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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 6 : The Picture of Friendship
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 41


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Amazing chapter image created by Pheonixn @ TDA

Chapter 6 - The Picture of Friendship


“Lily, would you calm the hell down and listen to me!” Alice shouted, running to get one step ahead of her friend as they rushed out to the Quidditch pitch. “You told me this morning that you weren’t going to hold it against him!”

Lily halted in her tracks and spun around, her red hair snapping behind her like a curtain of fire.

“Yes, I know what I told you, thank you very much! I was even nice to him this morning! I thought to myself, you know Lily, you really did put him in a terrible position, maybe you guys can work through this! Just a few hours ago I was ready to talk him, Alice! I know it hurts him that I don’t want to date, or am not ready to, or whatever it is.”

She was pacing in quick, furious lines as the grass crumpled beneath her steps. “I know I’m asking a lot of him! And sure, maybe it was that - that girl's fault, but he still let it happen!”

“So, what changed? What happened?” Alice asked as she reached her hands out to take hold of Lily’s shoulders and forced her to remain still.

Alice met Lily's eyes, and Lily knew she was gauging her anger, watching it build behind her ivory skin. Lily's mother used to tell her that her temper had a captivating quality to it. That it was like witnessing a tornado touch down into the middle of a wild fire, causing embers to be hurtled in every direction.

Lily usually kept it so tightly rained in that when it finally snapped, it was a sight to see.

“Violet Clarke happened!” Lily spat, then let her body drop to the grass and released a long sigh.

“What does that sixth year have to do...oh,” Alice cut herself off. “James wouldn’t, Lily! There must be a misunderstanding. He doesn’t even care for Violet!”

“Well, he certainly fancies her enough to let her suck his skin off!”

“How do you know it was her? You only caught a glimpse of the girl’s back, right?” Alice asked as she sat on the grass beside her friend.

“You remember during breakfast when I told you about the conversation Remus and I overheard last night?” Alice nodded. “Well, James, Sirius, Peter and I went to Dumbledore this morning to tell him about it. After we finished we decided to head to an early lunch together when I remembered that I needed to turn in a library book. There was no way I was going to get another finger gluing curse, compliments of Madam Pince. Do you know how long it took me to get dressed last time I-

“Lily,” Alice interrupted, “get on with it.”

Anyway,” Lily continue as stood up from her spot on the grass. “I told them I was going to go return it and I started to head up towards my dorm when I remembered that I lent the book to Belle. I rushed back down, but before I rounded the corner I heard Sirius ask James about that, that, that thing.” She shot a finger to her neck to imply James’s love bite. “So naturally I wanted to listen in on what they were saying.”

“Naturally,” Alice agreed.

“Right, so I was standing where they couldn’t see, and that was when I heard Sirius ask James if he talked to Violet about the, the thing!” She pointed to her neck again, not willing to say the word. “And honestly, what could they possibly have to talk about? Sucking technique, maybe? Maybe they want to discuss using a bit less force next time so it doesn’t look like James got hit with a bloody bullet-”

“A what?”

“Never mind, it’s a muggle thing,” she mumbled as she let her breath out in a long sigh. She felt her energy slowly wearing down, taking bits and pieces of her unjustified anger with it. “But I guess if he wants to get cozy with some girl that’s his business. I made it clear we’re just friends, after all,” she finished, a raw tone clinging to the last of her words.

“Well, darling, if you would care to calm down on ze dramatics I could fill you in on what actually happened.” Both girls turned to see Belle walking up behind them, wrapping a translucent, rose coloured scarf around her slender neck as she spoke.

You’re telling me to calm down, Belle? I’ve seen you nearly eat Sirius alive for simply breathing!” Lily answered, throwing some of her anger into the blonde.

“Well, per’aps I didn’t want 'im breathing at that moment,” she said with a shrug, obviously unfazed as she sat next to Alice and motioned for Lily to do the same.

“But, 'e is ze one I just finished talking with, and I believe you will want to know what ‘e said.”

“Fine,” Lily sighed in surrender and let her body fall back to the ground between her two friends. “Out with it.”

“It seems Violet Clarke ‘ad come up to James to congratulate 'im on 'is new position. She also informed ‘im that she is interested in trying out for Keeper,” Lily interrupted her with a sound that resembled gagging. “As I was saying,” she glared at Lily, silently ordering her to behave. “She was simply talking to ‘im, rather closely because of ze loud music. And then she kissed ‘is neck! Which I assume is ze part you saw.”

“Just kissed his neck?” Alice shouted in a rare show of tempter. “Kissed his neck? Did you see his neck? It definitely wasn’t from a kiss!”

“Exactly!” Belle’s voice sounding like a detective’s who had just cracked her case. “That’s precisely what the boys were talking about when Lily over’eard. The second she kissed it, while James was trying to push ‘er off, the spot started burning! And I assume left that revolting mark!”

The other two girls were silent for a moment as they let Belle’s statement sink in.

“Sirius wouldn’t lie to Belle, or any of us. You know that.” Alice said softly. Her soft words threatened to break through Lily’s barrier of doubt.

“I know he wouldn’t,” she mumbled, “but I almost wish he was lying.”

“You would ‘ave rather James gone off with Violet, then?” Belle asked quizzically, moving her fingers over the small blades of grass they sat on and twisting them from their roots as she spoke.

“No, maybe. No. It would just be easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about what we do next. What I do next. I don’t even know what he wants from me.”

“Lily,” Belle said gently, moving her hand from the grass over to her friend’s shoulder. “You don’t remember a lot about what ‘appened after your parents passed away. You were ‘ardly there with us. But James, ‘e was nearly as broken as you. Every time ‘e looked at you I felt like I was intruding on something private: something sacred. I think all ‘e wants is for you to be ‘appy.” Lily felt the last of her anger crumble, leaving an empty fear humming through her heart.

She couldn’t deal with this. Not now, not yet.

Her eyes flew from Alice’s dark brown back to Belle’s shining blue, searching through them to find that anger again, to give her a justified reason to keep a relationship with James Potter out of the question. All that looked back at her was sincerity. The soft, never ending support of a true friend, or in her case, two true friends.

“I’m not ready,” Lily whispered. “I’ve lost too much. I can’t lose his friendship, too. It would be so easy for something to go wrong if we dated, then it would ruin everything. I’d lose him for good.”

She raised her chin and held her head a bit higher, refusing to let her thoughts turn to everything that had been snatched from her: taken by the cruel hands of fate.

Belle squeezed even closer to her, wanting to be able to offer any comfort she could. Alice’s hand moved to Lily’s and held it gently.

“Will you tell me about them? Will you tell me what they were like?” Belle asked in a wistful tone as she let her head rest on Lily’s shoulder.

A warm smile surfaced on the redhead’s face as an ocean of memories came crashing through her, catching her in their current and pulling her into their sea.



The August sun was just beginning to fall from its throne in the sky, letting rays peek through Lily’s forest green curtains and into her bedroom. Her hands moved like clockwork against a large piece of canvas, only stopping occasionally to retie her hair. Her eleven year old self had kept it much longer. She loved the feeling of it swaying over the majority of her back when it wasn’t held prisoner with an elastic band.

She had hidden herself in her room and submerged her mind in her newest creation, trying to ignore the feelings that tugged at her heart.

“Lily? Lily, where did you run off to?” The energetic voice of Shane Evans echoed down the hallway and filled Lily’s room.

She gripped her paintbrush tighter, letting the top of it swipe into the blue, then the green, swirling them together to create the colour of the sea.

“That’s lovely, darling,” Shane said as he came up behind Lily and placed his large hands on each of her shoulders.

“Maybe I’ll move here someday,” Lily said with a sigh. She stepped from under her father’s grasp and sat on the chair placed near her easel.

“I’ll have a house so big that it looks like a castle. It will be all rock, too. With flowers planted everywhere! I’ll tend to them myself and water them every day just like mum does. Then when I go outside, I’ll look down at the sea crashing into the cliffs, my cliffs.” She had tumbled into her own imagination, thinking of all the stories about Ireland Granda had told her when he was still alive.

“Did Mummy ever live in Ireland with Granda Gallagher?” She asked, turning to her father who was now kneeling beside her.

“For a bit, only until she was about three, though. Granda Gallagher always knew that Grandma wanted to move back to England. It was too hard for her to be away from family, so right after they had Mummy they started planning for it.”

Shane grabbed his daughter's hand and pulled her over to the window seat with him. She scooted to the wall and rested her back against it with her feet up in Shane’s lap. Her eyes glanced out the window. A gentle breeze danced over the lilac bush planted outside her bedroom, causing a few purple petals to twist from their place and sway along with the wind.

“Do you want to tell me what’s bothering my girl?” Shane asked. Lily looked directly into her father’s eyes. The shades of emerald green glinting in them were identical to hers, yet Petunia had been the one to inherit his dark brown hair.

“Tuney hates me, dad. She said if I get on the train tomorrow she’ll never talk to me again.” Lily leaned forward and collapsed into his lap.

“The worst part is,” she whispered, “I don’t even know that I’ll care if she never speaks to me again.” The admission was painful as it left Lily’s heart. But the way her sister had been treating her from the moment she got her letter in January nearly made Lily wish Petunia wouldn’t ever talk to her again.

“Don’t say things like that, darling,” Shane coaxed. He held her shoulders and eased her away from him, wanting be able to look into her eyes as he spoke.

“This isn’t easy for Petunia. She’s never been good with change, with accepting new things. Now she has to watch her only sister go away. You know how bad it feels to be left out, don’t you?” Lily nodded. “Well, she’s going to be left out of such a big part of your life. It hurts her.”

“Does it hurt you too, daddy?” Lily asked in a whisper, letting her eyes fall to her hands.

“Of course not! But that’s because I can see it in a different way. You’re so special, darling. You’re so very special. We’ve always known that, and now you get to learn more about this gift. You get to be something incredible, Lily. Something most people believe only exists in fairy tales. You’ll meet new friends, and you won’t have to worry about feeling lonely because Severus will be there with you, too.” Lily smiled at the mention of her best friend’s name.

Her stomach gave way to a new round of butterflies as she thought about the fact that in less than a day they would both be on the Hogwarts Express.

“And Petunia will still love you. She’ll adjust. Magic is a part of you. She’ll understand that and accept it. Then once she does, she’ll be so anxious for you to tell her about all the new parts of your world!” His excitement was infections. Lily had never been able to remain upset for long when her father was around.

She sat up straighter and swung her feet over the ledge of the window seat. When her eyes turned to the door they were met with the golden brown ones of her sister.

“Petunia wanted to talk to you, Lily,” Adrianna said as she pushed her eldest daughter forward.

Shane stood and gave Lily a kiss on the forehead before walking over to his wife. He gave Petunia and encouraging smile before kissing her forehead, also.

“We’ll be in the kitchen,” Adrianna said. She held her gaze with Petunia for a moment longer before she followed Shane out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind her.

Lily’s hands started fidgeting. Needing something to do, she started picking up the remains of her paints and placing them into their containers. Petunia remained silent at the door, watching her sister’s every move.

“Lily,” the voice was soft when she finally spoke. Lily glanced up from her work and noticed the watery look of her eyes.

“Aw, Tuney, don’t cry.” She moved to her sister, forgetting the anger of earlier, and placed her arms tightly around Petunia. “Don’t cry, Tuney.”

“I’m sor-sorry, I was so awful to-to you,” she said between escalating sobs.

“It doesn’t matter,” Lily answered, desperate to make her sister happy again.

“I’ll always love you, Lily. I won’t ever be mean again, okay?”

The girls smiled at each other for the first time in months. Lily forced the left over feelings of hurt away; her sister had said sorry, that was all that mattered.

And with the simple sincerity of Petunia’s apology, the torn fabric of their relationship was sown together, mended with careful hands.





The three girls sat together in a huddled ball. Lily’s cheeks were damp with tears of joy and pain all twisted together on her creamy complexion.

Alice muffled a cry, sniffing it back before speaking. “They really were great, Belle. I wish you’d had a chance to meet them. They always invited me over the last few weeks of summer, and they loved hearing about our world. Mrs. Evans would take us to these classes where a muggle lady would teach the people how to use clay to make pots and vases. I never thought doing things without magic could be fun, but we always had the best time.”

“What about your sister? I know ze two of you no longer speak often, but you seemed so close. What ‘appened?” Belle asked, her eyes bright with concern.

Lily and Alice stared at each other for a moment, a subtle look of understanding passed between them. Lily knew she was safe to skirt around the truth without Alice questioning her.

“Sometimes things are just meant to fall apart, I suppose,” she answered. They had walked through so many emotions that day, she didn’t have it in her to delve head first into this one.

Belle stared at her for a moment longer, fully aware her friend wasn’t telling the entire truth.

“If you ever want to tell me what really ‘appened, I will be here to listen,” she answered with quiet understanding.

Lily pulled her jumper tighter, blocking out the gusts of October wind. Not quite October, she corrected herself. The thick red hair whipped around her face, blending into the blonde and brown that flanked it. From the back they looked like a blur of contrasts, all huddled together. At least that’s what James thought as he, Remus, and Sirius walked up behind him.

“Hey, you ladies beat us out here.” The three girls untangled from one another at the sound of Sirius’s voice. Belle was the first to her feet, and held her hands down to help up the other two. Lily nearly lost balance as she placed her foot in an uneven part of the grass, but thankfully she was still connected to Belle.

“Hey, where were you this morning? We went to talk to Dumbledore,” Lily asked, facing Remus.

“I just had some things to finish up,” he answered with an easy smile. Lily wished he would elaborate, anything to keep her from having to focus her attention on James.

She didn’t have time to think of how to avoid what was certain to be an awkward discussion, because before she could so much as try to start another conversation, James was closing the distance between them.

“Can I talk to you for a second, Lily?” He took her hand as he asked, not giving her a chance to protest.

She nodded, knowing it was better to say those two dreaded words sooner rather than later. She had never been good at apologizing, especially not to James.

Neither spoke while the walked.

The wind had calmed enough to let the mild sun warm her skin. With a gentle whoosh of it, something intoxicating reached her nose.

She was taken back by the soft hints of cedar, and nearly felt her head spin as the barely there touches of jasmine sweetened the mix. She had never smelt something so captivating, and had to silently scold herself for wanting to bury her nose into James’s neck to continue living off of the wonderful fragrance.

Maybe she could understand what prompted Violet to throw herself at- she shook her head quickly, forcing those thoughts out and earning a curious look from James.

“Look, Lily,” he started as they reached the side of the equipment shed that housed the Quidditch gear. “I need you to let me explain last night.”

“No,” she interrupted. “You don’t need to explain anything. Belle told Alice and me the story. But even that doesn’t matter, because you’re free to do whatever you please.” She did everything she could to let the words sound natural, causal even, but the bitterness of them was obvious to even her ears. She turned her body to lean her back up against the wooden shed.

“That’s the thing though, I know I can, but I wouldn’t do that to you Lily, you-”

“Stop, James. Just stop. You don’t have to try to make me feel better. I know you didn’t let Violet suck your neck, but if you would have, well, you shouldn’t have to apologize for it. You can snog whoever you please,” she said, feeling her heart crack with every word.

She would not make him feel guilty. He didn’t deserve that, not after everything he did for her. He didn’t deserve any of the unjustified anger that she had thrown against him the last few weeks. But he had taken it. He had let her use him as verbal punching bad for her own chaotic mix of emotions, and that ended today.

She was so lost in her swarming thoughts that she didn’t notice the flash of fire erupt into James’s hazel eyes.

“I know I don’t have to do anything,” he said, his tone quiet, dangerous, “and I’m getting sick of telling you that you’re the one I want to be with.” He moved to face her, and in one fluid motion he had both his hands resting on either side of her head. Lily's red hair was twirling in the breeze, tangling over James's fingers as they both stood with eyes locked on one another.

She held his gaze despite the sudden quickening of her heartbeat urged her to look away.

He moved slowly, his messy black hair being tousled by the wind. The scent of him closed over her again as he inched closer; his eyes still stayed steady on hers.

When she was sure he was going to close the distance by letting his soft lips linger over hers, he instead veered to the left.

“If that was true, and I could kiss whoever I pleased, I would already be kissing you," he said in a whisper that was close enough to dance the warm breath over her ear. She felt a shiver run through her body that had nothing to do with the weather. Something deep inside of her was sparked and set ablaze with longing.

“But, I won't.” He smiled at the sight of her as he spoke. It was easy to see that she had wanted him to close that gap by bringing their bodies together and letting his lips spill every emotion coursing through him onto hers. The heat simmering from her darkened eyes made it clear she craved that almost as desperately as him.

But he wouldn’t rush her. The first time they kissed, they would be each others. Not just friends.

“James Potter,” she tried to make annoyance ring in the words, and failed miserably.

“We both know what we just wanted to happen Lily,” he said carefully.

Lily wouldn’t hide from her feelings, she never did. She faced them head on, and this would be no exception.

“I know,” she whispered. “But James, it would have been a mistake. Not because I don’t fancy you. I do.” She felt the declaration free something in her heart as the truth slipped from her tongue. Something heavy that had been eating into her ever since the last week they had spent at the Potters’ house.

His face changed from shock to realization at the easy admission of her words. He placed one hand back against the wall, waiting patiently for her to continue.

“You know I’m just not ready. Too much has changed in my life.” She stepped forward and began pacing, needing to move her vibrating body.

“I’ve always known you’re a loyal friend, James. Everyone in this blasted school knows the four of you would stick together through anything. Being one of those people you give your loyalty to feels safe. Our friendship has changed so much since,” she paused, holding her emotions tight, “since my parents passed away. And I never thought I would love being so close to you, but I do. I don’t want to lose that. I can’t risk what we have by trying a relationship, not yet. I just-” James stepped forward and took Lily’s hand, hoping the touch would persuade her to stay still for a moment.


“I understand, Lily. You don’t have to explain it to me. We already decided that we’d just be friends, I get it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to start snogging other girls. It just means I’m going to have to work really hard to not snog you.” He smiled as he said the words, trying to make them sound like a joke, but they both knew the truth. 


“Stop putting this pressure on yourself,” he continued. “You don’t have to know exactly what you want, or when, or anything. I just want you to be happy. We’ll figure something out...eventually. We have all the time in the world, right?” James locked fingers with her as he spoke. “I’ve liked you for this long, do you honestly think I’m just going to stop now?”

Lily felt her lips creeping into a smile. Relief tingling through her as her mind tried to grasp the fact that she wouldn’t lose him. She knew she was being selfish, wanting him to herself, yet unable to give him more than her friendship. He wasn’t provoking her, though. He wasn’t telling her he’d go find another girl who knew what she wanted. He was just accepting it.

She would’ve been shocked to know that James’s feelings were very similar to hers.

His mind had tumbled into a nearly euphoric state as he thought about what this meant. He didn’t have to worry about playing games to make her jealous, about trying to trick honest feelings out of her, because she laid them all out on the table. He didn’t have to wonder if she would go off and start dating some bloke -though he would still have to keep an eye on Durmstrang - they could just take things as they came.

James broke their gaze and pulled her into him. He touched his lips to her temple, feeling the blood beating beneath the thin layer of skin.

He was about to separate himself from her so they could make their way back to the group when a rustling in the greenery that lined the spot near the equipment hut caught his eye.

He tensed, causing Lily to back away and furrow her eyebrows at him.

“Take your wand out,” he whispered to her. She didn’t question him, but did as he asked. She turned her body to face the same direction he was, trying to figure out where exactly he was looking.

“Move slowly,” he whispered again. His first instinct had been to tell her to turn around and leave, but then they would simply waste time arguing over it.

They took a few small steps toward the bush that was only three or four yards from them. James’s wand was raised slightly, ready to react at the slightest spell.

“Ouch!” a muffled voice hissed through the bushes. Lily and James halted, both looking at the other.

“I wouldn’t ‘ave pinched you if your ‘and didn’t somehow find my bum! Now shush up, I can’t ‘ear a thing!”

Lily quickly placed her finger to her lips at the sound of Belle’s voice, urging James to stay quiet.

She took a few more steps forward, then sprang into the bushes, causing Sirius and Belle to yelp in surprise.

James was right behind her, tapping his foot like an annoyed father glaring down at his children.

“It was all this one's idea, mate!” Sirius said, pointing his finger to Belle.

“So what if it was? ‘e is the one that went along with it. And the one who picked the bushes that are so thick we can’t see a thing out of them,” she said with a growl.

Sirius’s eyes latched to Belle’s, his white teeth bared into a smile which caused Belle to retaliate with a glare. Luckily for Lily and James, their friends were much too focused on one another to notice when James leaned forward to whisper something into Lily’s ear.

“Hey, don’t worry about it you guys. You’re our friends and were curious. We get it,” James said with an easy tone, wand still in hand as he took a small step toward Sirius.

“Let’s just go find Alice and Remus, the friends that don’t intrude on our privacy,” Lily added, holding out her left hand for Belle to grasp it.

James coughed loudly and gave Lily a sideways glance.

They both raised their right wand arms and shouted, “Aqua Eruct,” causing a light blue hue to form and jets of water to shoot from the tips of their wand straight into their friends.

A screech similar to a cat’s tore from Belle’s lips. Sirius rolled over onto her with a mixture of a shout and laugh, causing them both to fall further into the bushes.

Lily and James lowered their arms and waited patiently to see their friends’ reactions - wands still out just in case.

“Well now, that really showed us, didn't it? I don't now about Belle, but I sure learned my lesson.” Sirius said through his loud barks of laughter.

He stood carefully, making certain to keep his footing steady so he didn’t wind up on his arse in the puddle of water. Belle was doing the same, though she lacked the same good natured smile that Sirius maintained. After wiping his hands on a dryer sections of his robes, he pulled out his wand and pointed it at Belle.

“Calidus aeris,” he murmured. His wand radiated an orange glow while emitting an odd kind of suction along with a soft heat. He moved it up and down Belle’s body until the water was merely evaporated steam.

“What about my ‘air?” She held up the bundle of matted blonde locks to further illustrate her issue.

“Let Lily handle it, although I am partial to the wet dog look,” he said with a smile as he turned to James and motioned for him to dry off his robes, as well.

“What happened out here? It sounded like a bloody pack of wolves fighting!” Alice said as her, Remus, and Peter ran toward them.

“Just trying to teach our friends here a lesson in spying on others, is all,” James answered, his wand already at work syphoning the water from Sirius. “Nice to see you finally made it,” he nodded to Peter as he spoke.

“Unlike you four, Peter has actually been productive.” Alice’s smile grew larger as she glanced at Peter. “Go on, tell them,” she said with a squeal.

“My mum is living over a joke shop in Diagon Alley until her and dad figure stuff out,” Peter began. “Before I left for Hogwarts this year, she took me down there and let me pick a few things up. I just remembered this morning when we were talking about Violet that at the shop I saw a Love Lip Gloss. It said something about guaranteed to mark the one who you choose with a big bite of love,” his face grew red at the words.

“Anyway, after you guys left to get the set of practice Quidditch balls James has I went to find Violet, because the lip gloss sounded just like what happened to James’s neck.”


“Wow Peter, you were busy, good work. Now we can try to get her to tell us the truth.” Sirius walked to his friend and patted his back with a large, dry hand.

“That’s not all,” Peter added. “I told Violet that James really liked the smell of whatever she put on his neck, and he wasn’t mad at all.” His face grew even redder at the admission of the lie.

“She was excited and everything, and threw this to me,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, circular tin. “And said James could keep in as a reminder. Then after I had it,” he paused, looking nervously around at them. “After I had it, I told her that James doesn’t like her, he only Likes Lily, and to stay away from him.” He was beet-red by the time he finished. Sirius nicked the tin from his hands to better inspect it.

“Peter,” James walked closer to him to place a hand on his shoulder, “that was really great of you to stand up for me like that. Gryffindor to the bone, aren’t you?” Peter smiled at his words. The fear that James would be annoyed at him for talking about those private feelings quickly vanished, and was replaced with the excitement of receiving his friend’s approval.

“So, should we wait for Frank, or is time to get this Quidditch game started?” Sirius asked as he passed the tin to Alice, who was eager to exam the contents.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you guys,” she threw the container to an impatient looking Lily as she spoke. “Augusta is close friends with the Bones family. You know Amelia, the sixth year Ravenclaw? Well, her older brother, Edgar, and his wife just had twins. The family wants Augusta and Frank to attend their Christening so he's away until Sunday evening.”

“I thought Amelia only had an older sister?” Lily asked as she read the information detailed on the back of the Love Lip Gloss.

“No,” Alice answered. “She does have an older sister, the one that graduated a few years ago, but she has an older brother, also. Edgar was a seventh year when we were in our first.”



“I remember my mother and father talking about him before I moved out.” Belle looked at Sirius out of the corner of her eyes as he spoke, surprised that he was brining up his family. “They said something about him marrying a muggle, isn’t that right?” Alice nodded at his question. “He’s also really close with Dumbledore. That’s what my father said when he was going on about Dumbledore’s group of people being a mix of blood traitors, half bloods, and muggle borns alike.” Sirius had changed the last few words of his father’s tirade. Mudblood wasn’t a word he would utter around Lily.

“I bet he’s part of the group that my parents told us all about this summer. The one that helps Dumbledore keep tabs on Voldemort.” Alice shivered as the name left James’s lips. She detested it more than anyone in the group. Not feared, Alice never feared, just despised everything it stood for.

“Probably, I bet loads of people are part of it, people we don’t even know about. Do you think there are Aurors in it, too? Maybe the one that your parents are friends with, the one that’s going to be my tutor, maybe he’s part of it too!” Sirius said with excitement surging through his eyes. The grey colour of them was glowing silver as the thought swirled around his mind.

“Maybe. They didn’t tell me anything more about it other than what you guys heard. Just that Dumbledore will continue trying to keep everything safe and that he has a group of people working with him so they can follow exactly what the Death Eaters are doing.”

His answer wasn’t exactly a lie. His parents hadn’t told him more than that, though even in such a large house, sometimes it was impossible not to overhear things. Especially if you were listening outside doors. He would tell Sirius, Peter, and Remus the rest soon enough. But there was no point in scaring the others.

Voldemort was already terrifying. Everyone knew that. Telling them that he had overheard his mum and dad talking with Alastor Moody about how powerful he was becoming, and about the amount of supporters he’s gaining, wasn’t going to do anything good.

“So, it looks like this stuff really can cause what ‘appened to James’s neck. I think Peter ‘as already done enough to scare ze little wench off, but we should all keep our eyes out for any more tricks.” Belle said, changing the subject and passing the tin to James, who was the last to see it. “Now, are we ready to play Quidditch?” she asked with a smirk. Her competitive streak was already itching to get the game underway.

“Okay, considering Peter is the man of the hour, let’s let him decide how we do it.” Remus said as the group started making their way from the equipment shed back to the field.

“Well, we have,” he paused for a second to do a quick count, “seven of us. So, let’s have Lily as seeker and she can play for both teams. We’ll just use one Snitch, then whoever has the highest points after she catches it, is the winner. Then James will be Chaser on one team and Sirius can be the Chaser on the other.”

Peter was interrupted when Sirius let out a quick, Yess! It was common knowledge that any game involving those two put against one another was going to be a good one. Both enjoyed winning entirely too much.

“That will leave Remus and me for Keepers. I’ll be with Sirius, Remus can be with James. Then Alice and Belle for Beaters. Let’s have Alice with myself and Sirius, and Belle with Remus and James,” Peter finished, looking around to see if everyone agreed.

Belle was giving Sirius somewhat of a twisted look as she slowly untangled the scarf from her neck placed it in a robe pocket.

“Great. I always wanted to hand a bloody bat to a girl who’s already looking for an excuse to hit me with something,” Sirius mumbled.

“Maybe she can toughen you up, princess,” James said with a laugh.

He was too amused with himself to notice as Sirius pulled an imitation Bludger from the chest and hurtled it towards him. With the true skill of a Chaser, James caught the jet black ball in the center of his large palm. He threw it straight above his head into the air and quickly captured it with his other hand, holding it for a second before sending it flying in Sirius’s direction.

“We left the brooms where the girls were sitting earlier,” Remus said, distracting Sirius enough to let the ball miss his hands by inches. “Nice catch, butterfingers,” he added with a smirk directed at his friend.

“Please, it was either let it drop or spend the next twenty minutes in a pissing contest with James. Never liked team sports, either,” Sirius mumbled, bending down to retrieve the ball and shutting it safely away in the chest. He brushed the dark locks of wild hair out of his grey eyes before barking out a good natured laugh at what seemed to be his own private joke.

“I’ll go grab them while you guys get set up,” Remus offered.

“Thanks, mate. Be careful with mine!” James shouted at him as he took off towards the edge of the Quidditch pitch.

Remus slowed his pace after a few seconds of sprinting, feeling his stomach groan in protest due to his desertion of lunch early that day. The soft touch of the sun fell over his thin, sculpted face. He glanced up at the blazing yellow star to check its position; it was closer to the West than center, making its way over the massive horizon.

He guessed that it was nearly four o’clock. Soon it would be time to head into the warmth of the castle. He would let the reassuring presence of his best friends be enough to help him hold onto his good mood, while rehashing whatever happened during this game through dinner and ice cream.

Either outcome would be a good one; James and Sirius were both awful losers, which would make for an entertaining evening. He would spend the remaining hours noticing his friends as they continued to send him sidelong glances, silently assessing him in hopes of figuring out how he was doing.

The blue sky would struggle against the velvet black, then finally surrender as the sun bid it a good night. While that bright orb slipped from them, the other would begin to show its self. Slowly first, as the sky began turning to dusk, and that mysterious time between day and night took over.

By eleven o’clock his cells will have completely altered, his make up will be nothing similar to his current one, and he will be howling and biting at the pain. The werewolf would be in control. September moons were always the least predictable, so the group had already decided on being safely locked inside the shrieking shack by no later than nine o’clock.

But, he had a few hours yet. A few hours to laugh with his friends. To watch James and Lily send each other smoldering looks, then glance quickly away the moment one caught the other. He could pick Alice’s brain about their charms homework over dinner, she was the best in their class, always staying a few points ahead of him.

He bent down to retrieve the forgotten pile of brooms and arranged them so they were tightly situated in the nook between his elbow and shoulder, then raised that hand to grasp tightly over the bundle. He mounted his own broom, The Fire Flame 500, and smiled as he thought of the Christmas before last when his mum and dad had woken him up at dawn.

They had been too excited about presenting him with the broom to wait any longer. He had been slightly nervous about it - flying was never his strongest suit, but it had given James and Sirius something to tutor him on for weeks after he returned to Hogwarts. With their help he had quickly become not only a competent flyer, but an exceptional one.

Remus reached forward slowly to keep the pile of brooms balanced, and tightly gripped the handle of his own. The tender air lifted his body and let him cut through the icy chill of it. He carefully controlled his height, wanting to remain closer to the ground in case any of the brooms slipped.

The distance between his friends and himself was quickly closing. Their laughter already began slipping into his extraordinary range of hearing and making him anxious to get the game underway. The picture they all made, talking and yelling over one another while jumping into new conversations, would be the one he held tightly in his heart that evening as the transformation clawed through him. The picture of friendship.

He directed his broom to towards the ground and landed with easy, jumping quickly off as his feet touched the fading grass. He rushed into the heart of the group and began passing brooms out to everyone.

The seven friends were too caught up in their own elation and amusement to notice a pair of dark green eyes watching them from behind the stands.


AN:

Thank you to everyone still reading and reviewing. A special thank you to my wonderful Beta reader, CloakAuror9, for being completely amazing.

There is a certain sentence in this chapter that really got to me and hurt my heart. I hope a few of you pick up on it, also!

*Calidus aeris: Calidus is Latin for warm or hot, aeris is latin for air.


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