Of Heart and Home
The night had bled into morning, and by the time Lily found herself back in her house and comfortably in her bed, it was past four in the morning. They hadn’t talked much that night, but there hadn’t been a need to speak. Rather, they sat side by side on the swings, periodically pointing out stars to one another as they listened to the wind whistle through the leaves. The residual adrenaline that came from staying up so late still hung with her until the moment she fell into bed. And somehow when she finally curled up beneath her blankets that morning, she could not keep the insatiable smile off of her face.
The sun had well since risen by the time she opened her eyes, yet she didn’t feel her usual guilt for sleeping in. Memories of the previous night flooded back, and that same uncanny smile came to her face as she rolled out of bed. Pulling on clothes and tugging her hair into a ponytail, she walked past James’ door and saw that it was still dutifully shut. She didn’t think twice of it, though, given how late they had been up. She took the stairs by twos and was slightly taken aback to see her mother sitting at the kitchen table, newspaper in hand.
“Good morning,” Lily said jovially, pushing aside her surprise as she strolled into the kitchen. “Not up and about yet?”
“I’m taking a day off. The garden needs some serious help,” her mother said simply, a warm smile coming to her face. As Lily turned towards the cupboard to find a cup, she could just feel the smile melt off of her mother’s face. “Lily, I’m so sorry about what happened last night. Petunia’s behavior was just unacceptable,” Carol said finally, causing Lily to pause slightly as she was moving towards the refrigerator.
“Don’t think twice about it, mom,” she responded, turning to her mother with an equally genuine smile. In fact, it was difficult to even remember the hurtful words that Petunia had thrown at her. It all seemed rather like a foggy dream, only half-remembered after waking up.
She could tell that her mother didn’t want her to brush off the incident so easily, but she reluctantly let it go. “Where’s James?” she asked instead, glancing at the clock. “It’s quite late, isn’t it?”
“He’s still asleep, I think. We were up late last night,” Lily reasoned, sitting down at the table with her glass of orange juice. She could read her mother’s apprehension, and she shook her head assuredly. “We were just out in the park. He kind of calmed me down.” She reached for a discarded section of the newspaper and did her best to focus on the headlines, hoping to keep her giddy mind off of James.
She could feel her mother’s eyes on her, though, and her cheeks immediately betrayed her with a blush. “You like him, don’t you,” her mother said slowly, eyeing her with an almost sly smile on her face. Of course—mothers could always tell.
Lily couldn’t help but laugh at this, though, her eyes drifting up to her mother’s for just a second before she trained them back on the paper. “I hated him a week ago,” she told her flatly, almost cynically. “Or at least I thought I did.”
“But not now?” she pressed delicately, to which Lily could only laugh once again, unable to come up with an adequate answer.
“Why don’t you go out and garden or something?” Lily accused teasingly, biting on her lip to keep her cheerfulness reined in. “You’re getting far too much enjoyment out of this,” she decided with a quick shake of her head.
Her mother obliged, let out a small laugh herself before she made her way out the front door. Lily took a final gulp of her orange juice and put down the paper decisively, her eyes drifting towards the stairs. With a deep breath and an utterly contagious smile on her face, she stood up and began to make her way upstairs to collect James.
She was relieved to hear his voice inside of his room as she approached it—she wasn’t particularly prepared to pour water on his head to wake him up or anything of the like. The image made another small laugh bubble up inside of her before she finally reached the door. Behind it she could hear his laugh, and she furrowed her eyebrows momentarily, confused at what he could be laughing at. Had he heard her own soft giggle in the hallway? Surely that couldn’t be it…
Two voices. That’s what really gave her pause. For a split second, she wracked her mind for who could possibly be in the room with him, not even considering the fact that it was her
house, and how utterly absurd it would be for him to invite someone there. But it was only a moment before she recognized the second voice as that of the notorious Sirius Black. Of course, she hadn’t a clue how they could be communicating, given that she wasn’t hooked up to the Floo Network, but the second half of Sirius’ sentence made such a thought leave her mind.
“When are you going to get with her?” his muffled voice asked with a good-natured laugh. “You’ve put up this chivalrous act for long enough. It’s about time you get something out of it, am I right?” Her stomach immediately dropped as she heard James laugh in response.
“She’ll come around soon. I have confidence,” James reasoned, causing Lily’s mouth to go dry quite suddenly as her heartbeat began to race.
“She better,” Sirius continued critically. “Or else all of this would be a complete waste of time.”
At this, she turned the knob slowly, not thinking twice of consequences or reason. He was sprawled out across his bed, a mirror in his hand. Her eyes met with Sirius’, who was reflected clearly back at her. James turned around, initially surprised to see her.
“Lily!” he exclaimed, looking back at Sirius for a moment. “Say hello, Sirius,” James insisted, turning back to Lily with a smile as Sirius waved obligingly. “Don’t tell anyone about this—I’m not particularly certain that it’s allowed on campus…” His voice drifted off as he finally read her dead expression, and his smile melted into a confused frown. “What’s wrong?” he asked as he dropped the mirror onto his bed despite Sirius’ shouts of indignation. When she didn’t respond, he hopped off the bed and approached her slowly.
“Is it Petunia?” he asked, and she almost laughed at the thought. This only brought more puzzlement to James’ face, but she merely shook her head scathingly.
“No, asshole, it’s you,” she spat, her eyes narrowing in disgust, if only to hide a wounded expression.
James swallowed, looking nervously around the room. “Is this because I slept in?” he asked slowly, though even he couldn’t believe that this could be the cause. “I’m sorry…I was tired…” he continued, lost and defeated.
“No, I’m sorry,” she said, her tone laced with an unrestrained resentment. “I wouldn’t want all of this to be a complete waste of time
“What?” James demanded, his confusion giving way to something akin to frustration. “What’s a waste of time?”
“Because you’ve put on this chivalrous act for quite long enough. You really deserve to get something out of it, after all.” She could feel her mouth quivering, but she pressed her lips together firmly in order to quell such an emotion. And finally, his eyes widened with understanding, and he shook his head emphatically.
“Oh, that? No! Lily, no, that’s not what—“ he exclaimed frantically, reaching for her automatically.
She recoiled quickly, averting her eyes to the ground immediately. “I’d like you to leave.” The words were decidedly cold, without room for argument.
“Lily, you don’t understand,” he continued on, but she merely shook her head with an incredulous laugh.
“And, I mean, who was I kidding? What did I expect to happen?” she asked to no one in particular before an icy laugh escaped her lips.
James’ eyebrows came together in confusion once more as he ran a nervous hand through his hair. “What are you talking about?” he asked, his tone flustered and alarmed at the same time.
She met his eyes finally, her disappointment and embarrassment gone as she took a moment’s pause. “How could I honestly
expect to get back to school and just have things continue on miraculously? What would people think?” she demanded, her words fueled with sudden clarity.
“Who cares what people think?” he countered, to which her gaze became pointed and challenging.
“You care! You care what other people think!”
“What are you talking about?” he begged, taking another step towards her. She countered back once again before she continued on as if she hadn’t heard him.
care what other people think!” she reasoned, looking away from him suddenly as if to consider her own self-consciousness. He opened his mouth to speak, but she tore on, her eyes meeting his again. “Six years of resentment, all gone after a week away from Hogwarts. Everyone would be patting you on the back, congratulating you on melting Lily Evans’ heart of ice!” she exclaimed with another grim laugh.
James stared at her for a moment, but the second he opened his mouth to speak she looked down to the ground and interrupted him. “Please leave,” she said quietly, her voice suddenly meek. He didn’t move for a moment, and she continued. “You can Apparate from here to Hogsmeade.”
“What about the whole Muggle thing?” he asked slowly, but she merely shrugged.
“I don’t care.” With that, she turned around and left the room without so much as a glance at James. She didn’t bother closing her own door as she drifted into her room, her mind all but blank. It wasn’t a minute after she heard James’ ‘pop’ as he Apparated away and she heard her mother calling her from downstairs. With a deep breath, she made her way down the stairs, forcing herself to meet the eyes of her mother, who was standing in the front doorway.
“Do you think you could grab James for just a minute, dear? I have a bag of mulch that’s giving me trouble,” she said amiably, having not heard a word of their yelling match.
“James isn’t here,” Lily responded with as much composure as she could muster.
“What?” her mother asked with immediate bewilderment, looking around, as if she hoped to find him in the kitchen or around the corner. “Where did he go?”
“Back to the castle,” she continued, doing her best to keep her face blank. “I asked him to go.”
“Why is that? I thought you liked him!” she reasoned, though Lily couldn’t help but notice the sadness in her mother’s voice.
“Yeah,” Lily said with a nod as she turned back up the stairs. “I suppose that was the problem.”
“I just have a hard time believing that.” It was the voice of Bobby, who sat across from her as they sat at the park.
“I didn’t think you even liked him, Lily,” Lindsay said sharply, her expression revealing no sympathy.
“Shut up, Lindsay,” Adam said automatically, to which she unwillingly obliged.
“And how did you hear this, exactly?” Bobby asked again, raising an eyebrow in question.
“He was talking on the phone,” she said easily, having deliberately come up with an alternative to James’ mirror contraption. “I didn’t mean to be a downer on everyone’s day—we really don’t need to sit and talk about me,” she continued uncomfortably as she pulled at the grass beneath her.
“He’s a great guy, Lily,” Zachary said simply—the first time he had spoken since they had all met up. “And believe me, I searched for any hint
of an ulterior motive, and when he realized what I was doing, he wasn’t angry. He was… Almost troubled at the thought of someone taking advantage of you.” He paused as Lily raised her eyes to meet his. “He likes you so much. And you know how critical I am about guys who go after you,” he continued with a short laugh.
Lily couldn’t find a response to this, and so she was thankful when Bobby piped back in. “Maybe it was a misunderstanding,” he offered, looking between the others for affirmation.
“Look, guys, I know that you want to find something redeeming about all of this, but it’s really okay. It’s not a big deal,” she insisted, forcing a smile on her face as she looked between each of her friends.
“But it is,” Zachary said slowly, frowning a bit to himself. “I’ve never seen you like this before. I’ve never seen you smile at a guy like that, and I’ve never seen you so upset when something’s gone wrong.”
“It was a week
. In the grand scheme of things, a week doesn’t amount to much,” she countered, though something inside of her knew that Zachary was right.
“A lot can happen in a week, you know?” Adam shrugged, and Lily stared at him for a moment before she let out a sigh and went back to pulling at the grass beneath her.
“Yeah, I know.”
Where did I go, you ask? Well, all that matters is that I’m determined to finish this little story up. I hate unfinished business, you know? I hope you all enjoyed it—I’ve obviously changed a lot in my writing style in the last year, but I hope it’s still enjoyable!! Let me know what you think, lovely readers!
Until next time,