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In My Time of Dying by Stag Night
Chapter 25 : Conversations
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 13


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In My Time of Dying
Disclaimer:
The story title is a song originally recorded (under that title) by Bob Dylan. The world, characters and canon events belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else belongs to me. It is illegal to publish and distribute fanfiction without J.K. Rowling's permission. You may not copy, post elsewhere, change or edit any part of this story. You may not claim it as your own.



C H A P T E R . T W E N T Y - F I V E
Conversations




James found him in his bedroom, smoking gillyweed just as he had a few weeks before. This time, however, Sirius made no move to hide the magical plant when his best friend entered the room. James hesitated in the doorway.


“You've missed four Order meetings, and a couple of stake outs,” he finally said. “But we have another meeting tonight, if you want to go. I just stopped by to let you know, Sirius. Dumbledore sent Wormtail and Lily and I home to rest, so we came here to let you know...” he babbled tiredly.


Sirius only waved him away. “I’m not going to any more meetings.”


James gaped at him. “What? Why the hell not? The Minister is missing, Sirius!”


Sirius could only shrug. “James,” he said. “Prongs. Moody hates me. He’s hated me since day one. I’m tired of fighting and risking my arse just for him to turn around and shout at me and tell me I’ve done it wrong. I’m not dead, am I? I’ve kept myself alive! I can’t have done quite as terribly as he thinks I have, but since I’m a Black, it’s never going to be good enough.”


James crossed the room and plucked the rolled up gillyweed from Sirius’s fingers just as he was about to put it to his lips. Sirius objected but James cut him off.


“Since when were you fighting for Moody?” he asked matter-of-factly, even going so far as to lean down towards Sirius’s face, to get more to his level.


Sirius glared stubbornly at the wall a few feet in front of him and said nothing.


“Have you forgotten what we’re really fighting for?” asked James in a surprisingly gentler tone.


And Sirius only shook his head. “It’s getting harder to keep it in mind, James. Remus is gone. Lily’s parents are dead, the McKinnons are dead, Moony’s dad is dead. Hundreds of Muggles are dead. Disaster is everywhere, torture, Prongs. I hate it; I hate it. I just want to go back to Hogwarts and not think about it all.”


“Sirius…”


“James!” sighed Sirius. “I’ve killed now. I’ve murdered somebody, and I hate it. I will never forget how that feels for as long as I live… How I liked it when I thought I was doing well. It was a mistake. And then how I hated myself.” He repressed a shudder and finally brought his gaze to James’s. “Regulus is on the Dark side. He’s a Death Eater. Oh, God, James. I was so terrified that I was going to have to kill him tonight. Regulus, dead. Not by my wand, James.”


“Padfoot,” said James, halting his frantic rant. He gave the gillyweed back to Sirius just to calm him down; Sirius shakily accepted it, and there was a moment where nothing was said between them. James stood up straight again, crossed his arms over his chest, and simply watched.


“You don’t know how it feels, James. You don’t have a brother. It’s…” but the words wouldn’t come to him. He trailed away, shaking his head in disgust with himself. For breaking so easily, for allowing Regulus to get to him. He tried to throw Regulus away with the rest of his family, and a part of him just wouldn’t have it.


James’s gaze hardened. “You’ll always be my brother,” he said in a low voice. “Don’t tell me I haven’t got one, or that I don’t know how it feels when he makes stupid mistakes.”


“Sorry.”


James only sighed. He did not know how to deal with this. Perhaps it would all be better in a few hours. They were all exhausted. They hadn’t slept in anticipation of the attack. The fight itself was draining. The Regulus ordeal was draining. The worry for Remus was draining. And they hadn't even had a break before the frantic search for the Minister began. Sirius, perhaps, hadn't been a part of that the last two days, but it was obvious by the dark, hooded look in his eyes that he hadn't slept any more than the rest of them.


“Get some sleep, Sirius, we can talk about this later. I’ll be waiting for you tonight.”


He started to shut the door. Sirius called out, “I’m done with it, James! I’m not going tonight,” but James was no longer there. He didn’t give any sign that he had heard Sirius at all, and Sirius was left with nobody to insist he had quit the Order to except for the walls.


“I’m not going back,” he uttered in the darkness. “I’m not.”








II.

It felt so terribly strange and out of place to find himself in London again. Remus felt filthy and dirty now that he was among civilisation once more. He felt, almost, as if he were merely in a dream, and that he would be waking up at any moment now to find that familiar, musty cave with its crackling bonfire. Strangely, he considered the crude tunnels his home now, and he felt curiously awkward to be standing in front of the brick building, staring up at the windows of Sirius’s flat.


It was his flat, too, he had to remind himself. It was home. It was. Regardless, he felt like an intruder, like a tourist or visitor staying only for a brief time. He felt like he didn’t belong there anymore; he felt like a wild animal.


“Buck up, old chap,” he muttered to himself, stepping forward and unlocking the door to the steep stairwell. “In a few days, things will be right back to normal.” At least he hoped so.


He was surprised at how lonely he suddenly felt to be, once again, the only werewolf in London. Or at least the only one that he knew of. The majority were banished, good behaviour or not. He was only tame (as Ulfric had put it) because his parents worked for the Ministry.


It had been surprisingly difficult to leave the tunnels. He had tried to dawdle and linger, looking for an excuse to stay a few moments longer and give his goodbyes. But he couldn’t; it wasn’t as if he’d had to pack his suitcase or anything. He could only thank Ulfric for not killing him and be on his way.


Remus realised now, quite suddenly and with a start, that he was procrastinating. His foot was still on the very first step. He forced himself to think of the friends that he had missed for so very long and took another.


He hoped things wouldn’t be awkward between them. He knew they might be different. He knew they had seen horrors and nightmares while he was gone.


Given his wistful mood, Remus was quite surprised to finally make it up the stairwell, open the front door, and come face to face with James and Lily snogging on Sirius’s couch. He carefully stepped inside, gently set down his briefcase and approached the pair.


(They were so caught up in each other that they never even heard him enter, nor his footsteps as he advanced on them.)


Remus waited patiently for a moment, watching and feeling awkward. He expected they had to surface for air soon, but alas, they did not. Finally, Remus very deliberately leaned forward and tapped James on the shoulder.


And James finally turned his head slightly and opened one eye, peering at him. Instantly, the bespectacled boy pulled away from Lily and stared at Remus in disbelief. At that, Lily, too, looked to him with surprise. Clearly they had assumed he would be Sirius. A pleasurable squirm welled up within Remus at stunning them so, and he smiled a little. There was still joy in small things, after all.


Lily immediately launched herself off the couch and into his arms. He only just barely caught her in time, and she gave a gleeful laugh.


“Remus!” she said simply. Remus wondered distractedly when the last time he’d been able to bathe in the creek was, but Lily never said a word about how filthy his clothing was, or whether or not he smelled bad.


James stood as well. “Moony,” he said, when Remus’s chocolate brown eyes met James’s hazel ones. The latter held out a hand to shake. Remus took it, and then pulled James into a bear hug.


James grinned. “Good to see you again, mate. I didn’t know you were coming back.”


“Nor did I,” admitted Remus at last. He sounded surprised at himself as he admitted, “I’ve been kicked out, if you can bloody imagine that!”


James couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up inside of him. “You are a Marauder, after all. If anyone would be, it would be a Marauder.”


But Lily was looking horrified. “Kicked out!” she demanded, as James’s laughter died off. “Kicked out. You’ve done something horrid, then, haven’t you! I’m surprised they kicked you out, Remus, I’d have thought you’d be murdered if you screwed up at all!”


“Lily,” warned James from the corner of his mouth and under his breath.


“No, no,” interrupted Remus. “She’s right, of course. They really ought to have… er… Well, I mean, I thought they were going to at first, when I pulled my wand out. Perhaps they were just a bit afraid of me. Fenrir Greyback wanted to have a go, but one of the elders chased him off…”


James looked rather amused, but Lily had paled considerably.


“Why don’t we sit down?” asked Remus, upon seeing her faint expression. “Have some tea, perhaps? Seems like it’s been ages since I had a cuppa…” And he collapsed in the arm chair, rubbing his hands over his face. He was tired, he only just now noticed.


James sank back onto the couch, grinning at Remus in wonder at seeing his friend again. Lily scurried off to the kitchen to make tea.


“Been ages since you had a bath, too, hasn’t it?” teased James. Remus blushed and examined his filthy hands. He knew his face must have been even worse.


After a few minutes, Lily hurried out and thrust a teacup into Remus's hands, nearly slopping its contents all over him in her excitement. She sat down beside James and demanded in a snappy voice, “What happened, Remus? What made you pull your wand?”


Remus held the teacup at a safe distance in case it spilled, and was thankful he could concentrate for a moment on that, on cooling his fingers or taking a sip, rather than meet their eyes. This was the one question he had hoped they wouldn’t ask him, for he feared they would look down on him for what he had done for the Dark side.


“Well… I… How did the attack on the Ministry go?” Remus looked around suddenly, his face going suddenly white. “Where is Padfoot? He should be here, he lives here. Is he all right, James? He hasn’t…-”


“Died? No. He’s asleep, or at least he should be. And, before you ask, Wormtail's all right too. I assume he's also asleep at his cottage.”


Remus glanced at the clock. “It’s three o’clock in the afternoon,” he said.


“Long couple of days,” said James. He gave a hesitant grin. “Lazy afternoon…”


“Yes, a long couple of days,” he agreed, thinking of his efforts with Rolff. It hit him, then, how recently the Ministry attack had happened. It had felt like so long ago, and was only two days. In two days, he had been in two different worlds. He closed his eyes and swallowed. “How was that, the attack? I never did hear about it...”


“It was a nightmare, naturally. Dumbledore wanted to attack late that morning - give the intruders run of the Ministry, let them lower their guard just when the night was nearly over and they thought they'd get away with it. And attack when employees would begin to arrive at the Ministry, just to have extra back up and hide the Order's presence. We apprehended a few more Death Eaters. We took a lot of werewolves into custody. Some of them were killed. Most will probably be executed.”


Remus felt sick at the news, mentally running through the names that he had come to know so well. “But they’re still alive now?”


James nodded. “The Ministry will want to do their trials,” he murmured distractedly. Remus almost thought that was even worse.


“What about the Order? Is everyone still… you know. Here?” he finally asked, feeling dreadful at hearing the answer. He closed his eyes and waited. He wondered how many times he would have to ask if certain individuals were still alive.


“Everyone is all right,” said Lily. “Nobody was bitten or anything in that battle...” she trailed away hesitantly.


Remus nodded in relief, not catching the look in her eye. James cleared his throat and glanced at his girlfriend. “Except...” he started and Remus looked suddenly alarmed. The word 'except' rarely meant anything good.


James held up the newspaper. “They got the Minister.”


“Brilliant.” Sarcasm was all Remus could muster, and he was glad James didn't tease him for it. “I assume that's going to be our next mission, then. That's what you meant by a long couple of days.” He sighed at the news, almost wishing again for the simplicity of life in the wilds. “And what of the attack on the Underground?”


At that, Lily’s face fell, and Remus felt a wave of dread. Something awful had clearly happened, and Remus found himself glancing around frantically, wondering why Peter wasn't there; the boy was usually around, after all. And then it struck him that James had already reassured him that Peter was safe at home.


“My parents were killed,” said Lily softly at last, as James subtly squeezed her hand.


Remus felt his stomach unclench and almost breathed a sigh of relief. Nobody he knew or cared about, nobody in the Order, had been killed in that attack, at least. He caught sight of Lily's pained expression.


“What?” he asked in disbelief, her words finally registering in his mind. Why hadn't he heard her the first time? “Your parents? What were they doing there?”


James frowned. “Has anyone ever told you you’re the least tactful person in the world, Moony?”


Remus blushed, feeling terrible. “I'm sorry, I just didn't catch that right away. It's just not...” his gaze wandered over Lily's stricken face and he felt a part of him melt in sympathy. “Not what I expected to hear, Lily, I am so sorry for your loss. I should have been here to help...”


Lily quickly shook her head and wiped her fingers beneath her eyes, as if to clear away any running mascara from how they suddenly watered. Her voice was shaky, but it gained strength as she spoke insistantly.


“No, Remus. You've done plenty. You have! So many Muggles would have died if it wasn’t for you warning us that it would happen. And yes, my parents were there. My father rides the train every morning to work, and my mum was with him on that day to do some last minute birthday shopping.”


Remus vaguely registered that her birthday had come and gone. That's right, he said to himself. Lily and Padfoot are both nineteen now... And James and I are about to be.


James scratched his jaw thoughtfully. “It was terrible, really. We were there, you warned us and we went to try to stop it. We couldn't... it was so fast. We didn't know what we were looking for until it was too late... Hundreds died, really... It is still on the front page of the Muggle papers every day. And up until the Minister was kidnapped, it was front page news on the Prophet as well.


“Sirius slowed it down... he tried to stop it as it came. It probably saved many people... but I think the worst had already been done before anyone could react...”


It was all a mess of information. Remus remained silent as he stared at his teacup, wiped a dribble down the side away with his thumb, trying not to let his horror show upon his face. So much had happened while he was away, and he wanted to hear about all of it. But he could barely wrap his head around one thing before another bit of news was sent his way.


“You ought to know,” James added quietly. “A few days after you left us again, the McKinnons were killed.”


Instantly, a wave of nausea hit Remus. His eyes widened and his throat went try, so that he felt like he might gag if he tried to swallow. “The… the McKinnons. All of them? Marlene? And the child?”


Lily’s eyes teared up and she nodded. “I cried all night…” she said quietly. “We all did.”


James stroked the back of her head absently and confirmed Remus’s questions. “All of them. Listen, Moony… the Death Eaters know the Order exists. We thought the McKinnons might have been killed as a warning to us all. A warning that they know who we are. So watch yourself.”


Remus could only nod, and then everything became silent. He thought, in the back of his mind, that he ought to go and see his mother.


“So…” said Lily meekly, reeling slightly from the talk of all who had recently perished. “Are you going to tell us what happened, Moony, or shall we force it out of you? Why are you home?”


After the news of the McKinnons, Remus was most definitely not in the mood to discuss what had happened with the wolves. He wanted nothing more, at the moment, then to sit back and reflect on things, and get over the shock and regret. The McKinnons were good people. They didn’t deserve to die.


But instead he sighed. “Right,” he said reluctantly. “Well, it was just this morning that they told me to go. After the Ministry ordeal, it was very stressful, waiting around for the pack to return…” he bit his lip and glanced at James. “Look, I know it’s going to sound terrible, but they became my friends.”


James’s face hardened slightly.


“Maybe it’s the beast in me,” sighed Remus. “It’s a ‘pack’ thing. Maybe it’s why I love being a Marauder. We stick together, too. And - anyway, when the pack elder was brought back from the battle, nearly dying… It was just so difficult to sit there. Everyone left in the pack just sat around him, watching, waiting for him to die. I couldn’t stand it, just waiting for somebody to die. How could I not do something?


“The one person who truly befriended me was raised by that man. The look on his face as he watched and waited… I just couldn’t sit there. I just lost my own father. I told them I could probably heal him. I’ve picked up on a lot from all the time I spent with Pomfrey.” He smiled ruefully. James gave a tiny grin and nodded for him to continue.


“They had already said that they were done with… well, with You-Know-Who.”


“Voldemort, Remus. Say it,” demanded James, interrupting in a firm voice.


“Right. With Voldemort, then,” said Remus, swallowing uncomfortably.


(It surprised him how suddenly awkward it felt to say the name. He'd lost the familiarity of it while living with the pack. They only called him 'the Dark Lord.')


“They realised then, after seeing all they’d lost, that they never did matter to him. They were just his pawns to use as he pleased. Perhaps his promises might have come true in the end, but I don’t think it was worth it after losing nearly all their warriors. Their fathers, their brothers.


“They said they weren’t going to be doing anything for him again. And so I figured I would have little else to report to the Order, anyway, if that was the case. If they killed me for spying, then at least I could have saved a life. I had to try. I lost a father, too.”


He shrugged, then. “And that’s it. I was able to save him. I taught them how they can brew potions to help in the future - you don't need magic for that. They were very grateful, but insisted I had to be punished for lying about what I really was - a wizard.”


James laughed. “What you really were! How many times has that phrase been used to reference you being a werewolf!”


Remus grinned too, and a chuckle escaped him. “Oh, that’s nothing, Prongs. I am probably the only bloke in the world who has been banished by werewolves for being a wizard.”


James laughed even louder at that. “You probably are,” he agreed. “Imagine that. Well, not a bad punishment, I’d say.”


Remus shrugged. “I think that was the point. They figured out in the end that I missed being home.”


James only tutted and ginned at Lily. “Really. And to think people are afraid of these monsters. The whole lot of them is a bunch of soft, cuddly puppies, in my opinion.”


“Fenrir is still a beast,” said Remus seriously.


“Always one bad apple in the bunch, Remus,” James said cheerfully.








III.

Sunday was a decent day. The Dementors, on Sunday, were not quite so active. There was a slight lift to the air - the sun barely peeked through the clouds, which were a much lighter colour than the usual gloomy, frightening dark grey. It was still cold, but then, it was still February.


The lack of Dementor presence had all of the Aurors on edge. Many in the Auror department were stationed across the country, keeping an eye out for sudden darkness over a town, another sign of a Dementor attack on Muggles.


But in London, Sunday was a decent day. Sirius woke up due to the rare light shining into his room, and as he sat up and squinted, he felt confused, for it had been so long since such a thing had happened.


The first thing he noted upon stumbling from his bedroom that morning was that Remus was still asleep, and was, in fact, snoring quite loudly. That was no surprise - Remus always slept harder, slept longer, in the week following a full moon.


Today was exactly a week since the full moon. He tried not to think about that, about the attack on the Ministry, about all the corpses, some of the injuries. Fortunately, most of the casualties were on the werewolves’ end. Or unfortunately, as Sirius sometimes thought. Remus was on the werewolf end, and though he sustained no injury and wasn’t even there, he was one of them, and he sympathised with the attackers despite his better judgement.


But mostly, he tried not to think about the Full Moon because that was the last time he’d seen anyone in the Order, save from his own best friends. He tried not to think about Alastor Moody, about seeing Regulus, the accusations. He tried not to think about how he’d simply walked out in anger.


And now he found himself with an entire Sunday, free to himself. Sirius sighed as he listlessly transformed stale bread into toast (he had never been one for grocery shopping). Another day to himself. He’d had days to himself all week, and, though he didn’t want to admit it, he was sourly beginning to regret the fact that he’d left.


There came the sound of pecking at the window glass. His owl, Archimedes, had returned from the night of hunting. Sirius opened the window for the bird, and Archimedes perched happily in the windowsill and preened his feathers. Sirius studied him absently as he munched on his burnt toast.


“Do you know what today is a good day for?” he asked the bird, who unsurprisingly had no answer. “Today is a good day for visiting James’s parents.”


Archimedes simply stared at him before twisting his head around to nip at his tail feathers, and Sirius stood and gave him the crust of the toast before turning to locate his cloak.


It was rather lonely in the flat. Even with Remus being back, it was hard to sit by every time his flatmate walked out the door for a meeting or a minor mission, or one of the many lessons in Defence that he had missed whilst living in the wild. Even with Remus being back, Sirius was still alone most of the time.


He was not surprised to find James in the Potter home when he arrived. If Remus was still asleep, after all, there was obviously no work for them today, or at least not yet.


“Hullo, Padfoot,” James greeted him, barely even looking up from the Daily Prophet.


And Sirius was struck, fleetingly, with the thought of how nice it was to be greeted and acknowledged. He could still remember a time living in Grimmauld Place, where he’d enter a room and nobody looked up. He would come in from outdoors and nobody said a word, nobody even turned his way, nobody ever met his eye. He had once snuck James in, which would have been forbidden, and it was so easy he could have laughed. Nobody ever once acknowledged him, when simply glancing his direction could have revealed a bloot traitor in their midst.


Sirius certainly didn't miss those days, and he shoved the memories from his mind as he pulled off his cloak.


“Hi,” he said, peering at the newspaper, though from where he stood it was impossible to make anything out. It was most likely about the still-missing Minister, anyway. He didn’t want to appear too interested, but James knew better.


James glanced up, eyeing Sirius over the frames of his glasses. “Have you had a change of heart yet?”


And Sirius’s face turned to stone. “No,” he said firmly.


James only sighed.


James’s mother walked into the room then, clearly having heard their voices from the kitchen. “Sirius,” she smiled warmly upon seeing him. “Have you come for a spot of tea?”


“That would be brilliant,” said Sirius earnestly.


And so she made tea and put out a plate of sandwiches. James and his father had some as well, and for the first time in days, Sirius was happy.


“Sirius, I hear you left the Order,” said Eve Potter, mild concern on her face. Clearly, her regard for his emotional well being outweighed that for his physical safety in the war, which Sirius thought quite odd yet at the same time, understandable. It really wouldn't matter if one made it safely through a battle only to be an empty shell afterwards.


She pressed on, “You had a disagreement with Alastor?”


Sirius shot James a look of annoyance, for he had obviously told his parents of the event, before turning to face his adoptive mother. “Alastor has never liked me,” he said simply. “He knows where I came from, and he won’t forget that.” To try to show that he didn’t care, that he’d moved on, he took a bite of a sandwich and then examined what was left of it half-heartedly, feigning interest as he chewed.


John Potter cleared his throat as he stirred his tea. Sirius glanced at the old man, who often remained silent. When James's father spoke, it was usually to say something important. “Alastor has been working too long and too hard.”


“That's no excuse. You worked far longer,” James pointed out on Sirius's behalf.


John surveyed his son thoughtfully. “But I had something to work for,” he said at last. “I had a family. And long before you came along, James, I still had the love of my life.” The old man ignored his wife’s bright smile. “Alastor has nobody. He fights Dark magic because of a bitterness inside of him. Because he hates it. He doesn’t fight to protect a family. He doesn’t even have real friends like you boys do. The coldness towards this war only grows within him with every fight.”


There was silence after that as the two younger men took in his words. John remained quiet as well, and he let them think about it. At last he said, “Most of us who fight, we act on emotions. We have something to fight for, something besides a simple anger and disgust towards the enemy.”


“That’s what Dumbledore said,” James interrupted. “Acting out of passion.”


“Yes, exactly,” agreed John. He turned and eyed Sirius through his spectacles. “Alastor can’t understand the way most of us fight. He can’t even begin to comprehend why some of us do what we feel we must. To him there is only black and white. He’s not a bad person, Sirius. We are all weak sometimes, in some areas.” John offered a smile. “He is still a hell of an Auror.”


“John!” gasped Eve, clearly affronted at the curse, even a mild one such as that. Sirius tried not to smile as he hung his head. The woman was the picture of innocence.


But other thoughts flooded his mind. He felt foolish for how he’d acted. He was thankful the Potters considered him a part of their family, that he had a father figure who would actually explain these things to him, to help him understand or see where he’d gone wrong.


He met James’s eye. James ginned smugly and tried to cover it by taking a large drink from his tea cup.








IV.

Lucy Englehardt folded her hands together nervously. Her flatmate, Lily, was sitting on the couch, holding a warm cup of coffee in her hands and staring thoughtfully out of a window. Lucy knew what Lily was thinking about. It was something she herself often thought about - Lily’s parents - but in her case, more in sympathy and disbelief that somebody she knew could come to such tragedy.


She took a deep breath and hurried to the couch, dropping onto it right beside the red head. Upon feeling the cushion sink with new weight, Lily looked over in surprise, as if noticing her flatmate for the first time. Lucy offered a sheepish smile.


“I’m sorry, Lucy,” Lily began. “I was off in my own world…”


“It’s all right,” said Lucy carefully. She paused and bit her lip, and she had to look at the floor, for she couldn’t bring herself to look at her best friend’s face. This was, after all, one of the most difficult things she had ever had to do.


She had no choice.


“Lily, I really need to talk to you about something.”


Lily sat forward and gave her full attention to Lucy. “Anything, Lucy, you can talk to me about anything. I’m sorry we haven’t had as much time for chats as we used to…”


Lucy interrupted her. “Lily… this is going to be really hard for me. I really don’t want to do this, and I really don’t want to ask this of you. I know you’re going through a hard time, it’s just… I… I really can’t afford the rent on this flat all by myself.”


Lily’s mouth fell open in sudden understanding. “Oh my god,” she said in dismay. “Oh, Lucy, I completely forgot!”


“I know,” Lucy nodded quickly. “I know you’ve had a lot on your plate lately. I paid it all for this month on my own because I know… I just… I can’t afford to pay it all next month.”


And this was yet another complication in the life of Lily Evans. Her parents paid her rent while she was supposed to be apprenticing at the Daily Prophet. Her parents supported her until she could support herself. And now they were gone.


She was aware of her breathing becoming slightly heavier, if only because of the silence in the room, as understanding came over her. She had no income. There was nothing now. She had survived the last couple of weeks purely on the kindness of others, and with everything else going on, she hadn’t even stopped to realise her financial situation.


She covered her face with her hand and glanced at Lucy.


“I don’t…” she started, but she didn’t even know what she could possibly say. “I don’t have any way to pay rent,” she said, feeling light headed. It was an observation, but a moment later she turned to Lucy and repeated herself, reluctantly, as a confession.


Lucy nodded in understanding. “Well, maybe we can find another flatmate,” she suggested. “It would make the amount you have to pay every month even less when it’s split three ways instead of two.”


Lily’s fingers still covered her mouth, and now her eyes watered as she shook her head. “It wouldn’t… I wouldn’t be able to pay… All my money, everything, came from my parents.”


“Everything?” asked Lucy. “You aren’t… aren’t getting paid for whatever you’ve been doing lately?”


She could only shake her head.


This time, Lucy’s eyes began to water. “Oh, Lily. I don’t know what to do! I can’t kick you out! You’re my best friend! I just can’t afford this by myself! And anyway, I don’t think I could live with anyone else! You know I hated everyone in my dorm at Hogwarts!”


“I’m so sorry, Lucy,” Lily whispered, feeling suddenly too weak to even speak. She was homeless. She was a homeless orphan with no job and no money. And her only family hated her.


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