Chapter 8 : Reignited
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All the stress and pain I had ever felt in my life put together seemed like nothing compared to what I saw in James’ eyes after he found out about the death of his aunt and cousin. The other Marauders and I had stayed with James for hours when he broke down, sometimes sniffling along with him, although I doubt he noticed. I held back as much as I could, as did the others, but every new sob that wrenched through James’ body made my stomach twist into knots. None of us had ever seen him like this; our friend, who was normally so cheerful and full of life, had been reduced to a broken wreck.
We stayed at James’ house overnight by request of Mrs. Potter; the funeral was to be held in two days and she wanted to keep her son as far as possible from the planning. After contacting the school and receiving our parents’ permission, we were allowed to stay with James until the day after the funeral. Remus, however, realized that the full moon would arrive in a few days and was forced by the school patron to return to Hogwarts. They didn’t want to cut it close and risk him transforming here; there was no need to stress these people out any further. Since Sirius was James’ best friend and practically family, it only seemed right that he was there for him on the day of the funeral. Peter was the only remaining Animagi, so he went back to Hogwarts to stay with Remus.
I could see that the funeral was looming over James like a dark cloud and it was evident that he was getting very little sleep. He had also started keeping a physical distance from his parents, the Marauders and I. After that first night, he barely touched anyone; he literally flinched away from physical contact. I didn’t really understand why, but if that was how he needed to cope, I wasn’t going to interfere.
The funeral was something Sirius and I never spoke of when James was around, but on one rare occasion, he mentioned it to us. The three of us had been eating breakfast in the kitchen when he looked up and told us that he needed the closure, and that ‘waiting for the funeral was the hardest part’, because it gave him hope that somehow his family was still alive. He fell silent after that, and didn’t volunteer any more information about the subject.
On the day of the funeral, Sirius and I Apparated with the Potters to the cemetery. From the look in James’ eyes when we had been told to part ways, I could see that this scared him as much as it caused him pain. Lost for words, I reached out to touch his arm, Sirius comfortingly patted his shoulder and then we were guided away by an usher. James and his parents stood with the man leading the sermon, and Sirius and I stood amongst the gathered friends and family, lost in the sea of black clothes. A chilly breeze blew the dry leaves from the ground in graceful circles, seeming too lively for a day so filled with death. Mrs. Potter had leant me a black shawl to cope with the late November cold, and I pulled it tighter around myself.
The priest began speaking, saying some form of a prayer about the late Potter family. Everyone bowed their heads respectfully for the majority of the time, sniffles being heard here and there on occasion. I had never been to a funeral before, but found myself never wanting to attend another. To see so many people’s pain all brought together in one place was both moving and tragic.
The priest soon began speaking on a more personal level, mostly about the goodness of Will and Caroline Potter, and that certainly got the tears flowing in the gathered assembly. I noticed that Sirius had his hands clenched the entire time. It occurred to me that after living with the Potters for almost two years he must have known James’ family; this wasn’t easy for him either.
The priest continued on about Will, Caroline and Abigail, and I soon found myself crying along with the Potter’s friends and family. I wasn’t sure what I cried for; for the deaths of such good people, for James’ loss and immense pain, or a combination of them both. Sirius, who had tears in his eyes as well, met my sad gaze with his own. He reached out in a friendly gesture and took my hand, giving it a consoling squeeze, which I returned. In the past few weeks, I had gotten to see all the Marauders in a new light, one that showed that they were caring and empathetic beneath their tough exteriors. It almost made me smile.
Flowers were laid on the coffin and tearful, heartfelt speeches were made but eventually, the funeral ended. The coffins were magically lowered into the ground and then it was over. I watched James bow his head, something he had done a lot lately to hold back emotions, and I found myself on the verge of tears again. Sirius, who still held fast to my hand, indicated that we should join the people paying their respects to the Potters. We moved into the line that passed by the lumps of earth where the Potters lay, and then led to the three living Potters who were receiving condolences.
We waited patiently in the queue, eventually reaching the Potter family. I followed Sirius, embracing both Mr. and Mrs. Potter before finding myself face-to-face with James.
My heart broke for him. Although dressed formally in a black jacket, shirt, and dress pants, he looked like a mess. His jet black hair blew sideways in the slight wind, and his red eyes were shadowed by dark circles. He had just been released from a hug by Sirius and stood silently in front of me. The corner of his lips pulled up a tiny bit, but it was such a broken expression that it was almost worse than tears.
“You look great,” he choked out; his voice sounded monotone and lifeless.
“James,” I whispered. Whether he wanted to be left alone or not, I didn’t care; seeing him like this was too much for me, so I wrapped my arms around his middle and hugged him. He surrendered one small cough and buried his face in my shoulder, letting me hold him. He pulled me closer and, in an attempt to make him feel better, I echoed his words from a few days before in a whisper;
“That was the hardest part, remember? Now it can only get better.”
He exhaled shakily and responded softly into my ear, “I hope so.”
James came back to school a few days after Sirius and me, but it wasn’t easy for him. Even though it was only a few weeks from Christmas holidays, James had missed a lot of work and it was stressing him out. The Marauders, Liz, Mary and I did our best to help him catch up and ease some of the strain. In the back of my sarcastic mind, it occurred to me that I’d never seen James work this much before.
Little by little, the old James came back to us; as it happened, I realized more and more how much I had missed him.
The revelation came to me late one night when I woke up from a dream feeling strangely alone. I had craved arms around me, but not just any arms – his arms. It was in that moment that I realized my honest feelings for James, and that my heart had truly been broken when I found him “cheating” on me.
For the first time in weeks, I thought about James and the Veela. It truly hadn’t been his fault, just like everyone had told me. I had ignored him for weeks and he had still persisted in trying to get me back. Although I felt horribly guilty for being so stubborn, my heart swelled at the thought that he really cared enough about me to do that.
Being with James Potter was like playing with a fire – unpredictable, exhilarating, but also possibly dangerous. Our relationship had danced all over the place, from enemies to friends, then from a couple to enemies once more. As to where we stood now...I wasn’t so sure. James was all over the place, wild and crazy, but his outgoing, shining personality was one of the reasons I couldn’t forget about him.
I wished there was a way to tell him what I thought, but I was no good at that sort of thing. Besides, he had been back for barely a week; I didn’t want to make things harder for him. I would wait for him to be ready. As I sat in bed telling myself that, the wait already seemed like too long a time.
I was amazed at how my outlook on life had changed over a short week. I had lost so much, but gained a new respect for my life. I was lucky to have my family and friends, because now I knew how quickly they could all be taken away. My friends were a major reason why I was alright – they were constantly helping me catch up in school or taking me out to the Quidditch pitch to clear my head.
After a week of being back at Hogwarts, my life already felt like it had before; the simple normalcy of it blew my mind. So much had changed for me, yet at the same time, nothing had at all. The Marauders and I had showed the girls the Room of Requirement at the end of fifth year and made them swear not to tell anyone, so we went there on the nights the common room was full and we wanted to hang out, just us.
It was a Friday in early December and I had finally caught up on all my missed work. I was sitting on the floor of the Room of Requirement (which had changed to look like the Gryffindor common room) playing Wizard Chess with Sirius while Peter tried to help him out. Remus was on the floor nearby with Mary under his arm, absentmindedly playing with her hair, and Liz and Lily were working on an astronomy chart across from them. The room had provided us with tables but (as usual) we were all on the floor. It was just another typical night for us.
“Just accept that I am the champion of the world,” I explained to Sirius with a smirk, “and you won’t have to keep losing to me.” There was a snicker from nearby, and I turned to its source.
“And what do you find so amusing about that, Evans?”
The redhead in question turned to me. “Oh, nothing. It’s just that the last time I checked, I was the undefeated champion.” Our whole group of friends ‘ooooh-ed’ at me from around the room.
I flashed her a big grin, “I’ll take that as a challenge. Unless you’re too scared to face me.”
Abandoning her chart, Lily crawled over to me as Sirius moved so she could take his spot. “Bring it on.”
I raised an eyebrow at her and we started to play. Remus got up soon after, announcing that he was hungry, and everyone leapt to their feet to join him. When Lily volunteered to come along, Liz and Mary practically pushed her down and insisted she stayed. They were out the door within seconds. I knew what they were doing and Lily must have too, but we both pretended like nothing had happened. That is, until I glanced up from the board to catch her looking at me. At first I thought I had imagined it, but I caught her doing it a few more times.
“See something you like?” I asked jokingly.
She blushed and stared down at her hands, “No.”
The look on her face when she realized she had been caught was adorable, but of course I wasn’t going to tell her that upfront. So, being me, I joked around.
“Admit it, you missed me, Evans!”
She laughed, but was still looking down when she said, “Actually, I did. I was worried.”
Wait...what? I had been expecting a typical sarcastic response. Had she just admitted to missing me? She kept her gaze cast shyly downwards at her fingers, which were tracing a figure eight pattern in the carpet.
I knew that this was the moment where I could finally tell her what she meant to me; how I missed her in my arms, or how her not being with me felt like someone taking away a part of me. I had so much to say, I just needed to figure out how to word it. The only problem was that this girl made me lose my train of thought with a simple glance.
“I never got the chance to apologize to you, but James, I really am sorry for not ever listening to you.”
She admitted to missing me and apologized? I was shocked. This was not like Lily.
Her lips turned up at the corners; “Yes, I’m admitting I was wrong. Take it in while you can.” All of a sudden, her smile faded, and her eyes looked troubled. “But I am really sorry. I was so stubborn. I just didn’t want to hear what anyone had to say because I was so angry.”
“Why...why are you sorry?” I said, dropping the pawn I had been holding. “It was my fault! I was with the Veela.”
“But you couldn’t control that! Or so I’ve learned. I didn’t know she was a Veela and I thought you’d...well, given up on me.”
“Lily, I could never...”
She held up a finger to indicate that she had more to say. “I was upset and I couldn’t see straight, so I wouldn’t hear you out. And that wasn’t fair. So I completely understand if you don't want-”
I had figured out what she meant before she even said it. She thought that she’d been too cruel and that I was done with her, but did she honestly believe that I could ever forget her? So I leaned forward, put two fingers under her chin, and kissed her.
Her body froze and I immediately regretted what I had done. I pulled away to see her open her eyes, which were now wide. I had acted on pure instinct when I shouldn’t have. Crap.
“I’m sorry,” I said in a rush, feeling my heart plummet.
“Don’t be.” Lily’s eyes were still wide, but a smile was beginning to creep onto her face. I realized that she was leaning back towards me, and my spirits soared. I took her face in my hand and she did the same to me. This time, it was her who leaned forwards to meet my lips.
I had forgotten how amazing it felt to kiss Lily. Other than occasionally stopping for air, we never disconnected our lips. Her fingers teased playfully at the back of my neck, driving me wild. My other hand went for her waist, drawing her closer to me; I wanted no space between us.
The chess board still sat between us, but apparently Lily didn’t care. She leaned so far over it that she fell forwards, so I took the opportunity and pulled her backwards with me. We ended up on the ground, her lying partially on top of me, but she changed that quickly. This girl never failed to surprise me, but this was really something. I could feel every curve of her body against me, her lips moving with mine. There was no way I could ever lose her now; she was too important to me.
Lily pulled away, but not by much; I could still feel her breath against my mouth. “So...am I forgiven?” she asked with a smile.
“Hell yeah,” I said enthusiastically and connected our lips over and over. I allowed my fingers to run along her spine, up to her neck and back down, and I felt her shiver. “I missed you,” I whispered in between kisses. My hands slid down to the hem of her shirt, and I pressed my palms against the bare skin of her back that was exposed there.
“James,” she sighed against my lips; the sound of her saying my name drove me crazy with desire. I rolled over, laying her underneath me and kissing her fiercely.
I didn’t ever want to move. Lily was the only girl I had ever felt this strongly about. Sure, I had kissed quite a few other girls in the past, but none of them ever made me feel like this. Lily ignited this flame within me, brighter than her hair, and not just physically. She was able to make me smile, make me laugh, and she had been what brought me back to life after I had lost my family. I hadn’t just missed her; I had needed her.
“I missed you too,” Lily said, running her hands through my hair. My tongue traced her lips, causing a unanimous shiver to run between us, and soon her tongue was wrestling playfully with mine. She ran her hands down my chest, making me groan in satisfaction. I craved her near me, wanted her to always be in my arms, and I knew now that she felt the same way; the realization made me ecstatic. My tongue flickered teasingly against her lips and I felt her smile into the kiss.
We lay there like that for a while, just enjoying the feeling of being with one another. In an unspoken agreement, we both knew that our friends would be coming back soon, so we slowly – and rather reluctantly – cooled down. I ended up with my hands on the floor, bracing myself above Lily and softly kissing her. She pulled back and put a gentle hand to my cheek; I leaned down and pressed my lips to her for a long moment.
When I moved back, I sat up and brought her with me. She stretched her jeaned legs on either side of me and sat on my crossed legs. Leaning back on her hands, she caught my gaze and gave me a shy smile. I took her hand and intertwined our fingers, wondering how I could have gone almost six whole years without her. I was moving in to kiss her again when I heard a distant echo of my name.
“James? What happened to the Room?” Sirius called, his voice sounding far off. “Why is there a new hallway?”
Lily was inches away from me and her warm breath tickle my face as she laughed. “He loves interrupting us, doesn’t he?”
“Apparently. His timing is amazingly accurate for a guy who can hardly come to class on time.”
Lily laughed again. “Very true. So should we, you know...move?” She looked down at the way we were sitting, gesturing around with her free hand.
“In a minute,” I smiled. I cupped her face in one hand and kissed her until we both needed air.
The sound of approaching footsteps made Lily crawl off my lap and move to sit with her back to the couch. I joined her, slinging an arm casually over her shoulders. She looked up at me questioningly.
“There’s no point in pretending,” I said simply. She nodded, turning her attention to the door as our friends walked in.
“The Room created this huuuuuge, long hallway for us to walk through to get here, why would it -” Sirius came in with his arms full of sweets, but stopped when he caught sight of us. His mouth fell into a small ‘o’ before widening into a huge grin. “Well it’s about time, mate!” he dumped the sweets in the center of the rug and came over to give me a high five. Remus and Peter came in holding Butterbeers, followed by Liz and Mary, all of whom looked pleased.
“Finally,” Remus rolled his eyes but smiled at us both. “Congrats guys.”
“Our little Prongs is growing up,” Sirius sniffed dramatically.
“You have some serious talking to do later,” Liz said, pointing her finger at Lily, who laughed and nodded her consent.
After that, the night went on as it normally would. We played Exploding Snap, ate and drank, and laughed a lot. The only difference between tonight and a night a few months ago was that Lily was curled up with me almost the entire time. The night seemed surreal, too good to be true.
We always returned to the common room after being in the Room of Requirement (so as not to arouse suspicion about where we went all night), but tonight we stayed later than usual. I was exhausted from working so hard to catch up, and by midnight I had my head on Lily’s lap. She was playing with my hair, tucking away the wild strands, and I kept dozing off under her touch. Mary had long since fallen asleep on Remus’ shoulder and Peter was curled up off to the side, snoring. At one o’clock, Sirius woke anyone who was sleeping except Peter, suggesting that we leave him there as a prank. We all agreed, and silently snuck out of the room, containing our laughter as best as we could.
Half asleep and giggling, we made our way down the halls of Hogwarts, our footsteps giving off soft thuds that echoed off the walls. As we made our way to the common room, and I looked down at the beautiful redhead under my arm, I couldn’t help but feel completely at peace. The soft murmurs of Liz and Sirius followed us as we walked.
“I still think they kissed.”
“What makes you say that, Black?”
“’Cause they’re all lovey-dovey now and it’s nauseating me.”
“Oh shut up! They’re adorable, leave them alone.”
“Geez, don’t hit so hard!”
“You started it.”
I laughed quietly to myself and leaned my head down to whisper to Lily;
“They fight like a married couple, don't you think?”
“Kind of like we used to,” Lily smiled wryly.
“Oh Merlin, now they’re snuggling again...”
“Shut up Sirius, they’ll hear you!”
Lily was laughing now too. “Should we give him something to really freak out over?” I asked her.
She looked up at me with a confused expression. I stopped walking, took her face in both of my hands and kissed her with everything I had.
Mary and Liz squealed, Remus smiled, and Sirius yelled “I TOLD YOU SO!” in a voice loud enough to shake the castle’s walls.
I doubt I would have noticed.
It's been ages since ive posted but that was the final chapter! Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my story! I've been writing this one for quite a long time and i would really appreciate any form of a review (they honestly brighten my day and heck its the last chapter so why not!). I've really enjoyed writing this and i hope you liked the ending :)
happy new year!