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Like a House on Fire by 800 words of heaven
Chapter 14 : Together
 
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It is now the beginning of Day Ten since Lily and James’ sort-of-but-not-really argument. And let me tell you, it has been hell. I cannot wait until the potion is going to be ready and we can just give James a fake terminal illness. We let Remus, Peter and Sarah in on our brilliant plan, just to make sure they didn’t freak out or anything and start thinking that James was actually going to die.

 

“So who thought of this brilliant plan?” asked Remus. He was not happy with it, but since he couldn’t think of anything better, we’d press-ganged him into just going with it.

“Well…” Sirius began, glancing at me, “It was a kind of a mutual effort really.”

“That’s so romantic!” exclaimed Sarah. Both Sirius’ my heads swivelled in her direction. Hatching a stupid plan to give your friend a faux terminal illness just so his girlfriend will forgive him is romantic?

“No. It wasn’t romantic at all,” I said bluntly.

“Yes, of course not,” she replied, but gave us a knowing look anyways. I looked over at Sirius and was pleased to note that I wasn’t the only one who was completely miffed.

“So exactly when is the potion going to be ready again?” Peter asked.

“It’ll be ready by tonight,” I replied. I was actually very proud of it. It was currently merrily brewing away in the haunted first floor girls’ bathroom. “So one of you three can slip it into James’ morning cup of tea at breakfast tomorrow.”

Remus sighed. “And this is really the best we’ve got?”

Sirius and I nodded. In unison, I noticed. Weird.

“I can think of at least ten things that could go horribly wrong here.”

 

By Day Twelve, James was comfortably holed up in the Hospital Wing and I was perversely pleased to notice that his condition was getting worse by the minute. It had started out as a sniffle, quickly snowballing into a cold, which seemed to only get worse after Madam Pomfrey gave him her famous Pepper-Up Potion. Now, he had a high fever, was delirious and wasn’t eating or drinking anything. Lily had decided to notice only then. We were at lunch when she piped up, “Where’re those four idiots?”

“What?” I asked. I had been thinking about the new sketch I was working on. I worked on it during Potions so funnily enough, it’s ended up looking like our Potions classroom, but I just couldn’t seem to get the shadows right…

“It’s not like them to miss a chance to stuff their faces with food, especially Peter.” That’s a fair point. The bloke eats like he’s been starved for the past ten years.

“Oh,” I shrugged nonchalantly. “They must’ve gone up to see James in the Hospital Wing again.”

“Potter? In the Hospital Wing?” She tried to affect an air of indifference, but she failed terribly. The concern was practically popping out of her eyes.

“Yeah. Didn’t you know? He’s been in there for the past two days now.” I played my part as being the indifferent bearer of bad news.

“What?” Her alarm was so great that she forgot to hide it. “Did his broom finally give way under the weight of his big head or something?” she snorted, once again trying to convince herself that James was the biggest idiot to ever grace the planet.

“No,” I said mildly. “He’s quite ill actually. Madam Pomfrey has no idea what he’s got. And it seems to be getting worse.”

“Worse?” She looked a little pale now.

“Yeah. I’m going to go give him a visit tonight. You want to come as well?” And this is the part where Lily agrees.

“No. I’ve got stuff to do. If Potter decides that he’s going to get himself sick, it means I’ve twice as much that I’ll have to do.” Bollocks.

 

Sirius and I had decided that we’d go visit James after his tutoring session (it didn’t go well). “Is Evans going to come soon?” he asked.

I shrugged. “I have no idea. She seemed pretty shocked when I told her today, but…”

“But what?”

“I don’t know. I really hope she comes soon though. I’m actually not sure how long we can keep James like this.”

“What?” Sirius yelped.

“Keep your voice down!” I said, furtively looking around for Madam Pomfrey. She hadn’t said anything, but I think she was beginning to suspect what was wrong with him.

“I thought you said this was safe!”

“It is! But I’m not sure for how much longer it will be.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, all those symptoms he’s producing, they’re actually because his immune system thinks something is wrong and it’s using all its resources to get rid of it. And since there’s really nothing there to get rid of, but his immune system doesn’t know that, well…”

“It’ll eat him up from the inside,” he whispered, horror dawning on his handsome features. No, wait, they’re just normal features, not handsome ones at all! “Please tell me there’s an antidote!”

I gave him a reproachful look. “Of course there’s an antidote! You didn’t think I’d give him something without having a cure up my sleeve did you?” The expression on his face was a bit sheepish, like he’d thought just that. “I’m carrying it around with me everywhere, so if need be, we can slip it to him nice and fast.” He seemed a little relieved. Before we could continue our worried conversation however, Lily finally decided to pay the love of her life a visit.

 

“So he’s really sick, huh?” she asked.

“Yes,” Sirius said. “Why would he be here otherwise?”

She glared at him. “Usually he ends up in here for being a stupid git,” she snapped. I was amused to note that Lily was aware when and how James ended up in the Hospital Wing. It was cute.

“That’s a fair point,” Sirius agreed. “But this time he’s really sick.”

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked, sitting gracefully into the chair right next to his bed. Merlin, how can she be graceful even at a time like this?

“Oh you know, high fever, delirium, the usual,” I said casually.

She glanced up at me in surprise. “For how long?”

I glanced over at Sirius, as if to ask how long it’s been. “What? At least a day, yeah?” He nodded on cue.

Just then, Madam Pomfrey bustled in holding a goblet in her hand. “What are you three doing here? He needs rest!”

“He’s been resting for the past two days!” I muttered. Sirius heard and grinned.

“Oh,” Lily stood up abruptly, as if realising what she was doing. “Um, okay. We’ll be leaving, then.”

I think dear old Poppy realised exactly who had been sitting next to James, because she said, “Oh, it’s you Miss Evans! You can stay, if you like!” Merlin, you have no idea how much love I have for this woman right now!

“Oh, um, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea…” she began uncertainly.

“Nonsense! He’s been asking for you, when he’s awake, poor boy,” she glanced over fondly at James’ sleeping form. By this stage, I was trying hard not to jump up and down in glee.

“He’s been asking for…me?” Lily asked uncertainly.

“Yes, and he was getting into quite a state about it too. Said he had something important to tell you.”

“Oh. Really?” Lily looked like she was about to cry, with happiness or sadness, I couldn’t quite tell.

“He hasn’t been eating or drinking anything either,” Sirius piped up, making sure that there was no way that Lily was about to leave James’ bedside until he was all better.

“Yeah,” I added. “Maybe if you ask him to, he will.”

She looked uncertain again. “Why would he eat if I asked?”

Before I could cry out, “Because he loves you and would do anything you’d ever ask!” James decided that this was his cue to wake up.

 

He groaned and his eyelids fluttered. Instantly, Lily was by his side, holding his hand. Sirius made to move as well, but I grabbed his hand and gave a slight shake of my head.

“James?” Lily whispered.

“Lily?” he croaked out, his eyes finally opening. They were unfocused for a moment, before clearing and locking onto Lily’s. Merlin, if I wasn’t their friend and wasn’t so happy for them, I would have gagged, the scene was that sappy.

“How are you feeling?” she asked gently.

“Better, now that you’re here.” You had to give the guy credit, he was practically dying and still he manages to hit on her.

She gave him a small smile. “Madam Pomfrey has something that she wants you to drink.”

“But I don’t want to! I have to tell you something!” he cried. Sirius gave my hand a small squeeze and I realised that I hadn’t actually let go of it when I grabbed him earlier. Awkward. I shot him a questioning look and he looked at me meaningfully. In the background, I was dimly aware that Lily was still trying to convince James to drink something and James was vehemently disagreeing, trying to get Lily to listen to what he really needed to say. But that all really didn’t matter right now, because Sirius was holding my hand and his amazing pale eyes were trying to tell me to do something. Dear Morgana, he had beautiful eyes... Giving myself a mental shake, I tried to focus on the situation at hand and not the fact that if I moved in just a bit closed, I could probably smell him…

Sirius was still giving me a meaningful look. Right. I looked at him blankly for a moment, then I understood. I quickly let go of his hand, trying not to make it too obvious that it had been getting increasingly awkward holding it, and turned towards Madam Pomfrey.

“Here, I’ll take that!” I said, snatching the goblet from her hands, barely managing not to slosh it everywhere. I shot Sirius a pleading look, trying to convey the need for Madam Pomfrey to become a little busy so I could slip the antidote into the cup. He immediately understood and turned his considerable charm onto our unsuspecting matron.

“Madam Pomfrey…” he began, but I stopped paying attention, instead using all my concentration to add the antidote to the goblet as discreetly as possible. I fumbled for the little vial in my pocket, managed to unstopper it with one hand (with the handy help of my teeth) and pour all of its contents into the cup without anyone even noticing. I felt like a bloody ninja.

“Here,” I said quietly, handing over the cup to Lily. She took it without ever looking away from James.

“James, you have to drink this! Don’t you want to get better?” she pleaded.

“No,” James mumbled.

“Why not?”

“Because at least while I’m sick, you still like me. If I get better, you’ll go back to hating and ignoring me again!”

“Your best friend is the most lovesick puppy I have ever had the misfortune to meet,” I muttered quietly to Sirius, who had returned to my side once his job was done. Madam Pomfrey still looked a little dazed from the encounter. Poor thing; while never being at the mercy of Sirius Black’s charm, I had of course, heard the stories.

“And your best friend has to be the most oblivious person I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet,” he countered. I looked at him and we shared a grin.

“I don’t hate you,” Lily said quietly.

“Really?” he looked like she had just declared that every day was now Christmas.

“James, please…” she closed her eyes and I could tell she was close to tears. “Just please drink this! I – I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t get better!”

He regarded her for a moment. “I have to tell you something, Lily.”

“First, drink the potion.”

“No. I have to say it right now.”

“I’m not going to listen until you drink the potion!”

“No!”

“Fine!” They glared at each other for a while. James caved in first.

“Fine, I’ll drink it, but you have to promise me that you’ll listen to what I have to say.”

Lily looked like she was going to cry again, but this time from relief. Merlin, why so much emotion? “Fine, I promise.”

He grinned. Lily helped him sit up a little and brought the goblet to his lips. I was suddenly struck by the sheer cliché-ness of the moment. Once again, I had the strong urge to gag. James took a sip and almost instantly, a little colour returned to his face. Lily made him drink the whole goblet before she let him talk.

“Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked, but couldn’t help smiling a little.

He shook his head. “Lily, I –”

“Not right now James, you should rest.”

“But you promised!” he cried petulantly. James could be the biggest baby in the world sometimes.

“James, I –”

“And I think this is our cue to leave,” Sirius whispered into my ear. I nodded and we both headed for the door. The two lovebirds didn’t even notice.

 

“Well done, Millie,” Sirius said quietly as we made our way back to Gryffindor Tower.

“Well, it wasn’t all me,” I said. I could feel the heat rising to my face – I never did well with compliments.

“I definitely couldn’t have brewed the potion.”

“No, and I wouldn’t have let you, otherwise James really would be dead!” Merlin, could that attempt at a joke get any lamer?

He stopped in the middle of the corridor and took my hand. For some reason, my breath caught. What was wrong with me? I don’t even like the guy! “No, really, Mills. You were amazing.” He looked at me earnestly and for the first time, I saw the real Sirius. No cocky façade, no infuriating smirk, just… Sirius. “What you did for those two was amazing.”

I shook my head, partly because I disagreed and partly because it was an excuse to look away from his mesmerising eyes. “What we did was amazing, Sirius.”

He looked at me for a moment then a faint grin pulled his lips upwards. Oh my Merlin, don’t look at his lips Millie! You don’t like him! “Yeah, we did. Together.”

I smiled despite how uncomfortable I suddenly felt. “Yeah, together.”




AN: I made this chapter longer to make up for the really short previous one! So is anyone else wondering how they managed to pull this off without getting James killed? And also, I owe everyone who has been reviewing a very big THANK YOU! All your thoughts mean so much to me!


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