Chapter 21 : Forgotten.
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IN AN ADDITIONAL NOTE there is now a Sirius-centric spin off that just happened all out of nowhere. I blogged about it on the forums and it's hit my authors page so, yeah, if you want some Siriusness go check it out :)
Edit: Thanks so much to Mutt N feather's for betaing this chapter for me! She's amazing and I'm so greatful!
“James?” I asked, blinking up blearily as James slipped into my four poster next to me. “I don’t remember inviting you.”
“Hope I’m not interrupting anything,” James said, stealing most of my duvet to wrap himself into a cocoon.
“Only my sleep. It’s not like that’s important.” I shuffled closer to him in an attempt to have access to the bed covers, which seemed to have been his plan anyway because I was suddenly wrapped in my own slightly stifling (in a nice way) cocoon of James’s arms and the duvet combined. “What’s up?”
“Sirius was talking in his sleep,” James muttered, pressing a kiss into the back of my neck.
“What do you normally do?”
“Oh, that’s a point,” I said, sitting up and reaching for my wand, uttering the spell under my breath before placing it back on the bedside table. “h, don’t give me that look, Potter. Now we can talk without worrying about waking the others up.”
“Oh good,” James said, burying his face into my pillows, “I was worried.”
“Shut up,” I said, scrambling round so that we were face to face, “and kiss me.”
“You’re a bad influence,” James said, smiling as he reached forwards and followed my instruction.
Having been in a state of semi-argument (or at least disagreement) I felt like I hadn’t quite achieved the usual quota for snogging my lovely boyfriend this week, and given James was likely to spend the whole of tomorrow banging on about Quidditch and celebrating the inevitable win with the others I didn’t see much of a chance to rectify that in the foreseeable future. So really, this was a golden opportunity.
“Do you normally sleep in so little clothing?” James questioned after a few solid minutes of snogging.
“Well, if I’d known you were coming,” I said, “this is becoming a habit, James, disturbing my sleep.”
“You’re cute when you’ve just woke up,” James shrugged, “and I like your nightgowns.”
“Do you usually sleep in so much clothing?”
“No,” James grinned, “just didn’t fancy the mad dash to your dorm without my shirt.”
“Well, feel free to make yourself comfortable.”
“Quit trying to undress me,” James grinned as I kissed him again, burying my hands underneath the bottom material of his shirt. James raised an eyebrow at me but dutifully let me pull it off over his head.
“Shouldn’t you be trying to sleep, what with the big Quidditch match tomorrow morning?”
“I was going to,” James said, “and then my girlfriend started undressing me.”
“I like you, Potter.”
“How much?” James grinned.
“Enough to instruct you to go to sleep now. Wouldn’t want to be responsible for a Gryffindor loss.”
“Tease,” James muttered into the back of my neck, grinning as he pulled me into his arms.
“But feel free to come visit me any time,” I muttered, not entirely sure whether James was asleep or not.
Although, largely thanks to Sirius, James and my relationship wasn’t exactly secret, there wasn’t a great deal of PDA either. Mostly, we sat opposite each other at meals times, a little too close together when we were sat in the common room and perhaps walked with hands or arms linked when we walked through Hogwarts. The amount of time I spent in the Marauder’s dormitory was really a mark of this lack of public-relationship – because, really, we could have studied downstairs but there’d be less of the flirting and the kissing the general relationship stuff.
Still, it didn’t account for how interested everyone seemed to be about our relationship. I’d mentioned it to Alice – half curious if it wasn’t me being slightly paranoid – and she’d said that because our arguments and apparent dislike of each other had been so public before, everyone just wanted to know how it turned out. Internally, that’s how I explained the eyes I felt on the back of my head as James and I stood at the foot of the girls staircase as he kissed me goodnight, or if he’d drape a casual arm around my waist on one of the comfy armchairs, or when Prefects would turn up a few minutes early – as if expecting to walk in on some sort of moment (when in actual fact, the half an hour or so before Prefect meetings were usually spent cramming our head duties into a concentrated period of time – there wasn’t any time, by that point, to descend into any sort of fluffy moments).
It was a good thing, particularly because no one but the other seventh year Gryffindors seemed to have picked up on the fact that we’d been arguing and so excused us from most of the gossiping, and, anyway, it just seemed that it was the way we were. I liked it like that.
Which was why it was startling to come down to breakfast on Friday morning and be turned into some sort of display object.
“Lily!” James declared, pulling me (slightly clumsily) into the seat next to him and wrapping an arm around my shoulders, “the weather conditions are great for this time of year!”
“Excellent,” I said, feeling slightly bemused as I helped myself to breakfast, “really, really pleased for you, my Quidditch star boyfriend.”
“Exactly,” James grinned, “Hufflepuff is going down. Ready to publicly scream my name?”
“Is that sarcasm I detect?” Remus questioned, looking slightly less demonically pleased as the others (except Sirius, of course, who was instead giving off an air of almost lazy calm – other than the flushed quality to his cheeks).
“Be supportive, Evans.” Sirius grinned.
“Eat some food, James,” I said absently, pushing a plate of sausages towards him before realising I’d turned into his mother. It was most definitely not my duty to tell James when to eat.
“Incoming,” James said, nodding towards where Joanna was approaching the table. He pulled me further under his arm, as if physically restraining me from murdering her or something. I sent him a look which he very pointedly ignored.
“Good luck,” she said, reaching forwards to kiss Sirius quickly. My stomach turned over slightly. Wrong.“You’re going to need it.”
“Why?” Sirius asked. “Your team suddenly and inexplicably produced some skill?”
“I’ve been assured you’re going to lose by at least fifty points.”
“Strange,” Peter piped up, “as your Seeker has never caught the snitch.”
“In our first year,” James said, “your old seeker caught the snitch when playing against the Claws. The first year I was on the team you Puffs managed to score twice against us. Hoping for a repeat performance of those moments of majesty?”
“Now now,” Remus smiled, “let her hope. It’ll only make the victory sweeter.”
“Bet still on?” Sirius grinned, swinging his legs round to face her. Joanna nodded, blushing slightly. “I look forward to winning, greatly.”
I looked pointedly at my breakfast as she kissed him again before disappearing, wandering back towards the Hufflepuff table. Sirius watched her go.
Wrong wrong wrong.
“So it seems Gryffindor needs to score for Sirius to score,” Remus said, raising his eyebrows slightly.
“You can’t sleep with her,” I said wildly. The other members of the Quidditch team – eating together in true team spirit – glanced over at our corner. There were a long few moments of silence before Sirius sent them a look which clearly told them to mind their own business and turned back to me looking distinctly unimpressed.
“I thought we agreed you weren’t going to be a psycho?”
“Not because of that. You can mess up your own life, but she’s so young.”
"I’m not debating maths with you, Evans.”
“Sirius! Grow a moral compass! She is a child.”
“Evans,” Sirius said in his most frustratingly arrogant drawl, “if I win the bet she’s buying me dinner.”
“And if she wins?” I asked, picking at my breakfast feeling slightly mollified.
“Ouch,” James said, “don’t worry, mate, we’re going to win.”
“I know,” Sirius said, sending me one last look before returning to his cool expression and his black coffee. Sirius didn’t eat before Quidditch matches. James insisted upon it for the rest of the team but let it slip with Sirius – there was probably some reasoning behind it, but I never cared enough to ask. Maybe I would. James, for all his faults, was usually a little more discreet about his blatant favouritism towards his best mates.
“You haven’t slept with her?”
“Are you going to?”
“Probably,” Sirius shrugged, “quit nagging me, Lily.”
It would have been all too easy to start an argument, but I swallowed my comment back and instead rested my head against James’s shoulder for a second. As much as I liked Quidditch, days like this always seemed to be very tiring – too much adrenaline, too much screaming from the stands, then there’d be the after party. Given Hufflepuff’s genuinely poor form I very much doubted that they would win but even if they did the Marauders would probably crash the party.
“Why haven’t we made a bet?” James asked.
“Because I have utter faith in you,” I said, ruffling up his hair distractedly.
“Extra incentive?” James suggested.
“If you lose, I’ll dump you.”
“If I lose I’ll be dumping myself off a great height. What do I get for winning?”
“What do you want?”
“Hey,” Sirius interjected loudly, “let’s keep it clean. Remember some people are trying to eat breakfast here.”
“You’re not. I could try and cook you dinner, if you like,” I smiled, “but that depends how much you like eating charcoal. Kiss for every time you score?”
“I’ll take it,” James grinned, glancing at his watch, “better go warm up. Anyone else coming?”
“No,” Rachel said, rolling her eyes, “game doesn’t start for ages yet, James.”
“Captain,” James corrected, “fine, be down in fifteen. Remember to drink at least two glasses of liquid. Lily?”
“Hmm?” I said.
“Good luck kiss?”
“Oh, right,” I said, feeling oddly self-conscious as I reached up, wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him in the middle of the great hall. It didn’t help that Sirius lead Peter and Remus in jeering very loudly, resulting in a rather excessive amount of attention towards us. Then, of course, Sirius threw a piece of bread at my hair. Just about bloody typical. As was the slightly crude comment I barely heard about how James probably could do with a cool down rather than a warm up.
“See you later.”
“Exactly,” James grinned, giving the others a mock salute before vaulting out of the Great Hall. I had to admit that James was utterly adorable when he was this over excited.
Fighting against the mass of cheering Gryffindors heading back to the common room was quite the challenge, but I was somehow managing to clear a path through and work my way – slowly – across the pitch towards the locker room.
“Lily!” Rachel called out once I’d pushed open the door, “Lily we won!”
That was more or less stating the obvious. In fact, I don’t think a Quidditch match had every been won by a greater margin (although James would probably be glad to tell me more about the history of winning by such a significant amount later), meaning that unless Ravenclaw beat them by over four hundred points or something stupid in the final match then we were guaranteed the cup – which more or less explained the deafening roar from outside and the fact that my ears were still ringing from it all.
“Lily!” James grinned, still in his Quidditch robes as he beckoned me over, “put on something pretty, I’m taking you out for dinner!”
“Oi, Potter,” I muttered, “you are muddy and sweaty and horrible, keep your hands off.” Naturally, this meant that James did his best to get me as muddy as possible by hugging me and pulling me into the seat next to him.
“Did you count how many times I scored?”
“Lost count,” I smiled sardonically.
“You are such a prat,” I said, rolling my eyes as I reached out and kissed his cheek, “but fair is fair, I guess.”
“We’re going out for dinner,” James said.
“Hope it’s not a double date,” I said, glancing towards Sirius. Sirius was probably looking not quite pleased enough about everything – he was making a couple of inappropriate comments about me being in the locker room to one of the other guys, but he didn’t seem as gleeful about it as he normally did. I supposed this was a stark reminder of the first Quidditch match last year without Mary.
“No,” James said, “Sirius and Joanna are going out for dinner. We’re going out for dinner. Everyone should go out for dinner. Rachel!” James said, turning around. “You should go out for dinner with Remus.”
“I have a boyfriend?” Rachel suggested.
“Yeah, but, Remus isn’t interested either so it’s perfect,” James said, “and hurry up and get your miserable arses changed guys! As captain I can’t leave until you sods have all cleared off and you’re cutting into my time with my girl.”
“Please never refer to me as your girl ever again,” I said, shaking my head slightly, “whilst I understand that Captain James Potter is a Quidditch superstar, you don’t have to talk like a prat.”
James genuinely pouted.
Dear God, a James high on Quidditch was a completely different experience all together. He hadn’t seemed this carefree for months, dammit and it was lovely. I wanted to absorb this happy James and lock him away so that he never ended up stressed about the war and You-Know-Who and his Mum still being frail despite being discharged from St Mungo’s and back at home.
“All right,” Sirius said, throwing his robes over his shoulders, “see you later.”
“See you later, Captain,” James corrected.
Sirius swore at him, laughing, as the others followed suit and grabbed their stuff, heading towards the direction of the door.
“Where are you taking me for dinner then?” I smiled as the last dregs of the Quidditch team – plus a couple of extras like me – took off towards the door.
“No idea,” James grinned, reaching forwards to kiss me.
“James,” I said, pulling away slightly, “I mean it about the mud.”
Of course, thanks to my mud comment I was forced to sit and wait in the locker room as James took a shower and was then subjected to James wondering around said locker room with insufficient amounts of clothing on. And naturally after James had pointed out that I owed him eleven kisses and had taken it upon himself to claim some of them, Sirius had turned up declaring he’d ‘forgotten his wallet’ and ‘thought we’d have gone, already’ raising his eyebrows at James’s wet hair and current state of toplessness.
And by the time he’d left with a ‘so that’s how James’s hair gets so messy’ I wanted to get as far away from the locker room as possible and get on with this whole dinner lark – rather hoping that it would turn out better than the last date.
Although considering everything, I thought it would have been pretty damn impressive for it to have ended up worse.
The restaurant was completely empty. I suspected that was, for the large part, because it was definitely past lunch time and not dinner time in the slightest.
Quidditch never did fit in with the constraints of normal meal times, but then there were the added shenanigans of James acting like a gloriously happy prat and me just lapping it up because there was a few rare moments of actual happiness which weren’t tainted by something big and scary from the real world, and because James grinning like an idiot made me smile, and because I wanted to remember this day for a very long time afterwards.
So I went along with the rather meandering route to Hogsmeade, which kept being held up by James counting up how many kisses I still owed him, and getting caught up snogging in a bloody secret passage – it was nice to feel like a silly teenager for once, rather than feeling like we were on the edge of fighting something that would probably kill us all. I liked it.
“About last week,” I said, alone in the restaurant with James’s hands intertwined through mine.
“We don’t have to talk about it.”
“I thought you liked talking about things,” I said, raising my eyebrows at him.
“We don’t have to talk about it now,”
“Because, James, I think the reason you don’t want to talk about it because… look, James, we know that I’m the problem here,” I said, sighing.“Lily does what Lily wants.”
“And,” I interrupted, “you don’t want to talk about that because you don’t want to get to the point in the conversation when I say that I’m not sorry and you have to make the decision whether to put up with that forever or… well, not.”
One of James’s hands was ejected from mine and instead went up to ruffle his hair slightly. Of course, I was messing up a perfectly lovely dinner by bringing this whole thing up but I wasn’t going to do the same thing as last time – play happy relationship with James before bringing the whole thing crashing back down around our ears.
“And I’m not sorry,” I said, frowning, “I’m not sorry for me. But, I’m sorry for you.”
“Can we not talk about this now?” James suggested, his voice tight.
“Hear me out,” I said, “I’m an idiot for thinking that I can rely on you so much and then walk all over you. So, no more stupid mistakes, James. No more selfishness.”
“So,” I said, grinning, “you’ll have to think of another excuse to ruin us.”
“Hey,” James said, with one of his smiles, “I don’t think I have that much imagination.”
“Good,” I said.
“Yes,” I said, “I mean… I was scared James because I thought that if I… if I lost you then I’d just fall apart.”
“Is it just me,” James said, “or is this dinner conversation getting a little heavy?”
“It’s hardly dinner conversation,” I grinned, “we haven’t even placed our orders yet.”
Every time the waitress came over she seem to decide that given we had yet to look at our menus and were instead wrapped in a conversation that looked more than slightly serious that there was no point asking us whether we’d decided what we wanted to eat. Instead, she flicked her quill impatiently and sighed quite loudly before wondering off again.
“Well, by all means continue in that case.”
“But this week was… it was okay. It wasn’t great. But I didn’t fall apart. So now I think I can stop fighting it and don’t stupid things and messing things up.”
“Well, that’s a relief,” James said, a genuine smile diluted only a little by that bloody mischievous Marauder streak.
“So now I can just let myself…you know.”
“I do?” James asked, his eyes questioning.
“Don’t make me say it, Potter.” I said, the corners of my lips twisting upwards. “I care about you a lot,” I said, “that’s all you’re getting out of me.”
“Well,” James said, beckoning over the waitress in a way that, considering everything, definitely fell under the category of rude, and sending me one of his loveliest smirks, “keep me posted.”
“Not attached to James’s hip?” Alice asked, halfway through the victory party. The whole thing smacked of the potential to be as messy as ever, particularly as Sirius seemed determined to drink himself incapacitated (and was doing quite a bloody good job, too) and Rachel had gotten somewhat emotional and had started crying about missing Jeremy to a rather confused and sparingly sympathetic Remus.
“Well,” I said, glancing over to where James was stood with the members of his Quidditch team that were still capable of standing and watching as they all drank a shot of something which turned their skin an odd shade of blue, “I’ve had him to myself all day,” I shrugged, “if he wants to turn himself blue for a bit, that’s fine by me.”
“Oh how the mighty have fallen,” Alice grinned.
“Sorry?” I asked, turning back to look at her feeling my face flush slightly. I didn’t understand exactly what she meant, but it made me feel oddly uncomfortable.
“Oh, come on Lily, let’s dance.”
That suddenly seemed like a wonderful idea.
Alice’s hand threaded through mine and she pulled me towards the makeshift dance floor – where all the sofas had been kicked a few feet backwards to ensure there was enough space for more than one person to stand up and dance (providing that person wasn’t that slightly odd third year, who’s wild dancing took up half the space all by himself).
“Where’s Frank?” I asked, yelling slightly over the highly concentrated volume of the music in this section of the Common Room.
“He’s with his brother,” Alice said, grabbing two drinks off one of the floating trays and pressing one into my hands, “trying to convince him to come to the wedding.”
“He doesn’t want to come?” I asked, frowning.
“No,” Alice said, “and Augusta, Frank’s Mum, thinks that -”
But the rest of her sentence was interrupted by a rather sloppy James wrapping his arms around my waist.
“Sorry,” I mouthed to Alice, turning around to face a somewhat unsteady James and raising my eyebrows, “quit interrupting my conversations, Potter.”
“I think,” James said, frowning, “that someone spiked my drink.”
“Oh dear Lord,” I muttered, turning around to face Alice feeling slightly alarmed.
“He’s your boyfriend,” Alice shrugged, “your responsibility.”
“Let’s get you some water,” I suggested, placing down my drink before James could drink it and heading towards the table with the glasses, “now, are you slightly green because you’re about to vomit or because of the colour changing shots?”
“Shots, definitely,” James said, grinning madly.
“Sirius!” I hissed, hooking my elbow through his arm and dragging him in my awake. “What is the usual procedure with such a…”
“EVANS!” Sirius yelled.
“Oh, bloody hell,” I muttered, releasing Sirius. Naturally, they would both decide to drink their body weight in alcohol on the same damn day. I didn’t think I’d ever seen James this drunk before.
“James,” I said, pushing him into a chair and passing him a glass of water, “drink up.”
“Lily,” a voice said, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Remus! Thank God!” I said, hugging him without really meaning too (it was then that I realised I’d been drinking a fair bit too, although not even a fraction of what my idiot boyfriend seemed to have drunk). “What do you normally do when James gets this shitfaced?”
“Take photos,” Remus admitted, shrugging his shoulders slightly, “it’s a Marauder rule.”
“Please don’t,” I said, frowning at him, “I’m taking it he’s not always so handsy with you guys?"
“No,” Remus said, smiling, “I imagine not.”
“Lily,” James said, “Liilllyy,”
“Oh, hell,” I said, facing him hopelessly.
“Two choices, Lily. Leave him to fend for himself at the risk of a lot of photos, or put him to bed.”
“Up you get, Potter,” I said, dragging up him with my arm and immediately dreading how hard it was going to be to get him up the damn stairs.
“I thought,” James said, “we agreed on James.”
“Okay, James,” I said, hauling him towards the stairs, “it’d be really helpful if you regained the use of your legs right about now.”
After ten minutes of hard graft, I’d navigated a very drunk James up the stairs and towards his bed.
“For such a weedy guy you’re bloody heavy,” I commented as James half fell at his bed in a way that was definitely not graceful.
“Not weedy,” James said, scrambling to sit up and look at me better. I sat down the edge of his bed and was subsequently tackled so that I was lying next to him, “who are you calling weedy?”
“What the hell did you drink?” I asked, yawning and resisting the urge to just fall asleep.
“Too much,” James declared, burying his face in my shoulder, “Lily, don’t leave.”
“Oh dear,” I said, “You’re a needy drunk.”
“Stay with me.”
“If you mean like, on a forever basis, then fine. If you mean tonight, then no thanks. I don’t want to wake up with you throwing up on me,” I said, wrapping my fingers through James’s and finding myself quite surprised that I actually fully meant what I said (particularly about the vomit).
“I like you, James,” I said, closing my eyes, “but not enough to scrub vomit off my favourite dress when it’s,” I yawned “your own fault for drinking so much.”
“Sirius spiked my drink,” James declared, turning onto his side so that I could feel his eyelashes against my cheek, “promise.”
“With idiot potion?” I suggested.
“Lily,” James complained, snuggling even closer to me, “I’ve waited for you for ever.”
“Bet I’m not worth it,” I said, opening my eyes and watching him, “always thought you’d built me up into this great… idea and then if I gave in you’d just be so disappointed with what you got.”
“That,” James said, “is utter shit. You…” James appeared to have lost the train of his thought slightly, “you, Lily Evans. You’re like… you’re everything, Lils.”
“You,” James began again, circling his arms round my waist, “you are like, you know, really bad at date conversation.” I laughed at that. “But, but Lily – there’s a but -”
“- speaking of which, get your hands off mine.”
“ – but, Evans Lily woman, I am utterly utterly –“
“- drunk?” I supplied.
“– crazy about you,” James finished, “and you should just stay and live in the boys dorms with me.”
“I’m sensing a few impracticalities.”
“Lily,” James said, “Lily please don’t leave me.”
“I don’t see how I can,” I admitted, closing my eyes, “ignoring the fact that you’ve literally got be trapped in your arms right now, when you’re being so damn cute...”
“Maybe,” James conceded, “but I’m not too drunk to know –“ I detangled myself slightly and took off James’s glasses, and placed them on his bedside table before curling back into his arms. “– that you are the most beautifuliest Lily Evans and, and, and… you definitely belong in my bed.”
I laughed, reached out and kissed him.
“Sorry,” Sirius said with such flippancy that one greatly assumed he wasn’t, “but I don’t want to.”
“What’s going on?” I asked, walking over and sitting on the arm of James’s armchair. Head duties without James were undeniably rubbish, but he’d been staring bleary eyed at his transfiguration homework all morning so I assumed he’d be reinstated soon enough.
“Sirius doesn’t want to go to the memorial feast.”
“Mary’s memorial feast?” I questioned, glancing between them.
“I’m not going and that’s that,” Sirius said, moodily glancing around the room.
“ – Sirius…”
“No, James,” Sirius said forcefully, “I’m not going to some stupid feast full of people who don’t care. I don’t want to be sit there while you talk about Mary whilst people are bored and gossiping or talking amongst themselves because they couldn’t give a rats arse that Mary is dead and that she’d been dead for a year. Or first years looking at each other going ‘who the hell was Mary McDonald’ and the Slytherin’s sitting there all smug and satisfied that there’s another half-blood dead and rotting. I’m not sitting in a room with a bunch of fake mourners like the people who turned up to her funeral and cried even though they’d never sodding talked to her and everyone saying ‘oh, poor Sirius’ and acting like they understand me and what it’s like to lose the love of your fucking life. No one fucking cares about Mary any more, okay. And I am not sitting through some crappy feast that no one wants to go to!”
“What are you going to do then,” James asked, “visit her grave?”
“No,” Sirius said shortly “that’s what her family will be doing. I am going to do absolutely bloody nothing.”
“Need company with that?” I asked quietly.
“Lily,” James said, glancing at me looking slightly betrayed. Normally I would have sided with James for just about everything – particularly against Sirius – but there were something things that went beyond pettiness. And Sirius was right.
“He’s right,” I said, quietly, “I don’t want to go. That’s what she never wanted… to be forgotten. And now…”
“It’s happened,” Sirius shrugged, “life happens. Shit moves on. Everyone is forgotten.”
“Well I have to go,” James said, “I have to make a speech. Come on guys, please.”
“No,” Sirius said.
“You need to ask Johnny,” James said, sighing. “If he doesn’t mine you guys not turning up then… fine. But he has to know. You can bet he’ll be going.”
Either Sirius was too hung over to argue, or he had to concede that this was a valid point, because he shrugged his shoulders and considered scowling around the room. James wasn’t look that bright eyed and beautiful either this morning, but that was to be expected.
“Didn’t see Joanna at the party last night. Too sore about losing?” I asked.
“Dumped,” Sirius said, “excuse me.”
And then he got up and walked out the common room, shoving his hands in his pockets. I guessed angsty Sirius was making a comeback.
The first Defence class after we’d made up was the Patronus charms. James made no qualms of loudly telling half the classroom that I’d already done it, resulting in Professor Tyron insisting that I give everyone an example. I’d then countered that I’d only managed it once, ended up sending James a withering look and we’d had one of the normal flirty-argument in front of everyone, and I’d come away feeling slightly pleased and slightly embarrassed by the whole thing.
“Need a hand with thinking of something happy?” James suggested, raising his eyebrows in that playful way of his.
“I’m sure I’ll manage,” I returned, shaking my head and smiling at him slightly. James really was sweet.
“Well, when you need me,” James said, shrugging back in his chair and watching me. The look I sent him did nothing. So I dug up the warm memory of lying next to each other on the floor of the Great Hall, looking up at the charmed ceiling and talking about a whole future.
“Not bad.” Remus said, squinting slightly at my formless mess.
“More than is expected for NEWT level,” Professor Tyron said.
“It was better last time,” James said, “tell me when you want that memory.”
“What memory were you going to suggest?” I countered; hand on hip and feeling amused by his easy grin. James looked good. Having his mum back at home, me in the knowledge about things and our relationship more than back on track suited him.
“Which were you using before?”
“Who says I was thinking about anything to do with you, Potter.”
“I know you too well, Evans. So, which memory was it?”
“Well, either way, it didn’t work properly.”
“You know how to crush a man, Evans,” Sirius said appreciatively. “What about your Valentine’s day jaunt?”
“Bit cruel to bring that up,” Alice suggested from the desk next door, shaking her head at him, “they’ve only just made up.”
“I was talking about the midnight-picnic.”
“Shut it, Sirius,” I said. “Let’s see if slapping you round the face is a happy enough memory, shall we?”
“Let’s not,” James countered, “I’d rather not know that slapping my best mate has made you happier than whatever memory you were thinking of before.”
“You try.” I instructed, this time concentrating on the reconciliation of our argument – James professing that he didn’t much care, really, whatever the hell I did and the he didn’t think anything was worth us not talking. I pictured the two of us, sat next to each other, clasping hands and just talking. I forced the resigned joy in my stomach back to the forefront of my mind. “Expecto Patronum.”
This time the silver mist had a form: a bright silver, shinning doe that burst into life and galloped around the classroom. I was caught up for a moment in how beautiful it was, with all the faces that turned to see who’s patronus it was and then James looking completed and utterly delighted.
The lapse in concentration in looking at his very pretty expression caused the doe to dissipate into nothingness.
"It might not have even been a memory of you, prat,” I said, casting the spell again.
“No,” James said, shaking his head, “I think...” then he stopped, frowned (the sort of I’m-going-to-kiss-you-now-frown, except he didn’t now), then pulled out his wand and cast his own attempt at the spell. He managed it first time – of course he did, the prat – and I sent a cursory glance at his patronus and saw, of course, a stag.
They galloped half a length of the classroom together, before I lost concentration and sent James a half sort of smile.
“You know what that means, right?” James asked softly, because a fair proportion of the classroom was looking at us now. The word “soul mates” was half whispered in my ear, then I looked at James – beautiful James – then I kissed him. Right in the middle of the classroom. In front of everyone. For an excessive amount of time.
And, dammit, I didn’t even care.
"A rat?” A Ravenclaw asked, loudly. “Pettigrew is a rat.”
I tore my gaze away from James to catch sight of the silver form of a rat just before it faded to smoke.
“Wants some cheese, Peter?”
“Oi,” Sirius said loudly, “what about you Stebbins, too depressed to produce anything at all?”
“Not everyone’s an arrogant little show off, Black,” Snape’s voice cut through me slightly, flaring up that familiar feeling of annoyance in my gut.
“Some of us have got things to show off, Snape,” Remus interjected, “not attempting the spell yourself?”
Snape raised his wand, closed his eyes for a second before saying ‘expecto patronum.’ As much as I wanted to shut my eyes and pretend Snape didn’t exist, there was a morbid curiosity associated with my once best friend. I glanced over, trying to make out a shape in the first lot of spacious mist.
Sirius lead a chorus of mockery at his failure. I bit my lip and watched his second attempt.
It was something like a horse, I thought, then something twigged inside my brain.
The whole classroom went silent.
It was a doe.
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