Chapter 9 : Petunia
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Lily turned around. Her mother was beckoning to her, and her father had already disappeared through the barrier. She scanned the crowd one more time before turning away with a sigh. Petunia had said that she might meet them here, to see Lily off for her last trip on the Hogwarts Express… but if Petunia had meant to do that at all, Lily should have known that after the altercation between James and Vernon there was no way that she would show up now.
Her mother stepped through the column between platforms 9 and 10, and after another moment of hesitation, Lily followed her.
She’d really been holding out hope that Petunia would come despite all of it it. They’d gotten along so well over Christmas, and until Vernon actually stormed out, she’d been trying to keep the peace.
But maybe she’d been too optimistic.
When she emerged onto the crowded, bustling platform, she found her parents staring around the crowd in awe. They’d been on this platform many times before, but the hundreds of people rushing this way and that, laden down with owl cages and speaking loudly about the cost of dragon livers, never ceased to amaze them.
Someone tapped Lily’s shoulder as she scanned the crowd for her friends, and she whirled around. “James!” She threw her arms around him, and he wrapped her tight in an embrace.
When they parted, he looked past her to her parents. “Er… hi, Mr. Evans, Mrs. Evans.” He rubbed the back of his head a little sheepishly.
He was clearly still feeling awkward about the Vernon incident.
“It’s nice to see you again, James,” Lily’s mother said pleasantly, and he smiled back at her as he snaked his arm around Lily’s waist.
Lily’s father surveyed the two of them, his eyebrows raised. “You’d think the two of you had gone months without seeing each other, rather than less than a week.” He glanced at his watch. “I think you should be getting on the train,” he said.
“Right.” Lily gave him a hug, and then turned to her mother. “Love you, Mum,” she said softly as she hugged her, inhaling the scent of her mother’s lavender perfume.
Her mother rubbed her back. “I love you, too, Lily,” she said.
When Lily looked around for her suitcase, she saw that James had already slung it over his shoulder and begun to head for the train. “I can carry my own suitcase, you know!” she said, hurrying after him.
He shrugged. “I can carry your suitcase, too.”
“Oh, but if you’re carrying my suitcase, how can you put your arm around me?”
His cheeks went a little red. “Sorry,” he mumbled, and Lily winced. She’d meant for that to come out as a joke – he really did seem to have an odd fixation with putting his arm around her waist – but it had definitely come out sounding more accusatory than funny.
She opened her mouth to say something, but he was already climbing onto the train. She looked back at her parents, waved one last time, and followed him. When she entered the compartment after him, she saw his suitcase already stored above the seat, and he was hefting hers up to join it.
Lily wrapped her arms around herself as she hovered in the doorway. “Where are your parents?” she asked after a moment.
James looked at her, dropping his arms to his side. “What? Oh, they dropped me off, but I told them not to bother hanging around, I was fine.” He sat down a little stiffly on the bench, and rather than stretch out like he usually did, he leaned forward, rested his arms on his legs, and stared resolutely at the floor.
Lily sighed and went over to him. “Sorry,” she said softly, standing over him and running one of her hands through his messy black hair. “I really was just joking.”
He shrugged without looking at her. “It’s fine.”
She sat down by the window. To her slight surprise, he did not slide over to close the distance between them. She looked at him, and after a moment he sighed.
“I really am sorry,” he said softly. “About that thing with your sister.”
Lily slumped back in her seat. She knew that this was a conversation they had to have, but she’d been hoping they could put it off until tomorrow. Clearly, that was not going to happen. “I know you are.”
Now he did look over at her. “You warned me that he might be an arse,” he said. “I should have kept my head.”
Had they really been greeting each other quite happily just a few minutes ago? “I didn’t know you were so upset over it,” she said after a minute.
He looked at her incredulously. “I made you cry and I messed up your relationship with your sister, which I know is already strained and which I also know is important to you. Yes. Of course I’m upset about it.” He made a face and straightened up. “But stop looking at me that way. I’m the one who screwed up. You don’t have to comfort me.”
It occurred to Lily suddenly how very different James was from Severus, who, when confronted with the knowledge that his actions had hurt Lily’s relationship with her sister, had said on multiple occasions that she was a muggle and he didn’t understand why she mattered.
Now that she’d gotten older and learned more about people, she definitely preferred James.
She reached out to grab his hand. He glanced questioningly at it, and she slid over to sit closer to him. When their thighs touched, she felt a familiar jolt go through her.
“I know I don’t,” she said. “But try to stop worrying about it. It’s not like you singlehandedly and irrevocably destroyed my relationship with my sister.” Lily tried to make her voice sound as serious as possible, and was rewarded with the shadow of a grin on her boyfriend’s face. “She’ll calm down eventually, and we’ll talk then.”
“Are you sure there’s nothing I can do?” he asked.
“Be nice to Vernon next time you see him. No matter how much he deserves otherwise.” He bit his lip, and she brushed his hair back. “Stop worrying about it right now.”
A loud group of giggling girls passed outside the open compartment door, and Lily and James both looked over at them until they’d moved on down the corridor.
He sighed. “It’s a really awful feeling to know that you messed up so bad you made your girlfriend cry.”
She squeezed his hand. “I love you,” she said. “You know that, right?”
“I know.” He gave her a quick kiss, and she wrinkled her nose before she could help herself. “What?” he demanded.
“Your face,” she said. “You’re really scratchy.”
James’s face finally broke into a genuine smile. “Don’t you find it incredibly manly?” She giggled, and his grin broadened. “Doesn’t it make you want to haul me off to a closet and do sexy things to me?”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Absolutely,” she said dryly, putting her head on his shoulder. He slid his arm around her waist, and she sighed. “I love you,” she repeated.
“I love you, too.” He kissed her forehead, and she pulled back. He really did need to shave.
He laughed and slid over, trapping her between him and the wall.
“James!” she shrieked as he sunk his fingers into her hair.
“I’m scratchy, huh?” he said, a twinkle in his eyes. “I bet I can change your mind about not wanting to kiss me.”
Her heart began to beat wildly as he leaned in, and when his lips met hers, she closed her eyes and opened her mouth to dart her tongue out. He groaned, and one of his hands slid down from her hair and wrapped around her to pull her closer. The beard and mustache were uncomfortably scratchy, but at this point she was so absorbed in him that she barely noticed it.
When he finally pulled back a little, he was beaming. “Told you I could change your mind,” he said.
“You did,” she murmured, pulling his head back down.
They’d barely started kissing again when they heard a voice at the compartment door, and immediately broke apart. Sirius collapsed onto the bench across from them, looking highly amused.
“What?” James asked, still breathing a little heavily.
“I was just reminding you that we’re in a public space,” Sirius said. “Your wandering hands seemed to have forgotten that. I heard a couple fifth-years laughing about it halfway down the train.”
Lily felt her face get hot, and James coughed. “Er—”
Sirius held up his hands. “I don’t care. I just thought you might like to be reminded.”
The train gave a loud whistle, and Lily turned to look out the window. After a moment, to her immense surprise, she spotted a very familiar figure standing on her own with her arms wrapped around herself, looking very out-of-place and uncomfortable.
“Oh my god,” she breathed, and yanked open the window. “Petunia!” she yelled loudly. “Petunia!”
Her sister’s face twitched a little and she began to survey the train. Lily plunged her hand into her bag and pulled out her wand. She pointed it out the window, and blue sparks erupted from the end. Petunia’s eyes went straight to their window, and after a moment, she hesitantly raised her hand in a wave.
Lily felt a smile break across her face, and she waved back.
Petunia’s lips moved, and while Lily couldn’t hear what she said, she could read the words quite clearly.
“I’m sorry, too.”
A/N: I'm not sure if anyone is interested, but I have a new Marauders era novella that I'm working on that's a Remus/Jane (an OC who's Lily's friend - she's featured occasionally in this story) called Pandora's Box, if anyone is interested. :)
Thanks for reading, and as always, I would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts!
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