Chapter 6 : I Need My Girl
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Chapter Six - I Need My Girl
Sirius hated the library. Even more than that, the library hated Sirius. When he was a first year, he and James had wreaked havoc in the library by deliberately mixing up all of the books so that they were in absolutely no order at all. Thinking back on it now, it had been a fairly poor prank, but it was funny at the time. Since then, he was not welcome back in the library, nor did he have any desire to go back. On the rare occasions he did venture in there, he received dirty glares from the librarian.
However, he had never realised how wonderful a hiding place the library was. To avoid people, all he had to do was sit in a corner of the library, because nobody would ever think to look for him there. And so this is what he had taken to doing in order to avoid his ‘friend’, Lily.
He had also resorted to changing into his animagus form and wandering around the grounds as a loveable hound. Really, Hogwarts was the best place to be when trying to avoid somebody.
He knew he couldn’t avoid her forever, and he made a point of saying hello to her before class, or if he passed her in the common room. But he figured that the safest plan of action was to minimise the amount of contact he had with her, thus minimising the amount of time he spent thinking about her and what it felt like to kiss her.
Because it was all he could think of. He had to minimise it, somehow.
However, while Sirius was making a conscious effort not to talk to Lily, Lily was doing the exact opposite. She really was a top actress, Sirius observed, because she was pretending that nothing ever happened and was striking up conversations with him at every given opportunity. And once she started talking, he found it difficult to ignore her. So, he figured that if he did have to hang around with her, he should always do so in the company of either Remus or Peter.
It wasn’t long before Remus figured him out.
“Why are you avoiding Lily?” Remus asked Sirius one night while they were alone in their dormitory. Sirius had told everyone he was going to bed early, which raised suspicions with Remus, as it was only half past seven.
“I’m not avoiding anyone. I’m just tired,” Sirius lied easily, sprawling out on his bed.
“You’ve basically followed me around all day long for the last three weeks...it’s like you don’t want to be alone with her or something.”
“Just drop it, Moony. I’m not avoiding her.”
“Well she’s starting to notice something’s up. She started asking me why you were acting so distant. What am I supposed to tell her?”
“Tell her I’m a werewolf,” Sirius quipped.
“Ha ha,” Remus replied sarcastically. With the full moon just a few days away, he was becoming tense. Since James died, the full moon had become an even bigger ordeal for the remaining Marauders than before. Without the large stag, it was harder for Sirius to keep Remus under control when he transformed.
“You know, it’s only a matter of time before she figures that one out,” Sirius continued. “I’m surprised she hasn’t already, what with her hanging around with us all the time.”
“She has her suspicions. James told me that before. Apparently Snape put the idea into her head back when they were friends.”
“Trust Snivellus,” Sirius snarled. “I wonder why she hasn’t mentioned it.”
“I think James managed to throw her off the track. And in the last few months she’s been a bit too preoccupied to notice that we’ve been disappearing every full moon,” said Remus.
Sirius paused for a few moments, and then said: “I think we should tell her.”
“No!” Remus exclaimed immediately, anxiety flooding his face. “No, Padfoot, you can’t tell her!”
Sirius sat up on the edge of his bed. “Why not? She wouldn’t judge you for it, Moony. She’d never treat you any differently—”
“How could you possibly know that?” Remus hissed.
“Because I know her,” Sirius said.
Remus studied Sirius for a moment; his best friend looked away, almost ashamed. And then Remus realised it all at once: Sirius most certainly had feelings for Lily.
“And what, you’d tell her that you and Peter are illegal animagi? And that James was one too? How do you think she’d take that news?”
“You couldn’t transform to avoid her anymore,” Remus told him.
“Don’t even try to lie to me, Padfoot, I’ve seen you wandering around the grounds during free periods! Unless you’re telling me there’s another shaggy black dog living in the castle?”
“Right, so I’ve been avoiding her, that doesn't mean you shouldn’t tell her!” Sirius exclaimed. “She’s going to figure it out, and when she does, she’s going to be pissed we didn’t tell her. And on top of that, she’s taken to wandering around the grounds lately too. Except she does it at night. What if she wanders out during the full moon?”
Remus’s face paled. Considering Sirius’s point, he realised that Lily not knowing his secret could be a lot more dangerous than her knowing it. And if she already had her suspicions, it wouldn’t come as a massive shock to her anyway.
“I can’t tell her,” Remus shook his head, and Sirius sighed heavily. “But...you could.”
“Me? Why me?”
“Because I can’t. I can’t bear how she might look at me. Please, Sirius, you tell her.”
This would have to be a one-on-one conversation, Sirius knew. And he had a suspicion that this could be why Remus put him up to the task. He had noticed that Sirius and Lily were no longer as close as they had been before the kiss, and he was trying to repair their relationship. It made Sirius hugely uncomfortable. But Sirius was, as ever, loyal to his friends, and so he agreed to talk to Lily.
He approached her the following day after their final class, which was Transfiguration. Lily looked mildly surprised that he was beginning a conversation with her, which told him that he had not been as subtle as he thought in avoiding her.
“Um, Lily, can I have a word? In private?”
Lily looked around her, as Remus and Peter left the classroom, leaving the two of them alone. “Er, yes, I suppose.”
She sat down on her desk, and he sat on the one opposite her. A thousand thoughts rushed through his mind, of the things he wanted to say to her.
I can’t stop thinking about you...
I wish I didn’t feel this way...
I miss being your friend...
I miss kissing you...
“I just need to tell you something...and it’s pretty huge.”
Lily began to look uncomfortable, bordering on frightened.
“Just let me say it,” Sirius interrupted her. “It’s about Remus.”
She visibly relaxed. The unspoken tension between them was not about to be vocalised; really, in comparison, nothing could be as bad or awkward as that.
“Oh, Remus,” she sighed. “Right. What about him?”
Sirius was fiddling with his red and gold tie, avoiding eye contact with Lily. He figured that if he was going to tell her, he should just come out and say it.
“Well...he’s a werewolf.”
He looked at her to see her reaction. To his surprise, she wasn’t surprised.
“Oh. Yeah. I know,” she shrugged nonchalantly.
“You what?!” Sirius exclaimed, forgetting his discomfort. “You know?! How do you know?!”
“Oh, I figured it out in sixth year,” she said. “And when I asked James about it, he stuttered and stumbled enough to confirm it. Of course he thought I believed him when he said it wasn’t true. But then, there was no other explanation as to why Remus was ill around every single full moon. Speaking of, there’s one tomorrow night, isn’t there? I assume that’s why you’re telling me, so I won’t go for a walk outside?”
Sirius’s mouth was hanging open. He had seriously underestimated this girl.
“Eh...yeah. That’s why I’m telling you.”
“Well, thanks for caring, but I haven’t ever gone outside on the full moon. Remus isn’t the only werewolf in the world, you know.”
“I...I know that.”
Lily raised an eyebrow. “Is that all you wanted to tell me?”
“Um...yep, that’s all.”
Lily stood up and folded her arms. Sirius was frightened.
“Oh, okay. So you don’t want to tell me anything else? Eh, Padfoot?”
She never used his nickname. He was in trouble. He could feel it creeping up, slowly.
“Nope, nothing,” he repeated.
“Oh, right. Because, you see, I’ve seen this large black dog wandering around the grounds lately, and it’s beginning to concern me.”
Sirius tried to keep his cool. “W-why would that concern you?”
Lily shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know, a stray dog wandering around the grounds? He could be dangerous. He certainly doesn't belong to anyone here. And as Head Girl I need to be concerned for the students, understand?” Sirius nodded. He was sweating. “I’ll probably have to report it to Dumbledore. And you know, the dog probably isn’t even neutered—”
“You know!” Sirius cried, jumping up off the desk.
“Of course I know!” Lily shouted back. “How thick do you think I am? I watched you transfigure from my dorm window last year!”
If he wasn’t so panicked, Sirius would have been very impressed with just how smart Lily Evans was. But he was panicked.
“You’re not going to tell anyone, are you? You haven’t told anyone?”
“How could you even ask that?” Lily spat furiously. “I would never rat Remus out to anyone. Or Peter, speaking of rats. Or even you.”
“Right. Thanks. Wait, why did you say that? ‘Or even you’?” Sirius inquired.
“I know you’ve been avoiding me. And I get why and everything, but using your animagus form to do it is just sly. I should tell, but I’m not going to.” She picked up her bag, and headed towards the door of the classroom. Before she left, she turned back to Sirius. “Tell Remus I’ve brewed up some wolfsbane, I’ll drop it up to him later.”
And with that, she left Sirius alone in the Transfiguration classroom, falling further and further in love with Lily Evans’s brilliance.
As she was on every full moon, Lily was nervous. She always waited up by her windowsill until she saw the Marauders return to the castle safely and in their human form. Tonight was the first full moon that they were aware she was thinking of them. She hoped her wolfsbane potion was helping.
While she sat on the windowsill, she reflected on her anger at Sirius. Her anger was a welcome distraction from crying, which was her usual nightly activity. For once, her thoughts were not on her dead love, but on that ridiculous Sirius Black who had allowed one stupid kiss ruin their entire friendship.
She knew it was stupid, but she had apologised, and he had pretended to accept it! She shouldn’t have kissed him, but if he was going to continue to feel uncomfortable about it and avoid her like the plague, there wasn’t a whole lot more she could do. Surely she couldn’t have been that bad a kisser that he would never want to speak to her again. And, if she was being completely honest, he had kissed her back. And he would have continued to kiss her if she hadn’t broken off the kiss...
But apparently he was so embarrassed at the thought of kissing her that he was acting like a complete and utter plank about it.
Slightly enraged at the thought of Sirius, Lily pulled on her dressing gown and slippers and decided to go for a walk around the castle. As Head Girl, she could get away with this and call it ‘patrolling’. She and James used to do it all the time when they were going out together, she remembered with a smile. On more than one occasion, James had sent letters up to her dormitory while she was in bed, asking her to come walking with him. They would wander around the castle, sneaking kisses in dark corners or underneath his invisibility cloak.
Lily trudged down the grand staircase, her right hand slightly tingling at the memory of it entwined with James’s. Simple memories like that one were the ones that upset her the most, inciting desperate loneliness within her. What she would give for just one more night wandering around with James, holding his hand and listening to him tell stories that may or may not have been true.
“I did say that to her!” James had insisted. “Would I lie to you?”
“I don’t believe you!” Lily had retorted. “You really told McGonagall you fancied her?”
“It was a dare. Can’t back down from a dare, Lily. Four detentions it got me, but I swear I saw her blush.”
“Oh, you think a lot of yourself,” Lily rolled her eyes.
He tightened his grip on her hand as they walked around the fourth floor corridor, looking for students out of bed, but not caring about catching them. “I make you blush, too.”
“Ha, I think not,” Lily retorted, feeling herself blushing.
“You’re blushing now,” he leaned over and kissed her cheek, and she shoved him away.
“Oh shut up,” she snapped, and he had laughed loudly, his voice echoing around the corridor.
Lily reached the corridor this had taken place in, and she could almost hear his laughter echoing. She closed her eyes – which were full of tears, she barely noticed – and took a deep breath, trying to feel him close to her. She thought that if she tried hard enough, she might see him somewhere. In the magical world, she knew there was a slight chance that she might see James again in some shape or form, however brief. She would give her entire world for just ten seconds more with him.
But there was nothing but memories. There was none of his spirit anywhere.
She slid down onto the floor beside a suit of armour and allowed herself to cry freely. The castle was completely quiet; there were no students out of bed, for once. Her tears were for James, but they were for herself too. They were a means of letting out the anger she felt towards herself for kissing Sirius, and the anger she felt towards Sirius for not forgiving her.
She jumped, startled, at the sound of a very grand voice, but relaxed when she saw to whom it belonged.
“Oh, hello Sir Nicholas,” she sighed, wiping her tears.
Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost of Gryffindor house, was floating before her, looking rather concerned. He did not ask her what the matter was; everybody in Hogwarts knew what the matter was with Lily. Well, they knew most of it.
“If I have not said it before, I am deeply sorry for your loss,” Nick told her solemnly. “Mr Potter was truly one of my favourite people. His death was a great loss to this world.”
“Yes, it was,” Lily agreed quietly.
“But, it is like Professor Dumbledore says, those who we love never truly leave us.”
“Sir Nicholas,” Lily addressed him as politely as she always did, “Do you think that James...can see me?”
“Unfortunately, I have never passed through to the other side so I cannot say for certain. However, I like to believe that those who have left this world leave a small part of themselves behind, something that keeps them connected to the living.”
Lily was slightly comforted by this.
“And,” Nick continued, “I believe we will see our departed loved ones again one day.”
“I believe that too,” Lily nodded.
“But until that day comes, I find that it is best to live one’s life the way your loved one would like you to live it.”
Lily wrapped her dressing gown close around her. “I’m not sure how to do that. I cry for him every day.”
“In my experience, it is helpful to write a letter of farewell. It allows us to say the things we never got the chance to say and, ultimately, to move on...”
The idea had never occurred to Lily. She wiped her cheeks on her sleeve and stood up. “Thank you, Sir Nicholas.”
“Off to bed with you now! The castle is rather cold this time of night, I hear! Not that I can feel it...”
Lily bade Nearly Headless Nick goodnight and wandered back to the Gryffindor tower. Instead of going back to the girls’ dormitory, she headed for the boys’. The four beds in it were empty. She made her way to the one she knew would not be occupied again. She had never been in the dorm before. She had come to the door looking for James on a few occasions, but had never come inside.
Even if the area around the bed hadn’t been cleared out, she would have known which bed was James’s anyway, by instinct alone. It was the one nearest to the bathroom. She climbed in, and realised with a pang in her heart that it still smelled of him. This was the best place to wait for the boys to return; she didn’t know why she hadn’t thought of it before. She didn’t really get on that well with her own dorm mates anyway. James’s bed was much more comfortable than hers.
She buried her face into his pillow, breathing in his scent, delighted that the House Elves had only made the bed, but not changed the sheets. They would once the summer came. Maybe this was that one part of James that was left on earth; his smell. All of his things had been removed and given, she assumed, to his father.
She drifted off to sleep, but awoke when she heard the dormitory door opening. It was getting bright outside when Sirius and Peter stumbled in, Sirius looking more beaten up than Peter. She sat up quickly in James’s bed, causing the two boys to jump and shout in surprise.
“It’s me!” she cried quickly.
“Fucking hell Evans, you frightened the shit out of me!” Sirius growled. “I thought you were—”
He didn’t finish his sentence. He thought, for a brief second, that James was alive and in his bed, and Lily realised how stupid it was of her to sleep in that bed.
“I think that must be what a heart attack feels like,” Peter moaned, and climbed into his own bed.
“How did it go? Where’s Remus? Are you all okay?” she asked.
“Remus is in the hospital wing,” Sirius yawned, kicking off his shoes. “He’s fine. We’re fine. Time for sleep.”
He then proceeded, to Lily’s shock, to take off his jeans and jumper and crawled into bed in his t-shirt and underwear. Lily didn’t know where to look, and she awkwardly fumbled about with the belt on her dressing gown, which she was still wearing. She did notice a rather large gash on Sirius’s leg, but it looked like it had been there a while. It wasn’t an injury from tonight.
“Night Lily, night Padfoot,” Peter mumbled from his bed.
“Night,” Sirius grumbled.
“Um, goodnight...” Lily responded and lay back down in James’s bed, falling asleep amidst Peter and Sirius’s snores, and James’s smell.
James was drunk. To be more specific, James was about eight glasses of celebratory firewhiskey drunk, thanks to Benjy Fenwick. Emmeline wasn’t far behind him having drank four glasses herself, and being quite a bit smaller and slimmer than James, she had a lower tolerance for the alcohol. Frank and Alice Longbottom had had one each; they were always the more sensible ones of the group.
They were celebrating James’s first Order fight, which had taken place earlier that evening in a Muggle village in North England. James had had his first taste of Polyjuice Potion – an experience he was not eager to repeat – and gone with his comrades, disguised as a forty-year-old blonde haired man, to fight seven Death Eaters. The Order members had managed to overcome them before too much damage was done. These days, when only one Muggle was killed, it was considered a victory.
The younger members adjourned to Benjy Fenwick’s house afterwards to celebrate James’s triumph. Moody only reluctantly agreed to let James attend due to the fact that Benjy’s house was also under the Fidelius charm. Even so, James had been warned not to leave it under any circumstances.
“To Potter!” Benjy toasted James for the fifth time.
“To Potter!” Emmeline echoed, while Frank and Alice merely murmured in response.
“To fighting!” James raised his empty glass, which refilled itself when Benjy flicked his wand at it. “We’re going to get those Death Eater bastards...”
Emmeline was sitting beside him on the sofa and scooted closer to clink his glass with hers. He liked the smell of her perfume. It was different from Lily’s, but it was still nice. He couldn’t really remember what Lily’s smelled like anymore, but he figured he’d know it if he smelled it again. When he smelled it again.
He was really beginning to feel the firewhiskey; it was as if he no longer had control over his arms or hands. Emmeline’s hair looked quite soft, so he asked if he could touch it, to which she replied he could. And it was soft, he observed. Soft, and brown, and curly. Lily’s hair had been more wavy than curly, but sometimes she would cast a straightening spell on it to make it sleeker. And it was red, not brown. He missed Lily’s hair, but Emmeline’s was nice too.
The five Order members sat in Benjy’s living room until the sun was beginning to come up. Alice sat on Frank’s knee, and the two fell asleep in an armchair. James sat with his arm around Emmeline, while Benjy passed in and out of consciousness, singing lines of songs that James had never heard of.
“Your hair’s soft,” James told Emmeline, because it seemed like a good idea to vocalise all of his inner thoughts.
“Oh, why thank you,” Emmeline replied, grinning. Her grin was a bit intoxicating. Not as intoxicating as the firewhiskey, of course. “Your hair’s soft too.” She ran her fingers through the black mess atop his head, which was getting a bit too long. James figured it was about time he took up Emily on her offer to cut it.
“Lily’s hair was soft,” he said. “So was her face. I wonder if she thought my hair was soft...”
Emmeline sighed and freed herself from James’s hold. She sat facing him, legs crossed, and rolled her eyes. “Do you ever talk about anything other than Lily?”
“I don’t think so,” he shrugged. “People used to have a go at me for it all the time. Been talking about her since I was eleven.”
“That’s so sad. You are so sad.”
“Do you think she’s moved on yet?” Emmeline asked. She was not one to be tactful, which was something James both loved and hated about her.
“I hope not,” James grumbled. The thought of Lily with anyone else was like a swift kick to the stomach. “I don’t think so. Lily was never one for boyfriends anyway. And I think she might have liked me.”
“Well of course she liked you!” Emmeline rolled her eyes again. “She was going out with you, wasn’t she?”
“Yeah. She was. I miss her so much, Ems.”
“I know you do.”
“I liked her since I met her. And she never liked me ‘cause she liked Snivellus, the bastard. And it was so crap liking someone who didn’t like me back...”
“Yes, I know the feeling,” Emmeline said flatly. James didn’t pick up on it.
“And then, back in October, she liked me. She kissed me. And she was my girlfriend and everything was amazing and I can do a Patronus because of how happy I was!” Emmeline watched as James’s face literally lit up telling the story. And just as quickly, the light faded. “And then I died.”
“You didn’t die, James.”
“As far as she’s concerned, I’m dead.”
“Well as far as I’m concerned, you’re not,” Emmeline replied firmly, placing her hand on his face. She truly was beautiful. He didn’t understand how he could have a girl who was so obviously stunning and brilliant sitting so close to him, and feel nothing for her. Because she was brilliant. He saw her in action tonight, and those Death Eaters didn’t stand a chance against her. She was so brave, so funny, so amazing...and yet, his heart stayed at a steady pace, while his head drifted away to another girl who had probably already forgotten him.
This, he figured, must be love.
“Ems, why don’t you have a boyfriend?”
She frowned at him. “Because I’m far too fussy and important,” she joked. “Now Potter, go to sleep. Moody will kill you if you turn up still drunk tomorrow.”