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Chapter 4 : Chapter 4- Pubs and Hugs
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Lily Evans sat in the three broomsticks across from a skinny starved looking girl, with long brown hair that went just past her shoulders. She was gripping her glass of butterbeer so tight that her knuckles were white. Her eyes darted shiftily around the room every now and again but she was still listening intently to everything that Lily was saying.
Roxy, she had said her name was.
"And at the start of the year you put on the Sorting Hat and you get put into your house, I’m not sure if you'll have to do it along with the first years or separately." explained Lily.
Roxy nodded eagerly.
"And the headmaster? What is he like?" she asked, leaning forward intently.
"Oh he's absolutely wonderful! He is the smartest wizard of all time! He is so nice and considerate. You'll love him. And, he has the longest beard I've ever seen!!" she laughed.
The smile was quickly gone from Lily's face. "Oh no," she said, hiding her face with her hand.
"What?" Roxy asked, looking around at where Lily had been looking and spotted three boys who had just entered the pub.
The one at the front, with sandy hair, kept his head down and picked a table at the far end of the room. The second boy ruffled his hair and looked around the room as if looking for someone. Lily kept her face well hidden, and deciding the person he was searching for was not there, he went and sat down too, closely followed by the third boy.
"Potter, Black and Lupin." she said, covering her face even more.
Roxy raised her eyebrow at her.
"Potter keeps asking me out," she explained.
"Oh how awful," Roxy said sarcastically.
Lily smiled. Despite her twitchy behaviour and the fact that there was something she clearly wasn’t telling her, Lily was starting to like this girl.
"He's an arrogant pompous pig," she said sternly, "I would NEVER go out with him."
Roxy grinned at her over her glass.
Lily couldn’t help but blush. She had never really talked about James before to another girl. She didn’t have many close female friends at Hogwarts. And certainly none that she was going to talk about him to.
"They're all arrogant. Well, except for Lupin, he’s alright, I'm kind of friends with him. He doesn’t try stop them though. Potter’s the one that keeps ruffling his hair. Lupin’s the one with his head down," she said, pointing to each person.
"And the other one?" Roxy asked.
"Sirius Black. I think I’m the only girl in the whole school that doesn’t have a humongous crush on him."
"Oh." Roxy said simply.
Roxy liked Lily. She found she was easier to talk to than she thought she would be.
She also liked the three broomsticks and the feel of this butterbeer sliding down her throat. She could get used to things like this. She almost felt bad that she was going to have to leave while 'accidentally' forgetting to pay for it. But she had no choice because she had no money.
She didn’t know what she was going to do about a place to stay for the next few nights. Thanks to Lily she had found out enough about Hogwarts and Dumbledore to form a proper plan, so now was probably a good time to leave.
She looked down at her watch (even though it had stopped a few months ago and was only still there out of habit) and grabbed her bag.
"I’m sorry, I didn’t realise how late it was, I have to go," she said, getting up and swinging her bag over her shoulders.
"I’ll see you next week in school, I’ll keep an eye out for you!" Lily said, waving goodbye.
Roxy nodded and walked towards the door.
She spotted a pile of money on an empty table beside the door, clearly after being left there as a tip for the waitress. She quickly looked around. No one was looking her way and Lily had returned to hiding her face from the three arrogant boys. She grabbed the money and hurried hastily out the door.
The air outside was cold. After a quick walk around, she returned to the Leaky Cauldron. The place was full of half drunken middle-aged men and almost everyone was wearing a tall pointed hat. A particularly drunk bald man smirked at her and she could feel his eyes on her all the way to the bar.
"Excuse me? How much is a room for the night?" she asked the barman.
He looked up at her, "Twenty"
"Ok," she said, turning around and leaving back through the door towards Diagon alley.
She had planned on getting more money somewhere and coming back and staying for the night, but as she stared at the brick wall in front of her, she found that her plan had hit a small glitch.
"Oh crapsicles," she thought staring blankly at the wall.
She didn’t have a wand and even if she did she didn’t know what bricks to tap. She could go back in and ask someone else to open it, but no one in the pub had looked friendly. Or more fittingly, they looked too friendly.
But on the other hand, she couldn’t stay out here all night. Judging by the colour of the darkening clouds overhead, it may rain. And it was already getting rather cold.
Pulling her coat tighter around her, she retreated inside.
She took a seat at the far end of the smoky room. It didn’t look like anyone here had a lot of money lying openly in their pockets and the till was surrounded by drunken wizards, so there was no way she'd be able to reach that.
She pulled the coins she took from the Three Broomsticks out of her pocket and counted it. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to afford a drink.
She left her bag by the chair and dodged around the tables to the bar. The barman was busy serving a dark haired man a little down the bar, so she sat and waited.
The barman spotted her and came sidling over to her. Up close, he looked much younger than she had originally thought. He was maybe in his mid twenties, but his hair was unkempt and his face was unshaven.
"What can I get you?" he asked her in his thick British accent.
"Just a diet coke please." she said politely, taking a peanut out of the bowl she spotted by the dark haired man.
Just as she was about to pop it in her mouth the man beside her spoke.
"I wouldn’t eat that if I were you. A fellow was here before spitting them back into the bowl."
She hastily replaced the peanut and wiped her hand on her t-shirt. He smiled at her.
"I'll get that," he said to the barman as he placed Roxy's drink in front of her. She returned her money to her pocket and smiled at him gratefully.
"I’m Jason," he said, extending his arm towards her.
"Roxy," she said, shaking it.
He didn’t seem as dodgy as the other men in the pub and she might aswell be nice to him if he was going to buy her free drinks.
"What brings you to a place like this at this time of the night?" he asked.
"I have nowhere else to be," she said simply. She brought her glass to her lips and took a sip. It was the first time she'd had a drink other than water in weeks. She was going to make it last and enjoy it.
She suddenly realised how pathetic it was, that the only thing she had had to enjoy was a measly glass of diet coke. She suddenly felt a pang of loss and a wave of loneliness swept over her at the thought of her mother. She took another sip and looked around the pub, relaxing a bit. She realised how at home she felt sitting here in a bar. Bars were where she had spent most nights of her life when her mum was around. They had moved from town to town a lot and bars and pubs were the only place that would pay her mother on a daily basis without a signed contract.
A thought suddenly struck her.
"Excuse me?" she called to the barman. He nodded towards her.
"Can I have a room for a few days in exchange for work?"
James sat cross-legged on his bed. His trunk was propped open in front of him and he was going through it and making sure he had everything for his return to Hogwarts tomorrow.
Underwear, cloaks, trousers, tshirts, pajamas etc.
He sighed and kicked his trunk off his bed onto the floor with a loud clatter. He looked around his now half empty room. The walls were a rich dark blue but he much preferred the deep red he would be returning to in the Gryffindor dormitories. The red colour was comforting and made him feel at home. It’s not that he didn’t feel at home here, he did, this is where his family was and it will always be his home, but all his favourite memories were at Hogwarts. It’s hard to make memories somewhere where you’re only there for two months out of the year.
Although saying that, he and Sirius had made a lot of good memories over the past few weeks. He enjoyed having his best friend around, but he missed Remus and in a way he even missed Peter Pettigrew too. He missed the stone walls and the enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall, in a way he even began to miss his classes.
All in all, he was very excited about going back to Hogwarts. He couldn’t wait to snuggle down into a fresh warm bed and wake up to a breakfast that was ready and waiting for him, and of course getting up to mischief with Sirius. However, the thing he was most looking forward to doing was seeing Lily. He had a feeling that this year was the year that he would change her mind about him.
He didn’t know why, he just had a feeling. He very much hoped that his feeling was accurate. His stomach squirmed at the very thought of her. He thought of her shining red hair, her deep green eyes and her cute little laugh that he never really got the pleasure of hearing enough.
He made a mental note to make her laugh more.
He was determined to make her understand what it was like to want to hold someone as much as he wanted to hold her, but to not be able to. She had to understand why he had to say something to her every time she walked by him and he needed her to know why what he said was usually stupidly idiotic. Sirius always found it funny, but James knew that Lily didn’t. Sirius was laughing more at him than with him anyway.
He looked at the clock.
He really should get some sleep. Without bothering to change or get under the covers, he lay back against his pillow.
There was a soft knock on the door, barely audible over James' thoughts. He had thought everyone would be asleep at this stage.
The door opened and Sirius edged in.
"Hey man," James said quietly, sitting up.
"Can’t sleep either?" Sirius asked, taking a seat at the end of the bed.
"I hadn’t really started to try."
"What’s up man?" James asked, starting to get worried. Usually if Sirius crept into his room in the middle of the night it was due to an incredibly insane plan or prank that he had just come up with, but judging by the look on his face that was the furthest thing on his mind.
"Nothing, can’t sleep," he said bluntly, staring at the swirly pattern on James’ bedsheets.
James frowned. He could always tell when Sirius was lying. No one else could, but he couldn't fool James. He could try, but he would always fail.
"What’s wrong Sirius?"
"Nothing," he repeated.
Sirius didn’t say anything for a few minutes and neither did James. He waited.
"I’m fine. I was just…. Thinking," Sirius said quietly. It was very rarely that Sirius was this quiet. It was even rarer that Sirius was thinking. James had heard him speak louder than this in the middle of a class. James sat up straighter and raised his eyebrow at Sirius.
Sirius glanced up at James and saw the look on his face.
"About mum," he said, looking down again.
"Why are you thinking about that old cow-bag. It’s been weeks and we've heard nothing from her. She's not going to hurt any of us, it’s over. She's not going to come after you," he said.
"Exactly," Sirius said, keeping his head down.
"Eh....?" James said raising his eyebrow even higher. James knew that despite his happiness about being here, the last few weeks had been difficult for Sirius. It was the first time he was away from home during the summer. It was a lot different than leaving home to go to Hogwarts because he knew he wouldn’t be returning. It was hard for James to see his friend go through that without being able to do anything to make him feel better. But now, hopefully, if Sirius tells him exactly what’s going through his mind he will be able to make him feel better.
After a few very long minutes, Sirius finally spoke.
"A small part of me thought that she would care enough to actually come look for me."
James was at a loss for what to say.
"But… um…. is it not… like… a good thing that…. that she didn’t?" he stuttered.
"Yeah but... I dunno... It would have been nice to think that she might of wanted me back."
James said nothing, but leant forward and hugged his best friend.
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by October Crow