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Chapter 30 : Carry On
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“A new day, a new way, I knew I should see it along. Go your way, I'll go mine and carry on.” – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, 1972.
Lily Evans softly adjusted the tapered waistline of her floral bellbottom jumpsuit before flicking her teased, fiery red hair over her shoulders. When she turned away from the mirror to grab her purple evening bag, Alice Cooper emerged from the Seventh Year Gryffindor Girls’ bathroom with her freshly showered hair wrapped up in towel.
“Meow,” she catcalled. “Last Sluggie do of her Hogwarts career and Miss Evans goes for the show stopper.”
Lily rolled her eyes as she threw her purse strap over her shoulder.
“When did you make this lovely thing?” Alice purred as she inspected her handmade creation.
“A couple nights ago,” Lily said as she playfully crossed her arms over her chest. “Needed to forget that I’m about to take my NEWTs in a few weeks.”
“So can you make one for me?”
“If I’m ever too brain dead to function and need a break – which is very likely – then, yes. But it’s just a jumpsuit, you can buy one just like it if you owl the right shop.”
“But I want one like yours!” her best friend exclaimed. “Lily, do you not understand how amazing your bum looks right now?”
“My bum?” she laughed as she looked over her shoulder.
“Yes, your bum,” Alice teased. “James is going to have a minor heart attack when he sees you.”
“I’m not trying to look sexy,” Lily countered lightheartedly. “I’m trying to be modern - Muggle women wear things like this all the time.”
“I’m moving to Muggle London then,” she laughed. “I can’t remember the last time I wore a comfortable pair of trousers in public … I mean, I did when I was younger, but it’s just not really done in the Wizarding world when you’re of age. You’re supposed to wear robes.”
“I’m going to have to introduce you to the wonderful designs of Topshop, then.”
“You better,” Alice sassed. “Now go and have fun tonight. You deserve it.”
Lily waved appreciatively before closing the door behind her and walking down the stairs towards the common room. Although it was a Sunday night, there were a decent amount of students in the large scarlet and gold room but it didn’t take long for Lily to spot her boyfriend and the rest of the Marauders; they were lazily sitting in four different positions across two plush couches near one of the large windows. Lily couldn’t help but grin as she watched James explain a Quidditch play he was planning to use against Ravenclaw.
“So then I’m going to do a zig-zag across the left side of the pitch,” he said, reenacting everything with grandiose gestures, “and Bigsby will be doing the same on the right. Davies won’t know whom to track, so he’ll obviously tell his goons to go for me. If I can distract them, it will free up the other Chasers and they can score … ‘Cos we’re going to need score as many points as possible to win the Cup.”
“I like it,” Sirius chimed in.
“Me too,” Peter agreed feverently.
“Hello, Lily,” Remus greeted with a warm smile when he noticed her from his perched position. “I like your jumpsuit.”
James whipped his head around with a crack! and the Head Girl saw the back of his throat as his jaw dropped to the floor. While the rest of the Marauders jovially mocked their best mate behind his back and impersonated his completely absurd adoration for his girlfriend, she did a quick spin, her bright pink lips turned upwards in a half smirk, and he let out a small whimper of yearning.
“You can stop drooling, James,” she cooed.
He couldn’t respond; he was too enthralled.
“Aren’t you going to be cold, Evans? You should take my cloak,” Sirius dogged, alluding to the fact that her design failed to have sleeves.
“No,” James insisted when he finally regained his ability to make coherent sentences after throwing a quick glance at her backside. “It’s the end of April, it’s warm enough to wander around at night without a cloak.”
“It’s true,” Peter admitted.
“Well, you two look well matched,” Remus remarked.
“What are you talking about, Moony?” Sirius guffawed. “Prongs is wearing traditional dress robes and Evans is the epitome of Muggle sophistication. They’re complete opposites.”
“That’s why it works,” Remus responded with an eye roll. “It’s physical proof that opposites attract.”
“You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?” Peter added with a teasing grin. He seemed to be trying his very best to seem part of the conversation, but Lily noticed that he concealed his shaking left hand under his head just after he made his contribution.
“Oh, do shut up,” the werewolf parried delightfully before returning his attention to the novel in his lap.
“We should be going, dear,” James finally interrupted as he placed a hand on the small of her back. Although there was a piece of fabric between his fingers and her skin, she still felt her spine tingle with anticipation. “Don’t want to be late.”
“If you see Marianne,” Remus began, but paused in fear of being overheard.
“We’ll give her a friendly hello,” Lily smiled, quickly remembering that his clandestine love interest was also in the Slug Club.
“Do give my brother my love as well,” Sirius sneered, his mood turning darker by the second.
James took the opportunity to guide her towards the door, but just before the Fat Lady’s portrait swung to the side, the Head Boy turned around and caught Sirius’ fleeting, sorrowful glance out the window; Remus seemed to notice it too while Peter busied himself with another chocolate frog. James grimaced and before Lily could say anything, softly pushed her out the door.
“What’s wrong with Sirius?” she finally asked when they enter the corridor that led to the Sixth Floor.
“He hates his brother, isn’t that pretty obvious?”
“It’s something more than that.”
“Well,” James began with a gulp, “Gemma wears a lot of jumpsuits. I think he made the connection in his head when we started talking about yours.”
“Why doesn’t he just confess his guilt to her in person?” Lily questioned absentmindedly. “Surely that would help the entire situation, since she’s clearly depressed without him.”
“He says he’s tried,” he grumbled, “but never could go through with it. I know Padfoot always tracks her when he’s got the Map but I think he’s too scared to face her when she very clearly told him to fuck off and never talk to her again … and I suppose I would feel the same.”
“Why?” she said skeptically.
“Because it wasn’t easy asking you out. I tried my best, but you’ve got a mouth on you, love. You’re quite intimidating and it took a lot of courage every time I asked you to be my girlfriend because part of me knew you’d say no and never want to speak to me again.”
“You were a toerag,” she laughed. “What was I supposed to say?”
“Yeah, I know,” he said, “but you have to give me credit for trying. Not everyone can do that.”
“I do give you credit,” she teased as she pulled on one of his cheeks, “but if you ever surprise me with another romantic broom ride, I will kill you.”
“Noted,” James grinned as he wrapped an arm around her waist. The two Heads laughed softly, ascended to the Sixth Floor, and knocked on the door of Slughorn’s office when they reached their final destination.
“Miss Evans!” the Professor chortled as he ignored James and spread his arms to hug her affectionately. “How lovely to see you!”
Lily took a moment to return his gesture fondly. Although most people thought Professor Slughorn was a large walrus of a fellow who only favored those who would be of use to him, the Gryffindor always had considerable respect for the Slytherin Head of House; despite his outwardly arrogant demeanor, he did have an extensive knowledge of Potions and always passed on his wisdom to her during their regular classes with a wink or a smile.
“And Mr. Potter,” Professor Slughorn greeted, “good to see you as well.” James shifted his weight as the older man shook his hand enthusiastically. “There are refreshments on the table, but you two already know that, being the veterans that you are. Be sure to say hello to Davgeon Uryter!”
“Wouldn’t be a Slug Club meeting without a famous guest,” Lily muttered as they wandered over towards the large circular table covered in meats, sweets, and other treats.
“Davgeon Uryter?” James whispered breathlessly. “He’s absolutely brilliant.”
“Isn’t he on some professional team?”
“Puddlemire United,” he answered with admiration. “Oh Lily, I know we just got here, but do you mind if I ask him a few questions? I had a great game plan until the Ravenclaw versus Hufflepuff match two weeks ago. Normally their seeker is brilliant but she seemed to be completely distracted and didn’t catch the snitch until five hours in … which gave Ravenclaw enough time to rack up the points and diminish our overall lead. It just so happens that the last match of the season is us versus them, but even if we win, they can still win the Cup if they have more overall points.”
“I may be purposefully ignorant about Quidditch, but I understand,” she said lovingly. “Go, ask your questions.”
“I’ll only ask 2, I swear,” he grinned.
“Oh just go, already,” Lily ridiculed. “I can fend for myself, thank you very much.”
“Never said you couldn’t,” James quipped just before placing a small peck on her cheek. “Be back in a second.”
As her boyfriend quickly sauntered off towards one of his Quidditch idols, Lily couldn’t help but let another content smile burst across her face as she plucked a glass of Dragon Barrel brandy from the table and listened to muted jazz standards that poured out of the Professor’s old gramophone. She slowly raised the liquid towards her lips and swallowed the entire glass. Although she let out a gasp of disgust in response to the strong tingling sensation in her throat, the Head Girl’s smile grew even bigger as she surveyed the scene before her.
She wanted to drink everything in … since it would be the last time she’d ever be at one of Slughorn’s parties as a student.
Lily murmured softly and ran a hand through her hair. She remained at a distance and watched Barnabus Cuffe awkwardly adjust his bowtie while Rabastan Lestrange grabbed a piece of crystallized pineapple off the communal table before taking a puff from his cigarette. As Lily crossed her arms over her chest, Marlene McKinnon suddenly arrived, causing Professor Slughorn to squawk with delight. He scurried towards the door, and in the process, revealed the envious glare of her former fling, Walter Davies. Lily tried not to laugh; the boy looked so childish and unseasoned as he tightly gripped the back of the wooden chair he was standing next to.
She finally couldn’t hold her amusement any longer and giggled shamelessly. As Walter sulked to the furthest corner, Lily sighed. Her last Slug Club meeting was going swimmingly and would surely be one for the books.
However, her confident aura quickly vanished when she turned to claim another brandy for James and noticed Severus Snape standing directly next to her. Her pink lips formed an enormous frown of disgust. Of course, she told herself, of course he’d want to speak to her when she was trying to have a pleasant evening. Didn’t he always ruin her best moments?
“Hello, Lily,” he wheezed.
“What do you want?” she growled as she finally snatched the brandy and took a deep gulp for herself.
“I – I -”
The Slytherin faltered and tugged at his dark green dress robes, unable to finish his sentence. Lily’s eyebrows narrowed as she felt her free hand slowly compress into an angry ball. She remained silent and waited for his explanation.
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I never meant to call you -”
“A Mudblood,” she interrupted.
“I’d take it back if I could,” Severus pleaded. “Please, you have to believe me.”
“I don’t,” she responded.
“Lily, please -”
“Don’t touch me,” she warned, “I mean it.”
“I’ve changed, I really have,” he hissed as he pulled her towards an unoccupied corner and ignored her soft, objective yelps. “You have to listen to me.”
“No, I really don’t,” she spat as she ripped her hand away. Severus groaned deeply and stepped away from her, running his hands through his long greasy hair. After taking a couple of seconds to compose himself, he threw her a tormented scowl.
“Look, there’s going to be an overthrow,” he warned ominously, “whether you believe me or not.”
“Well that’s very specific and helpful information, Snivellus. Now if you’ll excuse me -”
“Here at Hogwarts,” the Slytherin said above a whisper as he reached out to stop her from leaving again. “It’s going to happen here. You have to be ready to go along with it.”
His hand clamped down on her upper arm, but that wasn’t why the Gryffindor felt shivers run down her spine. At first glance, his eyes looked watery and insecure and he seemed to emanate regret with his every micro expression. Lily’s brow softened. Ever since her best friend had called her impure, she’d been waiting for him to apologize and truly mean his words … And they’d experienced a lot of enjoyable Slug Club meetings together when they got along, so wasn’t this the perfect place for reconciliation?
Yet, just as the aggrandizing thought crossed her mind, his gesture forced the sleeve of his robe to rise high enough to reveal the bottom of the Dark Mark tattoo on his forearm. The illusion of potential harmony quickly melted away, causing Lily to finally see the real Severus in front of her. He was no longer a misguided child who regretted his decision, but instead, a cruel adolescent who had mastered the Dark Arts and accepted his need to blindly follow others in power. Even if he did feel horrible and wanted to help her, his covenant with the Dark Lord meant they were moving in two different directions and would never travel in tandem like they did when they were younger.
That was all in the past now.
“How stupid are you?” she snapped as she pushed his hand away. “Merlin, how stupid am I?”
“You haven’t changed one bit,” she said, taking the rare opportunity to swear, “because you have that fucking tattoo. You don’t mean any of what you just said, because if you did, you would have never become a Death Eater.”
She let an angry growl pass between her lips after she tilted her head back and drank the rest of the brandy meant for James.
“God, I can’t believe I let you torment me over all these years. Ever since that day by the lake, I’ve been waiting for this day to happen - I’ve been waiting for you to finally admit that you were wrong and actually mean it.”
“I do mean it, I’m offering to save you -”
“No,” she resisted forcefully, “you aren’t.”
He stopped dead in his tracks, unable to move, and Lily continued to ramble.
“Ever since the end of our Fifth Year, I haven’t been able to get you out of my head … because when I asked you if you were interested in becoming a Death Eater, you didn’t deny it. And I couldn’t believe it. How could my childhood friend, who told me there was nothing wrong with being a Muggleborn, suddenly be attracted to the Dark Arts and Lord Voldemort, the very man who wants to kill people like me?
“But you made your choice and so I made mine. Yet, even after I walked away and avoided you at all costs, you continued tormented me, like a heavy ball and chain clamped around my ankle … because I thought that there was something I could have done to stop you.” Lily growled again, her inner strength growing with her every word. “But now I can finally see how stupid I was for thinking that. If the end of our friendship wasn’t enough to derail your allegiances, then there’s nothing I could have done to change your decision. You’re the reason we stopped being friends, not the other way around.”
Severus took several shaky breaths as he quietly tried to compose himself to avoid a scene, but she saw hurt, shame, and remorse wash over his face.
“We stopped being friends,” he finally fumed, “because James Potter decided to hang me upside down by my trousers and provoke me into saying something I never actually believed!”
“You would try to blame this on James,” she countered.
“He’s not an angel, Lily! That little shit has made my life a living hell,” he growled.
“You’re right, James was an absolute bully, but …” Her eyes flickered up from the floor again. “Ever since he became Head Boy and turned into a responsible human being, he’s been absolutely wonderful. So if there’s an overthrow planned, as you say, then he will be the first to fight it, with me by his side … because he encourages me to be my best self - something you never did.”
Lily watched her confession cut through her ex-best friend like a knife. However, Severus’ morose reaction only lasted a few seconds before his quivering lip hardened into another deep scowl. Without uttering a word, he turned away with a swish of his cloak and as the Slytherin stomped off towards the small group of Death Eaters in attendance, Lily took a deep, shaky breath and grabbed another brandy off the table. Although her fight with Severus had provoked a strong sense of inner confidence, she felt her shaky legs automatically propel her body back towards her other half.
“So then I thought I could fly towards the left post and finish with a Chelmondiston Charge … oh hello, dear!”
James spun around when he finally noticed her standing next to him.
“Mr. Uryter -”
“Call me Davgeon, please,” the professional grinned.
“Davgeon,” he finally stuttered, a small blush forming in his cheeks as he put an arm around her shoulders, “this is my girlfriend, Lily Evans. Lily, this is Mr – Davgeon, the Captain of Puddlemire United.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Sir,” she beamed as she finally felt a sense of calm wash over her.
“I’m sure she’s coming over here to pull me away,” James chuckled nervously. “Can’t ever shut up about Quidditch, can I? It’s been a pleasure Mr. U – Davgeon.”
“The same to you, Mr. Potter. I’ll be in touch.” The middle aged man tipped his floppy black hat before strolling back towards Professor Slughorn to meet the other Hogwarts Quidditch prodigy, Gwenog Jones.
“I wasn’t trying to stop you, I just wanted to hand you a drink,” Lily admitted softly as she handed him the glass of brandy. She watched his face light up with delight and when he gave her a thank you kiss on the lips, all thoughts of Severus flew from her mind. Although her former friend had almost ruined her last Slug Club meeting, James, like always, was there to turn it all around.
“It’s like you can read my mind,” the Seventh Year joked. “Thanks, love. You’re the best. Oh look, there’s Marianne – we promised we’d say hello!”
He quickly hooked his arm around her elbow and guided her towards the other side of the room and Lily couldn’t help but let a small giggle erupt from between her lips as she dreamily followed behind him.
“I love you, James,” she murmured under her breath, “and I never want our relationship to end.”
Author’s Note: Well, sorry for this chapter taking a bit longer, but the holidays took up most of my time this month and I got stuck while writing the end (I’m still not 100% in love with it, but whatever). But OMG, speaking of the month, it is now January 2014 – which means Wide Awake is almost 1 year old!!!!!! I can’t believe it’s been that long!!!! WEEEEEEEEEEEE!
The next chapter will be set during the final Quidditch match but since I’m moving to my new apartment tomorrow and it’s a group one, I’m going to conservatively say it will be out by the end of this month, depending on how work goes.
Thank you so much to everyone who has read/reviewed/favorited this story (and especially those who reviewed more than once ... even if you don't have usernames, you know who you are XD), you don’t understand how much you people brighten my day :D
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