Chapter 2 : Recruitment
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Still January 16, 1981
I wasn't going to go.
I wanted to. Of course I wanted to. Besides the fact that there was the chance that Marlene or Dorcas was there, I just didn't want to let down Sirius. Not when he'd invited me.
But I'd sworn to put my magical past behind me. And I doubted going to a dinner attended to only by wizards would be doing that. Plus, James' house happened to be in Surrey. Surrey. Sirius must have been expecting me to apparate there. The thing was, I didn't think I could apparate anymore. If I hadn't done a spell in two years then how was I supposed to muster the skill and power to apparate?
Panic rose in my chest at the thought of getting out my wand again. I'd hidden it in the spine of a large encyclopedia that I kept in the bottom of my chest of drawers. I liked to think that I put it there in case Paul found it, but really I knew that it was because I didn't want to see and be reminded of the life that I was throwing away.
I stood up from my bed (well, mattress), smoothing out the small piece of paper in my hand. I'd handled it so much that it was beginning to wear away a little, the ink becoming a bit faded.
Sirius hadn't told me a time, and so I'd decided that a practical time to turn up was around six. It would be better to turn up early and greet people in small groups rather than arrive halfway through dinner and sort of crash the party. Arrival time of six left me with two hours to decide what method of transport I was going to use.
Oh, this was silly. I wasn't going to go. I couldn't go.
I sat on my bed as the hours passed by. The last hints of daylight disappeared soon enough and the red numbers on my digital alarm clock reached and passed 18:00.
Paul was out somewhere, I didn't know where. Some pub, I guessed. He was never usually back until after eleven.
I lay back, studying the shadows on my ceiling. My body ached to go. I thought of the future I could have if I did. There would be no more loneliness. No more cafés - at least not crappy ones. No more Paul. No more lumpy mattress. There would still be cold - cold was inescapable, right? But the warmer moments would actually feel warm. There would be heat and happiness and passion. Maybe. If I went.
Lying there in the darkness, I bit my lip. I turned to look at the clock - 19:07. If I went, I would be late. I would crash the party.
I thought of Sirius. He probably would have told them that he met me today. That he asked me to come. Maybe they were all expecting me. Maybe they were worried. Or maybe they were just disappointed.
I banged my fists on the wall above my head in frustration. I thought of my wand hidden in the spine of that encyclopedia. I thought of the reasons why I'd stopped doing magic in the first place.
I sat up. My gaze moved to the chest of drawers.
"For God's sake, Sophie!" I said to myself. Then I thought for a moment. Was I Sophie, or was I Emmeline? Was I normal, or was I a wizard?
I groaned, throwing my head in my hands. Through my fingers I watched the chest of drawers, hoping the bottom drawer would suddenly open and my wand would magically come flying out.
I remembered Sirius' grey eyes as he'd looked at me over his steaming mug of tea. How he'd asked all of the wrong questions - or the right ones. His cheekbones. His lips. The way he'd smiled at the mention of the Marauders. His retreating figure as he walked away through the rain.
It took only one second and then I couldn't take it anymore. I jumped up off of the bed and yanked open the bottom drawer, delving through piles of mismatched socks and unfolded t-shirts until I found the book. With a bit of difficulty, I pulled my wand from the spine, smiling as a sort of warmth ran up my arm at touching it.
"Oh, how I've missed you," I breathed.
But it was quarter past seven, and I had no time to lose. I was late already. I conjured up all of the Determination and Deliberation I had, thinking of only the Destination. (Good old Wilkie Twycross.) And then I apparated.
I arrived at James' house (at least I hoped it was his house) seemingly unscathed (thank God), before realising that I was wearing an old t-shirt and some jeans. Not really appropriate for any kind of dinner except maybe a takeaway in front of the TV by yourself, but there was nothing I could do about that now.
I knocked on the door, breath held in anticipation. My fingers were shaking and I wrapped them firmly around the handle of my wand in order to stop them from doing so, stuffing my other hand in my pocket. Several moments later the door swung open, revealing a beautiful red-haired woman who was holding a gurgling baby. It took me a few moments to register who it was.
“... Lily? Lily Evans?”
She sent me a grin, opening the door wider and letting me step inside. The house just oozed with warm, the heat enveloping me as soon as the door was closed.
“No. Lily Potter.”
My eyes widened slightly at that, and I looked down at the baby, suddenly noticing it’s likeness to James. “This all happened fast,” I murmured, looking down at the boy’s wide, unblinking eyes. They were still dark blue, as most babies’ eyes were, but I thought I could see a tint of green in them that was similar to Lily’s.
“Tell me about it,” she said, shifting the baby around in her arms for comfort. “Come on, come through.” She led me down the hallway, and my heart suddenly started racing again, scared to see all the faces that I hadn’t seen in so long.
The Potter’s kitchen was well-lit and welcoming, the walls lined with counters of oak wood cupboard which were unbelievably cluttered. There were candles and quills and books and food and parchment and all sorts of miscellaneous items. The amount of magic in the room made me shudder involuntarily - almost as soon as I entered the room a wave of nausea hit me from the amount there was. It was magic that stirred whatever was cooking on the stove, magic that the gas lamps on the wall had most likely been lit by. It was magic that Peter Pettigrew was practising right now, using his wand to levitate a bread roll and hover it over Remus Lupin’s head.
The sound of my name being cried aloud broke me from my horror, and before I even knew what was happening a young blonde woman was wrapping her arms around me, hugging me so tight that I could hardly breathe. Marlene. “I... I didn’t know you would be here,” I muttered, hands snaking around her shoulders after a moment of careful consideration. A little hug couldn’t hurt, right?
“I didn’t think you would come,” she returned, confirming my beliefs that there were probably a lot of expectations from people that I’d ditch this meetup. “It’s been so long. Too long.” She stepped back, holding me at arms’ length and smiling, eyes clouded with emotions. “Why did you never owl me?”
I froze, not wanting to answer, especially with an audience like this one (an audience that I noticed were all watching us now with avid eyes). I just hadn’t wanted to associate myself with the magical world anymore, wasn’t that alright? I didn’t need to explain myself. But still the silence continued as everyone awaited a reply, and I bit at my lip anxiously, hands fumbling with each other as I thought of the words to say. An excuse. I just needed an excuse.
“Ooh, I think dinner’s ready!” came a sudden call, waking the audience from their staring. Lily stood by the stove, still carrying the baby. She was watching us all carefully, and once everyone had turned away, back to themselves, I mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to her across the room. She sent me a nod, face not telling anything. I wondered what she thought about me not answering - regardless, I was grateful. I didn’t want to talk about my rejection of magic - not now, not ever.
A seat had been saved for me between Marlene and Sirius, and I sat myself down there, conscious of my sloppy grey t-shirt that was two sizes too big compared with the robes and almost formal attire of everybody else.
“Nice shirt,” Sirius said, sending me a smirk almost as if he’d been reading my mind. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, rolling my eyes at him and crossing my arms, hoping it would shield everyone else’s view of my terrible clothing choice. “Calm down, Vance, it’s fine. No one minds.”
I shrugged, keeping my arms where they were as Lily leaned over us to place a large pot of some sort of casserole onto the table. “It’s not so much about if they mind than if they notice.” I was paranoid, full of social anxiety that I just couldn’t shake - drawing attention to myself was the thing I wanted least in the world.
He looked across at me wordlessly, stormy grey eyes looking calculative and thoughtful. It unnerved me, naturally, having a grown man look at me like that. Especially a man with looks as excellent as Sirius’. After a moment or two I looked away, turning my head in Marlene’s direction so that my hair shielded the colour that had rushed to my face. She noticed my eyes on her, turning to look at me, a smile dancing at her lips. “You’ve changed, Line,” she said. “Grown your hair out. Got - “ She paused, hands moving to her chest area and moving them up and down a little. “ - busty.”
I rolled my eyes, blushing slightly. She was right - my breasts had gotten bigger. It was still tactless to point it out, though, but I guessed that was just Marlene. She enjoyed being inappropriate. That was why I’d liked her so much at school: she was fun to be around. But here, as an adult, somehow I just found it inappropriate.
Conversation over dinner was small and required little thought or imagination. I mostly answered with as short sentences as possible, lying when appropriate. The question of why I hadn’t contacted anyone over the last two years didn’t come up. I was glad.
There was a shift in conversation once we’d finished pudding - the lights had burnt low, the room getting dimmer, and everybody was huddled around the table, the roar of the fire loud in our ears. “Emmeline, there was a reason we invited you here today,” Lupin told me, his face serious as he watched me from across the table. I nodded, shifting in my chair, aware that all eyes were on me. “You must have heard what You Know Who’s been up to recently.”
“Of course,” I answered, frowning. Though, of course, I hadn’t actually heard anything of him in two years. Disconnecting myself from the magical world had meant blocking everything out - even the movements of You Know Who. I assumed he was up to the same old stuff though - mercilessly murdering muggles and muggle-borns. He hated them with a passion which I couldn’t comprehend - I was a muggle-born myself, and saw no difference in my magic to that of pure-bloods. “What of it?”
Lupin leaned forwards, placing his clasped hands upon the table as he stared into my eyes. “You’re a muggle-born, yes?” I nodded, blushing slightly. It was nothing to be ashamed off, but we all knew the opinions that some people had of people like me. “And you don’t like what he’s doing?”
“Obviously not.” It was without reason and cruel - as if he were doing it all just for fun. As a muggle-born I felt alienated and targeted, like a spider amongst dozens of butterflies.
He glanced around at the others, and I watched in my peripheral vision as several of them nodded slowly, as if approving his next few words. “We.. We’ve formed an organisation. Well, Dumbledore has. The Order of the Phoenix.”
I leaned forwards too, interested despite myself. “What do you do?”
“We fight against You Know Who,” Sirius said from beside me, quipping in. I turned my gaze to him, brushing my hair behind my ears. “Track his movements. Keep an eye on his followers. Try and stop him whenever we can.”
Lupin nodded at that, drawing my attention back to him, before adding, “So, would you like to join?” It was a simple question, one that shouldn’t really have required any thinking over. But it set my heart racing, my mind following quickly after.
The Gryffindor in me reared it’s head, fighting to get through my skin and show the interest that I was really feeling. But I had to think about this - properly. Joining this group would be going against everything I’d been working so hard on these past couple of years. I’d have to use magic again - I might even have to use it every day. Was I prepared to do that?
I took a deep breath, heat rushing to my face. Everyone’s eyes were on me, waiting for an answer. For some reason I thought back to this morning again, the grey of Sirius’ eyes as he’d watched me across the table. Despite everything, it made me realise that this was something I wanted to be part of. I didn’t want to be just another face in a sea of muggles, despite how much I’d tried to force myself to believe that I did. I didn’t want to be insignificant.
“Yes.” I glanced across at Marlene, a smile sliding onto my face that mirrored her own, and then to Sirius, who was watching me contemplatively, and then to Lily and her little baby boy. “Yes, I’ll join.”
A/N - I've suddenlty had a good bit of muse for this story, which is sort of bad, considering I'm in the middle of exams right now, but I just can't ignore the call of writing! Please review, it means a lot.
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