Chapter 4 : Loving Concern
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That night, James was dressing for bed when there was a soft knock on his door. He finished pulling on his sweatpants and went over to the door. "What did you forget this time, Peter?"
But when he opened it, it wasn' Peter. It was Lily. A warm, happy feeling swept through him.
"Hi, it's . . . me. Sorry to --"
"No! Oh, no," James dismissed her apology, then stepped back and gestured for her to come in. She looked hesitant.
"Am I, er . . . allowed in there?"
She shrugged and came in. He left the door open behind her so as to save her from feeling uncomfortable or trapped, and grabbed a t-shirt from his trunk and pulled it on, not with any desire to do so on his part, but out of politeness. Then he looked up and noticed Lily as staring at him quite intently. "So what's up?" he asked. "Is . . . something wrong?"
her green eyes were huge and worried, but she shook her head. Her hair moved and James had a desire to touch it. "Nothing wrong, I just had a feeling . . ."
He stepped closer to her and fingered the collar of her robes. "What sort of feeling?"
"A feeling that . . . that something bad was going to happen."
"Something . . . like what?"
"Something . . . bad."
James smiled a little. "Is that all?"
She smiled, too, a bit sheepishly. "Yeah, that's all."
"Well, let's see . . . Sirius is going home, so there can't be any surprise Dungbombs around, and Remus is going, so he can't eat anybody. It's not his time of the month anyway. And finals have already passed, the results for which . . . have yet to come . . ." He frowned. "I think we have found the subject of your bad feeling."
Lily shook her head and laughed. "I'm pretty sure I did fine. And that's not the type of bad feeling it was anyhow."
"All right, what type was it?"
She looked up into his eyes and seemed troubled. "Well, more specifically . . . I feel like something bad is going to happen to *you*."
His heart was warmed with her concern; he touched her hand.
"Do you love me?" he asked. She smiled a little, then nodded. "Well, then . . . quite frankly, I don't care what happens to me."
She blushed happily. "Okay. I'll stop with the paranoia. And this obsessiveness."
"What are you obsessed with? I missed that part."
"You, of course. You didn't know that?" She was half mocking herself now.
"I didn't. Well, you should be happy. Everyone we know is gone home for the Holidays. You've got much more space to obsess over me for three weeks."
She looked happier than ever. "Sounds good."
James silently but heartily agreed. It was their last Christmas at Hogwarts, and even more than usual he had been wanting to spend every minute of it with Lily. Part of him felt bad about not wanting to hang out with his friends so much, but the bad feeling wasn't enough to make his feeings about Lily lessen, so his preference stood. James pulled LIly into a hug and rested his head on hers.
"I'm glad you're not going home . . . Say, why aren't you going home?"
She pulled away to look at him. "Are you crazy? Petunia uses every chance she gets to insult me."
"Why don't you just threaten to turn her into a toad or something?"
Lily frowned. "Well, I would, but . . . it's not just Petunia. It's my mother, too."
Her mother? James thought. He couldn't imagine a mother ever doing anything to hurt her own child. James' mother was one of the nicest people he knew, and he loved her very much -- in fact, the three other boys frequently made fun of the attachment James had to his parents.
"What's your mother doing?" he asked.
"When I started school, she and Dad were so encouraging . . . but the more I learn and the more involved I become in magic, the more she thinks it's sort of a game -- entertainment, you know? I think she wants me to pursue a career in the normal world when I graduate . . ."
"Normal?" James said skeptically. "Muggles think sitting in front of a screen of moving pictures and sounds is entertainment. How normal is that?"
Lily grinned. "Well, normal is based on perspective, I guess."
"And your mother thinks you're not normal?"
"I don't think she underestand who . . . what I am. That I have magic in my blood. And Petunia -- she's the perfect daughter, all blonde and pretty, with a great new boyfriend with a high-paying job. . . . She's got lots of influence over Mum. Plus, since Dad . . ."
She trailed off. James caressed her back comfortingly. Lily's father had disappeared a year or so ago. There had been no sign that he was murdered or hurt. . . . James would have thought that he left to get away from his wife, except that he couldn't see Mr. Evans leaving his daughters, whom he most dearly loved. "Still no news on your father?"
Lily shook her head, looking down. "I don't think so. If something cam up they would have sent word . . ."
"Is our mother coping?"
"I think she is. We're quickly running out of money, but . . . emotionally, I think Mother's all right."
She was fingering the cloth of his robes, and wouldn't look into his face. James put one finger under her chin and tilted her face to him
"Are *you* coping?"
Lily looked into his eyes. "Trust me," they said.
"Petunia . . ." She swallowed hard. "Petunia told me once that it was my fault."
James' eyes filled wth compassion. "Oh, Lily. You don't even know what happened to him, how could she -- how could *you* think that?"
"It *could* be my fault," Lily said, distressed. "In several ways -- If he left us, it could be beacuse I was away all the time, at school . . . or he dind't like me studying magic that much. If it was supernatural, if something -- if something -- killed him . . . It would be because of *me*."
"Or it could be Dumbledore's fault for not crossing your name off the list of magic eleven-year olds and letting you stay home with your father -- or it could be my fault, for begging you to stay at school during most of the Holidays. Lily, placing the blame of your father's disappearance at this point is irrational. You must know that, deep down. You don't need to carry this guilt."
Lily leaned into him, comforted. "I didn't pick it up intentionally. Petunia gave it to me."
James tucked her head under his chin again. "So that's why you're staying here. Remind me to thank your sister next time I see her."
[Author's Note: I'm trying to add a chapter a day -- I would have added more today but my idiot little brother's been using the computer. I hate his guts -- But that's beside the point. -- The point is, check back sometime tomorrow please, and I should have more! And more after that and more after that and more after that -- I'll try to keep writing until their death . . . but you know what would really help?? REVIEWS : : grin : : Please review, tell me ALL your thoughts!!!!!!!!!]
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