Chapter 2 : Chapter 2
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Lily woke with a start. A nightmare. Hot tears streaked down her cheeks and her shoulders shook as she tried to control her rapid breathing. The sound of metal against metal rung in her ears. She tried to go back to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes, the nightmare played over and over again in her mind. She could feel her heart beat in her throat. The darkness was oppressive. She was alone, completely alone. Cold sweat trickle down her back.
Before she knew what she was doing, her feet had led her to James' bedroom. She opened the door and snuck in. His room was filthy. She made her way to his bed, stepping on dirty clothes and school books. His breathing was peaceful. He was asleep. Lily watched him for a moment, her heart rate slowing. She stole one of his blankets and lay down in the middle of his clothes. She listened to his breathing, feeling a smile creep onto her lips. His smell surrounding her, she fell asleep.
"What are you doing there?" James exclaimed. "I almost stepped on you."
Lily grudgingly opened her eyes. Her arm was numb.
"I couldn't sleep." she muttered turning towards him.
James was standing over her wearing only boxers.
"James!" she protested. "Put some clothes on."
James laughed and sat down on his bed.
"Well you're the one intruding."
Lily got up and yawned.
"I had a nightmare." she explained, feeling guilty.
"You're welcome to my bedroom whenever you feel like it Evans, but I doubt my floor is very comfortable."
James pulled on a pair of pants and a white t-shirt.
"Breakfast?" he said, taking Lily's hand.
She nodded. She felt a bit better. The ball of lead in her stomach had gotten a little lighter since yesterday. They made their way to Sirius' room.
"Hey Sirius." James yelled, jumping on the bed. " Good morning sunshine!"
He retaliated by pushing him off of the bed groan.
"You stupid prat, James Potter."
James just laughed and opened the curtains.
"Ah." he sighed. "Sun."
"I swear, I'll fucking kill you some day." Sirius said, throwing his pillow at his friend.
"Watch your language. There's a lady in the room."
Lily blushed, catching the pillow.
"You can swear all you want. I'm not a fragile little girl, Potter."
Sirius jumped out of bed, also just wearing boxers.
"Don't pretend you're not happy about this Evans." Sirius said motioning to his body.
Lily shook her head and failed to give him a stern look.
"I'm going down to breakfast." she announced, feeling her cheeks grow hot.
Both boys watched her leave.
"She seems to be doing better." Sirius said scratching his head and crashing down on his bed.
"She slept on my floor tonight." James said darkly. "She was having nightmares."
Sirius sighed and chucked another pillow at his best friend who caught it. James sat down hugging it to his body.
"I know you need as much beauty sleep as you can get, but, next time, try offering her a corner of your bed, won't you Prongs?"
"She didn't even wake me up. She just rolled into a ball in my dirty clothes."
Sirius gave a bark of laughter.
"I know this isn't a good time and all." James added. "But she's killing me with those pajamas."
Sirius howled with laughter and sprung out of bed.
"C'mon mate. Let's get some food into your scrawny body." he said. "By the way, they do it on purpose."
James lifted an eyebrow as the marched downstairs.
"They like the power looking great automatically gives them. Lily's no dummy. She knows you can't say no to her when she looks like that."
James hit him on the back of the head.
"That's demeaning Padfoot. And besides, Lily can get me to do pretty much anything no matter how she's dressed."
Both boys entered the kitchen, grinning like mad men.
"Merlin, Sirius!" Rowan scolded. "Throw some clothes on. We have guests."
Sirius flashed her his best innocent smile.
"That doesn't work on me." Mrs Potter said sternly. "I'm waiting Mr Black."
Sirius crossed the kitchen and kissed her on the cheek.
"Something smells really good Nathaniel!" he exclaimed.
James' father beamed and even his mother let out a chuckle.
"Fine." she said. "Make everybody uncomfortable then."
Sirius squeezed into the chair next to Lily and put an arm around her shoulders.
"I'm not making you uncomfortable, am I Evans?" he asked mockingly.
"You aren't the first guy I've seen in his underwear Black." she retorted before biting her tongue.
She had forgotten about Dylan. He would be worried sick about her.
"What's wrong?" James asked, seeing her smile falter.
"I forgot about Dylan." she whispered.
"Dylan?" Mr Potter asked. "You have a brother?"
James clenched his fists.
"No, he's her boyfriend."
Sirius tried to hide his amusement at James' disappointment.
"I thought you'd dumped him last year." his friend was mumbling.
"I heard you say you had a telephone? Would you mind if I used it to call him?" Lily asked Mr Potter, clearly unaware of James' anguished frown.
"I swear. I wanted to call you. I just kind a... forgot." Lily was pleading. "Come on Dylan! I've had other things on my mind."
Tears streaked her tears. Recounting the last few days had not been easy and Dylan's anger at being kept out of the loop was not making her feel any better. He was asking where she was. If she told her she was at James', he was sure to freak out. It was no secret that James fancied her. He had made public declarations of his love for her multiple times. Then again, if she lied, it was sure to blow up in her face eventually.
"I'm at the Potters." she said cautiously.
There was silence at the other end of the line.
"You've been at James Potter's house all this time. While I was worried sick about you, you were playing house with Potter." he yelled into the phone.
Lily winced at the harsh words.
"I was not playing house. I've been having quite a difficult time believe it or not, seeing as my father's dead!" she yelled, sobs shaking her shoulders.
"Don't cry Lily. I love you. I just... don't love you spending time with Potter. I sure as hell don't like him comforting you." Dylan said hastily.
Lily took a moment to steady her voice.
"I don't feel like fighting with you Dylan. The Potters took me in. I had nowhere else to go. We're going back to Hogwarts in a week. I'll see you then."
Dylan gasped at the other end of the line, clearly hurt.
"I just thought you'd come and stay with me now."
"When I told you my father died, you were more preoccupied by my staying at the Potters than by how I was doing. I don't need you comforting me right now."
She smashed the phone down on the receiver. She let her body slide down the wall. She was having trouble breathing. Her lungs had finally imploded.
"That complete arse!" she exclaimed, salty tears reaching her lips.
James came rushing into the study.
"Merlin! What did he say?" he cried, seeing her on the floor. "I'll go and hex him right now Lily. What did that slimy git do to you?"
He helped her to her feet and held her tightly, resting his chin on her head.
"James?" she said, a smile in her voice. "Don't hex Dylan."
He clenched his teeth and Lily understood that he wasn't kidding. He really would have cursed him for her.
"I think your father was cooking breakfast." she said, pushing him away.
She appreciated James' concern, but she'd just fought with her boyfriend. It felt weird being in someone else's arms.
They strutted into the kitchen. Nathaniel Potter was bent over numerous pans.
"It smells great." she said, forcing happiness into her voice.
She knew she'd be sad for a while, but she desperately wanted to feel better. Maybe faking it would help make it happen faster.
"It's just about ready." he said.
Rowan sat at the table reading the Prophet, a cup of tea in her hand. Sirius was beside her and was trying to engage in conversation. Mrs Potter looked rather annoyed.
"Sirius." she said patiently. "I'm reading."
"Bugging mum again?" James smiled.
"Oh no. She just looks annoyed. Somewhere, deep down, she adores me."
Mr Potter placed an enormous plate in front of Lily who frowned. The day before, she'd eaten waffles for breakfast and toast for lunch and dinner. She couldn't stomach anything else. She stared at her plate, not wanting to seem rude. The eggs, potatoes and fresh fruit looked delicious but she just couldn't bring herself to eat the bacon, sausage and ham that filled half the plate.
"Nathaniel." she said, sliding the plate to Sirius. "This all looks very good, but huh..."
Everyone was watching her. She felt her cheeks turn bright red.
"You see, I'm vegetarian. I don't eat any meat."
James stared at her.
"I didn't even know that." he said surprised. "I guess it's cool. I couldn't give up meat though. I don't know how you do it."
"I guess you're not perfect after all Evans." Sirius said with a bark of laughter.
"That's quite all right. I'll make you a plate without meat then?" Mr Potter enquired.
Lily nodded, smiling at the nice man. They ate their breakfast. Mr and Mrs Potter discussed what they'd read in the Prophet while James and Sirius talked Quidditch. Lily listened, taking the opportunity to escape her dark thoughts.
"Lily we left our phone number on the kitchen counter at your place yesterday." Sirius said. "So if your gran or your sister wants to reach you they can."
Petunia hadn't spoken to her since last Christmas. Somehow she doubted she'd call her at a wizard's house. Then, Lily thought of her poor gran. Alone, having just lost her son-in-law. Fine, she hadn't called Dylan or her sister, but she should have had called her gran. She'd been selfish.
"I'll call her." she said getting up.
"Go ahead honey." Rowan said kindly. "Take all the time you need."
James watched her go.
"She's so un-Lily like." he told his parents. "I wished you could have met her before all this happened."
"I'm sure we'll have plenty other opportunities to spend time with her." Nathaniel said, giving his son a knowing look.
"Sirius." Rowan said, taking off her glasses. "Go take a bath."
"I'm old enough to take care of my bathing schedule."
"Listen to her, son." Mr Potter interjected.
Sirius resisted just for the fun of it, before bounding up the stairs, the word son, repeating itself in his mind, a wide smile spread across his face.
"I know gran." Lily was saying. "I like it here. Yes. I love you too. I'll see you at the funeral."
She choked on the last word.
"How is she?" James asked, leaning on the doorframe.
"She's rock solid, she is." Lily smiled. "She was worried about me. I should have called sooner."
"You aren't allowed to feel guilty. You're going through hell. You can't blame yourself." he said, careful to keep his distance. "So when is it, the funeral?"
"Tomorrow." she said, suddenly feeling very tired.
"Remus and Hazel are coming over. We're going to play some Quidditch. Want to join us?"
Lily smiled. She was absolute rubbish at Quidditch and James knew it. It was nice how hard he tried to make her feel better.
"I think I'd rather catch up on some reading."
"If you change your mind, we'll be outside."
Lily nodded and accepted a hug. He really was a reassuring presence. He smelled of firewood and rain and freshly washed clothes. With a final squeeze, he released her and sprinted out of the room.
Lily ran out of the salon. Hot tears ran down her face. It was raining which seemed fitting. Her black dressed was soaked. She didn't care. She needed some space. Petunia had spent the entire time whining about the flower arrangements and hadn't even acknowledge her younger sister's presence. Her friends had come to pay their respects, but they couldn't stay for long. Once they left, she was stuck with relatives she barely knew. She was sick and tired of hearing people her father had barely known tell her how sorry they where, how much they missed him. They didn't know what missing him meant. She missed him. She was the one with a painful hole in her chest. She sat on the ground, her head resting on her knees. Her hair was sticking to her face, her eyes were red and she was sitting in a puddle of mud, but this was much better than the heavily perfumed salon atmosphere.
"Miss Evans." came a soft voice.
Lily spun around.
"Professor Dumbledore." she gasped.
"How are you dear child?" the old man asked, patting her arm sympathetically.
Lily bit her lip, not wanting to make a fool out of herself in front of the headmaster.
"I could be better." she said with a small smile.
"The pain unbearable pain of losing someone so young." the old professor's eyes held true compassion. "But pain must be felt miss Evans. Pushing it away only makes it worse when it comes back, which it unfortunately always does. I've seen you grow into a brilliant and strong young woman, but even strong people are allowed to be weak once in a while."
Lily gave him a watery smile.
"Thank you professor, really."
"Will you walk with me?"
Lily nodded. Of course she would. He'd know exactly what to say. A weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
"You are of age which means that you come into your inheritance today." Dumbledore explained. "You're father, however, left the house in Petunia's name as she's the older child. He probably assumed that you would live together for a certain amount of time in the event of his death. I think it is safe to say, he was mistaken. You have enough gold to rent a small flat once you leave Hogwarts if that is what to decide to do. However, money will run out quickly if you decide to further your education."
Lily felt something around her heart tighten. She couldn't continue her education after Hogwarts. She had planned on doing exactly that. What would happen to her if she couldn't?
"But do not worry just yet. The Potters have offered their home. They are willing to welcome you to their family with open arms. If you do not wish to live with them, they have offered to help pay your tuition fees."
Lily realised she was staring at him, her mouth hanging open.
"Before you protest, I must tell you that the Potters are one of the wealthiest wizarding families in all of Great-Britain. They have more gold then they know how to spend. I also know them rather well. If they've made such a generous offer it's because they really want to help you."
"But I don't..." she started.
"Do not answer tonight. Take time to think very carefully about what you want. A decision taken when emotions run high, is often one we regret later."
The professor searched his pockets and took out two sherbet lemons, handing one to Lily.
"These are my favorite." he said, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "Shall we get you back to the Potters?"
He presented her with his arm which Lily took gratefully. The old man smelled of warm bread, as if he'd spent his morning baking. He looked left and right, making sure no muggles were watching them. Lily felt a sickening lurch behind her navel as they turned on the spot and apparated to the Potters.
A few days went by in the same fashion. Lily's nights were plagued with nightmares. She taken the habit of creeping into James bedroom. Unable to fight off the demons, his presence had a soothing effect on her. The second time he discovered her sleeping on his floor, he insisted for her to wake him up the next time she'd have trouble sleeping. Lily had obliged and taken to the habit of slipping into bed with him. It was quite cramped, but still more comfortable than the floor. As for James, he couldn't complain about the sleeping arrangements. Daytime, brought small improvements. She still struggled with the pain everyday actions triggered, but she was slowly getting used to it and was better able to control it. Her friends loving presence helped her more than she cared to admit. Mr and Mrs Potter weren't her parents, and they could never quite replace them, but they made her feel welcomed. At the end of the week, she felt more like herself than she had in a long time and was able to conjure up happy memories without crying.
AN: Hello! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. It was a bit slower, but I hope it was still good enough for all of you... If you have a minute, a review is always welcome! I would really love to know what you think about my story so far! Oh, and have a nice day!
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