Chapter 8 : Eight
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credit to the wonderful visenya. at TDA for this lovely image of Dorcas! (:
Third Year: December 24th, 1973
The Potter Manor
As Told By Jennifer Potter
"So you have any more news for us?" I asked in an almost conspiratorial whisper to Alex as James, Alex, and I situated ourselves in the far corner of the living room.
It had been ages since I last saw Alex and he only got even more handsome.
Our (distant) cousin didn't really look anything like us, except for the dark hair, but there was something about the twinkle in Alex's eyes that reminded me of James whenever James was off to do something mad, like land himself in a month's worth of detention.
It was Christmas Eve which meant relatives were flocking the Manor. Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle William were so lost in the crowd of relatives and close friends that I hadn't seen them in a good half an hour.
Alex slumped on the comfy armchair he was occupying and sighed. "It's not looking good. The Ministry is utterly useless. Leach has been trying to get things done but he's having pressure from all sides. Rumour has it that Abraxas Malfoy is part of a shady plot that's making him leave the post."
"What! You mean Lucius Malfoy's father," I double checked with horror.
"He's been in power for only three years but already the Ministry's in an uproar. So many Wizengamot members have walked out on their posts because they dislike a Muggleborn in power. When Leach resigns, it'll probably be Davis that takes over," Alex replied grimly.
"That'd be even worse, wouldn't it? Davis hates Muggleborns," James said, referring to the current Senior Undersecretary.
Our cousin nodded, glancing around quickly before saying quickly, "They're trying to get Millicent Bagnold into office because she's very capable. She's not easily influenced like Leach and the fact that Bagnold is pureblood makes it harder for people to argue. Dumbledore's trying-"
Alex stopped abruptly, his cheeks slowly growing red and his light green eyes wide.
He looked like he had said something he wasn't supposed to.
"Dumbledore what?" I asked with curiosity, gazing at him intently.
He wouldn't answer, but James pressed the issue. "Come on, mate. What's Dumbledore doing?"
Alex shifted around uncomfortably under the strain of James's and my intense imploring looks. "You have to promise to keep this quiet. I can't say too much because it's dangerous, even here."
James and I exchanged looks. Almost self-consciously, I glanced around and gazed at the numerous family members and friends.
What could be so dangerous it couldn't be said here?
"Promise!" Alex insisted, looking more serious than I had ever seen him. His eyes were grim, and there was no sign of a joke in how tense his body was.
Hastily, James and I nodded, swearing on James's Invisibility Cloak that we would not tell anyone.
"Dumbledore's been doing some heavy recruiting to try to get people to start working together to basically protect the Muggleborns and anyone who isn't sympathetic to Voldemort. It's all very secret and I can't say any more than that but Dumbledore's been working overtime now," Alex said in a hushed tone, my ears straining to hear what he was saying.
Truthfully, it sounded exactly like something that Dumbledore would do. It's always been said that Dumbledore's the only one that Voldemort ever feared.
James chewed the bottom of his lips as he gazed at our cousin. Carefully, he asked, "Are you in it?"
To say that Alex was surprised by James's question was an understatement.
Immediately, he started spluttering and vehemently denying it. Alex sounded exactly like he did when James asked him during the Winter Holidays of our First Year whether he had gotten himself a girlfriend or not.
Which he did, funnily enough.
"Come on Alex," I whined. I hated not knowing something. "It's us. You know we hate this Pureblood Supremacy rubbish."
As if to prove my point, one of our uncles had suddenly slammed his hand down on the coffee table and started shouting inappropriate obscenities about Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Grumbling and looking rather furious with himself, Alex gave a quick, grudging nod before straightening himself up, attempting to look and act normal again.
"It's not official and I really can't tell you any more than that I'm helping Dumbledore out since my job at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement is rather useful. I'm trying not to keep a low profile though, because it'd be much easier to get inside information if Davis didn't know that I'm dating a Muggleborn and all of that."
"Speaking of which, where's Jane? I miss her," I asked Alex, trying to change the subject so that we didn't dwell on this dangerous conversation. "I thought she'd be here."
"She's spending one last Christmas with her parents. They're relocating because it's getting far too dangerous. I wanted to go with her but because I think Davis is keeping track of my whereabouts, it wouldn't be a good idea so our friend Bryce is with her," Alex explained.
At the mention of Jane, Alex's face immediately became even more worried.
I almost felt bad of reminding him of the dangers for Jane to be away from Alex, even though Jane was a brilliant Witch herself.
"She'll be around for New Year's then?" James asked hopefully.
Alex raised a curious eyebrow at him, as did I. "Something you're not telling me, James?" Alex teased. "I hope you haven't started fancying my girlfriend now."
James rolled his eyes and said, "Of course not. Jane's just brilliant. The things she says about the Muggle world..."
The mention of Muggles put an interesting thought into my head. "You're not about to go interrogate Jane on ways that you could find out more about Lily, are you?" I asked James, exasperated.
"Lily? Your friend Lily?" Alex asked me curiously, his eyes darting back and forth between James and I.
I nodded, ignoring James's protests. "James has been taking such an interest to knowing more about Lily. I can't argue with Lily whenever she tells me that James has been annoying her so much."
"James Potter, I am surprised," Alex grinned at James. "Fancying Jennifer's friend? I thought you knew better than that!"
"What?" I said, horrified as I stared at James, spluttering and turning red. "I just thought you fancied annoying her!”
James rolled his eyes rather awfully and said, “I’m not that mad to annoy Evans just because I enjoy taking the mickey out of her.”
“So you do fancy this Lily Evans!” Alex said triumphantly.
Groaning loudly, I planted my face into my hands. “That’s not possible! You can’t fancy my friend, James!”
James immediately shot back, "If you didn't think it was possible, why do you think it is now?"
"Because Alex says so," I told him, in a tone that told James clearly how obvious it was. "He's a bloke, you're a bloke, he's the only bloke aside from your mates that know you well enough to deduce accurate assumptions. So that means it’s at least somewhat close to the truth. So tell me it’s not true, James.”
James didn't answer, and I just sat there, my eyes growing wider and wider with the conclusion. Alex looked entirely far too amused.
"So... so... you- no. No. You can't! What?!" I gasped with shock when James didn't deny that he didn't fancy Lily. "HOW?!"
"Whaddaya mean, how?" James muttered, looking annoyed with himself. “There’s no how. It just bloody happened.”
I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of James actually fancying someone, much less Lily.
"She hates you! You hate her! You two don't get along!" I nearly shouted, as if this explained everything, which it technically should.
Who in their right head would fancy someone that hated them?
James huffed. "I don't hate her, and we get along just fine."
"Sure you do. She just ignores you, yells at you, or hexes you every time she sees you. You definitely get along fine," I informed James sarcastically, putting my hands on my waist and giving him a no nonsense look.
Before James could interrupt, I said, "You are going to tell me exactly how this happened. And don't you dare leave anything out! I can't let you fancy my friend without knowing whether you're just going to snog her and move on."
"I am NOT just going to snog her and move on."
"Yeah because you can't get her to even consider snogging you."
"Shut up, Jennifer."
Third Year: February 18th, 1973
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
As Told By Lily Evans
"Sev, we're not having this conversation again," I sighed, feeling tired all of a sudden, even though it was the middle of the day. "We're only going to argue again, and I hate arguing with you."
I turned away from Sev and began walking towards the library; the massive Potions essay assigned by Slughorn wasn't going to get itself done.
Turning away from my friend meant I had completely missed the self-satisfied look that Sev had when I said I hated arguing with him.
"Come on, Lily. I'm not saying that we have to talk about that right now. I'm just saying that I really don't see why you hang around Macdonald. She's not-"
He didn't get to finish his sentence as I turned around furiously.
"She's not what? She's not pureblood? Is that it?" My eyes turned into slits as I clenched my teeth tightly, upset that Severus really couldn't leave the topic alone. "What's wrong with her not being a pureblood? In case you haven't noticed, I'm not either."
Sev immediately backtracked, looking almost sheepish. He said defiantly, "Well, I just mean that you're a lot better than Macdonald."
"I don't care. I'm not any better than Mary and I don't see why it's such a big deal who I hang around. I tell you that I hate Avery, Mulciber, and Selwyn but do you stop hanging around them? No," I argued back, turning around once again to continue my trek to the library.
Quick footsteps followed as Sev caught up to me. Panting, he said, "I just worry for you, Lily."
Despite being quite upset that Sev once again thought he could control how I live my life, his words softened me up.
I didn't think that Sev really understood me as well as I would have hoped he could have, but he did always have my best interests in his heart.
That wasn’t something I could ignore.
"Thanks, Sev. I know you do, but I would really appreciate it if you could just not talk about Mary and Carol and all of the others like they're beneath me. No one is beneath anyone, and talking like that really makes me sick," I confessed to Sev honestly.
This time, I hoped he would listen.
He used to always listen to me, I reflected almost sadly.
My childhood friend shrugged, as if he didn't really believe that no one is beneath anyone. I hated the way that his logic was changing now.
"Sure, Lily but you have to admit that you belong amongst good company. Eliana, Marcella, and Chrysantha are actually really brilliant people once you get to know them."
"And like I told you," I repeated, with some flame in my tone. "I know them well enough, and I don't want to be around those three anymore than I have to. They're all horrible, Sev."
"Do you mean I’m horrible too?" Sev asked, sounding hurt. I turned to him in shock, and noticed the usual unreadable expression alight his face.
Being friends with him for so long, however, made me an expert at seeing behind that mask.
I could see how his already black eyes seemed darker than usual, and how his shoulders were tensed, as if he had received the worst news of his life.
I immediately shook my head. "You're not horrible. As much as Jen, Dorcas, Marlene, and Mary say so, they don't understand you like I do. You're not horrible. I just wish you would stop hanging around the people who are because they're influencing you!"
His entire body relaxed and his eyes seemed to become less angry, less guarded.
At that moment, I felt almost guilty about how much of an impact my words had on Sev. He really was misunderstood.
Really, Severus just needed someone to love him, truly.
In the same careless tone that he would use when brushing off a subject he didn't think was worthy to talk about, he said, "Don't worry about that. I honestly don't understand why you would think that being around my friends makes me bad company."
"Because you seem to think that performing Dark Arts is acceptable!" I told Severus heatedly, marching away from him and into the safe confines of the library.
I chose a table nearby the window and took out my textbook, quill, ink, and parchment. As soon as I was ready, I immediately set off to work, ignoring Severus who took a seat in front of me.
But even Potions couldn't distract me from the intense stare that I was receiving from my childhood friend.
Sighing heavily, I tossed my quill down and looked up. "What is it, Sev?" I asked wearily.
"Are you mad at me again, Lily?" he asked, emphasizing the 'again' as if I was always mad at him.
Was I really always mad at him? I didn’t think so.
"I wish you wouldn't talk like that. You know that it is more than that. I just can't accept the Dark Arts in any shape, way, or form, and I hope you understand that," I said firmly, repeating the stance I had given him for the past three years.
"Even me?" Severus asked quietly. "You can't accept even me if I choose the Dark Arts?"
There was a moment of silence as I paused to really look at him.
I stopped, not because I wasn't sure whether I could accept him, Dark Arts and all, but because I wasn't quite sure how on Earth my friend had turned to be like this.
Looking back, I would have realized that this was a pivotal moment between us, Lily and Severus.
Here was a question, so literal and yet so metaphorical in nature, that our entire friendship and relationship seemed to unconsciously balance on the line.
I wasn't sure anyone really understood what sort of friend Severus had been to me. Our friendship wasn't just a weed that had popped up in the middle of a beautiful garden.
Growing up, it had been me and Tuney.
My schoolmates liked to avoid me because odd things happened whenever I was around, a result of accidental magic.
But I really never needed them because I had my sister.
Tuney stood by my side, always defending me and complimenting me. Though I knew that she wished she could do what I could do, her admiration had never reached anything more than just admiration and pride that her sister could do something amazing.
That was until it changed all so suddenly.
Of course I would later realize that the brokered relationship between Tuney and I was because of Severus, his intense hatred for Muggles and Muggleborns, and his cruelty towards them, the people he hates.
At this moment in time, however, I didn’t think that way. I held a different belief.
The belief that I had held then was that Severus had been there when Tuney hadn’t been.
When Tuney couldn’t accept me, Sev had instead, and was the light that guided the young and confused me into the Wizarding world.
It was almost symbolical; he was the one that brought me into the real world, the world that I belonged in, and as hard as it was at times, I couldn’t ignore that.
For the longest time, Severus had been my only friend and the only one that stood by my side, even in the very beginning of Hogwarts when the other girls and I weren’t best friends yet.
I hated thinking that I had to choose to accept Sev because of the Dark Arts.
I couldn’t ever accept the Dark Arts, and that wasn’t going to change for anyone. But I did keep that lingering hope in my heart that I could lead Sev back into the light, just like how he had led me, once upon a time.
At that moment, if Sev had never shown the inclination that his path was in the Dark and not in the light, then perhaps that would have been the moment that my feelings changed.
Changed in the way that I would later realize to be for better for Severus.
Maybe if the Dark Arts and the War had never been a factor and Sev had asked me whether I could accept him, and essentially accept all of him, I would answer yes.
I would answer yes, and I would realize for myself how thin the line between friendship and romantic love was.
But that wasn’t the case, and wishful thinking wasn’t going to get me anywhere.
“No, I can’t, Sev,” I finally answered him, feeling an odd emptiness in my heart. “But it’s not too late.”
Third Year: May 27th, 1973
Gryffindor Common Room
As Told By Jennifer Potter
“I’ve never been more happy in my entire life than right now,” Marlene announced loudly as she and Lily collapsed onto an armchair next to me.
The both of them had their last exam today for Divination. The rest of us had been lucky enough to have finished earlier.
“I told you taking Divination was a bad idea,” Dorcas commented, glancing up from the today’s Daily Prophet. “Are you going to drop it next year?”
Lily exhaled deeply, pouting. “I don’t like giving up on a subject, and it’d be very nice to have an O.W.L. in Divination but I just might. Professor Vablatsky doesn’t know what she is talking about. All she talks about the entire time is about her great aunt that wrote our bloody textbook.”
“You know, Dumbledore was considering dropping the subject altogether,” I told Lily as I set aside Quidditch Through the Ages. “According to James, Dumbledore doesn’t have much of an opinion for Professor Vablatsky either.”
“And how does he know?” Mary asked curiously, raising her eyebrows. “It doesn’t seem like something any students should know, Dumbledore's staff appointments.”
I shrugged, casting my eyes quickly over Lily who held a distant expression.
I said, “The number of times James and Sirius ended up in Dumbledore’s office probably had something to do with it. They get in enough trouble anyways.”
Marlene, to my surprise, smiled. “You know what. Speaking of trouble, do you want to ask them to get us some food? I know that they must have figured out where the kitchen was.”
Dorcas snorted, shaking her head so her soft blonde curls fell in front of her face. “You would be thinking about food right now. You’re mad, you know that. I saw you sneaking about ten slices of toast into your book bag earlier.”
“Fast metabolism. Don’t hate,” Marlene retorted, flipping her dark hair behind her shoulders. Sometimes, Marlene’s beauty makes me extremely jealous.
“Oh of course none of us would dream of that,” Lily teased back. “Who would want to get on your bad side?”
The conversation fell into a comfortable lull, and I felt my eyes sliding towards the fireplace, where a group of boys were gathered, laughing together and causing a ruckus in that side of the Common Room.
As I watched James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter for Merlin knows how long, I felt another eye on me.
“I can see the way you look at him, you know,” a quiet voice suddenly said next to me.
I jumped, momentarily scared out of my wits and drew my wand, only to see Lily looking at me very bemused.
Red in the face, I stowed my wand away back into my robes and raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Lils.”
“Don’t lie to me, Jennifer. I’m not stupid, you know,” Lily sniffed, a small crease appearing in between her eyebrows. “I just don’t understand why.”
“Why what?” I asked, completely and utterly confused.
What on Earth was she going on about?
“That you fancy Sirius Black, of course!” Lily rolled her eyes at me, sounding like this statement was as obvious as knowing that broomsticks can fly.
Contrary to what Lily thought, I just gaped at her, shocked and confused, as if someone had just told me that Quodpot was better than Quidditch.
“Why on Earth would you think that?” I hissed, snapping out of my reverie. “And keep your voice down. I don’t want other people getting the wrong idea.”
Lily just gave me a look. “I’ve been having a feeling for the longest time. I wasn’t always sure but now I’m almost positive. You fancy Black. And I don’t understand why.”
I snorted, letting my eyes drift from Lily back towards Sirius, who was currently making fireworks with his wand.
Absentmindedly, I tilted my head and sighed. “You just don’t understand him, that’s all.”
“Funny how I tell you that about Severus and you always disagree,” Lily answered coldly. “But so you do admit you fancy Black.”
I snapped my eyes back towards her and rolled my eyes. “I do not fancy Sirius.”
“Then why are you always so concerned for his well-being? Back when Potter, Black, Lupin, and Pettigrew were arguing, you were literally trailing after Black like a lost puppy. Not that caring for others is bad, but I’ve never seen you so persistent,” Lily accused. Her tone was challenging, daring me to argue back.
I quickly shot back, “That’s because I care about him as a friend, as a brother.”
“Then why aren’t you as close to Lupin and Pettigrew?”
“Because unlike Remus and Peter, Sirius doesn’t have everything sorted out,” I said heatedly, wary that if I got louder, I would attract nearby attention.
Dorcas, Marlene, and Mary were too busy with this week’s issue of Witch Weekly to notice Lily and I were arguing.
Taking a long breath, I sighed. “Sirius is stuck in a hard place. His parents are constantly trying to get him to think that everyone who isn’t a pureblood and everyone that is a ‘Muggle sympathizer’ are inferior to us. He constantly has Merlin knows how many Death Eaters visiting his house every day, and there are only two people in his huge family that actually care for his well-being. He’s not just this troublemaking bloke who likes to pull pranks to have a laugh. That’s his escape for the harsh realities of his world outside of Hogwarts and outside of James, Remus, and Peter. Lily, you do misunderstand Sirius, just like how you misunderstand James.”
Lily pursed her lips. “We’re not even going to begin discussing Potter.”
“Then you agree I’m right!” I insisted. “You agree, then, that you do misunderstand Sirius.”
“I’m not making a judgment about Black’s character, Jen. All I wanted to know had already been answered by your spiel,” Lily told me in a very matter-of-fact way.
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