James said the first thing that entered his head afterwards. It was about a half a minute later, and the thought was a soft, disbelieving, "What?"
"It was in the Daily Prophet this moring and --"
"The Daily Prophet is notorious for misinformation --"
"-- and that thought *did* cross my mind," Dumbledore said sternly. "I went over there directly after the occurrence took place, James, and found your parens. Your mother is here in the hospital wing.
For a long time, again, James just stood, staring at Dumbledore, expressionless.
"I am sorry, James," Dumbledore said with ample emotion in his voice.
James started to cry and didn't try to stem the flow of tears that were streaming down his cheeks. "My mother's here?" he said in a strangled voice.
James didn't wait for Dumbledore to say anything more -- he turned on his heel and raced out of the room.
He ran at top speed through the corridors -- racing, racing -- blood pumping -- tears streaming -- mind not understanding -- and reached the hosptial wing within a minute.
From the hallways he heard his mother's voice, "Poppy -- can't you do anything? James can't see me like this. I need to be gone before he gets here . . . Let me die, let me die . . ." He stepped in and saw her.
There was a great hole in her side -- half her stomach was gone -- red, so much red -- He stood there, stunned -- it makes no sense.
He let out a shuddering breath, and stumbled to her bed, found her hand and held it; her blood stained his cheek.
"Mum?" She burst into tears and cringed as saltiness stung the cuts on her cheeks. "Oh, God, Mum . . ." James murmured. He turned to Madam Pomfrey behind him. "You can still save her! She can be fixed."
"James . . . there's nothing left to do," she said calmly, looking him in the eyes.
But James wasn't looking at her. He was looking past her. At his father, in a bed across the room.
His body was clean. His hands were at his side, as though he were sleeping. But his eyes were open, and there was a look of terror upon his face.
And for the first time, it really hit James what was happening.
MEANWHILE, IN THE COMMON ROOM, THE REST OF THE GANG IS OBLIVIOUS:
As Holidays were over, the Common rom was full again of people and buzz of talk. Sirius, Peter, and Remu were investigating their map their their heads together in a ight circle, and Lily and April were sitting on the floor playing chacker (April had never had the patience for chess) -- or trying to, anyway.
"Lily, wake up, it's your turn," April said for the third time that game.
Lily looked up. "Huh? My turn? I thought I just went."
"Yeah, eternity and three days ago, I did, now it's your turn."
"Oh," Lily moved a checker and, immediately after, April triple-jumped her.
Lily didn't do anything but stare dreamily at the board.
"Lily, where are yu?"
"You're obviously not in this world right now -- where are you?"
Lily smiled. "Here. Did you win?"
April threw up her hands in the air and sighed. "Oh, for Alexander's sake!"
"Who's Alexander? You mean Pete," Lily corrected.
"Who's Pete?" April shot at her.
". . . Good point."
"OY! APRIL! KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN!" shouted Sirius at the top of his lungs from their table. He had looked up when April had yelled at Lily. "Fuck you," April said under her breath.
"April, don't say that. It's his way of flirting."
"I know that, Lily! I'm not completely stupid like you were all those years ago -- 'Oh, I wonder if James likes me, he just looked at me, does that mean anything? Do I look back at him?'" Lily blushed and couldn't help but laugh. It was stressful then, of course -- but funny now, considering. "I know Sirius is half in love with me, it's obvious," April went on, "but he's such a weasel about it."
"You really hate him, don't you?" Lily said, eyes laughing.
"With a fiery passion."
"Why don't you tell him to leave you alone? -- No, deep down, you love the attention, don't you?"
"Well, look who's gotten blunt!"
"More insightful, maybe. Not blunt!"
"I bet James thinks you're blunt."
Lily paused. "Was that a sexual joke?"
April crinkled her nose. "It was supposed to be. Didn't make much sense, though, did it?"
Lily grinned. "Not really, no."
"What's up with you today, why are you so happy?" April said bitterly.
"Why, I'm sorry, let me lament a little bit for you --"
"No, no! -- I'm done with my furious rant. I want to know what happened over Christmas break. What did James get for you? . . . What did you *do* for three weeks?"
Lily eyes brightened and she looked down. "Nothing. A little nthing, no studying, no thinking --"
"Lotta James . . ."
"Yes, lots -- I wonder where he is." And for a brief moment, Lily felt a tugging in her chest, a ephemeral feeling of pain and sorrow. But it lasted only a second, then was gone.
In the Hospital Wing, James was staring blankly at his father's lifeless body.
"Beats me," April was saying. "Probably getting his ass kicked by Dumbledore."
That scene entered both girls' heads and they cracked up.
"YOU'RE BEING TOO LOUD, APRIL PREWETT!" shouted Sirius. They stopped laughing and April flipped him off. Lily gasped and covered April's hand with her own. Remus and Peter were trying not to laugh.
"Look at him. He thinks he's so funny," April hissed.
"April, you wanna hear a secret?"
Her blue eyes huge and curious, April turned to face Lily "You have a secret? Something that happened over winter break?"
"Yes . . . it's very very important, and ou *can't* tell anybody, okay?"
"Or you'll never be my friend again?"
April leaned closer. "Ok. I'm all ears. And no mouth."
Lily sat back and her face assumed a purely happy expression. "James asked me to marry him."
April gasped and shriked, "HE DID?" even louder than Sirius had shouted earlier. A couple of students studying looked over to their corner condescendingly.
"Shh!" Lily said through her smile.
"What did you say?" April whispered.
"I said I would," Lily whispered back, so quiet it was barely audible.
April loooked at her for a moment, her mouth hanging open, then screamed and jumped off the floor on top of her friend in a moment of impassioned joy.
"Stop! What are you doing?" Lily giggled.
"I'm hugging you!"
"I couldn't tell."
They sat up moments later, each flushed red. "This is awesome, this is so great," April said in a hushed voice. "You're so perfect together! James is all 'I'm a powerful Quidditch man but I've got a weakness to my girlfriend and it hurts when I'm not around her' and you're all 'He gives me strength and confidence, but I'm to shy to tell him what I really feel.' This is *perfect*!"
"That's a very twisted rendition of our relationsip."
"It's true, though. Oh, Lily, my bestest best friend, I'm so happy for you! This is a great ending to the story of Lily and James!"
"Look, owl post!" A rain of owls were fluttering through the windows. One dropped the Daily Prophet in Remus' lap.
In the hospital wing, James flung at Madam Pomgrey, screaming, "God damn you! You're a fucking nurse, you were supposed to heal them! My father is dead and my mother is dying and you're just standing there like a bloody idiot! Fuck you! *Fuck* you!"
"JAMES!" his mother shouted with all the strength left in her body. James turned, and his anger ebbed away and left frailty.
Behind him, Dumbledore, Vindictus, McGonagall, Sinistra, and Sprout rushed in with their wands ready.
James collapsd at his mother's side and sobbed.
"Mum . . . oh, Mum . . . what's happening?"
She touched his head. "James. James, my son, my only son . . . look at me . . ."
He looked up into her beaten, bloody face.
"You've got rage." She nodded. "That's good. You're going to need it . . . I'm going to be all right, James. Don't cry for me."
"I don't know what to do, Mum, I don' know how to help you and Dad . . ."
"You don't need to help us, James. You need to understand that right now. Your father and I are leaving you. I'm sorry we have to leave you to such a world as this. . . . so sorry. . . . But that's the way it is. Our time is over now. We have raised you, we've taught you to be good, to be smart, to be brave. We've already lived in this world. Now it's your turn to take what you know and use it in the battles to come . . ."
"*I can't do it without you* . . ."
"You need to, and you will. James, we died unjustly, at the wrong time, by the wrong hands, but I don't regret it. You are ready. It's your generation. It's your time, now. Godric's Hollowing belongs to *you*."
James cried. His heart was breaking; its content mixed with the tears and blood on the sheets.
"How do I fight?" he whispered, hopelessly. Images flashed through his mind, of the past. His parents. Soon gone, forever, leaving him utterly alone. "And what do I fight for now?"
"You fight . . .' Her voice had been strong, full of force, until now. Her eyes flickered. She was fading in front of him. "You fight . . . with love. With all the love in your heart. And you fight *for* love."
Jame cried silently, holding his mother's hand to his cheek. "I love you."
She didn't move, didn't respond. Her eyes continued to stare at him, and her hand went limp against his cheek. Behind him, the Headmaster and the four Heads of Houses watched silently. Professor McGonagall was pressing a handkerchief to her eyes.
James dropped her hand on the bed. He looked at his mother, for a long, long time, until his tears dried with the blood on his face and hands.
Then he stood slowly, and leaned down to kiss her forehead. "Goodbye." His voice was calm and composed.
He turned and walked to his father's bed. He looked down at him, kissed his forehead gently. "I won't fail you." He reached down and took his father's black-rimmed glasses and put them in his own pocket.
He faced his teachers. They looked back at him somberly. Even Vindictus was regarding him with utmost respect.
James ducked his head, walked around them, and exited the room.
"Potter --" Vindictus began, but Dumbledore shook his head sharply.
"No. He needs some time alone."
James heard them. Even if Dumbledore had not stopped Vindictus from calling him back, James would not have complied. In the last ten minutes the seventeen-year old boy had been forced to turn into a man. And he had decisions to make.
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know it took a while for anything to happen, but I liked writing L/J sweetness . . . . Is anybody still following the story? . . . Please review if you are, tell me what you think of this chapter, I haven't gotten too many reviews lately . . . This isn't the end, of course, more is on the way . . . but I'm BEGGING you, I'm GROVELING . . . please review!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~Emlyn]
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