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Chapter 14 : Chapter 14
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It took her a moment to understand where she was, her breathing was ragged and she could feel a film of cold sweat over her body.
She had been dreaming about the attack, only it was different, some how more frightening, more exaggerated in her memory, Bellatrix’s high shrieking laughter more chilling, Sirius’s screams more fearful…
She felt uncomfortably hot, despite the sweat and decided to get up and get some fresh air, hopefully clear her head.
Sitting up she saw the dark outline of another person standing by the window, outlined by the moonlight. She moved across the room gracefully to see who it was.
“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked quietly without turning around.
“No,” she admitted. “You?”
James craned his head to look down at her, a weary smile quirking on his lips, his glasses reflecting the dim light.
“Poppy is a little bit enthusiastic when it comes to warming charms, I had to get up before I started baking.”
Lily allowed herself to laugh quietly and then she proceeded to fix him with an intense stare that only Lily Evans could muster, “How’d you know it was me?” she inquired.
His smile broadened, “I pay attention,” he replied simply then added, “You, Sirius and Remus are the only ones in here who would sneak up on me at night and the those two are still knocked out…I used my powers of deductive theory to figure it out.”
James had wrapped a blanket around his bare shoulders, wearing only red tartan flannel pyjama bottoms and a pair of think black socks, but as he turned his body to her she could see through the loose folds of the blanket, could see the angry scar that marred his torso, it gleamed whiter than his already pale skin; Madam Pomfrey had dine a fine job healing them, but she said that a powerful curse must have zipped by him.
“Does it hurt?”
“Nah, itches a bit,” he replied dismissively, “Had worse and Poppy knows it…what about you?”
“I’m fine, not even a scratch…I didn’t really do much fighting anyway.”
“Peter says you saved my life, says you jumped in and stopped one of those masked gits turning his wand on me, so I guess I owe you my thanks, you know, and my life…so thanks for my life.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” she said softly, though smiling at his unusual thanks, “You, Sirius and Remus saved all our lives today, I’d say that makes us even.”
“If you say so,” he shrugged.
She wanted to push it further, to assure him that he had done good, wonderful things, but the ridiculousness of the situation hit her: she was going out of her way to praise James Potter, so surrendering to his stubbornness she changed topics, “Is Sirius going to be alright?”
James sighed, “Yeah, he’s…he’s pretty strong you know? Bella’s done a lot of shitty things to him, I’m not even sure this clarifies as the worst,” he reflected grimly.
Lily wondered what could possibly be worse than the Crutiatus Curse but decided it wasn’t not her place to ask.
“What about Remus?”
“He’ll be fine, he’s seen a lot worse and Madam Pomfrey always tends to overreact with him, baby’s him a bit much.”
The slight referral to Remus’s lycanthropy was a test, as much as he was proud of her reaction, he had to test her, acceptance was all very well and good, but yesterday seemed so far away.
“How long have you known?” she asked, her voice filled with concern and he allowed a furtive smile.
“2nd year. You can’t share a dorm with someone for a year and not wonder where he disappears to monthly. Sirius and I got curious and nearly got killed because of it. He came clean with us the next morning, though his confession was a tad redundant by that time…anyway, he was terrified we would abandon him or rat him out or something, but he’s Remus, you know? Just Moony. You can’t be afraid of him, not for something he can’t control, 30 days of the month he’s a better man than I am.”
Lily nodded, she still couldn’t quite believe that Remus Lupin was a werewolf, and now that she’d had time to think on it, she was extremely angry at every single one of her text books that made mention of werewolves as monsters, dark creatures that should be exterminated…perhaps she would be sending off a few irate letters to certain publishers.
“Who else knows?” she inquired tentatively.
“The teachers, of course, but other than that just me, Peter and Sirius. You now. Oh, and Snape,” he added angrily.
“Snape?” Lily repeated, puzzled, “Hang on, was that why Sirius got so worked up when Snape insulted Remus today? Yesterday, I mean,”
“I thought it was just because his mum’s a muggleborn!” she said, forcing her voice down to a whisper “How on earth did he find out?”
James smiled bitterly, “Through a serious mistake in judgement.”
Lily frowned, her brow wrinkled in confusion as she tried to figure out what James was implying. “Serious? Sirius!” she exclaimed, “Sirius told him?” she hissed, glancing over at the raven haired boy’s peaceful slumber (induced of course). “That’s what the fight was about last year, wasn’t it?” She realised as the words came flooding back to her.
“Pretty perceptive aren’t you? Yeah, it was. Sirius told him how to get past the Whomping Willow…into the Shrieking Shack, which is where Remus goes to…transform,”
She puzzled at that revelation, “It’s not haunted?”
“No, the screaming…that’s Remus, it’s kind of painful to transform and the wolf is by himself, no humans, no prey, so he’s cuts himself to ribbons.”
“The scars…” Lily whispered, horrified.
“The scars are from himself,” James confirmed.
“Oh my God.” She couldn’t bear to think of anyone in that much pain; she had heard the screaming from the Shrieking Shack once herself, back in her 3rd year. It had terrified her, she couldn’t imagine the kind of pain that must be behind that kind of inhuman sound.
“Yeah,” James agreed, sighing and staring out the window.
“Remus forgave him?” she pressed on, incredulously.
James shrugged, “It’s not in his nature to hold a grudge. We’re family and we fight like it too. Sirius made a mistake. A big one. He’s an idiot and no-one’s denying that, but there are some things that aren’t worth it.”
“I would have…”
“Killed him?” James interjected, “I damn well nearly did.” He turned to look at Sirius’ sleeping form. He looked so peaceful; his handsome features making him look innocent and angelic. “He’s a good person, he just cocked up big time.”
James had carefully left out the bit where Snape and himself had nearly been killed; he decided that she didn’t need to know that yet, though he wasn’t sure why.
Lily shivered visibly and he realised that she must be freezing.
“You’d better hop back into bed, it’s chilly in here.”
“Budge over and I can share you blanket. I’m not tired, extremely awake actually.”
James felt the bottom of his stomach drop out at the thought of being in such close proximity to her, but he shifted nervously to make room.
“Oh come on, you faced 6 Death Eaters today and you’re afraid of me?” she chuckled, feeling him tense beside her, “I’m not that hideous am I?”
“Er, yes, you’re a troll,” he quipped sarcastically, hoping his voice sounded remotely normal.
She elbowed him playfully and he snorted softly.
He had almost stopped breathing: she was so close, her could smell her, feel her hair tickling his bare chest, feel her pressing close to him to get warm, could feel her breathing and the soft cotton of her pyjamas.
She was suddenly very aware of how intimate their position was, she couldn’t really recall ever being this close to James Potter without trying to break one his fingers, but after watching him fight today she couldn’t help but feel safe in his presence and still shaky from her dream, from the events of the previous day. A little safety was highly appreciated. James radiated that kind of strength and power that made women want to be damsels, she realised, and right now she was feeling pretty content.
Except for the fact that she was starving.
“Is that your stomach?” James inquired bemusedly.
“You can hear that?” she whispered, embarrassed. “Oh God,” she groaned, “Well, I didn’t eat anything before because I wasn’t sure if I could it down, but now I’m starving and somehow don’t think sweets are going to be terribly satisfying.” Another rumble from her stomach escaped.
A grin lit up James’ face and he beamed down at her, “How does a midnight feast sound?”
“Well, wonderful but there’s no point…”
He quickly untangled himself from the blanket and knelt down o rifle through the rucksack that Peter had brought him.
“Yes!” He exclaimed triumphantly as he pulled out his Invisibility Cloak that had been buried at the very bottom of the bag.
“Wha…” Lily began but James cut her off instantaneously.
“Pull on some socks and a dressing gown,” he ordered.
She stared at his inquisitively but did as he said. She turned and watched him pull on his own shirt, noting for the first time that when she had seen the scar he had actually been bare-chested.
She felt herself blush as she fully appreciated what years of Quidditch had done for his body.
He strode over to her, practically vibrating with playful energy. “What are we doing?” she asked him.
“Getting you some food,” he told her. She saw the silvery material clasped in his hand and was about to ask what it was when he swept around their bodies, forcing them closer together.
“You’ll have to stick close so it’ll cover both of us.”
“What are we doing?” She repeated demandingly.
“This is an Invisibility Cloak,” James explained, “The secret…or one of them…to our success. Ready?”
“James!” she admonished, laughing. “We can’t! We’ll get caught.”
“Do I need to explain the concept of ‘invisibility’? Come on, you’re hungry and I could do with a bit of exercise. I hate being cooped up here.”
He was grinning at her in such a fashion that she could swear that mischief was contagious and after yesterday’s eventfulness she was feeling just a tad rebellious.
“Oh, all right!”
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