Chapter 5 : Chapter 5
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I feel warm sunlight touching my closed eyes and the sensation is unbelievably pleasant. My head rests on something soft and a warm touch caresses my hand. I want to lie here forever, wherever this is.
I can’t quite recall how I got to wherever I am. Am I sleeping? I have never had a dream quite like this before… so calm and comforting.
“Lily,” the name floats softly through my ears and I realize with a jolt that it is my name. I am Lily. A small part of me recognizes that I must have a last name as well, but I can’t quite think of it. I am Lily, and that is enough for now.
I lay here for a while more, listening to the soft sound of my name repeat over and over. The voice is lovely and familiar but I can’t put a name to it. All I know is it makes me feel safe.
Slowly, bits of memories return to me. A dungeon, a garden, a hospital, a boy… there is an intense feeling of sadness attached to these memories and I don’t like it. I want to go back to calm and comforting. I want to go back to feeling nothing. I try to shut the memories out, but the more I push, the more they come into focus.
“Lily, wake up,” the voice says, louder than before.
I am awake, I try to answer but I can’t find my voice yet.
But with those words comes an even bigger deluge of memories accompanied by a splitting headache. I clench my teeth, twitching my fingers towards the hand that traces patterns over them.
The acromantulas, the forget-me-nots, the Draught of Living Death… and James.
It’s like resurfacing after being underwater for too long.
My eyes fly open and I gasp, feeling the air rush into my lungs.
A bright white light fills my eyes, making my head pound even more excruciatingly.
Other voices sound more loudly now, but I can’t understand what is said. My eyes struggle to adjust to the bright light and I can see shapes moving around above me.
“Someone get Madam Pomphrey,” a frenzied voice says, and the grip on my hand suddenly tightens. I want to squeeze back but I can’t get my fingers to work. Why won’t my fingers work?
A dark shape moves in front of my eyes blocking out the sunlight and everything comes into sharper focus. I know this face. Kind blue eyes and gently wrinkled skin, brown-gray hair tucked back under a white cap. A nurse. Madam Pomphrey, that is her name. Her eyes sweep over me in a practiced way and I feel something cold touch my wrist, my neck, my forehead.
“Quiet everyone. Miss Evans, can you hear me?” she asks, and I stare at the way her lips move, trying to make sense of the words. Am I Miss Evans? Should I answer? Can I answer?
“Yes,” I try to say but my throat protests, and no sound comes out but my lips move accordingly.
The flurry of voices breaks out again and the aging nurse threatens to make them leave if they don’t calm down. Leave where?
My eyes stray away from her, sweeping over the high windows, the rows of beds covered in clean white sheets.
The hospital wing, of course.
How did I get here?
I let my eyes drift towards the voices that fill the room and the faces that belong to them. They are familiar, comforting, and identical masks of relief and happiness. Mary MacDonald has tears in her blue eyes as she clutches the foot rails of the bed I am on. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew stand behind her on their tiptoes trying to see for themselves. Sirius Black sits near the foot of the bed, smiling brilliantly.
But the only face I want—need—to see just then is missing. A frown pulls my lips down but Mary, catching the direction of my thoughts nods subtly towards something besides me.
I let my head fall to the side and my eyes, lifting ever so slightly, locks with his. A crooked smile lifts the corners of his mouth, undeniable relief flooding his face as he stares down at me.
A warm glowing feeling erupts in me at the sight of his face, spreading through all my extremities. My fingers, finally bending to my influence, twist with his.
I open my mouth to speak, but still no words come out. What has happened to my voice? And for that matter, why do I feel so…stiff. And for Merlin’s sake this headache is horrible.
Madam Pomphrey must see me wince as my head throbs again because she grabs a bottle off the table next to the bed I am on and forces it into my mouth.
I cough feebly but don’t protest as the liquid floods through me, wiping away the pounding of the headache and the accompanying nausea. I struggle to sit up, wanting to further get my bearings but two strong hands force my shoulders back onto the cot.
“Not so fast,” the nurse says, eyeing me disapprovingly as she measures out a small dose of some foul smelling liquid. I hope she doesn’t expect me to drink that next.
“For your voice,” she tells me as she offers me the cup. I lift my hand to take it, frustration flooding through me when my arm shakes at the small effort. I drink down the liquid, wrinkling my nose at the taste and the way it burns my throat.
“Merlin, just poison me already,” I cough and then start at the sound of my own voice.
Madam Pomphrey glares at me reproachfully and purses her lips but says nothing as she busies herself with something on my shoulder.
A bandage. Where did that come from?
I take her silence as an opportunity to have my many questions answered and address my friends hovering around the end of my bed.
“What happened? What am I doing here?” I demand, and then look over at James next to me. “What are you doing here?
James’s eyes widen in shock as he drops his hand from mine. “Fine, I’ll just go then.”
I concentrate all my effort into raising my hand to grasp his, pulling him back down into his seat.
“That’s not what I meant,” I say desperately, terrified by the thought of him leaving just when I’ve gotten him back. “I meant--- how are you here? Alive? You’re dead, I saw you…”
I trail off as James’s eyes narrow in confusion and his posture stiffens. He exchanges a glace with Sirius before looking back at me.
“What are you talking about, Lily?” James asks quietly, his voice betraying a note of worry.
“You… the acromantula,” I stutter, looking around at my other friends to back me up. “The fang, it went right through you. I saw you die.”
Understanding lights James’s eyes at last and his posture relaxes.
“Right,” he nods, his hand tightening around mine. “Right, the acromantula… that would be what you saw.”
His jaw tightens as he struggles to put his next thoughts into words.
“Lily, the acromantula’s fang did go through me,” James explains slowly, moving the collar of his shirt so that a bandage in the same spot as mine is visible. “Through me and… and into you.”
Something painful shoots through my right shoulder and for the first time I pay attention to what Madam Pomphrey is doing. The bandage on my shoulder is gone, exposing an alarmingly big wound that is an ugly shade of green.
Madam Pomphrey dabs a pale purple salve onto it and I look away quickly, unable to process what this means.
“The venom is only in the tip of the fang, so you got all the poison,” Mary adds quietly, the smile faded from her face as she watches comprehension dawn on mine.
“Oh,” I say faintly, ignoring the slight stinging that spreads through my shoulder as Madam Pomphrey replaces the bandage and the salve begins to work.
“Are you alright, then?” I turns back to James anxiously.
“Practically perfect. I’ve got a wicked scar though, wanna see?” James moves to pull his collar aside again but I shake my head, grabbing his hand to stop him.
“That’s ok, really,” I assure him, wrinkling my nose and I hear Mary and the other boys chuckle quietly.
“So if I got all the poison,” I frown up at James as something new occurs to me. “How exactly am I alive?”
“It was lucky Hagrid was so close, really,” James says quietly, dropping his gaze from my face.
“Don’t be a prat,” Sirius rolls his eyes. “It was lucky you think bloody fast on your feet. He’s the one who basically saved your life.”
I look back to James who is skillfully avoiding my eyes.
“I didn’t—“ James begins to protest but Remus cuts him off.
“He did,” Remus assures me. “Didn’t even bat an eye at the great gaping hole in his shoulder. Ran straight into Hagrid’s hut and began tearing things off shelves like a madman. Meanwhile you were having a fit on the ground, thrashing about and screaming bloody murder.”
I wince at that, remembering my own version of things very differently. Seeing James’s lifeless form, screaming for him to wake up, thrashing around wildly when they finally came to take him away…
“Hagrid heard the commotion and came hurrying over,” Sirius continues with the story. “He was able to get you to hold still and get the fang out of your shoulder. And then James came sprinting out of Hagrid’s with something in his fist.”
“We didn’t realize it was bezoar until he’d shoved it down your throat,” Peter adds solemnly.
“Saved your life, it did,” Sirius says, nodding his head. “Poppy here said if it hadn’t been for the bezoar you would have been a goner.”
Madam Pomphrey clears her throat irritably, though I can’t tell whether she is objecting to the name “Poppy” or Sirius’s casual reference to my possible death.
I continue to stare at James who is seemingly preoccupied with the hem of the blanket on top of me. It’s only then that I realize the blanket over me is actually a cloak… a cloak with a badge that says “Head Boy” pinned to it.
“I thought I was too late,” James says quietly, finally lifting his eyes to meet my incredulous stare. “You just kind of… collapsed. And you… you didn’t wake up. I didn’t— I thought you were…”
He trails off, dropping his eyes again and I blink.
“He hasn’t left your side since it happened,” Sirius adds, a knowing smile lighting his face and Remus rolls his eyes while James shoots him a glare. “Kept talking to you like a complete loon as if you could hear him. We all thought he’d lost his marbles—”
“Alright, I think visiting time is over,” Madam Pomphrey mercifully interrupts him upon seeing James’s reddening face and Remus, grabbing Sirius by the arm, hauled him towards the door. Peter chuckles and follows and after a hug and a promise to be back later from Mary, I am finally left alone with James.
Madam Pomphrey opens her mouth, presumably to tell him to leave as well, and then thinks better of it. Probably since she apparently hasn’t been able to remove him the entire duration of my stay.
I wait until the nurse is in her office before turning my attention back to James who is back to staring at his cloak.
“You were talking to me?” I ask him, pushing myself up in the bed so I am sitting.
“I’m going to kill Sirius,” James mutters, still not meeting my eyes.
“What were you saying?” I inquire curiously, a small smile pulling up my lips.
“Just… mostly asking you to wake up,” James says after a moment and I decide not to mention that I know exactly what he said to me while I was sleeping. He looks over at me and his face relaxes when he sees I am smiling. “I thought maybe… forget it, it’s stupid.”
“Come on, tell me,” I urge him. “I won’t laugh, I promise.”
James eyes me skeptically for a moment before relenting. “I thought maybe if you heard a familiar voice… I dunno, it would give you something to hold onto, something to come back to.”
My heart thumps in my chest when his eyes lock with mine and for a moment I can’t speak.
“Well, it worked,” I finally manage to say.
“Just… I’m glad you’re alright,” James says finally, letting out a deep breath.
“Alright, Mr. Potter,” Madam Pomphrey comes bustling out of the office with more bottles and spoons and my nose wrinkles at the sight of them. “Visiting hours are over, and I mean it this time. Get out. Go… have a shower or something. For goodness sake you’ve been here for a week straight.”
James winces slightly at the nurse’s scolding and I suppress a giggle.
“James, thank you,” I whisper, squeezing his hand gently before he leaves. “For… for not giving up.”
His eyes linger on me for a second before he drops them again and I’m not sure whether he caught the double meaning in my words.
“I’ll see you soon,” James reluctantly promises me in an undertone, giving my hand one last squeeze before Madam Pomphrey shoos him from the hospital wing.
* * * *
Thankfully, Madam Pomphrey only holds me hostage in the hospital wing for a few days before she releases me on the condition that I never go near the Forbidden Forest ever again. I consent without giving it a second thought.
Of course I had no way of knowing I would be breaking my promise less than six hours later.
A pile of homework and an over-attentive best friend await me when I arrive back at Gryffindor tower ten days after the incident with the acromantula, an incident which has apparently become school-wide gossip though none of the stories I hear involve me killing James for which I am exceedingly grateful.
James, Mary, and the rest of the Marauders came several times a day to visit me once I had woken but I didn’t get a chance to speak with James alone since that first day, a fact that was increasingly irritating. I hadn’t mentioned to any of them the events that had happened to me during my coma. Maybe someday I’ll tell them, but for now I’m just happy to be free of the nightmare.
But there are still a thousand other things I want desperately to say to James, and some things that I expect he wants to say to me, but could never articulate due to the presence of our friends.
Solitary moments are hard to come by when I arrive back in Gryffindor tower as Mary is determined to not let me out of her sight. I’m touched that she has missed me during my time asleep, but I expected a little more tact from her in the case of James.
In fact, I’m not even able to speak to James until several hours after my departure from the hospital when I tell Mary I fancy a quick nap before dinner and instead slip out the common room in search of James.
Once I am alone in the corridor it occurs to me that I have no idea where James even is. I hadn’t noticed him in the common room, but he could be in his dorm.
I stare down the corridor biting my lip as I think of where to start and have just decided on the library and when I turn and run right into someone.
“Oi! Easy there,” I huff, catching the person to stop them from falling.
“Evans, there you are!” Sirius Black straighten up. “I’ve been sent to look for you.”
“To look for me? I’ve been in the common room literally all day being babysat by Mary,” I narrow my eyes at him skeptically.
“Well, I clearly have not been so forgive me,” Sirius rolls his eyes.
“So where have you been all day?” I ask, crossing my arms.
“Nobody likes a Nosy Nelly, Evans,” Sirius wags his finger at me. “Now, I’ve been told to send you down the boathouse.”
“Told by who?” I raise one eyebrow suspiciously.
“Ah, ah, Nelly,” Sirius shakes his head. “No questions. Now, off you go!”
Sirius grabs my shoulders and steers me towards the grand staircase, giving me a little nudge. I stumble slightly before gaining my footing and I send Sirius a dirty look before descending the staircase, oddly intrigued by this game.
The grounds are bathed in bright sunlight as I slide through the front door to the castle. A warm breeze blows around me and I squint towards the boathouse, trying to see something—anything—to give me a hint. But there is nothing.
As I pass the owlery something tugs at my mind, a fuzzy memory of James leaning against the side of the stone building, waiting for me. My heart aches with the memory, realizing it was only a dream and not for the first time an immense feeling of relief washes through me as I remember James is not in fact dead.
Something else tugs at my memory: a garden, bathed in sunlight and filling my eyes with the soft blue of hundreds of forget-me-nots. A tingle of anticipation runs through me before I remember that I am supposed go to the boathouse, not the trail behind the owlery that leads to the magical garden.
I try not to feel disappointed as I make my way towards the boathouse, but disappointment vanishes instantly when I se what is waiting at the boathouse.
A small bouquet of forget-me-nots sit on the steps to the boathouse with a note tied to the stems. I pick up the bundle of flowers and read the words on the paper.
I look around for some clue as to what to follow and stop when I see a small trail of the blue flowers leading into the forest.
I swallow and my heart gives a little thump of encouragement as I start following the trail into the woods. I hardly register that this was the way we had taken into the woods that first day when we found the acromantula.
I push my way through the trees, anticipation building in me like a tsunami. After a few minutes I push through a thicket into a small clearing.
My breath leaves me in a whoosh as my eyes are once again filled with blue.
It isn’t the garden of my dreams. It is much, much better. Because it is real this time. In the time I have been asleep the place has exploded in forget-me-nots, blossoming from the one small plant I showed to James to thousands of flowers covering the forest floor, clinging to the trunks of the trees, and peeking from beneath the tall ferns. And in the middle of it all stands James, waiting patiently for me to arrive.
My head is suddenly full of memories, of James in my dreams, of James now, him waiting for me, him never giving up.
The full weight of it brings me to my knees and as I sink to the flower-covered forest floor James rushes to my side, his face instantly worried.
“What’s wrong? Are you feeling ok?” James asks, his hands fluttering unsurely around me.
“I’m fine,” I assure him. “It’s just… slightly overwhelming.”
“In a bad way?” he asks worriedly.
“No, no, not at all,” I shake my head quickly. “In a… wonderful way. I just… don’t understand. You did this?”
James nods, keeping his eyes locked on my face, awaiting my reaction.
He nods again.
“Why?” I breathe, staring around that the little blue flowers that surround me.
James takes a deep breath as he settles onto the ground beside me.
“I’m—I’m not going to be able to explain this right,” he prefaces before dropping his eyes to the ground. “When you were… a-asleep—” James stumbles over the words as if it’s particularly difficult for him to say, “All I could think about was you telling me that forget-me-nots were your favorite flower and how you d-didn’t want me to give up on you just yet…”
He lifts his eyes to mine as if expecting me to dispute this, but I keep my mouth shut, unable to tear my eyes from his face. He takes a deep breath before continuing.
“I was so… terrified that you were never going to wake up, and I would never see you smile again or hear you laugh or have that one last chance…” James trails off slightly but quickly catches himself. “But then you did wake up, and I wasn’t going to waste anymore time. I had an opportunity and I didn’t want to waste it on the off chance you meant it when you told me not to give up just yet…”
“And this is you not giving up?” I interrupt him, my voice thick with emotion.
“I guess you could say that, yes,” he nods solemnly, still waiting anxiously for my reaction.
“When I was… asleep,” I also stumble over the word, feeling it isn’t quite the right way to describe what I had been through. “I dreamt… about you.”
“Me?” James frowns skeptically. “What—what was I doing in these dreams?”
“Asking me to wake up,” I give him a small smile, the memories of the dreams filling my head with a new kind of meaning. It all makes so much sense now. “You just… kept asking. Over and over. And there were so many times when I just… didn’t know if I could hang on any longer, and you were always there pulling me back, just waiting for me to wake up, to realize—“
My voice breaks off and I realize my eyes have tears in them. I drop my eyes quickly brushing the tears away, hoping James hasn’t seen.
“So you could hear me?” James breathes in a slightly awed voice and I nod in response.
Warm fingers brush along my jaw, tilting my chin up so that I am once again looking into the hazel eyes of James Potter.
“And at the end, just before you woke up,” he says quietly, his eyes locking with mine. “When I told you I’m in love with you… did you hear that part?”
I nod, unable to stop the tears that slid down my cheeks now.
“Did you really mean that?” I manage to ask in a small voice, scared yet at the same time eager for the answer. “After all the fights, the rejections, all those years I didn’t… didn’t realize? All those years I made you wait?”
“I would have waited a thousand years for you,” James responds, sliding his hands into mine and pulling me up so that we’re kneeling with our faces mere inches apart. “And I’ll love you for a thousand more… if you let me.”
We stare at each other for a long moment, both of us seeing in each other something we can’t live without any longer. I am Lily and he is James and all those years of fighting and waiting make a strange kind of sense now. Because he wouldn’t give up, and for that I owe him my life. I am the girl who lived and he is the boy who saved me.
Our noses brush and a thrill of electricity and anticipation pulse through me at his touch. His hand cradles my face while the other entwines loosely with mine, tracing patterns across my skin that send fresh waves of shivers through me.
“You,” James whispers quietly, his breath caressing my lips in a teasingly enticing way as he tilts my chin up, “are worth waiting forever for.”
And because I just can’t take it any longer I press my lips to his and let our love wash over me like a tidal wave.
A/N: Hi everyone, sorry it took me a little while to get this last chapter up! End of summer and all that. So I hope you all liked the ending to this story! A few of you had guessed what was going on, but for those who hadn't guessed, I hope it was a nice surprise!
Thanks SO much to everyone who read this story and especially to those who reviewed, I swear I'll get around to answering each review soon! And if you liked this story, check out my other (longer) ones on my author page :)
Cheers! And I'd love to hear final thoughts, so leave a review!
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