[ Printer Friendly Version ] [ Report Abuse ]
Chapter 24 : Chapter 24.
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 10|
Background: Font color:
At least he and Sirius had mended their friendship and he had had words with Remus and Peter, at least he had his mates, it wasn’t all going to be cats and Firewhisky.
He had idly wondered if for one half of his life to be going well, the other half had to be a chaotic mess.
He chanced a fleeting look in Lily’s direction once more, she was on the other side of the room; her face was rigid with concentration and determination, her hair was haphazardly tied up in a bun, her robes were crinkled from the knees and that very fact alone was enough to send a shiver of longing through him.
It was at this moment he was smacked to the ground by a feathery missile.
“Mr Potter! Please pay attention. Your NEWTs are right around the corner, this is basic material, I would have thought there would be no need to go over it, but clearly you need to work on your concentration skills. There’s no time for daydreaming anymore,” Flitwick chided sharply.
‘Sorry Professor,” James said, removing the pillow from his face and blushing furiously. He was sure he could feel Lily's eyes burning into the back of his skull but when he chanced a look her direction, she wasn't even facing him. He wasn't sure if that made him happy because she hadn't witnessed Flitwick's humiliating him or that she didn't seem to even notice his presence.
Peter extended a hand to him, a jovial and slightly smug grin on his face. This was one of the rare times that Peter had got the better of any of them, and like all those times beforehand, they allowed him his victory; it didn’t matter if the cause was distraction, intoxication or generosity, Peter was a good enough sport to know he wasn’t the best at anything much and he was good enough not to let on that he knew he was being had.
Most of the time.
“Got you, eh? Can’t think what’s got you so distracted,” he said with a knowing look in Lily’s direction.
“Shut up,” James growled.
“Touchy, James,” Sirius teased as he floated his cushion and the chair it had been sitting on with ease. James knew Sirius was delighting in torturing him, he wasn’t sure at this point whether it was out of petty revenge or relief though he thought it was the former. And he’d noticed that Sirius was incredibly at ease in Lily’s presence.
“You have to talk to her,” Sirius urged as they headed out of the classroom. James stayed stoic and tight-lipped; anything he said at this point would sound like a weak, cowardly excuse.
“The worst she can do is shoot you down, but it might give her the chance to vent a little steam, that always seemed to work before.”
“It took her three years of venting steam to even talk to me in a lower register,” James muttered.
“Maybe she won’t have so much built up now,” Peter interjected.
No one outside of James, Sirius and Lily (and likely Marjorie) knew about the accusations James had hurled at Lily in that room. “I don’t think so,” James said slowly.
They had stopped near a portrait of Godric Gryffindor, Sirius thrust his hand towards the man in the painting. “Are you or are you not a Gryffindor, James Cyril Potter?” he cried impressively. “Go forth, man! Victory or death awaits you!” He gave James a shove and before he could even realise what was happening, James was faced with the backside of Lily Evans, only a few feet ahead of him in the hallway. Looking back at Sirius, Remus and Peter all now posing and pointing at Gryffindor’s painting (in fact, Sirius had managed to throw himself against it, much to the other painting’s chagrin, but Godric himself was huffing with laughter).
Lily looked around to see what the commotion was and when she realised it was Sirius, she gave a reluctant smile and began to turn, apparently not noticing James.
“Canispeakwithyouforamoment?” James blurted so quickly he thought he’d been hit with a Blabbermouth Curse.
Lily stopped, her gaze slid over him reprovingly. “What?”
James took a breath and took a second to untangle his tongue. “Can I speak with you for a moment?”
Lily sighed doggedly. “Haven’t we said enough?”
“I won’t…it’ll only be a moment.”
Se seemed to argue with herself for a second before giving him a studied look of irritation. “Fine.”
Both relieved and stunned to have got this far, James was struck incapable of coherent speech.
“Today would be good.”
“Oh, right. Yes.” He gave a horrid little laugh and tried to get his thoughts straight. “I…where are you going?” He had just noticed she was carrying a gift in her hands.
She raised her eyebrow coolly. “I’m off for a quickie with Sirius in the Library, care to come watch?”
James was taken aback by her crude remark, it seemed so unlike her and he could see that she was highly embarrassed to have said it. She wrung her hands awkwardly a few times, opened her mouth to say something, gave him a look that he couldn’t decipher and stalked off, leaving him to feel as though he’d just had a very lucky escape.
She felt awful, her stomach seemed to have dropped out, leaving her with a tingly feeling of anxiety that set her whole body on edge as she moved briskly into the crisp spring air.
She oughtn’t have said those things to him, it was a very cruel thing to have done and she didn’t like the way those words had sounded coming from her mouth.
Hagrid was waiting for her at the gate; she could just barely make out a warm grin underneath his bushy beard.
“ ‘Lo Lily,” he said as she reached him.
“Hello Hagrid, are we ready?”
“I reckon so,” he replied, patting down his coat to try and locate the key. He hit one of the pockets and it emitted a yelp, causing Lily to jump several feet. She knew what Hagrid liked to keep in his pockets. “No, no, it’s nothin’ to be afraid of. Bought myself a puppy, must have curled up and gone to sleep when I took my coat off, is all.” He reached into his coat and pulled out a squirming, slobbering and very excited puppy that was about the size of a sheep.
Lily reached out her hand hesitantly to pet him. “He’s…lovely, Hagrid, what are you going to call him?”
“Haven’ decided yet. Maybe something fearsome to cover the fact tha’ he’s a complete wuss,” he chuckled.
Lily grinned up at him as the pup gave her a playful nip. “Fang.”
Hagrid thought about it for a moment then picked the dog up to face him. “What do yeh think o’ tha? Are yeh a Fang?” The puppy replied by eagerly licking his face and barking. Hagrid gave a booming laugh and set the dog down. “Fang it is. Thanks Lily.”
She gave Fang a pat on the head and smiled, glad to fund a distraction from feeling like a complete git. “No problem.”
Hagrid unlocked the gate and the two of them passed through, Fang bounding out ahead of them as they walked to Hogsmeade.
It wasn’t anything other than a lunch with her parents (and if they had managed to force her along: Petunia), but even something so simple these days required a great amount of planning and security. There wasn’t a day that went by that a student wasn’t pulled out of class because their parents, aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents had died or disappeared, being Head Girl meant that Lily often had the responsibility of comforting those students and watching over them, she’d seen James doing the same, though with the stench of alcohol wafting from him, she wondered if he wasn’t just giving them a few nips of mead.
It had been hard these past few days to avoid him, when the pressure of their responsibilities was evermore increasing, fights were breaking out all over the place. The other day a boy had been accosted because his father, the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, had ordered another boy’s father to be killed.
The tinkling of chimes announced their arrival to The Three Broomsticks, she was eagerly met by her beaming father and mother, both looking quite enraptured with the goings on of the busy pub.
Hagrid greeted the Evans and ambled over to the bar. Daphne and George ushered their daughter into a booth in the corner, a candle floated above them for ambiance and Daphne gave a joyful titter.
“Happy belated birthday, dad,” Lily said, leaning over the table to give her father a peck on the cheek. He unwrapped his present eagerly and was utterly chuffed at her gift of a book that spoke its words to you when opened.
“Amazing,” he muttered. “First edition Tolstoy, too. My girl knows what I like,” he said warmly.
“I charmed it myself, I bet you don’t have anything like that in the store.”
“I should think not,” he said, puzzling over the book. George was the very image of an old English gentleman, from the top of his silvery head, to his favourite argyle jumper and matching socks, he looked quite out of place in this crowd, but didn’t seem to mind the curious glances, both he and his wife were enjoying being the odd ones for once in their lives.
“Petunia couldn’t come?” Lily asked conversationally.
Daphne managed to drag her focus away from a group of goblins that had just entered and gave Lily an appraising look. “You know your sister,” she sighed. “She’s spending the day with Vernon, I think it would take a family emergency to drag her away from him, and even then she’d insist on bringing him along.”
“Probably couldn’t fit in the doorway,” George mumbled under his breath.
“George Evans!” Daphne admonished. “He’s got a good job and he’s a fine young man. He’s just rather…healthy.”
“He’s healthily going to explode if he gets any bigger.”
Lily held back a laugh behind her hand; her father gave her a mischievous look that turned into one of contrition as soon as her mother caught sight of it.
“They’re getting serious, aren’t they?” Lily observed. “Reckon you might have a son in law before too long.”
“God help me.” George mouthed and even Daphne didn’t look terribly thrilled at that prospect.
“He treats Petunia well, he can give her the life that she wants. And we only want her to be happy. Don’t we George,” she added, nudging him.
“Yes, yes, of course,” he said dismissively, waving his hand about. “Wonderful age to be a housewife, though.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife,” Daphne told him angrily.
Lily smiled as her parents continued to argue, she hadn’t seen her parents in months and she had been incredibly homesick of late, perhaps trying to grasp the last days of her childhood and the safety and comfort that it entailed. The next time she would see her parents would be at her graduation, she would never go home again as a school girl, she would be out on her own, and like most young girls her age, the prospect made her both excited and incredibly anxious.
“How’ve you been, Lily darling?” her mother asked, suddenly. “You look a little pale, are you ill? You haven’t been taking on too much, have you?”
“It’s nothing mum, really, you know how it gets in your final year. I’ve been studying a lot, is all.”
“Remember to take some time for yourself, no point in beating them all out if there’s only a drooling vegetable at the end of it,” her father warned jovially.
She rolled her eyes impatiently, “Of course I will, dad. I won’t drive myself too hard, take it all in moderation and remember to eat between panic attacks.”
“That’s my girl.”
Daphne looked around at the other patrons of the pub and leaned across the table conspiratorially. “Is it true what they’re saying about a…dark wizard?” she whispered, grasping Lily’s hand.
Lily felt her throat constrict, she’d been hoping to conceal the current danger in the Wizarding World from her parents, knowing they’d only fret. It was lucky she’d had a lot of experience giving reassuring statements about the war (occasionally known as ‘flat out lying’.) so she smiled and squeezed her mother’s hand and told them it was all fine, nothing to worry about, just an exaggeration.
With the feeling of guilt slick in her stomach, she said her goodbyes, promising to write, to keep safe and stay sane. When they had finally left, accompanied by several Aurors, her whole body seemed to shrink into itself, her jaw was aching from trying to hold her smile.
Lily dropped into a chair as she watched her parents depart. It wasn't so much their presence that had exhausted her, but more that the Firewhisky had allowed her mind to reel through the events of the week…Penny…James…the new life ahead of her…it all seemed to have enveloped her at once.
Mulling over the empty glass, she idly traced the carved initials of past patrons on the battered tabletop, the etched declarations of love, little jokes between friends.
Some of the dates read back as far as the 1800s. She knew they would have fascinated her father; he’d always had a fondness for messages written in public toilet stalls, he’d told her that they were like the historical tomes of the people, just as valuable as any book on war or ancient artefact. Her father hadn’t even mentioned them to her; that spoke as to just how worried he was.
On reflection, her father was an odd little man, no wonder he’d taken to Dumbledore from the moment he met him when Lily had been invited to Hogwarts.
A/N: Okay, okay, so this wasn't the big old reunion I was promising, it is coming, in fact, it is written. This chapter was just getting far too long, so I split it.
Again thanks to timeturner for all her help, keep an eye out for a her new Sirius/Lily that she's writing ;)
Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Other Similar Stories
Ashes and Wine