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Chapter 36 : Chapter Thirty Six
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Another week passed by, April strolling in. The teachers were piling us with even more homework than usual, insisting that we wouldn’t do well on our N.E.W.T.s exam unless we started to shape up on our work. This caused me to get even more jittery than usual, since I wasn’t doing very well in my classes. Well, that was no surprise.
As for Jack and Natalie, they seemed to be permanently traumatized. They would show up at the meals in the Great Hall very late, when almost everyone was finished. I suspected they thought something disastrous would happen to them again. When Sirius noticed this he laughed in a little evil way and glared at the two, as if to say that they were probably right if they didn’t watch their backs. Gaby seemed extremely pleased by this idea, and knew that we were somehow involved in it. The Marauders were infamous this way, and she knew that her friends would’ve helped somehow if they could.
So naturally, she apologized to us.
It was very relieving, really. She had come towards us during breakfast, where we were sitting by the Marauders, which was sort of a habit now. (We had gotten to be better friends with both Sirius and Remus) Grace stopped talking with Remus immediately as she noticed her coming, and couldn’t help smiling.
“Look.” She whispered to me. I turned around and saw Gaby walking straight towards us. I watched from the corner of my eye Sirius stop chewing for a moment on his food, but then quickly turned so that he was able to talk to James still, who was smirking in a knowing way to his friend.
“Hi.” Gaby said quietly, stopping in front of us. She was still looking slightly solemn, like she always would when she was about to apologize. Gaby hated apologizing, like me.
“Hi.” Grace said, raising an eyebrow.
We all waited to see who would speak first. Grace, of course, took the initiative. “Gaby,” she sighed. “We’re really sorry.”
Gaby blinked, looking like she was going to cry again. “I know,” she said softly. “Me too.”
I stood up, without even thinking, and hugged her. Gaby looked rather surprised, since we weren’t holding any grudges and were already taking her back into our group. She smiled anyway though, laughing and hugging me back. Soon Henn and Grace were getting up too, hugging us both.
“Oh, how touching.” Sirius sighed in a mock girly voice from behind us. Henn laughed, looking back at him.
“Oh shut up.” She grinned, as we all let go of Gaby and sat down on the same bench. “You’re just jealous cause you don’t get a hug too.”
“So true.” Sirius smirked. I saw him glance at Gaby, and then quickly resume his conversation with James. It was rather funny, since James had nothing to say, and it looked like Sirius was talking to himself. I looked at Gaby, who was staring at Sirius until she got his attention. Sirius seemed to be avoiding any eye contact though.
“Sirius,” Gaby said softly, yet loud enough to hear. I watched as Sirius froze in mid sentence, turning around to look at her hand, which was on his own. “I want to thank you too.”
He didn’t blush, (Because later when we discussed this, Sirius had said gruffly, “I do not blush.”) but his cheeks did get a tint of pink. He muttered a “No problem,” then quickly retrieved his hand, looking down at the table as he drained his orange juice.
The post came and I found out that I had gotten yet another invitation from Petunia, with a phone number scrawled inside this time.
I hid it in my pocket, forcing a grin at Remus as he cracked a joke with me. Everything was almost perfect.
With Gaby back, our friendship with one another seemed even stronger than before, especially now that Henn and I were talking again. We had both seen the whole fight as a warning not to start our own, so we were both in good terms again, with a silent agreement that is. Now, there were only a few things for me to resolve.
James, I had seen was a lost cause. He was dating Eve, and I could nothing about it. I decided to take Grace’s advice and try to forget about him. After all, I’d just get hurt even more otherwise. Besides, he hardly seemed to care, so what would be the point? I carefully avoided his eye contact and tried to stop thinking about him in my head. Hey, it was a start.
Then there was the wedding, that I was still trying to decide if I should attend to it or not. I tried consulting my friends on this one, since I really had no idea what to do.
“Well, Lily. I know that you and your sister aren’t exactly on the best of terms,” Grace said one breakfast, after yet another invitation had arrived, as if to remind me of what was to come in a few weeks. “But you two are family. I’d say even more so that my sister and I, since you don’t have your mother with you.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat and nodded. I looked down at my porridge, while James stared at me uncertainly. I couldn’t bring myself to say what I wanted to tell them all for so long; that my mother was not dead at all, and that she was actually the woman hosting the wedding for my sister.
“Right.” I said.
“It shouldn’t be too bad, right?” Henn said uncertainly, since she didn’t know how bad it was going to be at all.
“And you’re still sisters.” Gaby said. “Regardless if you hate one another or not.”
Just as I was going to open my mouth to say something like, ‘Yeah, whatever’, Sirius interrupted me. “Sort of sounds like my brother and me.” Sirius said cheerily. I raised my eyebrow at him.
“You have a brother?”
“Yep. You’ve met him too. He was that bloke in the hospital wing, remember?”
Henn accidentally spat her pumpkin juice. “He was your brother?” she asked incredulously.
Even though it seemed like a rather unbelievable thing, since the boy in the Hospital Wing was from Slytherin and Sirius hated Slytherins, it did actually make a little sense. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen the resemblance before; they had the same stylish, black locks, the same way of holding themselves, and the same handsome features. Personality wise however, they were quite different.
“Well, you did say that he was part of your family.” Grace said conversationally. “I expected him to be more like a cousin or something, like that Bellatrix girl in Slytherin.”
“She’s not my only cousin.” Sirius said, frowning. “Narcissa goes here too, she’s a third year, and so does my cousin Andromeda, but she’s a nice girl.”
“Andromeda, she’s a fifth year prefect, isn’t she?” I asked. “Yes, she is nice. She’s in Ravenclaw though…”
Sirius laughed. “Yep, we’re both considered blood traitors to not be in Slytherin.” I noticed he was wearing a pained sort of smile.
“Let’s not talk about your family, Sirius.” James suddenly said grimly. “Always makes me feel sick.”
There was an awkward silence. “Uh…” Grace finally said. “I think I’m going to go now. I have to go to the library.”
“Again?” I asked. She had been in the library practically every day now, although no one really knew why. When we asked her she’d mutter absentmindedly something about homework, although when I’d offer to help her out, (or ask her to help me out) she’d always refuse.
“Want me to come along?” Remus asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Oh, Remus. You’re so kind.” Sirius said, battering his eyelashes at him. Remus rolled his eyes.
“It’s alright.” Grace said uncomfortably. “I’ll…see you guys later.”
“I’d keep my eye on your gal if I were you, Moony.” James said briskly, taking a sip of his chocolate milk. “You never know what she’s doing in the library so much…”
“I doubt that she’s snogging someone senseless, if that’s what you mean.” Henn said coolly.
James smirked. “You never know.” He said, shrugging. I was about to open my mouth to say something when I suddenly remembered I wasn’t supposed to making any sort of contact with him, verbal or not.
Sirius seemed to notice my hold of tongue. “No verbal assaults on the defensive of your friend, Lily dear?” he asked amusedly. I scowled at him.
“I think we all know how responsible and loyal Grace is.” I replied coldly. Remus smiled at me and put an arm around my shoulders, earning a scolding look, I noticed, from James.
“It’s alright, Lil. I don’t believe all the rubbish they say.” Remus said, chuckling. I gave him a weak smile.
“Hey, Sirius.” Gaby said nonchalantly, looking at him above her coffee mug. “I was wondering if you could help me with that Charms homework Flitwick gave us yesterday?”
“Why ask Sirius,” James asked incredulously. “When Lily’s right here—”
Ignoring my constant inner battle with myself, I kicked him under the table, causing him to howl in pain. Gaby ignored him, and I looked at Sirius, who frowned.
“James is right, though.” Sirius said slowly. “Lily’s the best one in our class.” He glanced at me, his lip curling. “Don’t flatter yourself, Evans.”
“Wasn’t going to.” I said, narrowing my eyes at him. It would be too suspicious if I kicked him too.
“Yes, I know.” Gaby said, smiling at me. “But I already asked her, and she has enough to think about as it is. So I was wondering, since you’re not too bad with Charms yourself, if you could help me out.”
Henn was uncharacteristically quiet, trying to hide a smile as she bent over her porridge. Remus was looking at the Daily Prophet, not really paying attention to any of us.
“Sure.” Sirius finally said, although it seemed like he really was trying to avoid it. “I can meet you in the library after dinner, if you like.”
“That would be great.” Gaby said, grinning at him.
“What’s so interesting, in that paper, eh?” James asked interestedly to Remus, who had hidden himself behind the paper and occasionally hitting me with it since I was next to him.
“Another muggle attack.” Remus muttered, but only I heard him. I widened my eyes and scooted next to him, so I could read what he was reading.
“What was that?” Henn asked, furrowing her eyebrows. “Another attack?”
“Look for yourself.” Remus said, frowning. He spread the paper on the table and all of us bent over to read it. Peter, I noticed, mumbled something about having to go to the Hospital Wing and didn’t get a chance to see the title.
“Oh no.” Henn said softly.
The headline was: YOU-KNOW-WHO STRIKES AGAIN.
“Who’s—” I began, but Sirius quickly shushed me as we all read it silently.
It is recently to be believed that the continuous attacks on the non-magical community (Commonly known as Muggles) are somehow linked to one another, possibly, and probably, at the hands of Dark wizards.
When Ministry Official, Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody was questioned about these attacks, he proposed the idea that the attacks were the work of the same Dark Wizarding group, given the deadly nickname of Death Eaters.
“Well of course it’s the same Death Eaters who are the cause of these attacks,” said Moody, when we asked him if there could possibly be another answer to this mystery, “No one knows who’s the leader though, do they? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
When the surviving victims were brought into the Ministry for questioning, they all have the same look of terror, and always refuse to say who had caused the havoc. All the victims have called the man ‘You-Know-Who’, or ‘He-who-must-not-be-named’. This could possibly be the effect of a curse put upon the victims that does not allow them to give the name of the wizard.
Coincidence or not, there has recently been attacks on Ministry officials, who have all died untimely deaths. None have survived to be brought into questioning, although investigations have already been made.
“That’s horrible.” Gaby said finally, touching her stomach as if she was feeling sick.
“I wonder who this could be.” I said faintly. “I mean, who could do all of this?”
“Probably some pure blood maniac.” James said darkly, as Remus folded the paper carefully and tucked it in his school bag. “Practically all pure bloods hate muggles and muggle borns.”
I saw everyone’s gaze flicker towards me as he said this, making me scowl and look at my breakfast instead.
“Hello.” Henn said later that night in our dormitory, as Grace came in, looking very tired. She didn’t seem to be paying much attention though, since she closed the door and slowly walked to her own bed. Henn scowled at her. “Uh…Grace?”
Grace jumped at being addressed, stopping halfway in pulling her robes over her head. “Oh, sorry.” She said, shaking her head and taking her robes off and changing into her pajamas. “I’m a little out of it.”
“Tired, are you?” I asked, raising my eyebrow.
“Yeah…” Grace said slowly, and then plopped on her bed. She looked to the side. “Where’s Gaby?”
“Getting tutored by Sirius.” Henn said, her lip curling. Grace didn’t look as amused however.
“Okay.” She said, rolling to her side.
“Grace, are you okay?”
Grace looked distractedly at me. “Yes.”
“Well, listen up then.” Henn said, and then jumped on Grace’s bed, making her groan. She told Grace all about the story in the newspaper, and by the end of it she widened her eyes.
“Do you really think the attacks are linked?” Grace asked, sitting up and looking intently at both of us.
“It seems like it.” I sighed.
“That’s horrible.” Grace said faintly. She looked at her palms for a while, and then quickly shot her head up at me. “Lily…are you going to the wedding?”
I looked at her oddly, sinking into my pillows and unconsciously flicking my wrist with my rubber band. I had thought about it a lot, but I still was very clueless in what to do. I reached under my pillow and took out the invitation. I looked at it, hard.
“Yes.” I finally said hoarsely.
“Really?” Henn asked incredulously. I looked up at her.
“You guys are right.” I said slowly. “I need to confront my sister.” And my mother.
“Lily, that’s great.” Henn said, smiling at me. Grace however, looked grim.
“Be careful.” She said, and I knew why.
“Not all muggle villages are attacked.” I said reasonably.
“I know.” Grace said, sighing. “But still.”
“Grace—” I began, but abruptly stopped. Someone was racing up the stairs, slamming the door open shortly afterwards.
“Oh my god.” Gaby panted, her chest heaving up and down as she clutched a stitch in it. She was leaning against the doorframe, and was for some reason grinning widely.
“Are you okay?” I asked, looking questionably at her. She wiped the sweat off her forehead and beamed at me.
“Yes, but you’ll be even better.” She said happily. Both Henn and Grace had gotten up from their beds, and were now giving her curious looks. I raised my eyebrows at her incredulously.
“What do you—?”
“Lily,” Gaby said, taking a deep breath. “James just broke up with Eve.”
My heart pounding, I looked at James. He was just sitting there, taking notes, which was very uncharacteristic of him. Mcgonagall droned on and on, but I didn’t take in a thing. What did it matter? I sucked at Transfiguration anyway.
Did he have that heart-broken break up look? Or did he have a relieved look on his face? Did he even look like he was broken up with someone?
Oh my god. I think I’m going to freak out.
“Ms. Evans.” Mcgonagall suddenly said, and I jumped as I noticed that she was right in front of my desk. I tried to look innocent and not blush when James and the whole class looked at me. Mcgonagall’s lips were tight, and she looked grim. “I was under the impression that you were not paying attention.”
“No, I was.” I said quickly. Maybe a little to quickly, actually.
Mcgonagall took out her wand and slapped it on my pile of parchment. “Let me see your notes.” She said sternly.
I fumbled with my fingers and turned the nearest one over, but of course there was nothing written. Her lips grew even thinner, and she lectured me for about ten minutes.
Wow, she could be a real bitch sometimes.
“Do I make myself clear?” she said, making me hit reality again.
“Yes.” I said sulkily. She narrowed her eyes at me and went back to the blackboard. From the corner of my eye I saw Sirius laughing. I scowled and sunk deeper in my seat, grudgingly taking out my quill and copying what she had written.
“When are you going to do something?”
I gave Henn an exasperated look. “Henn, I don’t even know if he likes me anymore.”
“Of course he does.” She said impatiently. “Why else would he break up with Eve?”
“You don’t know if he broke up with her.” I said, opening my little poem book and trying to ignore her.
“Right.” Henn snorted. “Like Eve would break up with him.”
“She could have.” I said. Even when I tried, I couldn’t help but feel pessimistic. “Things didn’t seem to great for the both of them when they were dating.”
Henn gritted her teeth, rolling her eyes at me. “But you like him.” She insisted.
“Henn, usually a relationship includes two people’s feelings, not just one.”
Henn opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted with Sirius came sliding into the seat in between us, grinning at me. “Ladies,” he said smoothly, taking my orange juice and draining it. I scowled at him.
“Black, can you not always be so obnoxious?” Henn said, although she said it with a small smile.
Sirius shrugged. “I could try, for you.”
I rolled my eyes. Sirius was such a big flirt.
“So, Lily,” he said briskly, taking a hold of my unfinished bagel and stuffing it in his mouth. “Wahall bout Jahmess.”
“Excuse me?” I asked, raising my eyebrow. Sirius swallowed.
“What’s all this about James?” he said in a clear voice. I narrowed my eyes at him, staring at my book instead, pretending to read.
“What about him?” I asked nonchalantly.
Sirius and Henn scoffed at the same time. “I see. You’re trying to pretend like you’re stupid, aren’t you?” Sirius said, nodding his head.
“Oh, shut up.” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Am I going to have to lock you two up in a compartment together so you could just start snogging and be done with it?” he asked exasperatedly.
“Then maybe we could actually move on with our lives—”
“And then you can marry,”
“And have lots of babies,”
“And I’ll be the godfather—”
“—And me, the godmother.”
I stared at them. “Are you both mad?” I asked incredulously.
“C’mon, Lily.” Henn said, narrowing her eyes. “Now, we’re serious. Why can’t you just go up to him and—”
All three of us swung around in our seats to look up at James, who was smiling. He was actually smiling. It was so strange to see him like that, since he hadn’t in such a long time.
That had to be a good sign, right?
“May I ask who you are going up to?” James asked. He raised his eyebrow at me, and his smile slowly faded. I stared at him.
“No one.” I mumbled. “Uh, I have to go.”
And without another word of explanation, I got out of there before you could say ‘done for’.
“Let me get this straight,” Gaby said later on that day, crossing her arms and furrowing her eyebrows at me. “You ran?”
“Yes.” I said sulkily.
“Lily,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You have to stop being such a chicken.”
I knew she was going to say that, and I didn’t even want to talk to her initially. I was actually looking for Grace, who turned up to be in the library again, but she kicked me out and said she had work to do.
Feeling desperate, I went to Gaby.
“It’s not my fault.” I muttered, as we both took a hold of the grass in front of us and pulled it out of the ground. Gaby gave me a questioning look. “Well, c’mon.” I snapped. “First he likes me, and then I like him. I’ve been traumatized, alright?”
“James,” Gaby sighed. “Never stopped liking you.”
“How do you know?” I snapped. “It sure didn’t look like it, now did it?”
Gaby gave me an exasperated look, as if I couldn’t be any slower. “Lily, James is one of those guys that…doesn’t like to be rejected. So he finds some lame bimbo to go out with, who’d never say no. Oh, and you can’t really blame him. I mean…he waited seven years for you.”
I sighed. “Gaby, you’re not helping.”
“I’m just trying to be realistic with you.” Gaby shrugged. She looked up at me. “But now you have a second chance. Go up to him, Lily. You won’t regret it.”
Pfft. Yeah, right. She didn’t know what she was talking about, I mean any guy she had liked before, had gone out with her. Sure, she didn’t have the best of luck with them…but it was still something. The only boyfriends I had were Remus and Zach. Remus didn’t even count because that was in second year. And Zach…well I tried to not think about him.
I should’ve taken everyone’s advice, which was to talk to him. But I was scared…really scared. I avoided James as much as possible. I no longer ate with the Marauders, but with Kat, Leah, and their sixth year friends. Sure, no one really talked to me but Leah, but whatever. I also didn’t do my homework in the common room anymore, but either in the library or in my dormitory.
I didn’t even know why I was so scared. I just…was.
And if James and I really were ‘meant to be’, it wouldn’t work out. My life was so different from his…and we were nothing alike. And there was also that whole wedding thing. What kind of guy would want to put up with a girl who was constantly depressed, and who hurt herself? He’d find out sooner or later. I doubt he’d keep things friendly.
Yes, it was definitely best to keep a distance, and try to forget about him. It was very hard, though. Even when we were packing for the Easter holidays, I was thinking of him.
“You just spilled all of your perfume in your trunk.” Grace said distractedly as we all stood in our dormitory, stuffing our things in our trunks. I yelped as I noticed that I indeed had somehow unscrewed the cap of my perfume, spilling its contents everywhere. I took the bottle and pointed my wand at my clothes, instantly cleaning them again.
“Where have you been, anyway?” Grace asked me. Henn grinned, and I ignored her.
“In Jaaaaaa-mes Land.” Henn said in this dreamy, girly voice. I threw my pillow at her.
“Shut up.” I said through gritted teeth.
“What?” Henn said, laughing as she took the pillow off the floor and threw it back at me. I caught it with a scowl. “Are you telling me I’m wrong?”
I was about to answer a bold ‘yes’, when Gaby suddenly opened the door and came in, clutching her book bag. She looked extremely pleased, and I could only roll my eyes as she skipped happily to her bed, dropping her things onto it.
“You seem extremely happy.” Grace said suspiciously. Gaby grinned.
“I’m taking this has something to do with Sirius.” Henn said, raising her eyebrow. Gaby shrugged.
“Yeah, you got me.” She said. Gaby wasn’t like me; she didn’t beat around the bush. She just came out and said whatever she had to say, which wasn’t always good.
“That’s nice.” Grace said, smiling slightly at Gaby. Gaby raised her eyebrow at her, leaning back on her elbows as she sat on her bed.
“How about you?” Gaby asked, looking at her expectantly. “Are you okay?”
I found this extremely unfair, since I should’ve been the one everyone was concerned about. I knew it was a selfish thing to think, but still!
“What do you mean?” Grace asked, looking perplexed.
“I dunno, you just seem… distant, lately.” Gaby suggested. Henn nodded in agreement.
“Just stress from school, and all.” Grace sighed. I noticed that something flickered in her eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it had come.
“Yeah, you’d think Easter break meant that you’d actually get a break…” Henn muttered irritably. I smiled at her.
“Oh, did you guys hear?” Gaby said conversationally, as she slid out of her shoes and got into slippers instead. “About the Ministry attack?”
I narrowed my eyes. “What Ministry attack?”
“Well, Sirius told me about it.” She said, and I rolled my eyes at how breathless she sounded when she said his name. “You know those investigations earlier? They found out the attacks really are linked. And now…” she gulped. “The killers leave a sign over their victims.”
“What kind of sign?” Henn asked slowly.
“The Ministry calls it the Dark Mark. It’s a skull…with a serpent coming out of its mouth.”
I shuddered at the thought. “What about it?”
“Well, whoever the killer, or killers, which is more probable, are, they left that…sign over the victim. They found it over two Ministry officials.”
“Do they really have no idea who’s behind all of this?” I asked, scowling.
“No, not really. Well, they have leads…” Gaby bit her lip. “Sirius reckons that a few of the kids on our school are involved in it.”
“Why is that?” Henn asked.
“Well, don’t you ever wonder why sometimes they don’t even show up at school at all?” Gaby scowled. “And those Slytherins are always talking about Dark Magic too…”
It was true; many of the Slytherins were absent quite frequently, now that I thought about it. Grace shook her head. “That’s horrible.” She said. I however, was thinking of something else.
“Black.” I said suddenly. Henn looked at me oddly.
“You mean Sirius?” Gaby asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No, not Sirius.” I said, shaking my head and leaning against my bedpost. “Bellatrix. That Slytherin girl in our year.”
“Oh. Her.” Grace said, narrowing her eyes. It was common knowledge that most people did not like Bellatrix for her cruelty towards others. In many occasions, which I was most likely not going to forget, she had called me a mudblood.
“What about her?” Gaby asked. My head was pounding though, how could I have forgotten? It was so…so important…
“She was talking about a meeting.” I said quickly. “With Rodolphus Lestrange. I was going to Dumbledore to inform him but stupid Potter didn’t let me…”
“Quick.” I said hurriedly. “Do any of you know where the headmaster’s office is?”
All three of them looked equally blank. I groaned, throwing my head back. I definitely wasn’t going to ask James again, especially now. I thought of whom else I could go to.
“Sirius would know.” Gaby said, reading my thoughts. I jumped suddenly, muttering thanks and leaving the room in a rush.
Sirius was of course, sitting with James and the rest of the Marauders. I hesitated, wondering what I should do. Well, I really had no other choice. All I had to do was ignore James completely…
I wondered if that would be too hard.
“Evans.” Sirius said, grinning at me. James looked up at once, and I was startled to see that he was petting Jinx, who had grown an awful lot in the past few months. He raised his eyebrow at me, as if daring for me to say something about my cat. Trying not to glare at Jinx at his sudden betrayal, I looked at Sirius instead.
“Sirius, can you tell me where Dumbledore’s office is?” I asked quickly. Sirius raised his eyebrow.
“Dumbledore’s office isn’t for girls like you.” Sirius said conversationally. “Why do you want to go there?”
“Just tell me.” I said, rolling my eyes. “C’mon, Sirius. This is important.”
Sirius was enjoying his little torment on me though. We were both surprised when someone else suddenly answered my plea.
“The entrance is on the second floor.” James said slowly. I turned around, grimacing as I noticed that he was being polite, meaning I had to do so also. “It’s a gargoyle on the end of the floor.”
I looked at Remus, who didn’t seem like he was the type to let James misguide me. Remus merely shrugged at me.
“I’m not lying.” James said, as if he could read my thoughts. “The password is ‘cauldron cakes’.”
I looked at his suspiciously. The last time he had given me directions to Dumbledore’s office, it didn’t turn out right at all. In fact, he wouldn’t even have told me if it weren’t for Eve bullying him. (How very unlike her)
“Uh, okay.” I said awkwardly. To regard my composure I said angrily, “You better not be.” Then strode off with a last look at Jinx, who mewed innocently.
My heart pounding in my throat, I practically ran to the second floor, noticing that most people were either outside, enjoying the sunshine, or inside packing their bags for their leave tomorrow. I found the gargoyle that James was talking about, and found that indeed; it was the same one that he led me to before hand. Except this time, he had told me the password.
James was going to be in a lot of trouble if he tricked me again.
“Um,” I said uncertainly, staring at the gargoyle, which was frankly, quite ugly. “Cauldron cakes…?” I said it in a hopeful tone, sure that it wasn’t going to work. I was really surprised however, when it did work. The gargoyle sprang aside and behind it was a revolving staircase, which must have led into some sort of tower. I stepped on it cautiously, and I was brought upwards with it.
I tried calming myself down, but I couldn’t help feeling jittery. After all, this was the headmaster’s office, I continuously reminded myself. He probably didn’t even want to see me, thinking I was just complaining about some kid who got a detention.
The staircase came to a stop, and I found myself staring at a handsome door with a griffin knocker on it. I took a hold of it and knocked uncertainly. I could hear soft voices from inside abruptly stop.
“Come in,” I heard Dumbledore say. I swallowed the lump in my throat and took a deep breath, before opening the door.
It was a beautiful, circular room, with many things that I did not know the name of. I jumped once seeing that a pretty bird was on a perch by the door, gazing beadily at me. By closer inspection I saw that it was a phoenix, a very handsome one, actually.
“Ah, Ms. Evans. I’m surprised to see you here.”
I turned around and fumbled with the sleeves of my robes, as I noticed that Dumbledore was sitting at his desk, alone. The portraits around him were of all the previous headmasters, since I had read Hogwarts: A History beforehand. They were all sleeping. Dumbledore motioned me to sit in the seat in front of him, and slowly, I lowered myself onto it. I twisted my fingers in my lap nervously.
He smiled benevolently at me. “Is there something I may assist you with?” he asked kindly. “Does this have to do with the Graduation Ball?”
“No, sir.” I said in a small voice. Okay, I admit, I was intimidated. How could I not be? He was the headmaster.
“I see,” Dumbledore said, peering at me from his half-moon glasses. “Then, what is it that you are concerned of?”
I stared at him, not sure of how to begin. I swallowed hard, knowing he’d probably get angry that I didn’t tell him immediately of what I heard. Well, if it weren’t for that damn Potter…
“Professor,” I said, sighing deeply. “I think you should know something.”
That had to be the strangest conversation in my life.
Okay, so I tell the headmaster what I overheard, and all that. He didn’t even seem to be worried. Actually, he wasn’t worried at all. Do you know what he did instead?
He offered me a lemon drop.
A lemon drop.
I was completely stunned, first at him being so calm, and second for him even knowing what a lemon drop was. So I blurted out, “What?”
He merely told me that it was all right; he already had had some suspicions on Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange, although he wouldn’t tell me why. He was grateful in telling me about the meeting however, although he didn’t seem very surprised. Actually, it seemed like he already knew what was going on under his own roof.
Well, whatever. I warned him, so now he knew. Or at least, he was reminded somewhat.
I was so confused.
“How did it go, Evans?” Sirius drawled once I entered the common room again, the Marauders were still in the same spot. I looked at him warily, ignoring James and that wretched cat.
“Fine, thanks.” I said, rolling my eyes. He chuckled; Sirius always seemed to find my manner amusing instead of insulting. I huffed. “Bye Sirius.”
“Bye Lily.” He said, his lip curling into a smile.
I sighed, reaching the staircase and closing the door before I anyone else could talk to me.
The next day the Hogsmeade train station was bustling with students, although not nearly as much as September 1st. Most students at Hogwarts would stay at the school, since the Easter holidays weren’t as important or fun as the Christmas ones. I always had gone home during the holidays, although I was sincerely regretting it now that I stood in front of the compartment, wondering if it was too late to turn back.
“Lily, other people need to get in too, you know.” Grace said behind me, although I could tell she was trying to be nice about it. I heard faintly the people behind us complaining gruffly that I was holding the line to get in, so it was with some reluctance that I carried my bag and Jinx onto the train, so we could find an empty compartment to sit in.
“Here we go.” Gaby said brightly in front of me, sliding the compartment door open and walking inside. She stuffed her things on the luggage rack above us, and then sat down by the window. I dropped Jinx onto the nearest seat, where Gaby immediately took the job of keeping him from running away. Jinx had become quite reclusive over the months that I kept him, always wanting to sleep under the bed or just spend the night in the common room. He didn’t really like people petting him, which was why I was surprised that he let James do so.
Grace came in with Henn close behind her, who shut the door. Grace put her tawny owl next to Gaby’s bag, then took a seat also. She and Gaby had both taken to stare out the window, where the gray, depressing clouds gave the grounds a murky appearance. There was no doubt that it would be raining, sooner or later.
“Is anyone going to be doing anything remotely interesting over break?” Henn asked, no doubt being bored out of her mind. People were still streaming past the door, bustling about and making quite a racket. I shook my head, as did Gaby and Grace. Like I said, Easter holidays weren’t nearly as exciting as the Christmas ones. Henn sighed. “I’m hungry.”
I grinned at her, watching as Jinx clawed and hissed at the closed door, clearing wanting to get out. I rolled my eyes at him, grabbing him around the middle and placing him next to me. Naturally, he jumped off quickly and decided to sit on the corner of the floor instead, glaring at the population that was occupying his space.
“Your cat is sort of weird, you know.” Gaby said conversationally. “Maybe it’s cause you never pay attention to him.”
“I do too.” I said defensively. “I give him food, don’t I?”
Gaby rolled her eyes, clearly meaning how often I played with or petted him.
“We’re moving.” Grace said in a bored voice. Indeed, the window was blurring slightly as little tiny droplets of rain came running down the glass as we moved south. I inwardly groaned; there was definitely no chance I could get out of anything right now. I thought about how I sent a letter to my father, saying how I wouldn’t be coming home this time for the holidays, since I had a lot of er—homework. I then thought about how the many invitations that Virginia or Petunia sent me, tucked away in the pocket of my jumper, some of them scrawled with the phone number I should call if I was coming or not. Of course, they didn’t know that yet. But eventually they would find out.
A big surprise for them, I’d say.
“So, Lily,” Henn began, as if she could read my thoughts. “Are you going to be Petunia’s bridesmaid or something? Hey, maybe you’ll be Maid of Honor, eh?” She grinned excitedly as I smiled weakly.
“Er—I don’t know.” I said, shrugging and trying to look like I didn’t care in the slightest. Henn raised an eyebrow at me.
“You don’t? Haven’t they gone over the plans with you?”
“Well, I haven’t seen them in a while.” I said, averting my eyes. “We haven’t exactly had a chance to talk about it.”
Henn seemed to buy my lame excuse. Or maybe she didn’t, but didn’t get a chance to question me further, since the compartment door slid open and Kat, Leah, and Marcus came in. Surprisingly, they had someone else with them. Someone I did not want to see at the moment, even if she was nice and whatnot like everybody said.
“Hey, guys.” Leah said, sweeping her hair out of her face and standing on her tiptoes to push her bag onto the luggage rack above my head. Henn grabbed Jinx just in time before leaving the room in a flash, while Leah looked around the room. “I’m not sure if you all know Eve?”
Eve stood there, looked somewhat awkward as Kat threw herself next to Henn, offering everyone if they wanted a piece of apple pie she had taken from breakfast. I however, tried not to look too astonished.
“Nope, I don’t think we know each other.” Eve said hesitantly, outstretching her hand and shaking hands with Henn, Gaby, and Grace. Of course, all my friends knew about her, and I was pretty sure Eve knew that too, since she bit her lip awkwardly and sat next to Kat. Leah and Marcus sat by me, and suddenly our compartment was rather crowded. I noticed Henn raising her eyebrows at me and grinning, jerking her head towards Leah and Marcus, who were undoubtedly dating now, since their heads were together and they were whispering to one another. Henn’s wicked grin made me saw what was coming.
“So, I don’t think we know you, now do we?” Henn said, raising her eyebrow at Leah while darting her gaze back to Marcus, who blushed at the sudden attention. I knew he had tried out for Quidditch with me, although I hardly ever heard him spoke. I felt sort of bad for the kid.
“It’s Marcus.” He muttered at Henn, smiling weakly. He was actually sort of cute, in his own, awkward way. Henn grinned.
“Boyfriend, perhaps?” she asked. Grace rolled her eyes disapprovingly, while Gaby tried restraining a grin. Marcus blushed even deeper, glancing at Leah, who was actually looking unperturbed.
“Yes.” Leah replied, and Marcus gave her a weird look, although he smiled too. I suppose it was the first time she admitted in dating him, which I guess he was grateful for. She cleared her throat. “So, is anyone doing anything during break?”
“Nah.” Henn said casually, taking a piece of the pie Kat offered.
“Same.” Kat said simply. I looked at Eve, who was looking uncomfortable.
“How about you, Eve?” I asked. Well, I couldn’t help feeling bad for her. She was glancing at me nervously every now and then, unsure of what my reaction of ‘the break up’ would be.
“Uh, nothing.” She said. It was so strange of her to not talk or be social. She was actually looking at Jinx now, since she didn’t want to look at me. “Oh, whose cat is that?”
“Oh, that’s mine.” I replied, eyeing Jinx, who was hissing at Marcus’s feet. Eve however, looked like she didn’t mind him in the slightest, and actually started to pet him.
And Jinx liked it.
I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I mean, first she manages to make James like her, and now my own cat likes her better than me. I glared at him, who was uncharacteristically mewing as Henn gave me an incredulous look.
“He’s cute, isn’t he?” Eve said, grinning and not looking as uncomfortable anymore as she scooped up Jinx and placed him in her lap.
“Not usually.” Grace said, raising her eyebrow. “That cat is usually really mean, you know.”
“Really?” Eve said, scratching Jinx beneath his ears. “Doesn’t seem like it.” Well, of course not. Everybody likes Eve.
It wasn’t long before Remus found our compartment, obviously looking for Grace. I found it rather unusual that she didn’t look for him before, but she went with him anyway, saying she’d come right back. As she said this Gaby eagerly offered to go with them, probably to look for Sirius, who was avoiding her uncharacteristically.
“See you,” Grace said. I couldn’t help but notice she sounded a little gloomy, especially if you compared her to Gaby, who was grinning and practically skipping out of the compartment.
“Bye, Lily.” Remus said, grinning at me. I found his grin a little suspicious, especially after he glanced at Gaby and they both laughed a little. “We’ll be right back, then.”
He slid the compartment door shut and they disappeared out of sight. Henn and Kat were now finishing up their pie, with a few pastries that Kat had also snitched from breakfast. Eve was quiet in the corner, sitting contently with Jinx in her lap, and Leah and Marcus were having their own little ‘conversation’, making sure none of us heard them.
I decided to look out the window, looking rather bored although my mind was quite preoccupied. I had practiced a speech over and over in my head, planning out every little thing I’d say to her, when I got on the phone…
Of course, I had half a mind to just call my father and tell him there was a change of plans in my holidays. Then I reminded myself glumly that him and Carrie were probably a very ‘happy couple’, and wouldn’t want me around. I sighed.
“Lily, Kat and I are going to check if the trolley is coming anytime soon, alright?”
“Sure.” I said automatically, glancing at them as they exited the compartment, Jinx dashing after them. Hah, even if he was with Eve, he was still insensitive.
“He does that, sometimes.” I said smugly, pleased at the way Eve was looking rather hurt at the way Jinx had left her.
“Does he?” she said, scowling slightly. “Oh, well I guess I’ll go after him, then…”
She immediately got up, probably not wanting to spend any more time with me. She dashed up the corridor and I heard her calls for Jinx slowly fade away.
My gaze was fixed outside again, where it was raining heavily. The dark, gloomy skies made me feel even worse, as the heavy raindrops pelted onto the glass, as if trying to scare me away from the window. I scowled and jumped as I heard the door softly click. I turned around and saw Leah and Marcus quickly getting out of sight. I rolled my eyes; they were probably going to make out in the loo or something.
My mood definitely worsened, as I noticed that all of them abandoned me. Oh, weren’t they the best of friends, eh?
I crossed my arms tightly across my chest and leaned against the window, taking a hold of my sleeve and rubbing the fog away. My hand felt cold and damp as I touched the glass, trying to look farther outside. The hills were blurry and hard to see, and looked like gray boulders from where I sat.
Unconsciously I touched my wrist, but found that there was no rubber band. I cursed inwardly. I had forgotten that Henn was looking at me suspiciously as I put it on my wrist, so I quickly disguised my intentions by putting it in my hair instead. I reached towards my high ponytail, and decided against it. It had taken me a long and hard time to get my hair just the way I wanted it to that morning, and I liked how some of my auburn strands fell into my face. For once, I had actually thought I looked good.
I suppose I wanted to make a good impression.
I folded my hands in my lap, absentmindedly touching the ruffles in my gray skirt. I glanced at my shiny black shoes, with the neat and white socks. I looked like a remodel teenager, the one that any mother would want. One that didn’t do drugs, or drink…although had the slight problem of hurting herself. Although know one would be able to see that, since I was wearing a long-sleeved and comfy button-up jumper, with a dark pink flower pin at my chest, that matched with the baby pink background. I scowled at myself for wanting to be such a perfectionist, and returned my gaze outside. It was still looking rather dark.
I couldn’t believe that I actually thought about this; but suddenly I was thinking of how I overheard a few fifth year girls in the common room, talking about a muggle exercise called yoga. It was a mediation sort of thing, which calmed you down. I had heard of it before, of course, but I hadn’t actually tried it, nor did I think it worked.
Thinking that I had nothing better to do anyway, I closed my eyes and leaned against the back of my seat, trying to clear my mind of anything and everything, so it would stay blank. I tilted my head upwards and relaxed my arms, thinking of nothing but clear, blue skies…that was something we surely weren’t going to get today.
I furrowed my eyebrows as the door slid open, and cursed Eve for getting in at such a bad moment. I was actually succeeding in this yoga/meditation thing, and now she was here to ruin it with that stupid cat…
“What?” I asked tiredly, as the person continued not to say anything. I noticed that I was probably looking rather odd, my head tilted against the seat and me not saying anything, as my eyes remained closed.
“It’s me,” he said, and my heart suddenly stopped, and all thought of relaxation and no stress zone was gone. My breath turned ragged, as I opened my eyes.
It was James.
Okay, now dont' kill me! I'll try finishing up Chapter 37 as quickly as I can...it should be ready in a week or so, alright? DON'T BE MAD. *uses Jedi mind tricks* Trust me, it'll be worth the wait, okay? Thanks for all the reviews, everybody.
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