”
James was lying on the couch in the common room, grinning up at her in that adorably annoying way he used to do. “You worry way too much,” he’d told her. “You need to relax – come relax with me!” He opened up his arms, inviting her in. The invitation was tempting for her, but she had declined.
“Don't you try and cute your way out of this one!” Lily had snapped, half-angry and half-amused. “You’re not going to Hogsmeade tonight.”
“An endless stream of teachers and prefects haven’t stopped me going to Hogsmeade over the years,” James grinned. “How exactly are you going to stop me little Lily?”
“By withholding snogging privileges perhaps?” she’d threatened. It was a fairly empty threat, she had to admit.
“You wouldn’t dare.” He had grabbed her by the waist and pulled her down so she was lying on top of him on the couch.
“I really hate you, you know,” she’d told him, her nose pressed to his.
“I know, but you’ll just have to live with me I’m afraid,” he’d smiled back, tightening his grip on her waist, and he kissed her for the last time.
She had told him she hated him so many times. When they were younger she had meant it, but when they started going out a few weeks into seventh year she had said it in a joking way, in a way that clearly meant ‘God, I wish I hated you’. She had never told him she loved him, not once. She had convinced herself that she what she felt for him wasn’t really love and she would suppress the smiles that crept over her face when she thought of him, and assume she was having minor heart attacks or strokes when her heart fluttered furiously when he was around. It worried her that she was so dependent on him, that her mood was defined by the level of contact she’d had with James in a day. She was turning into the kind of person she always hated, the kind of girl who says ‘I love you’ to a boy after just a few months. That wasn’t her.
Although she had never used the dreaded ‘L’ word, she had found James had thrown it about quite casually without actually saying the words ‘I love you’.
I love when you swear.
I love it when you wear your hair down.
I love your eyes.
She had loved it when he said these things; and now, lying alone on her bed, Lily realised too late that she did love him, and she had loved him since the start of the school year. She had just been too stubborn to say it, or too frightened that he wouldn’t say it back. She had liked him since sixth year. Thinking of all the time she had wasted because of her pride, time that she could have spent being James’s girlfriend, made her feel physically sick.
She was brought back to reality by the sound of her roommate, Yvonne’s gentle voice. They all used gentle voices around her, as if she was dying.
“Yeah?” Lily’s throat was dry and she sounded like a frog.
“Um, the boys are downstairs in the common room. They asked me to come get you.”
The boys: Sirius, Remus and Peter. The three people who loved James as much as she did. She couldn’t face them; she knew if she did she would break down all over again. She would stay in this permanent state of constant pain and depression. The severe sting of looking at the three of them, the incomplete group, would destroy her. It was one of the reasons she hadn’t attended the memorial.
“Tell them I’m sleeping,” Lily croaked.
“They said if you were sleeping I’m to wake you up,” Yvonne replied.
“Tell them I’m not coming down then.”
“Um....” Yvonne sounded very uncomfortable. “Well, they said if you won’t go down, they’ll come up.”
“Boys can’t get up here,” Lily replied tiredly.
“They said they have their ways.”
Lily groaned; if any boy could figure out how to break into the girls’ dormitories, it was those boys. She pulled herself up off her bed and told Yvonne to tell them she was on her way. She caught a glance of herself in the mirror on her way out the door; her red hair was greasy and untamed, her skin was pale and oily, there were dark circles under her bloodshot eyes, and she was sure she smelled disgusting having not showered in three days. But she didn’t care. She had nobody to look good for now.
She trudged down the stairs in her blue cotton pyjamas, aware of the fact that everybody in the common room was staring at her, but not particularly caring. It was six o’clock in the evening, according to the clock above the fireplace. She had completely lost track of time. She wasn’t even sure what day it was.
Sirius, Remus and Peter were sitting on the chairs by the fireplace, and had cleared the whole area before her arrival. She folded her arms as she approached them; she was angry with them all, but she wasn’t quite sure why.
“What do you want?” she frowned. “I don’t want to talk to anyone, okay?”
“Tough,” Sirius snapped. “Sit down.”
She was shocked by how coarse Sirius was being with her. She was used to people being extra nice around her, extra sensitive, to the point where it was extremely annoying. On top of that, Sirius had always been civil to her. While they were never particularly close, he and James were best friends, and so she and Sirius had the sort of relationship where they teased each other and joked and got along for the sake of it. They had never had a serious conversation and she was perfectly fine with that.
Sirius didn’t seem to care that she wanted to be alone to grieve. Remus and Peter looked both uncomfortable and sympathetic, but Sirius showed absolutely no sympathy. He had been in that angry, coarse mood since the night they found out the news in Dumbledore’s office; it took all of Remus’s and Peter’s strength to stop him from leaving the castle that night to hunt down Death Eaters.
“Don't talk to me like that,” Lily snapped back.
“Sit down, Evans. And you lot can clear off!” He shouted to the rest of the common room. Out of fear, or discomfort, or compassion, the rest of the students quickly ran upstairs to their dormitories, leaving Lily alone with the three boys. She grudgingly sat down on the couch beside Peter. Remus was sitting on the armchair to the right, Sirius to the left.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Lily said in a croaky voice. She only then realised how little she’d spoken in the last week.
“We’ve left you alone long enough,” said Sirius.
“Lily,” Remus began in a much softer voice than Sirius. “We just need to know you’re okay.”
“He’s dead, Remus,” she stated. The words cut through them all. “How could you possibly ask if I’m okay?”
“We just thought we’d check on you,” Peter rephrased Remus’s statement.
“Thank you for your consideration,” she said, “But I don’t need you to check on me.”
“Ever think of checking on us, eh?” Sirius growled. She looked at him; he looked so angry. It was as if anger was eating him up like grief was her. “Ever think we might be grieving too, or do you think you’re the only person who cared about him?” They couldn’t use his name.
“Sirius,” Remus pleaded with him. Remus and Peter both looked uncomfortable.
“No, Moony, I need to say this!” Sirius snapped. “She’s been acting as if she’s the only person this has affected – she didn’t give a shit about him until a couple of months ago! We were there for him since first year, when she was calling him every name under the sun! We cheered him up every time she broke his heart – you don’t deserve to grieve, Evans! You didn’t even come to the memorial, what the hell is that about?”
Lily was stunned into silence. She had assumed that she had Sirius’s sympathy, just as he had hers. Apparently not.
“Calm down, Padfoot,” Peter said quietly. “We’re all devastated. I’m sure Lily had her reasons for not coming today...”
“Believe what you want,” Lily stood up. “I don’t care. I’m going back upstairs.”
“No, you’re not,” Sirius stood too. Like Lily, he’d stopped taking care of himself. He hadn’t shaved in days, and his long hair needed to be washed, or at least brushed. He was suffering just as much as Lily was. James was a brother to him, after all. James was his family. “You’re not going to lock yourself away feeling sorry for yourself. He would want us to look after you, so that’s what we’re going to do. And if you don’t like it, I really couldn’t give a toss.”
Lily looked into his grey eyes, and realised that behind his anger there was some level of caring. He cared about her because James cared about her, and he felt a sense of loyalty to his dead friend that bound him to look after her.
“Fine,” she replied weakly.
“We’ll meet you down here at half seven for breakfast,” he told her firmly. “And then we’re going to Potions.”
He nodded at her. She took this as her dismissal and retreated back upstairs to her dormitory to have a bath.
“Well that went well,” Peter frowned at Sirius.
“Got her out of the dorm, didn’t I?” Sirius shrugged, determined to keep his promise: he would look after Lily.
“Concentrate, Potter!” Moody commanded.
“I am concentrating!”
“Not hard enough!”
Moody cast a spell that sent James flying half way across the Bones’ drawing room and crashing into the back wall. James rubbed the back of his throbbing head; this was the fifth time in an hour.
“You’re not even trying to deflect it!” Moody roared.
“Yes I am!”
“I swear if you say ‘constant vigilance’ one more time...”
“Don't get cheeky with me!”
“Can’t you just give me a break? Jesus, we’ve been at this for over an hour now!”
Moody’s magical eye focused on James; it was very unsettling. “Do you want to be in the Order or not?”
James sighed. This was one battle he wasn’t going to win. “Yes.”
“Then you’ll drop the attitude and obey orders,” Moody told him. “If you can’t repel non-verbal spells, you might as well just walk up to Voldemort with a target on your chest right now!”
“I can repel them!” he insisted. “At school I could repel them. I don’t know what kind of spells you’re using –”
“I’m using ones that haven’t been Ministry approved, of course! D’you think Death Eaters play by the book? Think they’ll be using jinxes out of Standard Book of Spells? You’re not in school anymore -”
James saw it coming this time, and flicked his wand just in time, sending Moody’s spell right back at him and knocking his mentor into the opposite wall. James ran to his aid and offered Moody a hand up, and was surprised to find Moody grinning at him.
“Now that’s more like it.”
It had been three weeks since James had been recruited, and already he had made significant progress. Non-verbal spells were as easy as breathing – repelling them was slightly harder, but he’d gotten the hang of it. Resisting the Imperius Curse was a bitch, but he’d managed it once. He learned to suspect everyone of being an impostor or of being Imperiused. Soon he would be moving onto Patronuses. He had always wanted to learn how to conjure a Patronus. He and Sirius were going to research it, when they got the time. They never did.
Most evenings he ate with the Bones family at the Headquarters, along with some other Ministry members. Edgar, Emily and their children welcomed him into their home, even offered him a bed to stay overnight. He began to think of them as extended family and had made good friends in Benjy Fenwick, Frank and Alice Longbottom, and Gideon and Fabian Prewett. Emmeline Vance, a young woman in her twenties, was also a very interesting colleague.
However, James’s new friendships did not allow him to forget his old ones. At night when he apparated back to London and found himself alone in his grimy little flat, he thought about Sirius, Remus, Peter and Lily and wondered how they were. He’d seen some articles in The Daily Prophet about his death, stating how tragic such a young life was taken, how he’d be missed by students and teachers alike at Hogwarts. He wondered how Lily took the news; would she move on and start going out with someone else? The thought of it filled him with jealousy, even though he knew it to be unreasonable for him to expect her to spend her life grieving over a dead boyfriend. He told himself he’d see her again. It was the only way to get him through the long, boring days.
At least his father knew the truth. Dumbledore had explained everything to him. That had been one of the terms of the agreement. James could not let his father think he was dead because James was all he had left. Mrs Potter had died when James was twelve and if Mr Potter thought his son was dead, his only reason for living would have died too.
As January ended and the snow had finally melted away, life in London became bleaker and bleaker. Stories were cropping up every week about people going missing, the mysterious deaths of Muggles, and general suspicious activity. Order members journeyed back and forth from the Ministry, reporting to the others any information they could discover; James, however, was still strictly confined to the Bones’ house and his own flat.
“Can’t I just go to the Ministry once?” James pleaded with Moody one day in early February. They were at the Headquarters and had just finished a particularly long duelling practice with Benjy, Emmeline and Edgar. “I’m going mental cooped up in here.”
“You know what Dumbledore said,” Moody replied gruffly. James hadn’t expected him to say yes anyway.
“Not missing much anyway, mate,” Benjy assured him. “The Ministry don’t know any more than we do.”
James had not seen Dumbledore once since the night he’d left Hogwarts. Edgar told him, on Dumbledore’s direct orders, to sit tight and obey everything Moody told him to do, something James found highly infuriating, but tolerated it nonetheless.
“Looks like Voldemort’s trying to recruit the giants and werewolves,” Edgar said gravely. “If he does, we’re going to have a very bloody battle.”
“Dumbledore’s talking about recruiting more members,” said Emmeline Vance. “I heard he’s already picked out a couple of students who’ll be recruited once they graduate in June.”
James’s heart did a somersault. Surely with Lily’s grades and reputation she’d be one of the new recruits; she was the best in the year and extremely loyal too. Sirius and Remus were extremely talented in Defence Against The Dark Arts, and even Peter was an above average student. Maybe if James had a word with Dumbledore, he could convince him to recruit all four of them. Sirius and Peter were animagi, like James, and the fact that they had mastered this kind of advanced magic by the age of fifteen showed how talented they were. Unfortunately, this was not an argument James could use to convince Dumbledore to recruit the lads; they were illegal animagi, after all.
“Right Potter, bed,” Moody commanded when Emily poked her head in the door of the drawing room. James resented the fact that he was being given a bedtime. Moody was treating him like a child. He hated rules and boundaries, and they just spurred him on to be more impulsive and reckless. “Tomorrow you’re starting on Patronuses; you’ll need all your energy.”
James rolled his eyes but didn’t argue.
“James, why don’t you stay here tonight?” Emily suggested. “I have the guest bed made up for you. You’ll just be back here in the morning anyway.”
James gratefully took her up on her offer and after saying goodnight to the other Order members retreated upstairs. No sooner had he closed the door of the guest room when there came a knock on the door.
It was Emmeline Vance. Her smile was so interesting to James. She was a very beautiful girl, there was no doubt about it, although brunettes were never his thing. Her hair curled slightly, just like Lily’s did. Her skin looked soft, but Lily’s was probably softer. If Sirius was here, James was sure he’d be trying it on with her, despite the fact that she was at least five years older than him and way out of his league.
“Hiya Potter,” she smiled. It was such an intriguing smile. “Got a minute?”
“Er, yeah,” James stuttered and stood aside to let her in. She walked by him, clearly unfazed by being alone in a bedroom with him. He closed the door, but stood by it, keeping a safe distance from Emmeline; she was incredibly attractive and he found her quite intimidating. “Um...what can I do for you?”
She smiled suggestively. Or at least James thought it was suggestive. Surely she wouldn’t suggest anything to him? Why would she? She probably thought of him as a child, just like everybody else did. “It occurred to me that you and I don’t really know each other,” she said in her husky sort of voice. “We’ll be spending quite a bit of time together over the next few months – maybe even years.”
“Oh...right,” James nodded uncomfortably. What was wrong with him? He was used to talking to girls; at Hogwarts he was an incredible flirt. But it occurred to him that Emmeline wasn’t a girl, she was a woman, and a very striking one at that. “What d’you want to know?”
“When’s your birthday?” Emmeline took a few steps closer to him.
“March 27th,” James answered. “When’s yours?”
“December 14th. What’s your favourite colour?” She took some more steps closer. There was about a foot between them.
“Green,” he answered without thinking.
He paused for a moment and ignored how his nerves had caused his heart rate to speed up. “Don't know why,” he lied.
Emmeline was now very close to him. Her bright blue eyes were staring into his. “What’s her name?”
James was very taken aback by this question. “Whose name?”
“The girl,” she smirked back. “C’mon, there’s always a girl. I know there’s a girl. What’s her name?”
James found it pointless to lie. Emmeline seemed very perceptive.
“That’s pretty.” Emmeline was speaking very quietly now. She was so close to him she didn’t need to speak any louder. He could smell the sweetness of her breath as her face drew closer to his. She put her arm around his neck and pulled him into an intense kiss that lasted all of about ten seconds. Startled and completely dazed, James’s arms remained at his side for the short length of time it lasted. “Lily’s a lucky girl. See you tomorrow, Potter.”
She winked at James and left the bedroom. He removed his shoes and climbed into bed, fully clothed, and only when he was lying down did he realise that his mouth was still hanging open.
A/N: Thanks so much for the reviews on the first chapter, I'm glad people liked it so far! Also, I just want to point out that James has a lot on his mind which is why he isn't thinking about Lily a whole lot so far; after all, he knows she is safe, so she isn't top priority (yet). I know that was bothering some readers! As always, I love feedback, and hope you enjoyed this chapter!
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