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Chapter 10 : Dates and Dancing
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Chapter Ten: Dates and Dancing
“Lily Evans, are you asking me on a date?” Charles teased. Lily rolled her eyes.
“You, or Edmund, I don’t care. I just can’t go alone!” Lily whinged as she looked expectantly at her two male colleagues.
“What, I’m just a back-up plan? I’m offended,” Edmund said, hiding a grin.
“Yeah! Do you really think we’re that easy? I expect to be wooed!” Charles joked, batting his eyelashes theatrically.
Lily let out a small grunt as she looked down at the invite in her hands. Alice and Frank’s party, which she had let slip her mind completely. She didn’t know who exactly was going to be there, but she was sure he was going to be there. That in itself was already something she could not handle.
Remember the whole strong ‘This is the beginning of a new chapter’-speech? Yeah, it was good. Too bad it was taking a lot more effort than Lily had ever expected.
It had been a week, and nothing had changed. She still felt incredible angry and frustrated, but also very sad and desolate... listless even because of how completely wrong everything was. There had not passed a single moment in which she had not thought of him. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t help herself. Her head was constantly pointing out how incredibly stupid she was being. After just one date, it couldn’t be difficult to forget the bloke, right? I wish...
Somehow, something was still pulling her toward him. He was marrying the girl who was carrying his child, for God’s sake! How much more closure did she need? Yet something prevented her from giving up hope, and it made her feel like such a naïve, little girl.
And that had been plaguing her just by thinking of seeing James at the party... Cindy was probably going to be there with him, on his arm, wearing the ring he gave her.
“PLEASE, I NEED A DATE!” Lily yelled exasperatedly, waving the invite in front of their faces.
“I’ll volunteer,” Eli said, appearing behind Lily unannounced. She swallowed loudly. Okay, she wasn’t that desperate. Well, actually...
She tried to figure out what would be more painful; taking Eli as a date to Frank & Alice’s party or showing up alone and being tortured by the sight of James and Cindy the entire night. Mhm.
“Well, that’s too bad, shrimp! ‘Cause I’ve just decided I would love to go on a date with our dear Lily here. Hopefully I’ll get a pity-shag out of it,” Charles said, wrapping his arm around Lily’s shoulders and winking conceitedly at Eli.
Lily cringed. The fact that she had ever made the mistake of sleeping with Eli would already haunt her for the rest of her life. Why Charles thought it was necessary to remind everyone every single time was beyond her, but she couldn’t feel anything but gratitude toward him at that moment since he had just saved her from the whole ‘James-Cindy-Eli-party’ predicament.
“Are you talking about Alice’s party?” Eli asked, trying not to look too fed up by Charles’ bullying. Lily nodded reluctantly. “Well, I guess I’ll see you two there then.”
Charles and Lily’s eyebrows rose as they stared back at Eli’s smug face.
“You’re invit–?” Lily started to say but she changed her mind, realising her surprised tone of voice might be rather offensive. “I’m sorry, how do you know Frank and Alice?”
“My sister was Alice’s maid of honour...” Eli started to explain before his beeper went wild and he excused himself.
There was complete silence for a moment until Edmund broke out in laughter. Charles was not amused.
“Now I’m even happier that I decided to accept Frank’s invitation,” Edmund snickered as he looked at Charles’ very disappointed face.
“You’re going to be there too?” Lily yelled.
“Then why didn’t you just take Lily? Now I have to look at Baby-face for an entire evening!” Charles continued right after Lily. Edmund looked extremely pleased with himself as he backed away from them slowly.
“Yes Lily, Frank and I were pretty good friends back in Hogwarts, although we were in different houses. And I already have a date, thank you,” Edmund explained to Lily and Charles as he was nearing the door. “Believe me, you’ll both want to meet her.”
And with a wink at Charles, Edmund disappeared. Lily had a dreadful feeling about the party... Maybe she should just skip it, she thought as she turned to look at Charles. To her surprise, he was smiling.
“I guess it won’t be that bad. I’ll steal Edmund’s date right from under his nose and you can just go snog that Potter bloke you’re after,” Charles shrugged, feeling quite satisfied with his conclusion. “The nurses are still going on about him.”
Yes, this party was bound to be something.
“What about this?” Sirius said, holding up a grey shirt in front of his naked chest. Lily grunted indifferently. Sirius sighed. “Seriously, Lil. For the hundredth time: I’m sorry I had already asked someone else. I really wish I could’ve gone with you, though.”
“Then why are you dressing up for her?” Lily asked while she continued to stare at her nails.
“Because she’s really hot,” Sirius whispered as he suddenly appeared right behind her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “But you know what? No matter what they look like, they’ll never be more important than you, okay?”
Lily couldn’t stop a grin from spreading across her face as she swatted him playfully.
“But really, I had just asked if she wanted to go out some time when Frank invited me. What should I have said? That I was going to go with this other drop dead gorgeous girl but that, you know, she could come over some other time to have a shag?”
Lily tried to punch him harder this time, but Sirius quickly jumped out of her reach.
“You really think I’m drop dead gorgeous?” Lily muttered, not being able to stop a blush from creeping onto her cheeks.
“You are,” Sirius said as he took her face between his hands and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Now help me pick a bloody shirt!”
“This one,” Lily said, pointing at the last shirt he had shown her. It brought out his eyes so handsomely.
She walked out of the bedroom and started wandering around the rest of Sirius’ apartment. Sirius had only three pictures, all of which were placed upon the mantelpiece above his fireplace. The biggest one in the middle was one of the Marauders when they were first of second year, Lily assumed. On either side of it stood a smaller frame, one of Lily and Sirius together, taken not very long ago, and one of Regulus and Sirius together when they were toddlers, playing together happily.
Suddenly the doorbell rang loudly. Lily turned around and headed for the front door.
“Good evening,” Lily greeted the two people before her. “What perfect timing.”
Charles stepped back to let the leggy brunette enter first. Lily knew for sure that he had already been flirting with her for the few minutes they had met before ringing Sirius’ doorbell.
“This is Amelia,” Charles said, introducing Sirius’ date to Lily. They shook hands politely.
“Sirius’ date,” Lily pointed out to Charles, who seemed to ignore her.
“We arrived here at exactly the same time,” Charles explained, sending Amelia a seductive wink.
“What a coincidence,” Lily deadpanned. Amelia chuckled.
“I’d call it faith,” Charles said smoothly. Lily snorted and Amelia had the good sense to roll her eyes.
“You’re supposed to be my date, Chuck,” Lily pointed out, hitting him over the head.
“No need to get too possessive, Lily, there’s enough of me to go around,” Charles continued brazenly, and Lily made a fake gagging sound. Sirius, who had just entered the room, chuckled at her.
“As long as you don’t apply that to my date or my best friend, I don’t see any problem with that statement,” Sirius said smiling as he shook Charles’ hand after giving Amelia a kiss on the cheek, making her go all weak in the knees. Charles’ smug smile faltered.
“Everyone ready?” Sirius asked, looking at Lily questioningly. Lily sighed once and nodded, trying not to stress too much. How horrible could a party with all her closest friend get anyway? She asked herself as Charles put a hand on the small of her back and smiled reassuringly.
“Lily!” Alice yelled from the moment they walked in. “You came! Hey, Sirius.”
“Hey, Alice. We brought you a present,” Lily said into Alice’s hair as they hugged. “This is Chuck and Amelia.”
Alice smiled at the both of them, before grabbing Lily’s hand and pulling her further into the room. “Your other colleagues are here already.”
Lily looked over to see Frank standing near a bar on the other side of the room and waved at him. Her hand froze in mid-air as she noticed the man standing next to him. She looked away quickly and turned her head toward Alice and Charles’ backs, following them wherever they were heading.
Lily heard Edmund’s voice saying something to Charles while Alice excused herself and ran off to greet some other friends that had just arrived.
When Charles didn’t reply, Lily directed her attention away from her frantic thoughts and back to her friends before her. She froze.
That was the second time within one minute that her mind went into overdrive, but this time it was in a good way. No wonder Charles hadn’t said anything raucous yet.
“Lisa?” Lily exclaimed after a moment of complete shock. “Wha– how... You– here?”
“Hi, Lily! God, I’ve missed you,” Lisa whispered after Lily had flung herself at her blond friend.
Lily didn’t know what to say. Her friend, her only girl friend, was back. She pulled back from the hug and realised how incredibly much she had missed Lisa, how much she had needed her, no matter how good a friend Sirius was. She hugged her again.
“Merlin, Lily, would you please not choke her? So, you know, others can say hello too?” Charles joked, finally getting over the shock of seeing his old colleague again.
Lily let go and watched the slightly awkward hug between Charles and Lisa. As they parted, Lily caught a glimpse of Sirius, who was staring their way while Amelia tried to get his attention, but Lily had to look away quickly because she could feel a pair of hazel eyes next to Sirius staring at her.
“I told you you’d want to see my date,” Edmund chuckled.
“You’re his date?” Charles asked Lisa, who was still smiling radiantly. “You’re back in the country and the first one you tell is Ed?”
“Well actually, I had been on my way to surprise you guys at the hospital yesterday when I ran into Edmund, and he convinced me to wait until tonight,” Lisa explained.
Charles and Edmund asked Lisa about the time she had spent with her family in America and where she was staying now. The safe questions, Lily thought as she let her eyes wonder around the room. Lily wasn’t interested in the easy questions. She wanted to ask the personal ones: Why did she really leave? Why was she back? Why was she avoiding Sirius? What was the deal with them? But she couldn’t really ask them with Edmund and Charles listening in.
“Lily?” Eli said, all of a sudden standing next to Lily.
“Hey, Eli,” Lily said friendly, not looking him in the eye.
“So, how’ve you been?” Lily frowned.
“I’ve been splendid, you know, since I last saw you a couple of hours ago,” Lily said trying to hide the sarcasm as much as possible. Eli chuckled.
“Yeah, I know we see each other every day but well, ever since we– uh, you know...”
“Eli, let’s– uh– let’s not go there... please?” Lily was looking at the floor, trying to hide her grimace.
“Lily,” Eli repeated. Still, she didn’t dare to look at him, so he put a hand under her chin and raised her surprised face to his. Lily tried her best to keep her eyes down. Eli sighed, took a large gulp from his glass and dropped his hand from Lily’s face.
“Why can’t we just talk?” He asked, and Lily felt guilty for a moment. She and Eli had been friends before, hadn’t they?
Because we had inappropriate sex once not so very long ago?! Right.
“I’m sorry. I– uh need a drink,” Lily said quickly as she spotted the back of Frank Longbottom’s head at the bar.
She practically ran to the bar, feeling a bit dizzy. She definitely needed a drink. As she put one hand on Frank’s arm and the other over her eyes, she sighed audibly. Frank stayed silent for a moment as Lily collected herself.
“Hello,” a smooth, male voice said and Lily jumped up, looking at Frank. Only, it wasn’t Frank Longbottom. The person next to her was a tall, handsome man with dark brown hair that could, from the back, easily be mistaken for Frank’s hair. Lily looked around the room and found Frank standing at the other side with his arm around Alice still talking to Sirius and Amelia.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I thought you were someone else,” Lily explained quickly, feeling a blush spread across her face. “I was feeling a bit... flustered.”
“Yes, I could see that,” he said amusedly. Lily noticed he had a very nice smile, making his rather plain blue eyes suddenly light up with an attractive sparkle. “I’m sorry I’m not the person you’re looking for but... well– uh, I’m Jack.”
“Nice to meet you, Jack. I’m Lily.” They shook hands, Jack’s hand and eyes lingering a bit too long on Lily’s. She looked away with a small smile on her lips.
“Well Lily, I think I’d like to offer you a drink,” Jack said, turning his body fully toward Lily.
“Well Jack, it’s an open bar so, you know, that offer kind of lost its effect,” Lily said, smiling charmingly.
“That is very true, but I can still order it for you,” he said, signalling the bartender.
“Gee, thanks,” Lily replied sarcastically. “I’ll have a gin & tonic, please.”
“Glad I could be of service,” Jack said, turning back toward Lily after ordering 2 gin & tonics.
“So, how do you know Frank and Alice?”Lily asked after they had gotten their drinks.
“I work with them in the Auror department. Unlike most couples, they’re a wonderful team to work with,” Jack explained before taking a sip. “What about you?”
“We went to Hogwarts together, all Gryffindors. They were a year above me but I was pretty close with Frank. We used to study together, and even went on a date once,” Lily said, laughing at the memory. “It’s not like we actually liked liked each other. I think Frank was just trying to make Alice jealous really. They got together a week after, of course, and like you said; they’re great together. Even at sixteen it was obvious.”
“You went to Hogwarts?” Jack asked, leaning against the bar and cocking his head slightly to the right. “How can I not remember you?”
“You went to Hogwarts as well?” Lily raised her eyebrows. She had been pretty sure she knew the face of every student around her age, and Jack didn’t seem much older than her.
“Well, only a couple of years,” Jack admitted, frowning a little. “My mum knew rather fast what You-Know-Who was all about, packed her bags and went into hiding. My siblings and I were homeschooled by both of our parents. We’re pure-blooded wizards, you see, and she realised from the beginning to what lengths the Dark Lord would go to get a full pure-blooded family of six on his side. It’s not like she doesn’t care for muggles but she didn’t really want to take part in going against Him either, so she just ran.”
Jack shrugged. Lily raised her eyebrows.
“Wow, that’s... smart, I guess?”Lily said, giving him a half smile. Jack laughed.
“Yeah, I don’t know either. I mean, is it really clever of her, or just plain weak?” Jack said, shrugging again. Lily stared at him in wonder. “I can’t really blame her, I guess; she’s... a mother.”
Jack took a large gulp of gin & tonic, and winced a little as he swallowed.
“Is that why you became an auror?” Lily asked. Jack stared into her eyes but didn’t respond. “I mean, to fight against You-Know-Who; to choose the side your mother was afraid to choose?”
Still staring her intensely in the eye, Jack nodded slowly. His grin widened, as if he had just discovered something incredibly pleasant about her.
“I don’t think I’ve ever told a girl something that personal after talking to her for five minutes,” Jack whispered before laughing heartily. “You have gorgeous eyes, you know that?”
Lily laughed too, frowning a little at the absurd way Jack’s mind suddenly went from his mother to the beauty of Lily’s eyes. Jack seemed a little taken aback by his own words, the confident grin sliding of his face for a moment, but when he saw Lily blush, it returned immediately.
“Thank you,” she muttered, taking a sip to hide her grin.
“I think I’d like to dance with you,” he said, clearly more aware of what he was saying now. Lily coughed, taken completely by surprise while she was drinking. Jack laughed.
Lily looked over her shoulder at the open space in the middle of the room which was clearly meant for dancing... yet there was nobody on it yet. Everybody was just talking. Suddenly Lily’s eyes fell on Lisa who was staring back at her questioningly. She left Edmund and Charles behind and headed toward Lily.
“No worries. I didn’t mean now,” Jack reassured her, grinning at Lily’s shocked expression. “If people start dancing, I’d like to dance with you... If people don’t start dancing any time tonight, I’d still like to dance with you some time.”
Noticing Lisa coming toward them, Jack winked and excused himself, before heading toward the restroom.
“Lily, who was that?” Lisa whispered in Lily’s ear while they both stared at Jack’s back.
“Jack,” Lily said with a small chuckle.
“Jack who?” Lisa asked excitedly, placing herself in front of Lily and ordering a glass of white wine.
“I don’t know. He’s a colleague of Frank and Alice.”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind having him look at me like he was looking at you two minutes ago,” Lisa said, wiggling her eyebrows at Lily.
“Like you don’t already have a pair of male eyes burning a hole through the back of your head,” Lily retorted quickly. Lisa frowned as she took a sip of her wine.
“What? You mean... Charles?” Lisa asked, rolling her eyes. “Sure, he’ll always try a bit, but it’s not like he hasn’t been ogling every girl in this room for the past ten minutes.”
Lisa snorted, but Lily gave her a stern look.
“I’m talking about Sirius,” Lily said, pursing her lips. Lisa’s smile faltered.
“He told you?” Lisa asked, frowning a little.
“Well, yes! Isn’t that something friends tell each other?” Lily snapped, smiling bitterly.
“Oh Lily, I’m really sorry... I am! But... wait, has he really been staring at me?” Lisa asked, her face lighting up for a moment before she saw Lily’s exasperated expression. “I’m sorry. No! I– I’m over him. Seriously –no pun intended– really, trust me, there is nothing anymore between us, or on my part, or whatever.”
Lily threw her a sceptical look.
“No! Believe me! I mean... okay, he was a small part of why I left, or you know, maybe a big part... But that doesn’t matter! Because he has nothing to do with why I came back, okay? I came back for you, and for me, and not for any guy. I’m happy and confident and don’t have any problem with Sirius Black what so ever,” Lisa ranted. She truly seemed to believe what she was saying, though Lily still wasn’t convinced.
“Then why can’t you just talk to each other? Since, you know, there’s nothing there?” Lily asked. Lisa looked her in the eye confidently.
“We can! We just choose not to,” she explained. Lily snorted. “I’m telling you, I have no problem talking to Sirius. I’m just not going to force myself on him, you know. Wouldn’t want him and his commitment issues to think I’m being too clingy.”
Lily sighed. No matter what Lisa said, the bitterness in her voice was still perceptible. There was so much they needed to talk about, just the two of them, but Lily felt that tonight was not the right time. Tonight at this particular party, with these particular people, Lily just needed her friend back.
“Just don’t leave me again,” Lily muttered. Lisa smiled sweetly and hugged Lily.
“I won’t, promise. You’re my friend and you’re Sirius’ friend and that puts you right in the middle of things, I know, but you do realise we both cherish your friendship too much to let something as stupid as sexual tensions come between it, right? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable,” Lisa explained, and Lily nodded. “Now, to prove myself because I know you still don’t really believe me, let’s go talk to Sirius and his date... now that James isn’t standing with them.”
Lisa winked at Lily before taking a deep breath and downing her entire glass of wine.
“What’s up with that anyway?” Lisa muttered as they crossed the room. Lily sighed.
“Long story,” she whispered back. Lisa took her hand.
“Okay, I’ll come over for breakfast tomorrow,” she decided right before they reached Sirius and Amelia who were still talking to Frank and Alice.
“Hi,” Lily and Lisa both said at the same time, Lisa looking at Sirius and Amelia while Lily looked at Frank, whom she had not really greeted yet.
“Hey, Lil,” Frank said friendly, giving her a one-armed sideway hug.
“Hello, I’m Amelia,” the brunette introduced herself when Sirius remained silent.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Lisa,” Lisa said, smiling brightly and shaking Amelia’s tanned hand.
The oh-so anticipated awkward silence fell, and everyone pretended not to notice it.
“This is a great party,” Lisa said politely to Frank and Alice.
“It really is.”
Silence. Wow, how much Lily regretted coming over here. Surprisingly, Lisa seemed to be the one least affected by the awkward silences. She just kept smiling at everyone.
“We were just talking about Hogwarts actually,” Frank said, gesturing toward Sirius and himself. Lily let out a relieved sigh. Yay, a topic!
“Oh?” Lily said interestedly.
“Yeah, Dumbledore said the Board is considering shutting it down,” Sirius explained, finding his voice again.
“What? Why,” Lily asked immediately.
“Well, why does anything happen these days? Because of You-Know-Who, of course,” Alice said angrily.
“Wh– yeah true, but... why?” Lily repeated.
“Because parents think it’s too dangerous. You-Know-Who has always had a thing with Hogwarts,” Frank explained.
“What about Dumbledore? Don’t they know that he’s the only one You-Know-Who is scared of?” Lily reasoned.
“Sure, a lot of parents who are wizards know that but what about muggle parents? All they know is that this mysterious, unknown world their child is living in has become incredibly dangerous. Why shouldn’t they send their children to a muggle school closer to home?” Frank explained. Lily nodded reluctantly and opened her mouth to respond when Alice cut her off.
“And even if they did trust Dumbledore enough, isn’t it normal for them to want to be closer to the ones they love when they’re in danger? I think this is just as much a factor to be taken into consideration with wizard families as with muggles. People don’t want to send their children away for ten months without seeing them. People want to see the ones they love every day, to make sure with their own eyes that they are safe and sound,” Alice said passionately.
“Well yeah, sure, parents may want to see their children every day, but if sending them to Hogwarts is exactly what keeps them safe and sound it’s stupid to keep them at home just because... it makes them feel better, isn’t it?” Lily said hotly. They all sighed.
“Well, that’s just it. Why do you think Dumbledore has placed more security measures on Hogwarts?” Frank’s eyes flitted toward Amelia and Lisa. Lily understood. They weren’t in the Order. “Did you know he fired two teachers at the end of last year because he didn’t fully trust them anymore? Yeah, and the ministry had them reinstated because there was no one to replace them. The ministry is trying everything to keep the peace but... well, Hogwarts is slowly falling apart.”
Lily was shocked. Once again, the hard reality had caught her by surprise.
“Well, if no one is trusting the safety of Hogwarts anymore, of course it’s bound to fall apart. Hogwarts is nothing without its students,” Lisa said desolately. Lily felt her frustration grow.
“Well, maybe it’s not such a bad thing,” Amelia suddenly murmured. Everybody looked at her and she smiled shyly. “I mean closing Hogwarts. It was always an easy target wasn’t it?”
Lily could feel her anger turn toward the brunette. She pursed her lips and bit her tongue.
“As long as Dumbledore is around, I don’t think You-Know-Who will ever openly target Hogwarts,” Sirius explained calmly.
“Well no, but wasn’t one of the reason the Board wanted to close it Dumbledore’s absence for most of the year?” She pointed out.
“He’s a busy man,” Lily couldn’t help herself from saying that, but Amelia didn’t look offended.
“Of course he is! That’s why it’d maybe be better if he started putting his time and talent into fighting You-Know-Who rather than into running a school,” Amelia said. Lily’s eyes widened.
She doesn’t know about the Order. She doesn’t know. Lily chanted to herself.
“I don’t think Dumbledore would ever abandon Hogwarts,” Sirius explained, still remaining very patient with his date.
“Well, I think that’s stupid,” Amelia decided, truly getting confident about her opinion. “And I wouldn’t call it abandoning. It’s just preventing a school full of impressionable kids being presented to You-Know-Who on a silver platter. Those two teachers that were fired, for example; what if they are in league with Him? They can teach those kids whatever they want, and before you know it you have an entire school of brainwashed Death Eaters.”
Lily had calmed herself down. She had to admit; Amelia’s principles were good but she just applied them completely wrong!
“So, you say shut Hogwarts down? Don’t you think that is exactly what You-Know-Who wants? No Dumbledore to worry about anymore. And do you really believe there wouldn’t be a new, all ‘Voldy’-loving school right away?”
Everyone had gasped at her use of You-Know-Who’s name. Lily frowned. She hadn’t heard anyone say You-Know-Who’s full name since... since back in Hogwarts. Nobody had gasped at the sound of it then, although a lot of people already called him You-Know-Who. Even Lily and Sirius had slowly adopted it without really realising. Had that become the wizarding world’s reality; fearing a name?
Lily was still frowning as she looked at Sirius. He had a small smile on his lips and he winked at her proudly.
“Well, who would ever send their children to that school?” Amelia asked, laughing nervously.
“I don’t think attendance would be a matter of free will,” a soft, male voice suddenly said, voicing Lily’s thoughts almost exactly. She looked past Lisa at James Potter, who had joined the group silently. He pocketed a muggle sell phone and rubbed his eyes tiredly, before sending Lily a smile. She pulled back quickly, noticing the same proud look in his eyes as she had seen in Sirius’.
“And I don’t think we’ll come to a satisfying conclusion tonight. Let’s get some drinks,” Frank said happily, asking everyone what they wanted to drink. Lily ordered another gin & tonic.
As Frank headed to the bar, Lily started talking to Alice and Sirius while Amelia, James and Lisa started a conversation of their own. Lily felt herself relax; although James was now standing in her current visual field and she could feel his eyes on her, she didn’t need to worry about the awkward silences. This was Sirius and Alice. She could talk freely with them.
Alice asked about Lily’s work and how many years the Healer training was.
“Three years,” Lily said. “And then you get to choose a specialty. But what about you? How long is the auror training?”
“Two years,” Alice said. “Well, normally it is, but nowadays it’s just all hands on deck, you know? Training isn’t really a priority anymore. They’re making it more of a ‘trial-and-error’ thing, and see who’s good enough to stay.”
Alice grimaced and shrugged.
“Isn’t that a bit dangerous?” Sirius asked.
“Yeah, it is,” Alice admitted with a humourless laugh. “But you know, they always pair up a newbie with someone who knows what he or she is doing but yeah, it can get a bit risky if you get a situation that’s more dangerous than expected.”
Alice sent them her grimace and shrug again.
“The real danger of this ‘let’s all join and see what comes of it’ system is that it’s really easy for You-Know-Who followers to join. I mean the ministry is in such need of more people that it’ll just accept anyone that’s good enough. So, you really don’t know who to trust at the office, you know? Frank and I are so lucky to have each other; we know what to expect from each other. The same goes for the third member of our little team; he’s been with us since the beginning and we can really trust him.”
“I think I saw you talking to him before, no?” Frank asked Lily as he wrapped his arm around Alice’s shoulder after giving everyone their drink. Lily nodded shyly, trying to hide the blush.
“Have you met Jack?” Alice asked excitedly. “Isn’t he gorgeous? I mean, if I wasn’t married to this one...”
Alice laughed as Frank scolded her and poked her between the ribs. She pouted and gave him a soft kiss on his lips. Lily had to look away. What was wrong with her? They were just happy; why should that bother her? Lily didn’t know, but she noticed that Sirius had looked away as well, and that made her feel a bit better.
“He’s looking at you,” Alice suddenly whispered, shaking her head slightly to her left. Lily reluctantly looked over her shoulder.
Jack was standing with two girls but was looking Lily straight in the eye. Then he looked away at the group of four girls that were dancing in the middle of the room. Lily recognised them as Alice’s dorm mates from when they were still in school. Suddenly Jack stared back at her, a broad grin on his face and his eyebrows raised suggestively. Lily chuckled and Jack winked before turning back to the two girls before him.
“He’s quite the ladies man,” Alice added.
“Ow, have mercy on him, Lily,” Frank said, chuckling at Lily.
“What’s that supposed to mean, Longbottom?” Lily asked cheekily.
“Well, I seem to remember that Lily Evans doesn’t really handle such men well,” Frank said laughingly, sending a fleeting look toward James. Lily’s smile faltered.
No, the Lily Frank knew was the bookworm, the perfectionist, the girl who thought she had the perfect life in which James Potter was just an annoying, arrogant, little fly that seriously needed to be squashed. Lily wished she still had the same view on life as that girl. Her life had been so simple, so black and white.
“Oh, Frank,” Alice sighed, punching his arm. Lily laughed at his dumbfounded expression.
“Hello, my ladies,” a slick voice suddenly said, wrapping one arm around Lily and the other around Lisa. “Would either of you like to dance with me.”
Everyone turned their head toward Charles who was grinning smugly.
“Well, I think that honour belongs to your date,” Lisa said, winking at Lily.
“Oh no, I’m fine. You can have him,” Lily said, escaping from Charles’ arm. Emund and Eli were behind him, hiding their laughter behind their hand.
“No, seriously, keep him,” Lisa said more serious, also pulling away from Charles, whose smirk had disappeared.
“Oh, please, take him!” Lily pleaded dramatically.
“Oi! No need to make me feel too wanted, alright?” Charles yelled, crossing his arm angrily. Lily and Lisa laughed, which made Charles realise they were only joking. “Please, love, dance with me? Lily doesn’t mind.”
Lisa sighed and rolled her eyes, but Lily could see the slightly flattered blush on her cheeks.
“She would love to, Chuck,” Lily said, winking at him as she stepped back to let them pass.
“I want to dance, too,” Alice said, smiling seductively at Frank, who pointed his wand at the sound system behind Alice’s back. “Oh! This is our wedding song!”
Alice bounced up and down as she pulled Frank with her to the middle of the room. Charles had taken advantage of the slow song to pull Lisa close and a few other men had joined the four girls who had already been dancing.
Edmund said he was getting himself a drink and asked if anyone wanted anything. Lily looked up at him and shook her head. Amelia was swaying to the music and throwing furtive glances at Sirius, obviously hoping he’d ask her to dance. Lily realised that if he did, she would be left with only Eli and James.
Sirius remained silent and Lily thanked Merlin for having the best friend ever.
Lily looked up in surprise. It was Jack. He seemed a bit less confident of himself as he kept his distance from the group of men around Lily.
“Would you like to dance?”
Eli’s head snapped toward Jack, while James balled his hands into fists and Sirius took a subtle but noticeable step closer to Lily.
Oh, you bunch of overprotective prats!
A/N: So? Any reactions? I had planned on writing the party in one chapter but it got too long and full, and well, now there's twice as much of the party to enjoy! And believe there is still a lot to come. ;)
What did ya think of Jack? Like him, don't like him? Let me know! :)
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