Chapter 38 : Chapter Thirty Eight
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“I don’t trust promises.”
My eyes stung as I opened them. I blinked several times and squinted as Jinx hissed and clawed in the basket I had put him in. I tucked my feet underneath the bench I moved to, and crossed my arms tightly across my chest. It was starting to get a little chilly.
Maybe she won’t come, I thought. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t broken a promise before. I sighed and choked slightly on my tears.
As my mind wandered vaguely, for some reason I thought of James. I started to think about how we spent that detention together. He promised he wouldn’t look at me, and I said I didn’t trust promises.
I wondered how he ever even started to like me. I was so messed up.
I had stopped crying, but I could tell I still looked horrible by the way people were passing by and looking at me weirdly. It didn’t really matter though; for some reason the sound of trains taking off was oddly peaceful.
An hour passed, and I thought dully if maybe I could just live on the train station. I had everything I needed. Well, except food. Oh yeah, and James. But at least I’d see James when break ended when he would arrive to take off on the Hogwarts Express. Sure, I wouldn’t have an education anymore, but still—
“Honey, are you waiting for someone?”
I looked up at the officer. “Yes.” I said.
He raised his eyebrow and stroked his mustache. “Well, when will they be arriving?”
I tried not to look stupid. I didn’t even know where she lived. “Uh…pretty soon.”
He looked suspicious, but took off. I sighed and pressed my forehead against my palms. I probably looked so stupid, sitting there on a bench in front of the station and just staring at the parking lot.
I let out a dry sob and dug my fist into my mouth to prevent myself from letting anything come out of my mouth. My eyes filled with tears again as I thought about James; I didn’t deserve him. He had such a perfect family and perfect life… Why did he pick me? He could’ve had any other girl in our school, he could’ve had Eve, a perfectly normal, non-dysfunctional girl. But no, he chose me, a girl who was completely the opposite.
And what was really the point? Sure, I was extremely happy on the train, but life proved to me already that it wasn’t meant to be. It had barely been two hours and I was already in misery again.
I pushed my sleeves up and looked at my wrist. It was only bleeding slightly, not that much. I stared it for a moment then traced the soon-to-be scars.
My vision suddenly was blinded by light, so I quickly rolled down my sleeves and covered my face with my shaking hands.
The light died out slightly, so I shielded my eyes and looked up. I recognized the car immediately, but the driver’s face was obscured. I had a pretty good idea who it was though.
My mouth felt dry as I grabbed Jinx’s basket and dragged my trunk. My heels clunked against the cement loudly, and my heart pounded in my ears.
Breathe, Lily. It’s not that hard.
My heart was drumming against my ribs, and was about to kill me. It would be extremely ironic if I died right in front of her car.
I clutched the handle, my hands shaking. I saw her shift in the dark.
But it was locked. Was she locking me out? Did she not want me? I started to panic.
I bit my tongue so I’d stop crying. The window slid down and I saw her lean over in her seat and look up at me.
The streetlights finally illuminated my mother’s face, suddenly bringing her into view. Her eyes were watering and tears were sliding down her face.
Was she happy to see me?
“Oh, Lily,” she said, hiccupping slightly. She had been crying also.
In one swift movement I wrenched the door open as she unlocked it, and ran into her. I hugged her tightly and pressed my forehead against her chest just like I used to when I was a little girl. I cried just like I did then, unstoppable. This time however, she was crying with me.
This is it, I thought, as she stroked my hair and I sobbed onto her shirt. The beginning of everything.
It seemed like my life would never be the same. Even a simple car ride looked like something completely different now. Once we were done crying we pulled away and she smiled weakly at me. Maybe she was happy to see me, after all.
I had thrown my things in the back and then closed the door. We stood there for a while, the car still running and her face obscured again. I wondered if my face was hidden too.
“Oh,” she said finally. Her hands were shaking and were covering her face in the darkness. She was trembling.
I stared at her and she then sighed, “Finally.”
I couldn’t believe what I did next. I smiled at her.
Because somehow, I thought, things were going to be okay. Or at least my life would be a little better.
I have Vir—No, my mother. I have my mother.
She told me that it was a rather far away town where she was living, and that I could sleep if I wanted to. I swallowed and nodded, not wanting to say anything. Well, momentarily, anyway.
I didn’t sleep at all, but I pretended to. I was afraid to talk to my mother after all those years. The last time I had spoken to her face-to-face was on Christmas, and that didn’t exactly go well. I was pretty sure she thought about that same encounter at some point while she was driving, and I wondered if she was going to punish me.
Could she punish me? I mean, she hadn’t been present in my life for years. Did she even have the right?
It was strange, having a mum again. After all, I did think she was dead all those years. At least that’s what my father encouraged me to believe.
And I was growing angrier with him every second.
I didn’t want to though. I didn’t want to hate him like I hated Virg—I mean, my mother. I tried to remember that whatever he was doing, he was trying to do the best. He thought it was the best decision to hide the fact that my mother was alive.
Those words were so strange to me. My mother. My mum.
I kept my eyes shut the whole time, hearing Jinx hiss behind us. I knew my mother was startled a few times, because when he made any sort of noise she’d jump suddenly and give out a little shuddering gasp. Her breath became uneven. I was starting to recognize her breath, now. She still smelled like mint. All those memories were rushing back…memories that I didn’t even know I had.
She was still a very good driver, unlike my dad. She’d never speed, and she didn’t like listening to the radio while driving, just like she did before. All of her habits were the same…but her clothes weren’t.
I noticed immediately the first time I saw her. She looked like a rich woman. She probably was a rich woman. She had a pearl necklace on with matching earrings, and her thick blonde hair was up in a bun, and not down like I remembered her when she was still around. Instead of those sundresses she’d use in the summer or just a jumper and pants for chilly weather, she was wearing a knee-length beige skirt and a crisp looking button up. Her purse was at the side, with golden clasps and beige leather. Her high-heel shoes were tapping slightly, and matched her skirt.
I looked at myself and saw that I wasn’t dressed nicely at all. Not at all, compared to her, at least.
She turned her head slightly and I quickly closed my eyes again, feigning sleep. The window was open slightly and was blowing my hair in my face. I knew I probably looked a mess, especially since my bawling had made my make up run down.
After we left the freeway, we drove into a little town with the name of Roseville. The houses were small and petite, with their little squares of lights blurring slightly as we drove by. There weren’t any traffic lights, but there were some lampposts on the sidewalk.
It looked like a peaceful village, really. As I was thinking why on earth my mother, who unless I was very mistaken, was filthy rich, would live in one of these cute, yet small houses, she turned her car into a small, practically unnoticeable, road. There were thick trees on either side, making it even darker.
I was still pretending to be asleep, but I had one eye slightly open. I raised my eyebrows at the houses we passed by.
They were all Victorian style, and were huge. The houses were absolutely gorgeous, with sweeping green lawns and blossoming trees in the background. I stared; was this where I was going to stay?
Each yard was very vast, taking about ten minutes by car to get to the next one. My mind was going a hundred miles per hour; How did she get all of this?
Suddenly, the anger returned. My stomach bubbled and I furrowed my eyebrows. Here I was, thinking that my mother was sad, was sorrowful… but she was here instead. She probably didn’t even miss me, or Petunia, and especially my dad. And I thought we were pretty well off. Compared to this, we were poor.
They were houses that I expected people like James to live in.
The car was slowing down, and I thought that it would be a good time to pretend I was waking up. I stretched my arms and blinked, and glanced at her. She looked at me for a moment and smiled, and I looked away. I blinked again.
We pulled into a driveway and I widened my eyes.
“What do you think?” Virginia asked after a long moment of awed silence.
I didn’t say anything at first. “It’s…nice.”
I could see Virginia smiling at me again. “That’s good.” She said, opening the car door and stepping out. She brushed her skirt out so that there were no folds and closed the door behind her.
“Lily, hurry up. It’s pretty chilly.”
I noticed that I had been staring at the house for quite a while. I turned my head to see that my mother was standing halfway up the path that led to the front door, waiting for me. I swallowed and opened the door.
“Yeah.” I said, nodding. I stepped out of the car and reached towards the backseat to get my things.
“Oh, you don’t have to, Lily.” My mother said, waving her hand dismissively. “Someone will get it for you.”
I stared at her for a moment. I should’ve expected it and all, since servants would match perfectly with the house. “Uh, okay.” I said awkwardly. I started moving towards her again, following her up the path when I suddenly stopped. I looked at the house once more.
It was a creamy, light yellow color, with white shutters and a clay tile roof. The windows were all identical, some of them blocked slightly by the trees that stood on either side of the house. There was a flowerbed surrounding the border of the house, with all different kinds of lurid blossoms. Ivy grew on the sides of the bricks.
I stepped cautiously onto the gravel path and caught up with my mother, who was opening the door with her keys. It was painted white also, with a bright golden knocker and matching knob and keyhole. Virginia pushed the door open and slid inside. I followed her into the entrance hall with a marble floor and a magnificent chandelier above. The walls had little crystalline gems dug inside.
“Vincent, I’m home.” She called. Almost immediately a tall man with a gray mustache and matching frail looking hair came wearing at tux. He stood rigidly straight, almost painful looking.
“Madam,” he said, bowing slightly.
“Vincent, this is my daughter, Lilian.” Virginia said, smiling at the man and introducing me to him. “She’ll be staying with us for a week or so.”
“Delighted to meet you, miss.” Vincent said courteously, inclining his head.
“There are bags in the car.” My mother interrupted. Vincent bowed his head again and disappeared outside. “Lilian, what’s wrong?”
I glanced at her, and then looked around again. “Where’s Petunia?”
“She’s probably out with Vernon.” Virginia said, beaming. “You know, I really like that man. Him and his family are staying here, you know. The Dursleys are arriving here tomorrow, to prepare for the wedding.”
“It’s going to be here?” I asked, as she started moving towards the winding staircase in the corner. I followed her. “The wedding, I mean?”
“Yes, of course.” My mother said idly. I raised an eyebrow at her tone. “We have a very nice yard, you see. Very vast and grand. Perfect for an outdoor wedding.”
“Oh.” I said in a small voice. Petunia had always wanted to have an outdoor wedding, something very spectacular and stunning. It looked like she was going to get exactly what she wanted.
We reached the first landing, but kept on going. “This is the guests’ floor.” She explained.
I tried to ignore the fact that she said guests’ floor and not room, and followed her up yet another spiral staircase.
“Where do you sleep?” I asked.
“On the same floor as you do,” she said, turning slightly and smiling at me again. I couldn’t help but feel that I didn’t recognize her smile anymore, or anything else, for that matter. The only comforting thought that I had was that she still smelled like mint.
We arrived onto the second and last landing, where there was a nice mahogany floor, just like the floor below us. The walls were a beige color with golden frames of several paintings of scenery that looked like it could be nearby. I wanted to stop to look at one for a moment, but I was afraid that if I didn’t keep up with Virginia I’d get lost.
I walked past the railing that replaced the walls, where I could see the chandelier of the entrance hall just below us. It was golden with some crystals hanging from the glass candles. My room was directly across from it.
“This is it,”
I peered into the room and my jaw dropped. The floor was shiny and looked like it had been recently waxed, and the walls were ivy with golden little frames that held emeralds in them. The border was white with painted leaves, and I even had my own balcony directly across from the door. The glass doors were open and the curtains were flying in the wind. There was a white vanity with a golden border in the corner, and a matching trunk on the other side of the room. And my bed, oh, my bed…
It was a beautiful four-poster with translucent white curtains and a bedspread that matched the walls. The headboard was made out of oak, and was up against the wall. Next to the bed was my own bathroom.
I didn’t understand why everything looked so familiar.
“Wow,” was all I could say as I walked forward and sat on my bed. I looked up. Heck, I even had my own little chandelier. Once I was done staring at my room I looked over at my mother, who was standing by the door nervously and swaying slightly.
“So, do you like it?” she asked.
“Of course I do.” I said immediately, thinking why on earth I wouldn’t like it. I couldn’t help but feel misplaced, however.
Virginia beamed. She was opening her mouth to say something, but Vincent came in with another woman in a uniform, each carrying my things.
“Oh, thank you.” I said, as Vincent dropped Jinx’s hissing basket on my bed with a look of distaste and dragged my trunk to the side. The pale woman with curly gray hair set my bag next to me, smiling slightly and stepping out with an inclining head. Virginia nodded and Vincent left right afterwards, leaving us alone again.
“That should be your sister,” Virginia said, once we both heard a car parking in the driveway. She swayed again, and then said, “Well, good night, Lily.”
“’Night.” I said awkwardly, and Virginia quickly scurried out of there, closing the door behind her. I sighed and walked over to the balcony, leaning against the railing and taking of my shoes so that my feet touched the marble floor. I looked down and saw that Petunia was coming out of a car with who unmistakably was Vernon, due to his size and all.
“Wow,” I said again. I said it softly, and to myself. I crossed my arms and leaned so that I could look down vertically, thinking about everything that had happened so far.
I noticed that I still had to find out some sort of way to get to James, although I didn’t know exactly how since it had to at least be a two hour drive. Virginia wouldn’t possibly drive me to London again.
I had to figure out some way, though. I mean James wasn’t stupid. Not at all, actually. He’d find out soon enough that I was definitely not at my house across the street, and then what? He’d probably break up with me. That I couldn’t bear, even if we hadn’t even been dating for twenty-four hours yet.
What if he went to my house? He’d confront my dad about how he thought that he wasn’t letting me go over there to see him, when in reality, my dad didn’t even know I wasn’t at Hogwarts. Then what? I’d be in major trouble.
I sighed again and went over to my room, closing the doors behind me and throwing myself onto my bed.
There was just so much more to do.
I woke up the next morning in a blaze of sunshine streaming through my window, which was probably opened by someone while I was sleeping. I felt the cool breeze on my face, and for a moment as I opened my eyes I thought that I was still dreaming. Then I remembered; I was at Virginia’s place.
I awkwardly climbed out of my bed, (it was rather high and was larger than the one at home) and pulled on the bathrobe that someone had left for me. It was just plain and white, but it suited perfectly. I didn’t think Virginia would appreciate my toothpaste stained, sloppy green robe, which also had yellow stars shooting across the robe with magic.
I walked into the marble bathroom and looked in the full-length mirror that was directly across from me. I swallowed, ignoring my reflection and how strangely I stood out. I brushed my teeth, still feeling a sickening feeling in my stomach. I wondered if I should tell my mother who I really was.
And then it hit me; what if she already knew?
Of course, the only possible way she could have known was if Petunia told her. After all, Virginia had left when I was six, and I myself did not know I was a witch until I was ten. And if she did know…
She’d abandon me again.
I noticed that the water was still running in the sink and I decided to splash myself with its coolness. I needed to feel refreshed, so I went and took a shower too.
As I entertained myself with the various taps and took a fresh, clean towel out of the closet, I forced my mind to be completely cleared and clean also…I really needed it.
I didn’t really realize how big the manor was.
Once I was done getting dressed and heading down for breakfast, I suddenly remembered that I didn’t know where the kitchen was. I sat there on my bed for a moment, contemplating if I should just stay there and wait for someone to get me. I decided against it because I really had nothing else to do.
I did recall where to go so I could find the winding staircase, though. It was just down the hall, and once I was in the entrance hall, I’d probably be able to find someone to help me out. I had saw numerous maids on the second guest floor, probably getting the floor ready for the Dursleys that were bound to come sometime today. I grimaced, since Vernon’s family was probably as unpleasant as Vernon himself.
But since the manor was so big, I’d probably be all right. If one of the Dursleys decided to show up and start bugging me, I could always just roam the other halls for a while and when I’d return, I’d just say I was lost. As things stood now, that was probably going to be the case, anyway.
I reached the entrance hall with the fancy chandelier, and furrowed my eyebrows. There were five other halls that branched off the main one, and a wide set of doors. I decided to just chance one of the ways out, so I walked to the left, in a corridor of exquisite maroon halls, with little chandeliers on the ceiling. There were silver framed paintings here also, along with some photographs. The photographs were all of people I didn’t know, but I looked anyway for a familiar face. I walked the length of the hall, ignoring the doors that would randomly appear here and there. Predictably, when I reached the end of the corridor, I hadn’t found one picture of someone I knew. I was disappointed; I thought Virginia would at least hang up a picture of her daughters, even if she did abandon them.
I grimaced and pulled open the wooden doors, tugging on the silver handles. In this room there was a high ceiling with a lots of light. I looked up and saw that the ceiling was a dome made of glass, and the light was from the sun, streaming in. I blinked for a moment and looked at my surroundings. It was a library.
I couldn’t help but grin; I always had loved reading. I bounded into the room, with its many tables and comfy, leather armchairs, and proceeded to the first bookshelf. They were all thick volumes, fading slightly at the lettering. I wondered vaguely why the library was empty, since this was obviously the best room of the manor.
“Wow,” I said softly, examining the covers and wondering where I should start. I accidentally knocked over a chair in the process, making me jump up at the sudden crashing noise. I cursed under my breath and straightened up the chair, brushing my robes and momentarily forgetting the books. I still had to find my mother, after all.
“I’ll be back,” I promised to the empty room, in a rather loud voice. It echoed slightly. With a last longing glance, I crossed the library and closed the doors behind me, mentally retracing my steps as I arrived in the entrance hall again. This time when I arrived I was not alone; there was Vincent, the butler, letting some people in.
I immediately knew who they all were. They were all enormous; square shaped and obnoxiously loud. Most of the men had black, flat hair splattered onto their forehead with bushy mustaches. The women all resembled the men; some of them had mustaches too, although thinner.
“Hey, you.” One of the women barked to Vincent. “Hold this,” she said, and thrust her bag into Vincent’s arms. The bag growled, and I could distinctly hear teeth snapping. Vincent held the dog with pure disgust.
“And where’s darling Petunia?”
Vincent was hardly looking comfortable, so I decided to step up, to help him out. “Virginia’s probably in the kitchen. She’s been waiting all day for all of you to arrive.”
I didn’t exactly get a kind response. The nearest Dursley, who looked to be Vernon’s aunt or maybe mother, turned around and narrowed her piggy eyes at me. “And who are you? One of the maids?”
I couldn’t help but feel offended. I mean, even though I was wearing only a loose t-shirt and some jeans, I definitely didn’t look like a maid. I restrained myself from frowning and tried to keep it friendly. I glanced at Vincent, who looked relieved that someone had come to his rescue. Then again, his weird expression could’ve been because the do that was in the bag had just launched his head out and bit him on the arm.
“I’m Virginia’s daughter.” I said, my tone somewhat colder.
One of the girls, who was wearing a sundress that was far too short for her fat legs, laughed, throwing her big head backwards. I narrowed my eyes as the one who had been addressing me earlier said coolly, “I didn’t know Petunia had a sister.”
“She doesn’t,” said the girl with the sundress rudely. “Petunia would’ve told me.”
I flushed as one of Vernon’s younger cousin or something started to laugh also. “I can assure you that I really am Petunia’s sister.” I said, scowling. I was getting pretty angry.
“Ladies,” Vincent said, in his clipped tone. I was pretty amazed that he could be so calm even when a dog bit him. I suppose it had something to do with class. “And gentlemen, also. Madam Virginia should be in the yard, somewhere in the garden. I’ll show you to your rooms and I’ll have someone bring up your bags later.”
“Sounds wonderful,” said Vernon’s aunt/mother. She and the rest of the Dursleys started to follow Vincent up the winding staircase, some of them glaring at me as they went. I rolled my eyes openly and approached a petite, plump maid who was grabbing some of the Dursleys’ belongings, along with other servants.
“Excuse me,” I said to the lady, who immediately stood up and smiled at me. “Can you tell me where the kitchen is?”
“Of course, Miss Lily.” She said, beaming at me. She pointed towards the hallway to the right, which was maroon also. I thanked her and then went on my way. The corridor was much like the other one I was in earlier.
The kitchen was full of maids, which were setting the table with breakfast for the Dursleys. I took a pastry and left before anybody noticed. The porch was connected to the kitchen with a sliding glass door, so I decided to go out for a little walk. The porch had a glass tale with several chairs around it. I hopped off the porch and chewed happily, screening my eyes slightly from the sun.
I had to admit that Virginia was right; the yard was perfect for a wedding. There was a pebbled path that led towards a pond, going around it and into the forest that was in the distance. There was a white bench with a gazebo, and a garden. I saw Virginia hunched over it, wearing a hat and holding pincers. I strode over to her and sat on the bench, startling her.
“Lily, you scared me.” She said, laughing. I smiled slightly; her laugh was the same, which was comforting. My mother pressed her hand against her heart to steady her breathing, and then stood back to admire her work. “Do you like my flowers? I practically live for them.”
“They’re beautiful.” I said, looking out at the pond where some white lilies were floating. “Your house is gorgeous.”
Virginia looked at me, wiping the sweat off her forehead and adjusting her hat. After a while she said, “It’s your house too, now.”
I didn’t respond, since I didn’t really know what to say. Instead I chewed on my pastry, going, “The Dursleys are here.”
“Oh goodness, already?” she exclaimed, looking at her watch. She slapped her hand to her forehead. “Oh no, I completely forgot. Lily, I’ll have to greet them…”
“No, go ahead.” I said, shrugging. She smiled at me, although it was rather awkward and weak.
“All right. I’ll see you when you come in.”
She left hurriedly. I swallowed the last bit of my food and stood up, stretching my arms. I walked over to the rose bush she had been working on and studied it. The flowers in her garden were gorgeous; I was quite surprised that she had done all of this, and not one of her servants.
I sat down on the grass and lay down; looking up at the sky and watching the clouds roam across my sight. I furrowed my eyebrows and sighed. I felt like I was at some sort of resort or hotel. It didn’t feel like home.
I heard loud laughter and groaned, turning on my stomach and crawling up the hill that inclined towards the pond. I looked up and scowled; the Dursleys were coming outside to sit on the porch and eat their breakfast outside. I felt bad for the maids who had gone through all the trouble to set up the table all neatly and fresh.
Virginia was easy to spot, since she was the only person there who was thin. I also noticed that Petunia had come out also, giggling and holding Vernon’s arm as she talked to his relatives. I sunk back down and slid down the hill and out of sight. I didn’t feel like a part of that family.
Then again, I didn’t feel like a part of the family in London either. There was my father…and unfortunately Carrie was now legally part of the family. Even so though, I still wished I had gone over there instead. Then I’d be able to see James whenever I pleased.
This is right, though, I thought. It had been a good idea to see Virginia and go to Petunia’s wedding…it was my obligation, I supposed.
I sighed and closed my eyelids; the sun had been hurting my eyes.
I restrained myself from rolling my eyes. Being interrupted yet again, I looked up from my book. A younger maid with curly blonde hair was standing by the door of the library, her hands held together as she looked at me with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but feel that her smile was rather strained.
“Your mother is calling you to go to her room.” She replied. “Madam says that it is urgent.”
I raised my eyebrows slightly. “Sure. I’ll be right up.”
“Thank you, Miss.” The maid said. She inclined her head and curtseyed out of the library. I unconsciously grimaced. I still wasn’t used to the idea of curtseys and bows.
I set my book on the table and reluctantly closed the large doors behind me, walking into the hallway and reaching the entrance hall. Thankfully, no one was around. I had been avoiding the Dursleys ever since they arrived a few days ago. I spent most of my time in the library, which predictably, no body used. I thought it was strange how someone with such a magnificent house with such a wonderful library would never use it.
I sighed and climbed the winding staircase, passing a few maids and servants and waving. I reached the last landing and made my way to what I thought was my mother’s room. I was pretty sure, since I had seen her go in there several times when she had to change. I wouldn’t be surprised if the room was maybe her second changing bedroom, and not the room she slept in, though. I pushed the door ajar and was exposed to the loud chattering of the booming voices of the several Dursley women who were scattered around the room with a few thin women here and there; Petunia’s friends. No body took any notice that I arrived until I closed the door so that no body would be disturbed by the obnoxious noises coming from the room.
“Oh, Lily! Good, you’re here.” My mother exclaimed. She was sitting on her king sized bed with several dresses laid across it, of all different sizes. I raised my eyebrow and she said, “We’re fitting the dresses on all the bridesmaids.”
I didn’t see how this was ‘urgent’ but I walked towards my mother anyway, looking down at light pink fabric. It was quite a pretty color.
Just then the door bounded open and Petunia came running in. I widened my eyes because I hadn’t seen her in so long; she hadn’t even tried talking to me the whole time I was there. Her blonde hair was elegantly curled and her clothes were not unlike Virginia’s; they truly looked like mother and daughter now, especially since they were both blonde. I looked at myself at the vanity across the room and frowned. I really did look out of place, especially in my jeans and loose-t-shirt.
“Petunia!” said Vernon’s sister who had brought the dog, Marge Dursley. She ran to Petunia and they exchanged kisses, giggling and leaving the door open. Petunia walked past me in her shiny heels to give our mother a kiss, and Virginia smiled genuinely. She cleared her throat and all the women silenced at once. My mother stood up and signaled for one of the timid maids in the corner to close the door, and then started to speak.
“Alright, is everyone here? Good. Well, today we’re just going to be fitting the dresses…that should take a while, so I don’t think we’ll have any more time to do anything else. I’d like to thank everyone who I hadn’t already for coming…Petunia’s wedding is going to be very grand and beautiful, and we need all the help we can get.”
“Virginia,” boomed Vernon’s mother, Colleen Dursley. “You’re right. This wedding is going to be the best one we’ve seen in a while.”
As she said this smugly, all the women elapsed into giggles, or rather, thuggish grunts, while Petunia glanced at me for a brief moment, looking as if she had something nasty under her nose. I pretended I didn’t see her look of distaste and sat on the bed, but was immediately taken up by Susannah, one of the more elderly maids and one of the few who I had learned the names of. She had a dress slung over her shoulder and was ready to see if it fit on me.
I took of my shirt and saw two of Vernon’s cousins glaring at me, and then whispering to one another rudely. I distinctly heard the phrases: “Too skinny”, and “Skin and bones”. I frowned and pretended that I hadn’t heard them, although I was sure that they knew I did.
“Hm,” said Susannah. “I’ll call Madam.” She took off towards Virginia, while I looked in the mirror. My mother came hurrying towards me, gasping and beaming at me, immediately telling me how beautiful I looked. I saw in the mirror Vernon’s cousins, who were being fitted, looking even more murderous.
“We just need to adjust it here I think…” Virginia muttered as she took the pins from her maid and started inserting them at my waist. She bent down and folded the rim of my dress, which was far too long anyway. She pinned that too then examined her work next to me in the mirror.
“Wonderful,” she said happily. “I’m glad I got the right size.”
I forced a smile and nodded, as she hurried towards Vernon’s cousins. Susannah beamed and told me I looked beautiful also, and that I could take off the dress. She folded it and placed it in a white box then piled it in Virginia’s closet.
I stood there for a while, looking around at the several young women who were being fitted, while my mother, Colleen, and some of the other older Dursleys scrambled across the room and helped with the fitting. Meanwhile Petunia was on the bed, looking through some catalogs that would help her decide what sort of decorations she wanted. I wondered vaguely if Petunia had even wanted me as a bridesmaid, since I didn’t even know and all. I sighed and made my way towards Virginia, passing Vernon’s cousins who were being fitted by Colleen, all three of them sniggering at my presence.
“Uh…can I ask you something?” I asked Virginia. I had avoided for the most part calling her anything, since I wasn’t exactly sure if it sounded right the way I said ‘mother’ or ‘mum’.
Virginia was currently fitting the dress of the maid of honor, Yvonne, a lanky, brunette woman with a pointed nose and narrowed eyes. I ignored her and looked at my mother who was bent down and putting a few pins in the rim of her lavender dress, which had frills at the short sleeves and on the bottom.
“Of course,” Virginia said distractedly. I swallowed, swaying my feet and noticing that Yvonne was looking very intent on listening.
“I was wondering,” I said awkwardly, coughing slightly and then recovering. “If I could perhaps…bring a friend? I mean, he’d probably be able to get here by himself, we wouldn’t have to pick him up or anything.” Not that I wanted her to pick him up. Imagine how awkward that would be. Hey James, this is my supposedly dead mother who came back to my life a few years ago and who I am currently living with…
My mother stood up, wiping her forehead and nodding approvingly to Yvonne, who gave her a very false smile. She turned around as Yvonne went over to talk to Petunia, whispering and looking over towards me every once in a while with smirks on their faces.
“Sure, the more the merrier, right?” she said, smiling slightly. It was extremely awkward not to have the whole ‘well, do I know him?’ thing. Because of course she didn’t know him. She didn’t know any of my friends. “Where does he live?”
“London.” I said. Then noticing where she was going, I added hastily, “But he can get here, don’t worry.”
Virginia raised an eyebrow at me but said nothing. “Alright.” She finally said, biting her lip.
“Virginia!” wailed Marge. “I need your help!”
I thought for a moment that Virginia was about to roll her eyes, but of course, that would be unladylike. Instead she called out that she’d be there in a minute and then sighed, “Well, just introduce him to me at some point, alright? I’d like to meet some of your friends.”
“Sure.” I said, nodding. “I will.”
She nodded; looking a little disappointed that I didn’t want to say anything else or rather, call her my mother, and then once hearing Marge complain loudly, went over to help her. I took the opportunity to slip past the door unnoticed, closing it and bounding towards my bedroom. I locked the doors, (Vernon’s family was very nosy) and jumped onto my bed, laying on my back and looking up at the canvas.
All right. So it was settled. James was going to the wedding. Of course, this was the right decision. I couldn’t just not see him the whole Easter break. He’d get suspicious, since he’s, you know, not stupid or anything.
I sighed; inhaling deeply and feeling the cool breeze from outside tickle my skin.
Now all I had to do was figure out how I was going to do it.
I was sitting on my bed, my ears listening intently for any sort of sound that was going on in the house. It was rather late, and I was tired. My eyes were drooping and I kept on yawning ever few minutes.
Once I thought the coast was clear, I pulled my jumper over my head and went to the balcony. There was a vine of ivy right to my side, which I could easily climb. I made sure my wand was tucked into my pants and grabbed onto the vine, slowly making my way down.
The grass was wet with dew, and it splashed onto my jeans as I ran across the front yard until I reached the dirt road. I looked back at the house once more, looking for a lit up window indicating that someone had heard my escapade. The house however, was looking very still and silent, with no movement whatsoever. I let out a sigh of relief and took out my wand, throwing my right hand out.
The familiar purple triple-decker appeared immediately, banging down the dirt road. I looked anxiously behind me before climbing onto the bus where the conductor had his hand out, waiting for me to pay him. I dumped some silver into his hands and climbed onto the bus.
“Where to, Miss?” the conductor asked, as the bus took of with a sudden bang and I was thrown backwards onto a bed.
I gulped. “Rose Drive, London, please.”
I felt my chest swell up as I finally arrived; the sun was probably just about to rise. The dark, navy blue sky had streaks of pink in it. I had to be jerked awake by the conductor, since I had fallen asleep as soon as I lay down in bed. It had been hard at first, since the bus kept on shaking with every stop.
“Have a nice morning, Miss.” The conductor said, and the Knight Bus took off in a flash. I blinked at the sudden rush of wind that blew my hair back, and then squinted in the darkness at the house across the street; my home.
The lights were off and everything looked just like I left it. Well, it didn’t matter anyway. They weren’t missing me, and I certainly wasn’t going to be missing them.
I sighed and made my way up James’s driveway, trying to remember which room was his. I had been in it when we were little, but those were memories tucked in far into my head. I narrowed my eyes and picked up a pebble, eyeing the two windows I had to choose from. I decided to pick the one on the left side, so I took my chances and threw the pebble. Nothing.
“Damn it.” I threw another pebble then another. I sighed in relief when I saw a light turn on. The window opened and James poked his head out, looking around in confusion at the source of noise. I waved, grinning.
James furrowed his eyebrows. “Lily?” he said, rubbing his eyes. He squinted then shook his shaggy head. “Why do I always have these dreams?” he muttered. I giggled and he paused halfway through getting his head back inside. He widened his eyes and then scrambled inside, coming back with his glasses on. “Lily? You’re actually here?”
I rolled my eyes. “Well, I said I’d come, didn’t I?”
“Well,” He paused, a grin slowly spreading on his face. “Yeah. You did.”
I crossed my arms across my chest and frowned. “I don’t want to stand here all day, you know.”
James raised his eyebrows so that they disappeared beneath his bangs then shrugged. “Okay.” He withdrew his head and a few minutes later he was coming out through the front door, yawning and stretching his arms. He was wearing a white t-shirt and plaid pajama pants, and was grinning as he spotted me.
“Hey.” He said, stopping right in front of me.
“Hi.” I said. Did my heart just skip a beat? I cursed myself inwardly.
James gave me a lopsided grin. “So. What brings you here?”
I rolled my eyes but smiled anyway. “You wanted me to come,”
“Are you saying you didn’t want to come?”
I shrugged. “Sure,” I said nonchalantly, but only to my defense,
James raised an eyebrow. “Is that so?” he asked, as if he didn’t believe me. He went to sit on the steps of his porch, so I followed and sat down next to him. We both sat there for a while in silence, staring at my house right across the street. I tried to look as if the sight was still quite familiar to me.
“So, where have you been?”
“I had to help Petunia with some wedding preparations.” I said. I inwardly grinned at my ability to lie so well.
“She’s actually getting married, eh?” James chuckled, leaning back against the brick wall behind him and looking at me curiously. “You know, that’s sort of odd. Me and my mum always talked about how we thought you’d be the first daughter to marry.”
“Really? Why?” I asked.
James laughed. “Well, you’re obviously the prettier one.”
I widened my eyes, feeling very taken aback. “No, I’m not.”
“Of course you are,” James said nonchalantly. He yawned and ran a hand through his hair to make it even messier than usual, since it was morning and all. I shook my head so that I’d let go of that distraction and set my mind to what I was even there for. I had to get to the point.
“So. Do you want to go?”
James opened his eyes and then gave me a perplexed look. “Go where?”
I rolled my eyes at how slow he could be sometimes. “To the wedding, you dung head.”
James furrowed his eyebrows, turning to look at me. He looked incredulous. “Do you want me to?”
I blushed at his sincerity and seriousness. I quickly shook my head to rid myself of the continuous shivers that were running through my body and said, “Well, sure. I guess.”
He rolled his eyes, leaning against the wall again. My eyes lingered at his biceps for a moment as he moved around, as my fingers ached to touch him so that I could kiss him again. I tried shaking my thoughts away and quickly shielded my face with my hair so that he couldn’t see my flaming red face. James stretched his arms and said lazily, “Oh, give it up, Lily. I know you’re blushing anyway.”
“I am not,” I said indignantly, puffing out my chest as I turned to look at him. He laughed at my face. Well, at least he didn’t know why I was blushing.
“Hiding again?” he asked amusedly, as I turned away and looked at my house again.
“I’m not hiding!” I said defensively.
“You are too.” James contradicted.
“Oh, shut up.”
James sniggered, ruffling his hair again. “So, is that all you want to tell me?” he asked, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
“I didn’t tell you anything,” I said crossly.
“That’s because you didn’t want to,” James said briskly. He stood up and starting walking towards the door.
“James,” I groaned, standing up and following him. I stopped in front of him. “Why are you so difficult?”
“I’m the difficult one?” James inquired, raising his eyebrows disbelievingly. Somehow I thought we had this argument before. We probably did.
“Yes,” I said. I grabbed his arms and shook him slightly, or at least tried to, since he was so much taller and bigger than me. It was a rather ridiculous sight. “Now, don’t leave. I still want to talk to you.” I felt like I was bossing around a little two-year old, but it would have to work.
“Evans,” he said, rolling his eyes. “You’re getting pretty annoying, you know.”
I felt slightly hurt that he had called me Evans, but quickly disguised it with anger. “Don’t call me Evans,” I said furiously.
“It’s your name, isn’t it?” James said tauntingly, leaning forward and raising his eyebrows.
“Well, y-yes, but—” I sputtered. “But…oh, you know what? Forget it.”
“Okay.” James said good-naturedly.
We both stood there, still not moving. Finally, I cleared my throat and huffed, “I’m going home.”
James made a motion with his hands, indicating me to leave. I frowned. “Fine, I’m going now.”
“Be my guest.” James said in an annoyingly challenging voice. He put his hands in his pockets and leaned against his front door, looking at me expectantly. I made a noise between a grunt and a growl, and then took off down the pavement.
Halfway across the street, I stopped abruptly and turned around. I narrowed my eyes and saw that he was still leaning against his door, staring at me. I frowned.
“Why are you still here?” I called out, scolding. James frowned too.
“I’m waiting for you to go inside.”
Of course, that wouldn’t work, since my dad wasn’t expecting me to come home at all. To disguise my sudden fear of him figuring me out, I said angrily while balling my fists, “I don’t need you to look after me.”
“Merlin!” James said loudly, stomping at the ground. “Evans, just go.”
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
“I’ll tell you what to do when I want to!” he bellowed back at me.
“It’s five o’ clock in the morning! Go take your argument somewhere else!” shouted a lady from a nearby house, her hair in rollers as she screamed from the open window. I blushed as James snickered, quickly disguising it with a cough since he was still mad at me.
“James, I do not need you to watch me,” I said in a calm voice once the glaring lady in rollers left her window.
“You’re wasting your time,” James said tiredly. I knew he was enjoying the fact that he was annoying me though by the stubborn look on his face.
“James—just—Ugh! Are you coming or not?”
“Go where, love?” James said in a bright voice purposely. He crossed his arms and grinned at me, waiting for me to say what he wanted me to say.
I gritted my teeth and let out a frustrated groan. “Do you want to go to the wedding with me?”
I watched, my chest heaving up and down as anger and annoyance pulsed through me. James just stood there for a while, staring at me. A grin slowly came on and he started towards me, stopping right in front of me and looking down at my face.
“I guess I could.” He said, grinning at me. I huffed, blowing my red hair in front of my face so that the tips of the strands touched James’s chest. I shoved him and he laughed, pulling me towards him. I frowned and kept my arms crossed as he bent down and kissed me on the forehead.
“Don’t,” I said warningly as he bent down to kiss my lips. James grinned and kissed me anyway. “No, James stop—”
“So. Where is the wedding?” James asked, ignoring my protests and leaning back so he could look at me. I suddenly remembered why I wasn’t at home and widened my eyes, clearing my throat.
“Uh…” I forced a smile. “We’ll talk about it later.”
James raised his eyebrows for what must’ve been the umpteenth time.
A/N: Whew...it's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry for the delay, but this chapter was a huge hassle to write. But now I'm getting to the good stuff! *rubs hands together* I doubt I'll have a writer's block soon, since there will be so many James scenes coming up, and those are my favorite. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and please leave me a review! I love getting those. Oh, and speaking of reviews...I'd like to thank each and every one of you for the 476 reviews!! Made my day. Haha almost to 500 people....
Oh, and just so you know, today is the official aniversary for this story, March 6th. Exactly a year ago I started writing Living Life...it's hard to believe. Well, thanks everyone for all the support! I wouldn't be able to write without all these fans. *grins*
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