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Chapter 34 : Operation: Broom Cupboard
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Anna and I sat alone at dinner that night, our faces screwed up with the concentration it took to block out everyone else’s loud conversations. Scarlet had resolutely barricaded herself in her room after a fellow sixth year had confessed his undying love for her as she got a book from the library about flesh-eating trees. It was just about the most romantic thing I’d ever heard and Scarlet had practically forced us out of the dorm by way of enchanted pillows beating us senseless when we wouldn’t stop laughing.
And so Anna and I sat alone at dinner trying very hard not to pay attention to the thoughts of our classmates being shouted across the hall.
“It’s because of Sirius, you know,” I blurted, interrupting Anna’s streaming commentary on how the potatoes were a little too salty tonight and the carrots weren’t nearly cooked enough.
“Of course it’s Sirius’s fault,” Anna agreed, looking up at me slightly perplexed. “He shouldn’t have flirted with that girl in front of Scarlet, he should have known better. She has every right to be mad, especially if that happens a lot…”
“No, I meant--” I started and then trailed off, my eyes following a plate of spaghetti that had just been lobbed across the hall accompanied by a screech of “you lying, cheating, BASTARD!”
Professor Flitwick quickly hopped down from the staff table and hurried to the Ravenclaw table where a fifth year girl was busy hexing some poor bloke so that his skin turned bright blue.
“Anyways,” I turned back to Anna whose eyes had gone wide at the interruption. “ I meant that that—” I gestured to where the Ravenclaw girl, who was being restrained by Flitwick, was still attempting to get in a few last pokes to the boy with her wand “—we can thank Sirius for.”
“What do you mean?” Anna frowned.
“Sirius made a wish last night…” I said, raising my eyebrows slightly until Anna’s face lit with understanding.
“I thought… I thought you said the Marauders had just put some form of Veritaserum in the pumpkin juice?” Anna narrowed her eyes at me, confusing clouding her face again.
“That’s what Sirius told them,” I explained. “I couldn’t say this in front of Scarlet, she’d actually never talk to Sirius again and that would be a huge problem.”
“Well it already is a huge problem. What on earth did he make a wish for?” Anna groaned, running her hands through her hair.
“Last night I ran into him after my… er… thing with James,” I said and ignored the satisfied look Anna gave me. “He was really upset about Scarlet and said that our lives would be so much easier if everyone said what they were thinking. I talked to him not long ago… he definitely went to the Well.”
“What an absolute moron,” Anna growled, stabbing a potato rather violently with her fork. “So why doesn’t he just go take it back?”
“Well, you know the whole reason he made that wish was because of Scarlet right?” I continued, purposely leaving off the bit about James and I. “He still wants to talk to her more than he wants to take back the wish…”
“So why didn’t you do it?” Anna asked, frowning at me.
“You know that’s not what I really want most,” I muttered, a blush creeping into my cheeks.
“Ah, right…” Anna said and I looked away so I wouldn’t see her smug smile. “So I’ll do it. I’ll go right now.”
Anna dropped her napkin onto the table and made to get up but I grabbed her arm and pulled her back down.
“No,” I hissed quietly. “Don’t you see? Right now Scarlet will say whatever’s on her mind… and so will Sirius. I think we should use that to our advantage…don’t you?”
“Lily Evans, you are downright evil,” Anna smiled at me and I grinned sheepishly back.
* * * *
The plan was simple. Or not. To be honest, we didn’t really have a plan, which was what made it so simple. All we had to do was get Scarlet into the broom closet on the 2nd floor near the Charms classroom before breakfast the next morning, and Sirius would meet her there. He seemed very amused that I’d taken my threat of locking them in a broom cupboard seriously.
Frankly, it sounded a lot better in theory.
Scarlet, Anna and I walked down to breakfast and I was glad the halls were relatively empty. It seemed that most students, tired of spilling their every thought to each other, found it best to all seek solitude and so in fact the school this morning was quieter than I had ever heard it.
Unfortunately, that quietness had not quite affected Scarlet who had resumed her tirade against Sirius Black with a vengeance that morning.
“And after all these years, how can he not know that it annoys me to no end that he has absolutely no respect for women? I mean, how many girls has he dated this year? Can you even count?” Scarlet vented as Anna and I walked in silence beside her, carefully controlling our thoughts so as not to reveal our plan.
“March is a stupid month, isn’t it?” Anna said conversationally and I bit back a smile. “I mean, all it does is rain, right? There’s nothing good about March. I can’t wait for it to be April.”
“Hello, can we focus please?” Scarlet snapped in front of Anna’s face, who’s eye twitched slightly. She had never been good at keeping secrets, even when she wasn’t bewitched to say her every thought. “I was talking and you just blurted some nonsense about the weather. Are you even listening to me?”
“Of course we’re listening,” I soothed her, shooting Anna a look. “You were saying how Sirius is a horrible person.”
“Can we hurry please?” Anna said, urging us to walk faster. “I’m very hungry.”
Anna glared at me behind Scarlet’s back and I shook my head warningly at her.
“Eurgh, I’m not,” Scarlet wrapped her arms around her stomach. “I think I might skip breakfast and just head to the library. There’s a book I want to—“
“NO!” Anna and I both shouted and Scarlet paused mid-step to give us a curious look.
“No?” She repeated, frowning slightly.
“No, come on Scar, you have to eat something,” I recovered quickly, looping my arm through hers and pulling her forward. “You haven’t eaten anything since yesterday.”
“Well, that’s how breakfast works, isn’t it?” Scarlet narrowed her eyes at me as if she thought I was going mad. Maybe I was… “Anyways, I’m really not hungry. I’ll be at lunch, I promise.”
Scarlet pulled her arm from my grasp and turned to head in the other direction. Anna sent me a panicked look. We were just one corridor away from the designated broom cupboard.
“Scar, wait!” Anna called frantically and Scarlet paused to send us both expectant albeit frustrated looks.
“Yes?” Scarlet asked when neither Anna nor I said anything. “For Merlin’s sake you two are acting so bizarre. What’s wrong with you?”
“Scarlet, I’m really, really sorry about this,” I winced, slipping my wand silently from my robes.
“Sorry about wh-AAAAGH!!” Scarlet shrieked as she was lifted into the air by my levitating charm. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?! Lily Evans, you let me down RIGHT NOW.”
“I’m sorry, Scar,” I winced, keeping my wand trained on her as I backed slowly down the corridor towards the broom cupboard. “This is for your own good, you know.”
“What are you talking about?” Scarlet shouted at me, flailing her arms and legs wildly. “What’s for my own good? Lily, I will kill you. LET ME DOWN!!”
“I’m so sorry, Scar,” I repeated. “Merlin, I’m so, so, so, sorry about this.”
The cupboard was getting closer now and as we approached I saw the door open a crack and Sirius’s head poke tentatively out. When he registered what he was seeing he flung the door open and strode towards us.
“What the bloody hell are you doing?” Sirius scoffed at Anna and I, eyeing the levitated Scarlet with horror.
“YOU!” Scarlet roared as she spun around midair to see Sirius.
“Oh, Merlin,” Sirius shook his head at me. “Have I taught you nothing about scheming this year?”
“Oh, like all of your plans are perfect Mr. I-Wish-Everyone-Would-Say-What-They’re-Thinking. I got her here, didn’t I?” I retorted and Scarlet’s eyes were now in danger of popping out of her head.
“YOU?!” She repeated, fixing Sirius with a murderous stare.
“Oh, well done,” Sirius rolled his eyes at me as he opened the door to the broom cupboard so I could levitate Scarlet inside. Merlin, this was so messed up.
“Shut up and get in there so this can all be over,” I growled, flicking my wand to release the levitation charm as Sirius closed the door. Anna and I quickly pressed ourselves up against the door to stop Scarlet escaping until I heard Sirius cast a locking charm.
“LET ME OUT!” Scarlet hammered her fists against the door and Anna and I winced at each other.
“Scarlet, stop. Just talk to me, will you?” Sirius’s voice was muffled through the door.
“NO!” Scarlet yelled and the banging on the door ceased only to be replaced by what sounded like an avalanche of brooms and buckets.
“Scarlet stop hiding behind that mop!”
“Seriously? A bucket? Get that off your head! Why won’t you look at me?”
“Because I hate you!”
“Come on, you can’t hate me.”
“Yes I can!”
“Ok, really? What on earth are you going to do with that broom? Fly out of here?—OW! What the—Scarlet, stop hitting me!”
“Will you just stop already? I just want to talk to you.”
“No, because if I let you talk to me I’m going to succumb to your stupid Black charm!”
I glanced over at Anna who was trying very hard to suppress her laughter and smirked at her.
“I think our work here is done,” I sighed contentedly and knocked quietly on the door. “Bye, you two. Have fun!”
“Thanks, Evans! I owe you one!” Sirius’s voice called from the inside.
“You owe me about twenty, Black,” I laughed in response.
“I hate you all,” Scarlet shouted.
* * * *
“Well, I think that went rather well,” Anna sighed as we emerged from the Great Hall after a well-deserved breakfast.
“I hope Scar’s not too mad at us,” I voiced my only concern over the matter and Anna looped her arm through mine in response.
“She’ll thank us one day,” Anna shrugged as we made our way back to the Gryffindor common room.
Anna gave the password to the Fat Lady and the portrait hole opened but our passage inside was blocked as three boys tumbled out into the corridor.
“Oh, hello,” Remus Lupin said happily as he recognized Anna and I. James and Peter followed quickly and both froze when they saw us standing there. James’s eyes went straight to me and I quickly looked back to Remus.
“What are you lot up to?” I asked lightly, trying to keep my voice casual. My brain had just shifted into overdrive with James’s sudden presence and I was suddenly finding it very hard to form coherent thoughts.
“Breakfast,” Peter responded, glancing between James and I. “Prongs, we’ll save you some toast.”
Remus and Peter started to hurry away quickly and Anna gave me a small smile before calling after them.
“Wait! I’ll come with you!”
“Anna, you just ate,” I hissed at her, pulling her back.
“You’ll thank me one day,” She breathed and took off after them down the hall.
Silently cursing her, I turned slowly back around to face James who was staring at me with an unreadable expression.
“Hi,” I said shortly when he didn’t say anything. This would be the first time he and I were alone since the… happenings, not to mention my blurting out that he was the best snog of my life. Stupid, Lily. My brain was going a million miles a minute and I was afraid that if I were to actually voice my thoughts all that would come out was one long scream, and I think that might scare him away.
James remained silent and continued to stare at me with a calculating look. His jaw was clenched tightly as if he too were unsure whether voicing his thoughts would be wise or not.
After another excruciating moment of me looking anywhere but at him, I let out a deep breath.
“I’ll… I’ll just be going inside, then,” I said, trying not to let the disappointment register in my voice at the fact that he had apparently nothing to say to me.
“I broke up with Celia,” James blurted out and immediately closed his eyes, wincing as though he hadn’t actually meant to say that.
“Oh,” I breathed, a flood of emotions filling my body. Keep your mouth shut, Lily. Let him talk.
“That came out wrong,” James said quietly, still wincing slightly. “Erm… I—I broke up with Celia last night.”
“Yes, you said that already,” I whispered though my clenched teeth. Let him talk.
James shook his head and ran a hand through his messy hair.
“I mean… I just,” James hesitated, choking on his words. I had never seen him this… inarticulate before. “I got a new broom. For my birthday.”
“Er…” I frowned. Where did that come from? “That’s nice.”
“What I mean is, would you like to maybe… come for a ride. With me?” James stuttered, his eyes flicking up to meet my curious gaze.
“Alright,” I nodded, still frowning slightly. If he was going to be this difficult to talk to, how on earth did Sirius expect us to ever have this conversation? He was trying so hard to bite back his thoughts. And I honestly couldn’t say I wasn’t doing the same, but… this would get us nowhere.
James said the password quickly and the Fat Lady swung open just as we heard footsteps running towards us down the corridor. We both turned to see Scarlet and Sirius jogging towards us, hand in hand with grins plastered on both of their faces.
“Alright, Lily?” Sirius beamed at me, his eyes flitting between James and I and I knew he was referring to my end of the deal, my promise to sort things out with him while the wish was still in effect.
“Perfect,” I forced myself to say, though I was entirely unconvinced that this would end well. All I wanted was for Sirius to reverse the wish.
“Right,” Sirius smiled. “We’ll just be off then.”
Sirius winked at me and Scarlet gave me a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek before the two ran off again, presumably towards the Well.
I let out a deep breath. In a matter of minutes, this could all be over.
“What the bloody hell was that about?” James asked, frowning down the hall to where Scarlet and Sirius had disappeared.
“Er… I think Scar and Sirius are dating now,” I smiled at him and he shook his head.
“About bloody time,” he muttered, a smile pulling his lips up. “Now… how about that broom ride?”
I smiled in response and followed him into the common room and up the stairs to the Marauders dorm room.
The knot in my chest had loosened slightly at the prospect of being able to talk freely to James in a few minutes. No more urge to spill my guts, no more biting back my words. Things were about to get a lot easier.
James sat on his bed, carefully unwrapping his new Nimbus 1000 from its paper as I stared around his room, trying to remember the last time I’d been in here.
It had been the first week of classes… we had played Never Have I Ever. And James and I had once again gotten into a fight. It seemed like so long ago. It was strange to think that just seven months ago we had been at each other throats and now…
“Make yourself at home,” James called from his bed. “I’ve got to polish the handle real quick before we take it out. It’ll just be a minute.”
I glanced around the room again, smiling slightly at the memory of that night all those months ago, remembering that Sirius and Scarlet had sat over there by Remus’s bed and James…
I paused, something catching my eye on Remus’s bedside table. Two pieces of parchment sat atop the table and I narrowed my eyes at them. I recognized that parchment… I had seen it just yesterday, hastily hidden from my view by four very guilty looking Marauders.
Reason told me not to look, that it would only end badly. But since when have I ever listened to reason?
I glanced towards James’s bed and he was absorbed in polishing his broom so I walked to Remus’s nightstand and picked up one of the pieces of parchment.
My name was scrawled across the top in Remus’s neat writing and underneath… Oh Merlin.
I swallowed hard, my heart beating heavily in my chest and I read the rest of the parchment and felt the blood drain from my face.
Bit of a know-it-all
We fight a lot
She’s difficult sometimes
My fist curled into a ball, scrunching the parchment with it and I felt the familiar sting of tears behind my eyes. I didn’t need to keep reading… I’d seen enough.
I marched over to James bed and thrust the crumpled parchment at him.
“Care to explain this?” I said in a delicate voice. James looked at the parchment in my hands and froze in the midst of polishing his handle.
James turned his pale face up to look at me, horror in his eyes as he stuttered “I… You… you weren’t meant to see that.”
“Yes, well I did see it,” I snapped at him, dropping the parchment onto his bed. “What is it?”
“It’s…. Look, don’t make a big deal out of this, it’s nothing,” James stammered, snatching the parchment off his bed.
“What. Is. It.” I repeated in a low voice.
“Look, you only read the bad part,” James said quickly, holding the other side of the parchment out to me. “There are good things, too. Don’t be mad.”
“Mad?” I repeated incredulously. A thousand curse words ran through my head and yet I felt no compulsion to say any of them. In fact… all of the thoughts in my head were… just in my head. I felt no need to say any of them. It was done. The wish was reversed.
Just in time, I thought wryly.
“Look, C-Celia has a list, too,” James practically sprinted across the room to grab the second piece of parchment. His hand shook slightly as he held it out to me.
“I don’t want to read it,” I backed away from him, disgusted. “You wrote down all the things you liked and hated about us… that’s—that’s completely repulsive.”
“It’s not like that,” James insisted, stepping towards me but I backed away quickly. “It was the Veritaserum… the stuff Sirius put in the pumpkin juice. That’s the only reason—you know I never would have said those things otherwise. Lily, you’ve got to believe me.”
“Even if you hadn’t written them down, you’re still thinking those things about us,” I said in a shaky voice. “That’s hardly any better.”
“No, that’s not—“
“So the only reason you broke up with Celia was because she has more things wrong with her than I do?” I choked, the reality of the situation hitting me with full force now.
“No, Lily, please—“
“No!” I stepped back from James again as he took another step towards me, his hands reaching for me. “This is… wrong. This is all wrong.”
“Lily,” James’s voice pleaded and I could hear the anxiety breaking through. His hazel eyes fixed on mine, a thousand apologies written there. “It’s not about… about what’s good and bad about you. I want you. Everything about you. I never needed a stupid list to realize that. It’s always been you…”
“Stop,” I begged him, tears springing to my eyes. “Please, just stop.”
“I was an idiot for thinking it could be anyone but you,” James continued, his eyes begging for me to understand. But all I could comprehend was that the Well wasn’t making him say any of this anymore… he wasn’t compelled by any other force to say these things. And that’s what made it all the more heartbreaking.
“I hate that they… they let me think writing it down would make it easier to see,” James said, his eyes searching mine wildly for any kind of hope. He didn’t find any. “I shouldn’t have… but I did and you’ve got to forgive me for it.”
“I can’t,” I said in a quiet, shaky voice as a tear finally slipped down my cheek.
“Lily, please,” James begged one last time and I shook my head, taking another step away from him.
“I’m just sorry I ever let myself think that this,” I gestured to the two of us, “would ever actually happen. You were right when you called me a fool. And I was right in thinking you were nothing but a joker.”
I turned before he could say anything else and hurried down the stairs. I heard him coming after me, calling my name but it only made me move quicker and I took the stairs up to my dorm two at a time.
I reached the last step just as I felt the stones quivering beneath my feet and I made the jump to the landing just as the staircase turned into a smooth slide as James attempted to follow me.
“Lily, please,” James called up to me from the bottom of the staircase and I closed my eyes, forcing myself away from the stairs and into my bedroom where I collapsed onto my bed and dissolved into tears.
A/N: Ok before you all start throwing bricks at me for taking SO LONG to update, would it help it I said I'm sorry? Pretty please? I spent ALL day writing yesterday and I hate to say this... but we're getting very close to the end. I think there will be about 4 more chapters after this one. But let's not think about that yet :(
Anyways, new chapter!!! And we finally know what the "list" is... Oh, James...
So what do you think Lily will do now? Will she forgive James?
Scarlet and Sirius and FINALLY together! Did you like the way that happened?
The next chapter is.... *drumroll*... the prologue! well, not exactly. It's the events leading up to and just after the prologue. (and I'll post it soon, I promise! Don't worry, it's already written).
And for those of you hoping for one last bit of James's POV, you'll get your wish in the chapter after next :)
[Edit: Ok I lied, next chapter is NOT the prologue. My James chapter turned into this great beast that went on for pages and pages so I had to split it up. But on the bright side, you'll get to see James's POV in the NEXT chapter so not bad, eh? ]
So I'm dying to hear what you guys thought of this chapter! Leave a review!
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