Chapter 1: Prologue
She felt like a stranger, a ghost in the graveyard. Everything felt vague in the foggy twilight. She held her hand in front of her face and couldn’t see a thing. She lowered her head to the gravestones. She was looking for someone. She had seemingly searched the entire graveyard, and hadn’t found his name. It’s like he’s still avoiding me. She sighed at her regrets.
As she walked in the growing dusk, a pair of familiar names caught her eye. The marker was subtle, with the two names listed one after another. It reminded her of the way lists of casualties from the war were listed. The words would look so insignificant on the page, but they meant a lot to somebody. Seeing a name on a list destroyed the ones they had held close.
She drew her eyes to the flowers, perfectly preserved, lying on the grave. They looked like roses from the garden at Hogwarts. She watched as a perfect, vividly red petal dropped from a flower and settled on the edge of the stone. Perfect in their imperfections, a still life of love and loss.
The thought of Hogwarts drew her into the memories of another time. The war was acknowledged, but them, the so called rebels, her and Lily and James and all their friends, resisted the pull towards darkness. They kept each others’ spirits up. They had fun.
The passing of time, the harsh realities of the real world didn’t exist at Hogwarts. Life at Hogwarts existed in the mundanities of routine of classes, the bright sunlit days by the lake, the breathtaking adventures that sometimes broke the rules. They weren’t afraid to break the rules back then. Life was bursting to the brim with color, like a toddler coloring with crayons outside the lines of the picture.
She continued to stare at the grave. Although it was a relic of the past, it looked brand new, increasing its seemingly timeless nature.
She wanted to live in the happy memories of Hogwarts, and forgot the tragedy of after. The nostalgia hit her so profoundly, she felt a prick of a needle in her chest, an ache she couldn’t reach. It was a sadness, however, that she welcomed. It released all the emotions in her closed up heart in cloud of sights and sense.
Losing herself in the memories, she felt like she was becoming one with the fog, swirling into its vague colors and dreams. She felt the texture of freshly mowed grass and corduroy jeans, the taste of butterscotch and coffee. The chiming of piano keys in a melodious pattern was not only simply heard, but was recreated with such tenacious strength of her memories that tears fell with a vengeance from her eyes. She was so lost in her senses that it felt like her body no longer existed.
It was how one survived the hopelessness. Becoming lost, to the past or to the future, to regain meaning, to simply feel again, in whatever tragedy the present presented.
Chapter 2: Strawberries and Stags
“I thought arrogance was permanent, like a terminal illness. Your head would expand so much that it would eventually explode, killing all in its path.”
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Harry Potter or anything else you recognize. The quote in parentheses in the second paragraph is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pg. 649
The sky was the perfect shade of blue, with not a cloud in sight. The leaves of the beech tree above her were glowing with the late afternoon sun. The rays of sunshine permeating the leaves left her face dappled with light. The light was perfectly subtle, however, and made her glow in its golden light. Lily was enjoying the perfect spring afternoon underneath the beech tree. The golden light of the sun made the moment so surreal that she felt lost in time, not really here in this one moment.
The scent of green, neatly trimmed grass, the woodiness of the bark on the tree, kept her both routed in the present and dreaming of the past. She recalled what had happened under this beech tree a mere year ago. In this moment, it felt like yesterday. It was a turning point for her, in her relationships with Snivellus and with James Potter. One, she no longer talked to. One, well, was starting to confuse her. She had garnered the attention of several in her public shouting match with James Potter. She had felt more angry with him than ever in that moment, but she had to admit that telling him off was nice, especially with that roast about his ‘fat head’ (“I’m surprised your broomstick can get off the ground with that fat head on it.”) It was pretty darn clever if she did say so herself, and the delivery had been immensely satisfying. Since airing her grievances with James, their interactions had changed. How she felt about him now, she was starting to question. Recently, there was a different kind of tension between them. While for the longest time she had tried to avoid him, they seemed to be crossing paths more often. He enjoyed setting her off, it seemed, on the rare opportunities they crossed paths. She had to admit however, arguing with him seemed to get more fun the more they did it.
Lily was pulled from her thoughts by the chattering of her friend Lucy. Lucy was lying perpendicularly to Lily, their heads close so her dark red locks and Lucy’s chestnut curls intertwined and tangled.
“You know what we should do?” Lucy asked Lily.
Lily liked these afternoons where she could become absorbed in mindless chatter about nothing of importance with her friends. One mindless ramble chased another like a drop of water chasing another, the two melting into one on a rainy day windowpane.
Lily was only half paying attention. Her mind was on other things, “What’s that?”
“We need to find a way to play muggle movies at Hogwarts. Then muggle culture would really take root within the rebellion, that would piss off those fucking pureblood pricks and–”
Movement caught in the corner of her eye and pulled Lily away from the conversation at hand. James Potter was approaching his fellow Marauders Sirius and Remus, who were sitting with their feet in the lake. He was dressed in jeans and a denim jacket, his hair messier than ever. He was truly the ideal of ridiculousness. His hazel eyes twinkled behind his glasses, probably in remembrance of an ill-minded joke.
However, she had to admit, his general twat-like nature had changed. He no longer targeted people and hexed them in the halls, used his stature at this school to get away with anything he wanted. Mean jokes were said in a friendly nature, more a sign of closeness than dislike. He was all fun and games and good humor. Not to mention, he had stopped constantly asking her out. That didn’t mean he annoyed her any less, though.
“Sirius, where have you been? I just had the greatest idea for a prank. Minerva’s sure to get a good laugh.”
Remus interjected: “Don’t you think were getting a little old for this stuff?”
There was a silent pause. Simultaneously, all three burst out laughing. People would constantly roll their eyes at the group, making fun of the title ‘Marauders’ and say how childish their antics were. The Marauders took it in strides however, and turned the criticism into their own inside jokes.
James through his head back and actually giggled. His laugh was actually a fucking giggle. Lily rolled her eyes but was smiling on the inside, cause it was maybe a little bit cute. He suddenly seemed to notice Lily and Lucy underneath the tree, “Hey Evans, McGregor”
“Hey Potter,” Lily barked back, feeling tentative but making sure to appear fierce. She wouldn’t let herself blush or feel shy in front of him.
“See you guys around,” James said brightly as the three of them headed toward the forest, probably to work out the kinks of James’ latest prank idea.
“That’s it, huh? What happened to the usual arrogant, loud, James Potter?” Lily said without thinking before she could stop herself.
“He’s only on vacation, but he’ll be back anytime you want, sweetheart,” James said, smugness apparent in his smirk.
Oh, it was on. His condescending wit burned a fire in her heart. Her fingertips tingled as the fire moved from her heart and was pumped through her veins. She stood up from her spot beneath the tree, shattering the perfect moment from before.
“I thought arrogance was permanent, like a terminal illness. Your head would expand so much that it would eventually explode.”
“Not as permanent as your underperformance, I’m afraid. School, friends, a social life. My so called arrogance grants me some perks in that department.”
“You only say that because my underperformance is your over-performance. You know, most agree that those most confident are actually the most incompetent.”
“Me, incompetent? I think that’s more ridiculous than the Marauder’s continued interest in pranks, Evans,”
She couldn’t help but laugh at his touch of self deprecating humor. James smiled smugly because she was the first to crack. His special type of charisma couldn’t help but make her laugh.
“Until we meet again, Evans,”
Lily let out a sigh as she watched them walk away. Infuriating James Potter! She couldn’t avoid his stupid games. To top it all off, he seemed to get hotter every day! She could never seem to catch a break.
Lucy could clearly see that she was upset. “What’s wrong Lily? Did that conversation not sate your need for Potter’s attention?" She laughed as Lily turned her head to glare at her.
“I don’t like James Potter and I certainly don’t need his attention to feel good about myself.”
“Hmm, well, the blush creeping up your face is telling a different story. We must discuss this Lily! Has the crazy haired arrogant prat finally won your heart? You’ve only been blushing at him every single time he was actually a decent human being to you, for, well, the entire year. And that hardly compares to the look you get in your eyes when you two go off like that. Definitely no-one saw this coming!”
“Oh, shut up, you presumptuous twat!”
Lucy just continued to laugh. “Come on love, lets go up to my dorm room.”
Lily and Lucy never missed a chance to raid each other’s wardrobe and share secrets away from watchful eyes in one another’s dorm room. Lily followed Lucy back up towards the castle.
On their way up the second floor staircase, Lily and Lucy ran into their Hufflepuff friends Amelia and Danielle.
Lucy called out to them, “Hey, were having a girl’s night, come join us!”
The four friends made their way up to the Ravenclaw common room, talking quietly but failing to reign in the occasional giggle. When the four got together, the atmosphere bursted with life. They finally made it to Ravenclaw tower and stopped in front of the Eagle knocker.
“What country’s capital has the fastest growing population?”
Lucy didn’t miss a beat. “Ireland. Every day its Dublin.”
The door opened and the four walked into the common room. Bohemian Rhapsody was playing on the record player, setting the usual Ravenclaw mood: angst and too much going on at once. Two students were having an intense debate about the muggle movie Star Wars. Another student was frantically searching one of the bookshelves that surrounded the entirety of the circular common room. There were two students playing chess on a circular coffee table, in intense concentration. Lily glanced up to the ceiling. It was her favorite part of the Ravenclaw common room. It rose high above their heads in a dome with interesting bronze designs splattered against the sky blue background.
As Lucy walked by her fellow Ravenclaws, they all stopped to look at her. She was the type of person that commanded respect. Her curly, chestnut hair fell just above her shoulders. She had grayish blue eyes that were inquisitive yet sharp. Making eye contact with her made it feel like she was peering into your soul and judging you for your darkest secrets. She would sass anyone who confronted her about anything. Lily had the feeling that most of the younger kids, and maybe even some of the older kids, feared her just a little bit. It didn’t help that Lucy was so talented at everything. She had a particular gift for playing music. She could play fantastic jazz solos on the saxophone. Instruments could be charmed to play music very well, but Lucy preferred to play herself, the muggle way. Lucy was interested in many muggle things, although she came from a wizarding family. Their muggle interests was one of the things that made Lily and Lucy such great friends in the first place.
The girls quickly made their way up to Lucy’s dorm room and away from the prying eyes of other students. They should be used to seeing the two Hufflepuffs and Gryffindor in their common room by now, but they always stared curiously.
Lucy’s dorm room was shared by 4 other Ravenclaws, and was a weird combination of organized and messy. Clothes were lying all over the place but the piles seemed orderly.
The girls formed themselves into a disorderly circle on the ground, sitting cross legged and leaning against various beds.
Lucy turned to them all with a serious expression, quieting the lot of them. Then, she put on her best devilish smile and said, “I have an announcement to make.”
They all rolled her eyes at that deadpan. Lucy liked to use that expression to get everyone’s attention before delivering a roast or say something mean.
“Lily definitely likes James. She like likes him. I’ve had this theory for months, but their interaction by the lake just confirmed it.
Before Lily had a chance to deny the accusations, Danielle cut in, “Oohh, were they having some flirty banter? Did Lily get the look in her eyes? You’d have to be blind to not notice their sexual tension. Wait, scratch that, you’d have to be fucking deaf as well because Lily’s voice is just swoon-worthy.
“Ohh James, don’t insult me again or else,” Amelia mimicked in a high pitched, ‘sexy’ voice, “It'll make me so hot that I might just take my clothes off!”
That’s pure blasphemy, I tell you. That’s wildly out of character," Lily said smoothly, "We all know its Danielle stripping for half the male population at Hogwarts”
Just as Lily expected, Danielle lunged for Lily and vehemently denied the accusation. Lily knew she really didn’t mind though. Danielle was confident about herself and just went for she wanted.
“Oh, Lils, I have the perfect outfit for your first date, Let me find it real quick,” Lucy started digging through her pile of clothes on the ground. She retrieved a very skimpy bra and undies set and held it over her clothes.
"What do you all think?" Lucy deadpanned. The rest of the girls laughed. Oh, how very mature of them, really. The group of friends was practically as ridiculous as the Marauders.
All Lily could do to the performance was roll her eyes, “Okay, that’s enough. I don’t like James Potter; I despise him. She started going through Lucy’s clothes. Lucy was very into muggle fashion and had tons of quirky outfits. Rainbow knit jumpers, frilly lace crop tops, corduroy bell bottoms in every color you could imagine, and knee high socks with crazy designs. All the girls would meet in her room when one of them had a particular romantic interest so the rest of the girls could tease them and give them advice.
Danielle was the crazy one who went on a date with a different guy every other week. She was really quite pretty, with blue eyes and long blond hair. She was not afraid to openly flirt with the cutest guys at Hogwarts, which Lily admired and slightly envied. She was kind of a goofball and loved to laugh, and was friends with half the student population. Even the teachers couldn’t help but love her, even though she wasn’t the best student and turned in half of her assignments late. Despite Lily’s confidence in the classroom, she could be a mess around guys when she was interested in them. Especially when it seemed possible they might like her back.
Amelia, on the other hand, was the quirky one and didn’t care one bit what others thought of her. Her dark skin and crazy afro made her stand out in the first place, but she coupled this by wearing lots of little rainbow bracelets and knee high socks with cats on them. She also liked to sing a lot of the things she said and would hum all the time. It was common knowledge that she owned about six cats that roamed the castle most of the time and lived in her dorm room. However, she was a Hufflepuff Chaser was one of the best quidditch players in the whole school, and had a very kind disposition that every one loved her for. At this point, everyone just accepted her quirks and didn’t bat an eye when she sang Mama Mia at the top of her lungs on the way to class.
Together, the four of them made one crazy friend group. Most people at Hogwarts didn’t socialize too much outside of their house. Lily loved the people in her house, they felt like family, but the system made people stick to their cliques. She was glad she had made the friends she had.
Lucy had been going through her clothes looking for crazy outfits for Lily. She had already pulled out a jean skirt with a rainbow crop top, a yellow sweater with purple corduroy pants, and a pair of denim overalls.
Lily laughed, “You think I should wear overalls on a date?”
“Hey” Lucy said defensively, “You would look hot in those overalls! I bet James loves a girl who could pull off overalls! Dirty farm girls are the trend in England right now”
Lily snorted,”James doesn’t even like me regardless, and I would never stoop so low as to try and impress the likes of him.”
Danielle laughed, “Girl, you are crazy. That boy makes puppy dog eyes at you and you don’t even notice.”
Lily quickly changed the topic of conversation, “I do like this yellow sweater. Can I borrow it?”
“Only if you ask out James Potter and admit your undying love for him,” Lucy shot back.
“I hate that prat! You guys know that I have hated his guts for the past six years. Why should that have changed?”
“You just can’t admit you have feelings for him,” Amelia said, “But, its become pretty obvious to the rest of us. Something has changed in the way you look at him, the way your face lights up when he is mentioned in passing, although you try very hard to hide it. You can’t hide these things from us Lily.”
Lily groaned, “I swear I do not like him! He infuriates me!”
“Yeah, he infuriates you because he’s beautiful and funny and you like him so much,” Danielle snorted.
“Okay, I’m going to pretend to be James,” Lucy said, “Hey, Lily, you're beautiful and I have been in love with you since first year. Will you go out with me?”
Even imagining this happening in real life with the real James made Lily blush. Her friends burst out laughing.
“Okay guys, I get it, you think I like James. Well, I don’t, so end of discussion!”
Amelia laughed, “Classic stubborn Lily, refusing to see something so obvious.”
Lily scrambled to change the subject once again. “I hear some seventh year Gryffindors are planning a roller rink party in the room of requirement for the sixth and seventh years. Are you guys in?”
For the rest of the evening, Lily and her friends talked about this and that, and chose the most ridiculous outfits for the upcoming party. Lucy ended up letting Lily borrow the purple corduroys and the yellow sweater, in the hopes that she would be inspired to admit her feelings for James. Amelia tried on a crop top over a rainbow jumper with yellow bell bottoms and strut about the room like she was a model, which made everyone laugh. They also discussed plans for magically setting up a projector for muggle films in a spare room in the castle, where people from all houses could use it. It would have to be hidden easily to escape the notice of professors, however. Lily and Lucy were skilled at charms and pretty clever, so they reckoned they could figure it out. When Lily returned to her common room that night, she couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. These types of nights made her so happy to have her friends.
The next day, Lily was spending a lazy afternoon in the Gryffindor common room with her fellow Gryffindors. She had just made herself a cup of chai tea and was conversing with her roommate Natalie when all four Marauders walked through the portrait hole.
James quickly walked up to Lily, “Hey Evans, can I ask you a question?”
Lily could already feel the red creeping up her neck as she tried to keep a straight face, “What’s that, Potter?”
James smiled, “What’s your favorite type of biscuit, rich tea or shortbread? I just nicked some from the kitchens.”
Lily let out her breath slowly. Was he being…nice? That’s a plot twist that quite frankly left her feeling dizzy. “I love rich tea, thanks James.”
James let out a mock gasp, “Evans, did you just call me by my first name. I’m not sure thats ever happened in the history of the universe! Are you feeling all right?”
Lily inwardly cursed herself for being so stupid. Now she was really acting suspicious. Her friends' comments were starting to get to her. Her eyes travelled again to James. He had sat across from her on a couch with the rest of his fellow Marauders. He was talking quite animatedly to Sirius about something. The ways his eyes lit up when he talked like that pulled at her heartstrings whether she wanted it to or not. The fact that he was now acting normal to her probably meant his feelings were gone. Now that she maybe had feelings for him meant that she could barely form a coherent thought around him. If he could act so normal and kind to her, he probably was just beginning to think of her as a friendly acquaintance.
Lily finally couldn’t take it anymore and went back to her dorm room. She jumped onto her bed and let out a sigh. James’ messy hair and enigmatic eyes continued to plague her thoughts, like an itch she couldn’t scratch. A lot of the Gryffindors had just been hanging out in the common room, but she couldn’t stop her eyes from flickering to James every five seconds, and the agony of trying to stop herself had become too much. So, she just left them to their own devices and came here to clear her thoughts. Wow, could her friends get in her head sometimes. She needed some alone time to shake it off. However, sitting alone in her dorm room doing nothing wasn’t really going to solve her problems. She grabbed a couple things and quietly left her dorm, sneaking through the common room to avoid attention. She was going on an adventure.
Lily quietly snuck towards the forest, with leaves snapping underfoot. She liked to hang out in the forest for alone time, usually with a good muggle book. Today, it was The Fellowship of the Ring. No one really understood her obsession with muggle books, and the forest was the only quiet place away from prying eyes. Sure, there were dangerous things in the forest, and it was forbidden, but Lily wasn’t scared. She never tried to harm any creatures, and they didn’t try to harm her.
Lily looked over her shoulder. There was hardly anyone out on the grounds today, as stormy clouds threatened rain overhead. She darted onto the path that led into the trees. She hurried along in the beginning, where the trees were still sparse, so her yellow jumper moving through the trees couldn’t catch the eye of anyone who did decided to take a stroll on the grounds. The enticing scent of pine entered her nostrils as the forest welcomed her. A smile pulled at the corner of her mouth. She continued along the path, looking for her favorite spot. Places were always moving around in the forest, but there was one spot that she could always find. There was a tree with perfect branches for climbing and sitting on, and a patch of sunlight always fell on the tree. It was safe and protected and felt like home. It felt like a secret between her and the forest.
Lily kept walking deeper and deeper into the forest, looking for that patch of sunlight to catch the corner of her eye. After walking quite far in, she finally felt the pull of that spot. She placed her feet carefully off the path, and felt the crunch of leaves underfoot. Lily placed a hand on the nearest pine tree, savoring the scent of its needles. Her favorite oak tree was right ahead.
Lily ran to the tree and immediately jumped to grab a branch over her head, and pulled herself to a sitting position. She used accio to summon her book that she had set at the base of the tree. It felt nice to sit in the tree and just read a book for fun after a long week of school.
Suddenly, movement caught the corner of Lily’s eye. She had never been disturbed in this spot before, and her heart started racing with fear. Maybe her little bouts of rule breaking were finally catching up to her. She slowly moved and swiveled her head to get a full view of her surroundings. Standing at the periphery of her vision and walking towards her was the most beautiful stag she had ever seen. He walked toward her with a purpose, his intelligent hazel eyes tracking her movements. He stopped a little ways away from the tree, as if to give her space. He stopped watching her, and slowly circled the tree, as if to protect her from intruders. Lily couldn’t help but feel drawn to the stag. His coat was the softest brown, and his antlers rose magnificently above his head.
Lily kept reading her book, and the stag continued to be her protector, stopping occasionally in his circle to gaze up at her. Eventually, she decided to hop down and try to approach him. It seemed clear to her at this point that he was no ordinary deer. Once Lily was within about 5 feet of the stag, he made eye contact with her and went off in the direction of the tree. It felt like he was beckoning Lily to follow him. Once the stag was at the base of the tree, he touched a particular root with his hoof. The root glowed briefly, and then a hole started to open at the base of the tree. It appeared as if an underground tunnel was opening. The stag gave her a second look, as if he was saying follow me, and he disappeared into the tunnel. Lily was aware that this was particularly dangerous, with evil run rampant and in the forbidden forest of all places, but her gut was telling her that she could trust this stag. Something about his gaze felt loving, and....familiar. She got onto her hands and knees and disappeared into the tunnel.
The tunnel was incredibly dark, yet Lily felt no fear. The stag was her guardian. She was only crawling for about 5 minutes when the tunnel suddenly slanted upward and came to the surface again. As Lily pulled herself out of the tunnel, she let out a gasp.
Lily was standing in a part of the forest she had never seen before. Laid before her in rows were strawberry plants, with the most delicious looking perfect berries ripe for the picking. The fields seemingly went on for miles, which simply didn’t seem possible as she had been in a dense forest minutes before. The place was teeming with magic. The fresh scent of the strawberries made her giddy with happiness.
In the common room at Hogwarts, she would often play the Beatles on their common room record player, especially the song Strawberry Fields Forever. It was like the stag knew her, and knew what would make her happy.
Lily looked back at the stag. He was standing behind her. He pushed his nose towards the fields, as if saying go on, enjoy the magic. She sighed with happiness at the idyllic magic strawberry fields. She started running between the rows, laughing at the ridiculousness, yet magical simplicity of this place. The magical world surprised her everyday. Why use magic for horrible things when it can be used to make strawberry fields in the middle of a forest? She plucked a strawberry from a vine and popped it into her mouth. It was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. She took a mental snapshot of this moment, because she never wanted to forgot the simple happiness only ridiculous, out of the blue idylls like this could bring.
A/N: I am a first time author and would love some feedback. Liked it/Hated it/What I can improve on/etc. Thanks loves!
Chapter 3: Pumpkin Pie and Peek-A-Boo
"The way that Sirius smiled at Remus served to completely destroy his former image of rebellion."
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Harry Potter or anything else you recognize
The last few drops of frost had finally melted off the trees, and the scent of pine permeated through their surroundings. Spring was Remus’ favorite time of year, and he couldn’t help but smile.
He looked over to where Sirius was standing. He loved his ‘bad boy’ persona, and he sure looked the part at the moment. He was wearing a leather jacket and taking a drag from cigarette. Sirius was the type of person who liked his routine, and early morning cigarettes were essential to it. Cigarettes and black coffee. While it was mostly to fuel his bad boy aesthetic, Remus had to admire his dedication to it. He also had to admit is was positively swoon-worthy. Sirius turned to Remus as he blew out the smoke.
Remus and Sirius had lingered behind in the forbidden forest as James ran, probably to try and catch up to Lily. James had just interrupted their conversation by the lake and led him and Sirius into the forest with the sole purpose of getting Lily’s attention. Walking by without provoking her had been a brilliant way to get her to pick a fight, it seemed. However, Remus had to give James some credit amidst his crazy antics: he wasn’t being such an arsehole to her anymore, at the very least.
James was finally out of sight. Remus saw Sirius glance over his shoulder, sidle up close to Remus, then slowly grab Remus’ hand in his own. The way that Sirius smiled at Remus served to completely destroy his former image of rebellion. The touch, however slight, from Sirius still sent goosebumps down Remus’ spine.
“We should probably go after James up to the common room, wouldn’t want him to suspect anything,” Sirius muttered.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Remus sighed and didn’t push the subject further, a source of strife between the two. “But can we just stay and like…walk for a minute.”
Their entwined hands swung up and down as they walked slightly deeper into the forest. They walked in silence, mostly. Remus enjoyed these silent moments, with their own unique sense of intimacy. It made him feel aged, like he and Sirius were an old couple who just enjoyed the simple company of each other.
Besides the simple, quiet moments, Remus liked to make the two of them laugh. He especially liked it when he was able to make a fool out of Sirius.
He stopped walking, effectively keeping Sirius in place as well. Remus felt his mouth twitch, the ghost of a smile, as he bent down and picked up a very fetch-able stick from the ground.
Sirius groaned. “Why do you enjoy my suffering?” He demanded.
“Oh, you can’t deny me anything. Just do it for me Sirius.” Remus promptly threw the stick. “Go fetch, boy!”
In an instant, Sirius had transformed into a big, black dog, and he was running after the stick. Remus devolved into laugher: pure, easy laughter. For whatever reason, Remus found Sirius’ dog form so charming. He liked knowing that by simply asking Sirius, he could be in the company of a comforting, loyal dog. Sirius was there as a dog through Remus’ darkest moments, when he was a wolf and he had lost himself. It reminded him of how much Sirius truly cared about him.
Sirius finally returned with the stick. He set it down at Remus’ feet and turned back into a human. After seeing Remus’ laughing form, he couldn’t help but break his grumpy facade and crack a smile.
“We’re really holding up the Marauder’s reputation huh? As absolutely ridiculous nutters,” Sirius said.
Remus laughed even harder. The laughter swelled in him like a balloon, made light and free by helium.
“Come on,” Sirius said, grabbing Remus’ hand again. “Let’s go back to the castle.”
Upon entering the portrait hole, they were greeted with an all too Gryffindor atmosphere. Card games were being played with rambunctious fervor. Conversations that started out light, the participants seated cozily by the fire, turned into full out debates, with fist fights and wands drawn. It was noisy, shouts and witty remarks overlapping like a pair of entwined hands, a perfect embrace that was home.
Remus scanned the room for their friends. He quickly caught Peter playing chess with Natalie, one of Lily’s room-mates. Their constipated expressions and tense frames showed the seriousness in which the game was played. Remus continued to look for James, but he was curiously absent. If one wanted to find James, they only had to come to the Gryffindor common room to see him engaged in either a serious or ridiculous debate with anyone from the house.
Therefore, he and Sirius made their way up to their dorm. As he and Sirius made their way up rickety spiral stairs and entered their dorm room, they saw James laying on his bed staring at the ceiling. As soon as James saw them, however, he propped himself up on his elbows, meeting Remus’ gaze with an unusually serious expression.
“Did you catch my conversation with Lily by the lake? Did anything seem...different to you?” he asked…tentatively. Remus blinked: he had thought that James’ interest in Lily had to do with his ego, but that uncertainty so foreign to him, that peculiar lilt to his voice, illuminated a new side to the story. James did really care for Lily, more then he would ever tell any of them out loud.
The Marauders had been through thick and thin, and were always willing to make sacrifices to help others out. Remus had watched all of them grow up. James had never been one to show his feelings, hiding behind his boasts and roasts. By virtue of his own circumstances, Remus had learned to read people relatively well, but James had been a tough nut to crack. He exuded confidence, appeared self-assured in every way possible, but Remus had learned to tell when these attributes became a facade, a safety belt saving him from the abyss.
Remus raised his eyebrow at James’ previous query. James’ and Lily’s banter by the lake wasn’t seemingly out of the ordinary, but the way that Lily so clearly wanted his attention was a little unusual. Clearly, though, something was bothering James. The silence was taut, a bubble ready to burst.
“I’m anxious, I’m really anxious,” James said in a rush. “I feel a…connection to her, but I really have probably just screwed everything up, I mean the only way I can talk to her is with smug comments and rude jokes, and she has just hated me for years.” At this admission, James started to bite his nails and gave them a helpless look.
“Mate, you too don’t interact in the most…conventional way, but there’s something there. I mean, a girl picks a fight with you, she at least cares a little bit about you, you know?” Sirius said earnestly.
Remus smiled as he said, “You two have chemistry. Anyone can see that James.”
James seem to ease up a bit, and his newfound hope was apparent in the twinkling of his eyes. His familiar smirk came back as he murmured to himself, “Okay, this gives me an interesting idea…”
Remus rolled his eyes. James plan was sure to be insane, and he wasn’t going to intervene unless asked to.
James pulled himself out of his reverie and resumed his usual air of confidence. “Want to play some exploding snap in the common room with Pete?”
Remus looked at Sirius and shrugged his shoulders as they followed James back down to the common room.
Peter had been done with his chess game by the time the three of them made their way back to the common room. They were now engaged in a game of exploding snap.
The Marauders greatly enjoyed any form of competition, and card games were no exception. James was the most impulsive of the lot, and when that quality led him astray, the fervor of the game would cause him to get loud and fake upset for the pure drama. Peter, on the other hand, was actually quite good and became unusually quiet and focused during the game. Sirius had no skill whatsoever, but would get unreasonably angry about losing. This led to fierce debate and emotional turmoil between the James and Sirius, James with the sole purpose of exposing Sirius’ hot temper and creating a spectacle.
With such a crazy bunch, Remus did his best to understand everyone and keep them all out of trouble. For the most part, anyways, as trouble tended to follow them around like a puppy without a home.
Currently, the game was getting intense as the cards exploded at faster and faster rates, and the intensity became palpable, a raincloud of misfortune if Remus knew anything about his friends.
Remus slowed down his own reaction times so he would drop out. The things I do for love. My boyfriend is absolutely ridiculous.
In a stroke of luck, Sirius won, and the tension died down to a relaxed atmosphere.
Remus filled the silence when the game ended, “I hear some seventh year Gryffindors are planning a roller rink party in the room of requirement for the sixth and seventh years. Are you guys in?”
“Who do you think will be there?” James asked in a poor attempt at subtlety.
“I’m sure most of our year whose like, not a death-eater, is going to come. Supposed to be the party of the year.”
The conversation meandered this way and that, keeping things light and easy, like a vanilla cupcake.
They talked about pranks (how could we make the Slytherins fart uncontrollably?) and quidditch (Wasps are going to win this year, I swear) and other topics of no import.
Remus usually just sat and listened. He was the quiet one of the friend group, and often observed conversations, occasionally inserting a sassy remark. He liked the listening to his friends; their voices wrapped him in a warm blanket and reminded him he was part of something. Right now, in their most comfortable mode of existence in the common room, Remus could see each individual personality of his friends rising to the surface like air filling a deflated balloon, so it could soar into the air and bring joy to the wide, twinkling eyes of a child.
Peter had this way of saying something extremely dumb with such confidence that everyone loved his original style of humor. He usually didn’t get the joke, but went along with it. He was quite knowledgable about many obscure topics (Ever heard of Swivenhodge? It’s similar to muggle tennis, actually, its played with a pig’s bladder…) and would talk about it with anyone who would listen. Some found it annoying, some charming, but he generally got along with everyone.
James, leaving behind his insecurities from before, was his usual self, loud and bold and bursting with so much life. He took in the world and reflected it back with vigor and humor.
Sirius, on the other hand, was sarcastic and talked in a deadpan manner about everything. Under this facade, however, when Sirius was around Remus, he was genuine and passionate while maintaining his sarcastic brand of humor.
The conversation began to slow and falter, like a quidditch player zooming through the sky finally coming down to the ground. “Okay, guys, ready for dinner?” James asked everyone.
“Actually, I promised to meet someone to study tonight.”
“Oh Sirius please, its Friday night, we know you’re not actually studying. Is it that Ravenclaw chic again?”
Sirius just smirked at everyone in response. Remus rolled his eyes, but didn’t say anything to ruin Sirius’ facade.
“Well the full moon is next week, so I actually have to study tonight. Catch up with you guys tomorrow?” Remus asked.
James walked toward the portrait hole, “Alright, goodnight guys.”
As soon as James was gone, Sirius turned to Remus and winked. He quickly whispered in his ear, “I have fun plans for us tonight.”
Sirius and Remus loved to just go and explore the castle. In a castle like Hogwarts, it was always possible to find something new. One time, Sirius and Remus got off on the moving staircase one floor down from the Gryffindor exit and encountered a baby dragon locked in a cage in a room right off the corridor. Another time, Sirius had learned how to charm the staircases to move faster, and would hide with Remus in a corridor overlooking the staircases as students timidly tried to get on and off the staircases moving at hyper speed. They usually failed to hide their laughter, and a student would come storming after them. Remus’ and Sirius’ knowledge of the castle, however, always outweighed whoever was chasing them and they escaped easily into a secret passage way.
Today, the two of them were taking the moving staircases to the highest place they could go. Moving in sync, the two of them easily hopped from one to another like they had been doing it their whole lives. After about ten minutes, a tiny, narrow corridor split of from the top of the last staircase. Arms closed by their sides, the two walked one in front of the other through the claustrophobic corridor until reaching a fancy looking spiral staircase. Knowing the familiar steps, they quickly made it to the top. Where the staircase ended, a circular trap door painted to look like the night sky sat closed above their heads. Because no one ever came up here, it wan’t locked, and Sirius pushed it open.
Remus couldn’t help but gape at the room every time they came to it. The midnight blue walls were illuminated by glowing stars. There was a circular skylight in the top of the magnificent domed ceiling, letting in natural light to give the space a bohemian vibe. The room was very big, and there was just enough room for Remus and Sirius to sit facing each other criss cross applesauce.
The sat for a moment, simply gazing into each other’s eyes. The silence was thick and heavy but comfortable. Remus grabbed Sirius’ hands and sighed.
“I think I’m going to buy a muggle motorbike this summer,” Sirius finally said, “I want to learn how to charm it to do cool stuff, like, turn invisible.”
“I could help you with some defensive spells,” Remus put in. He was rather skilled at Defense against the Dark Arts.
“Do you think you could get away from your parents for a while?” Sirius asked excitedly, “We could all be together at the Potter’s place!”
“Are you kidding, my parents don’t give a shit about me anymore, so that sounds great,” Remus said bitingly, but with a hint of underlying sadness.
Remus knew that Sirius understood all too well what unloving parents were like. They sunk into a slightly sad silence once more, feeling each other’s pain. Both their parents didn’t accept them for reasons they couldn’t control.
“We don’t need hose arseholes,” Sirius said sharply, “We have each other.”
Remus couldn’t help but smile at “arsehole” and gripped Sirius’ hands more forcefully. Sirius started rattling on about some advanced transfiguration he was planning on learning this summer. It was the first summer he would be seventeen, so he could do as much magic as he wished. However, the stuff he wanted to learn was going to require some information from the restricted section. Sirius assured Remus that he could charm the librarian into letting him take some books for the summer. Remus just rolled his eyes, but didn’t doubt Sirius’ charm over anybody. As Sirius went into the detail of the transfiguration to the point that Remus couldn’t follow anymore, he just smiled at the look of wonder in his eyes. He could really be a nerd sometimes, and it was adorable.
Finally, the two of them decided they were hungry and headed down to the kitchens.
When they finally reached the painting of the fruit, Sirius snuck up and tickled the pear. Sirius couldn’t help but giggle at the tickling of the pear, which made Remus outright laugh.
“Shhh, keep your voice down,” Sirius said, “We don’t want to get caught.”
The painting swung open and they walked into the hustle and bustle of the Hogwart’s kitchens. The were immediately greeted by a house elf wearing a toga. Sirius winked at Remus as he left with the house elf to go pick out what they wanted to eat.
Sirius' wink and charm reminded Remus of the beginning of their relationship. Remus loved remembering how him and Sirius first got together. He never thought he would be able to have a steady relationship because of his “furry little problem”, and Sirius had changed everything.
When Sirius and the rest of the group became animagi for him, all for Remus, his heart nearly burst. No one had ever loved him as much as the Marauders did. No one in his family really cared about him anymore, as his problem became a burden. The Marauders were the family that mattered.
He had always trusted Sirius more than anyone. Remus had always been able to see through his bravado, and had felt connected to him in some way that couldn’t be explained.
They had started to subconsciously realize their mutual attraction back at the beginning of fifth year. It had all felt very new to Remus, who had never been in a relationship of any kind. So, in fifth year, things started to change. When Sirius brushed his elbow against him at the dining table, Remus felt shivers run through his body. Sometimes, it felt like their eyes were like magnets, and Remus blushed whenever they made eye contact. He had no composure whatsoever.
They kept finding more and more subtle opportunities for physical contact, while their flirting in private became less subtle. However, Remus had still been unsure of how to talk openly of the subject.
One day, Remus had walked into their dorm room and had seen Sirius furiously scrawling words across a piece of parchment. Sirius had tried to hide it as soon as he had seen Remus walk through the door, but Remus snatched it out of his hands before he had the opportunity, and promptly read it aloud:
His eyes are the color of fresh turned soil
His hair streaked with the silver of the moon
“Hey, my hair isn’t gray!” Remus interjected.
“It just has that one streak, its really quite charming actually, and the color is so unique, like a silvery white, it gives you–
Remus interrupted Sirius’ nervous ramblings with a kiss. After that, without even talking about it, they were officially together.
Remus pulled himself out of the memory and glanced over at Sirius. He was earnestly chatting with one of the house elves about their working hours and rights.
“Alright, Queenie, let me know if they ever try to overwork you,” Sirius said as he walked back over to Remus.
Remus just rolled his eyes (he was honestly going to ruin his eyesight at this rate). As much as Sirius tried to hide it around other people and be the tough guy, he was such a softie.
"Hey, I got you something." Sirius quickly whipped a giant piece of pumpkin pie on a silver platter out from behind his back.
“For you, my love,” Sirius said in a grandiose deep voice.
“Aw, my favorite,” Remus said as he smiled at Sirius. “You know me so well.”
Remus and Sirius ate the piece of pie together while they chugged some butterbeers, making jokes with the house elves as they got a little tipsy.
Sirius had had one too many butterbeers, and was leaning on Remus as he led them back towards the Gryffindor common room.
“Thanks babe, I love you,” Sirius murmured under his breath.
Remus could feel the heat rush to his face. It was the first time either of them has said those three words. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth and he whispered, “I love you too.”
Remus loved these moments alone with Sirius, just doing stupid things in the castle. There wasn’t any real danger that they would be caught, and Remus could let down his walls. He knew Sirius probably wouldn’t remember this part in the morning, but Remus would remember it forever.
Remus continued to support Sirius and was holding his hand tightly in his own when they reached the corridor leading up to the portrait of the Fat Lady. All of the sudden, Sirius stood up, and lightly pushed Remus against the wall. Sirius’ lips slowly moved toward Remus’s, and hovered over them for several seconds. Sirius’ eyes looked straight through Remus’, as if he were looking into his soul. He would find nothing but love there. Remus closed the gap and began a long, slow kiss. He grasped for Sirius’ hair. Remus loved the silky smoothness of his long, thick locks. Remus sped up the kiss as he raked his hands down Sirius’s back. Sirius immediately grabbed his bum. Classic Sirius. The intensity of the kiss was eliciting the purest of sensations. As Sirius moved to giving sloppy kisses on his neck, Remus emitted a soft, low moan.
Remus was pulled from the moment with a shout of “What the fuck!”
Remus and Sirius immediately froze, and turned toward the sound with a sense of dread. Lily Evans was looking at them with her mouth forming a perfect ‘O’ in shock.
All Remus could think of to say was, “Please don’t tell anyone.”
To their astonishment, Lily just sighed and said, “Your secret is safe with me. You guys headed back to the common room?”
Remus nodded numbly, and followed Lily toward the portrait hole, not even daring to glance in Sirius’ direction. Things were about to get a lot more interesting.
A/N: As always, loves, I would love to hear your feedback! xoxo
Chapter 4: Sunrise and Sanctimonious
What was Lily so afraid of?
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Harry Potter or anything else you recognize
Lily awoke early that Monday morning, before the sun was even up. Her tired body stretched luxuriously as she jumped out of bed like a cat. She normally got up before everyone else in her dorm, and she had learned to move quietly as she did her morning routine. In less than fifteen minutes, she was out the door and moving stealthily through the common room.
As Lily was walking through the castle, she mentally went through her schedule for the day, like she always did. She had Charms first, and as she remembered they were to start learning patronuses today, a lightness was added to her step. She had overly prepared for this moment: she had done extensive research and had come up with her happiest memories for class today. She had even already practiced and tried to conjure a patronus, although it had mostly been a vague white mist, with the purpose of conjuring a full patronus in class that day. She loved to be the first to get something new and impress the teachers.
As she passed a window on the third floor overlooking the beech tree and the forbidden forest, she was reminded of last week’s events. Not only had she been stupid enough to get James’ attention last Friday, but she had let her friends get to her head, and thoughts of him attacked her mind like a swarm of angry bees. She had been avoiding him again, but it would be impossible to avoid him today, as they had several classes together.
Not only was there the James fiasco, but she was still reeling from her experience in the forbidden forest with the mysterious stag on Saturday. Lily had decided that there was just no way it had really happened, it simply must have been a weird fever dream (she may have been a witch but she had to draw the line somewhere). It was too surreal, and the place had felt too full of magic to exist in the real world. She had no reason to deserve that place, it was too good to be true.
But she just wanted it to be real so badly. Come on Lily, she chastised herself. You can’t get caught up in your dreams like that. She had felt less alone, more adventurous in those moments, and all that remained was its fleeting memory.
Lily forgot her distractions as she walked into the great hall. Mornings were here favorite time to be in the great hall. She would come down right before the sun came up to do homework and enjoy a coffee in silence. As she did her work, she got to watch the sunrise in the enchanted ceiling.
Lily sat down at the Gryffindor table and became absorbed in her essay for Transfiguration, only breaking to take a swig of her disgustingly black coffee (just the way she liked it) and turn her gaze to the ceiling. She was the perfect ideal of solitude, bathed in the violet light of the rising sun, the bitterness of coffee masking the sweetness of her state of mind.
At 7 o’clock, breakfast started to appear. Twice a month, the house elves went all out with waffles with nutella and fruits and strawberry syrup. Lily didn’t like waffles except for the waffles at Hogwarts, which were a special pleasure for the whole castle. Everyone would reminisce and bond over their love of the waffles. As Lily swept her gaze over the beautiful breakfast, she noticed the vases with tiny little yellow flowers the house elves had prepared, interspersing the towering plates of waffles and gold dishes of fruit. She felt the pulling of surrealism, unadulterated idylls, the extraordinary in the vast and encompassing silence as she was the first to dig into the waffles.
Her solitude dissolved like sugar in coffee as more early risers filtered in to the Great Hall. The atmosphere changed from solitary to communal comfort, quiet conversations filling her ears like cotton candy. Lily also enjoyed the community aspect of having breakfast this early, as everyone would ignore the House Tables and sit together. Her friend Connor from Ravenclaw was usually second down to Breakfast, and Lily and him would talk nearly everyday about Lord of the Rings or another muggle book.
As Connor came into the great hall, Lily smiled and waved. As he sat down across from her, he said, “You know, I think wizards should build their houses like Hobbits, although it would probably get too much attention from muggles, but it would probably be more affordable because it would be easy to magically create without a lot of extra materials, and I bet they wouldn’t be too hard to conceal, however…”
He continued to ramble on about the perks of Hobbit style housing (including its use as homeless shelters, because the wizarding world needs their own shelters to look after those struggling with magic-related problems!) and she would smile and nod, but the majority of her attention was devoted to her beautiful waffles. Their fluffiness and sweetness made her reflect: Breakfast is my favorite time at Hogwarts.
As if reading her thoughts, James nudged Connor so he could sit directly across from her and immediately said, “Breakfast is the best.” He shoveled a ridiculous amount of waffles onto his plate and dug in with vigor.
Lily frowned, “Since when do you get up this early? I see you everyday coming into the Great Hall in the nick of time to grab a croissant and run off to class.”
“Someone’s been paying attention, eh?” James said with his mouth full of waffles.
Lily’s frown only deepened, “Well, it can be hard to ignore someone so loud and obnoxious, no matter how hard I try. It’s like trying to avoid a swarm of bees chasing you.”
“I demand as much attention as a swarm of bees? You just made my day Evans.”
Lily opened her mouth to make another comment, but before she could say a word a fresh look of excitement washed over James’ face, “Oh, and bees? Well they make honey don’t they? So would you say, Evans, that I’m the honey?”
“The bees are looking for pollen, though, and that’s a better suited metaphor: aggravating people’s allergies, inflicting general misery.”
The comment only made James smile. “Wow, you can really paint a picture Evans. Well, I gotta go, I’m gonna be early today. We’re learning patronuses today in Charms.”
Before Lily had a chance to retort, James stood up. Somehow, he had already devoured all those waffles. So, all Lily could do was gape as James walked off, looking over his shoulder to say, “Sorry, gotta get to class.”
James deprived her of more good comebacks to go to class? Lily felt a bit put out, but quickly finished her own breakfast, and hurried off in the direction James had left in.
Yellow flowers, blackberries skewed in syrup, left in a dizzying hurry. A still life of utter chaos, caught in a ray of sunshine.
Lily was walking briskly around a corner of the main third floor corridor on her way to Charms when she sensed something was different. As she walked closer, she couldn’t help but sigh and think, Bloody Hell, James Potter. This is going to be fun. As it was the second time seeing him before their first class, all her friends comments about the two of them plagued her thoughts. Running into James again felt like fate pushing her towards him. Well, she thought, Fuck fate and fuck what they all think. Angry at the way her thoughts had felt manipulated, she decided she would really piss him off this time.
As she approached, Lily took in the situation. James was playfully ragging on some fourth year Gryffindors. Even though she knew the interaction was probably harmless, she couldn’t help but get involved. She just couldn’t miss an opportunity to yell at James again.
“Hey Potter, did your friends abandon you, leaving you forced to pick on some poor fourth years? I guess fourth year is closer to your intellectual capacity anyways huh? Nobody our age finds your jokes funny,”
James locked his eyes on hers, and immediately the energy changed. The air felt charged, the moment tense and full of anticipation. She immediately knew that this time was going to be different. The sun shone through the window, illuminating her and him in light. It was then that time seemed to stop, and it felt like they were the only two people on Earth. The descent of silence and peace that was created in between the tension was abruptly broken by James.
“Oh Evans, like you’ve never laughed at one my jokes. If you ask me, you’re just jealous you don’t have my flair of humor, my gift to humanity."
“I see you’re still inflating your own ego with grand proclamations.”
“You know, I’ve decided to fucking own my it. I think you could use a little of that.”
That stung more than Lily wanted it too. Her momentary emotional vulnerability caused a lapse in the argument, reverberating through the air like the plucking of a violin string.
James went on, “You think you're so cool, above everyone else in your own little world. You don’t let anyone in. People like me, we want to be let in. Why are you so afraid?”
The insult was masking the genuine feelings James was expressing. The conversation increased in intensity, burdened with things said and unsaid. The truth in the mean side of what he said, however, threatened to sink her, as quickly as if rocks were tied to her ankles and she was tossed into the ocean. Lily refused to let it.
"Well, Potter, someone’s paying a little too close attention. You know what I’ve noticed? You think everyone’s your friend? They just want your attention, because you, of all people, have popularity. I really can’t imagine why. But what do you do with this attention? Exploit it for your own personal laugh.”
“At least I’m not stuck up and think I’m above people, I relate to them. Is laughing with a friend a sin now?”
“It is when its manipulative.”
“Oh, don’t talk to me about manipulation, Evans. You kiss every teacher’s arse to get them to like you.”
“Studying and showing respect to teachers is manipulation now? How childish are you Potter?”
It felt like the air was on fire now, burning hot and bright, crackling with the tension. Lily felt too exposed, her insecurities uncovered and thrown in her face. Is this how she really seemed to him? The underlying sincerity, however, was that he wanted more than just these in-between moments, and the thought made her dizzy. She couldn't look into his eyes, expressive yet full of secrets, for any longer and finally broke eye contact.
James had always been a prick, and tried to get her to fight him with his obscene comments. He wanted her attention, and she couldn’t help but take the bait. She wanted to fight with him, because that meant she got to talk with him. They had always had a certain energy, but it became more tangible today, a taste in her mouth and an audible buzz in the air. She simply couldn’t deny their obvious chemistry any longer.
He had been right about her disconnection, her fear, the way she had felt like a loner . When she first came to Hogwarts, it had been hard to make friends. Because she knew Snape from before, it had been easy to stick by him. Still, though, they were very different people and she had never trusted him enough to confide in him. So, she had been quiet and shy, never feeling very close to anybody. It took her a long time to get used to the ways of the Wizarding world, to have confidence and put herself out there, to find people to connect with.
Things were better now, though, right? She had friends, and they supported each other. Maybe it was time to leave behind her past with James and embrace whatever the future had in store for her. She wasn’t going to hide any longer.
Realizing she was still standing stupidly in front of James lost in thought, she hid her face with her hair and stormed off, accidentally in the opposite direction of the Charms classroom. She ended up taking a longer route, trying her best to push the interaction out of her mind so she could focus in Charms.
James watched as Lily stormed off in a cloud of indignation. He couldn’t help but wonder if he had taken things to far, been a little too mean or a little too honest. Would he lose her for good now, or would she understand the true meaning, the emotion behind his words? His masked truth had linked them, made the interaction powerful in a way he had never experienced. Still, though, insecurity nagged at James.
"Do you think she's okay now?" James asked fretfully, "Did I take things too far?"
The fourth years stared back at him a little dumbstruck
“Dude,” one of them said, “I'm not sure that's the best way to get a girl to like you.”
“Well, flattery wasn’t working so I had to take a new route. Anyways, mate, what do you know? Ever even kissed a girl?”
The other fourth year’s friends laughed at his expense, as he looked a bit put out. Amidst the distraction, James made his exit, sneaking behind a tapestry that provided a shortcut to the Charms classroom, pushing his mixed feelings to the back of his mind.
James walked into the Charms classroom with a grin plastered on his face. He was excited for today, and he was going to make it count: no distractions, no thinking about his morning. He needed happy for today. While he pretended (very hard) not to care about school, he cared quite a bit, putting a lot of effort into his assignments, reading ahead in the syllabus, extra books from the library. With the difficulty of today, he needed focus, and happy, happy, happy, for patronuses!
Even with the slight detour the interaction with Lily had caused him, James arrived unexpectedly early that day. He had been looking forward to today for a long time, and had had some memories ready for the lesson. Through the whirlwind of excitement and insecurity fighting in his brain from this morning, from Lily, he tried to bring his happy memories back to the front of his mind, a golden chariot of bliss.
Uncharacteristically, James walked straight to the front of the classroom. He wasn’t putting on his I don’t care act today. Stopping at the middle desk in the very front row, James realized, This is Lily’s seat. She’ll be forced to talk to me again. He took the seat in a dramatic fashion, letting his signature smirk light up his face, and he turned around to wink at Peter, who was sitting in his usual place.
Peter rolled his eyes, “Honestly, James, get a grip.”
James chuckled. Today just kept getting better. As he sat there by himself in thought, he began to wonder what Lily’s patronus would be. Probably something cool, like a phoenix or a hippogriff, he thought. He already knew his own would be a stag, being an animagus and all.
All of his thoughts ceased, the train of thought slamming its brakes, when Lily walked in. She walked in with her long, red hair swooping behind her. It seemed to James she was engulfed in a cloud of gold, lighting up the room. She spun in front of James’ desk and promptly said, “James, you stole my desk! What are you doing at the front of the room, anyways?” The fierceness of her tone masked her insecurity around James, and the hint of genuine curiosity at his unusual behavior.
James quickly mustered some confidence, “Do you own this desk Evans? I’ll sit in the front when I want to.”
Lily frowned, “Hmm, well, I never thought I'd see the day where you gave a fuck about school. Isn’t your goal in life, to like, be an arsehole? Seems like school just gets in the way of all your fuckery. I’ve had enough of your antics today to last a lifetime.”
“I know you can barely manage to be one of these things, Evans, but I can be cute, charming, and smart.”
Lily raised a particular finger at him. It was so perfectly elegant, and practiced, like she practiced this maneuver in front of a mirror to make sure she looked as badass as possible. He averted his eyes and put a hand through his hair to hide how flustered the interaction made him. That was the most words they had spoken to each other in recent memory. He tried to keep the smile off his face.
Lily had taken the seat directly behind James. He snuck a glance behind him, and her eyes narrowed in a glare as they made eye contact. Merely meeting her eyes made his heartbeat accelerate, like it was a bird fluttering, trying to escape its cage.
James sat up tall in his seat, to give his usual illusion of confidence. Professor Flitwick came hobbling in on his stunted legs and stood on the pile of books behind his desk.
“Good morning class. As most of you know, we are going to learn the Patronus charm today. Who knows the correct incantation?”
James sneaked a peek behind him again and saw that Lily’s hand was already in the air. “Yes, Miss Evans,” Flitwick called
“Expecto Patronum,” Lily said with her usual charm and grace.
“Very good, Miss Evans. 5 points to Gryffindor. Now, what is required to cast a successful, corporeal patronus?”
James raised his hand this time, “The happiest, most powerful memory you can muster,”
“Very good, Mr. Potter,” Flitwick said, “Another 5 points to Gryffindor. Now, I want all of you to give your best attempts at producing a patronus. I don’t expect many of you to produce a full patronus today, but you should see silvery wisps coming from your wand.”
All the students stood and moved to the front of the room while Professor Flitwick, with a flick of his wand, sent all the desks hurtling to the back of the classroom.
“Okay class,” Flitwick called in his squeaky voice, “Partner up and try your best at the charm, remember, its Expecto Patronum.
James glanced around. Sirius and Remus had already partnered up, and Peter had abandoned him for some Hufflepuff girl he was trying to flirt with. Everyone had a partner except him.
James heard Lily mutter, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
James was secretly happy, but decided to hide it with his usual arsehole-ish behaviour. “Well, since you think you’re so fucking smart, why don’t you show us all how its done?”
Lily looked at him and actually smiled. She was fucking smirking at him, her lip curling up slightly at the left side. She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She opened her eyes, locking them on his in an intense look of concentration.
“Expecto Patronum,” she said confidently and clearly. A doe popped out of the end of her wand, gliding in a circle around James and making its way throughout the classroom.
James couldn’t help but gasp, and was reminded of his own stag patronus, which would go perfectly with Lily’s doe. James glanced over to Sirius and Remus; they were trying to contain their laughter, making the same connection between his and Lily’s patronus form. James ruffled his hair and tried to seem unconcerned with the whole ordeal.
“Why, Miss Evans, I have never seen anyone conjure a patronus for the first time on their first try! 25 points to Gryffindor!” Flitwick said excitedly, and rather surprised.
James averted his gaze back over to Lily. She wasn’t even trying to hide her satisfied smile. She winked at him.
He blinked, “How did you do that?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” She said, dripping with sarcasm. “Let’s see what you got, Potter.”
James knew he was too flustered to succeed now. All the happy memories he had gathered for class today vanished from his mind. Perhaps the first time he rode a broom? He closed his eyes, trying to ignore all the emotions he was feeling because of Lily. He imagined the wind running through his hair, the ground far below him. He felt at home, he felt alive, he felt happy.
“Expecto Patronum!” James practically shouted.
His wand only emitted a few faint blue sparks. James sighed. The broom memory was in no way strong enough.
James tried out a few other memories, meeting his friends on the train, his first win on the Gryffindor team, but he wasn’t making much progress.
He suddenly recounted the interaction with Lily earlier in the hallway. While a lot of mean things were said, the details and the sting of truth wasn’t on his mind. The energy he felt with Lily overpowered everything. Staring into the depths of her almond shaped green eyes made him feel exposed. Like he was showing his soul. The sheer power of the interaction made it feel like time was bending, halting to a stop. Because their eyes were locked with such fervor, the mean words, albeit their grain of truth, were a cover up for another, deeper truth. Now, in this moment, when he was locking eyes with Lily once again, he felt a surge of confidence in his affection for Lily, for their connection, for he knew that Lily's words had been a mask, maybe even one she employed to hide her feelings from herself. He couldn’t really explain what all of his emotions were now, but they consumed him. It squeezed his heart and made his breath quicken.
Caught up in the memory and in the moment, James raised his wand, and, with all the confidence in the world, yelled, “Expecto Patronum!”
The stag poured out of James’ wand like a waterfall, lithe and graceful. He blinked, watching the stag first circle around Lily, and then make its way around the room. He glanced, almost shyly, towards Lily. She was shell-shocked, her mouth forming a perfect ‘O’. After the way the energy of fury and passion had flowed through their veins in their earlier interaction, they couldn’t deny the way they were connected. This was simply another proof, as if the Universe was trying to put them together.
James continued to study her face as she watched his patronus. Her emotions were seen clearly on her face, shifting from one moment to the next–anger, awe, happiness, bemusement. She had lost track of the rest of the world, caught up in the drama of the moment. Normally, it seemed as if she always knew when he was looking at her, but right now, as she too distracted to notice.
“All right class, good work today. For the second full patronus of the day, Potter, I award another 15 points to Gryffindor. See you next Monday, and don't forget about the Patronus essay,” Flitwick squeaked to the class. James slowly made his way to his desk and started to collect all his stuff, still glancing at Lily. Unlike her usual self, who was one of the last out of class as she stayed to organize her stuff, Lily threw everything haphazardly into her bag and quickly left the classroom. She was clearly avoiding another scene with him. Well, she can’t avoid me forever, he thought. She clearly liked to pick a fight, as did he, so he knew he would see her soon. As James left the class, he couldn’t help but smile stupidly at the unexpected turn of events.
Lily rushed from the classroom. She didn’t really have a direction, but she just needed to get faraway. The events of the day had revealed things to her that she didn’t want to admit to herself.
Both her and James knew the same thing: the two of them were connected, in some ridiculous the-stars-aligned-for-this way.
When casting her patronus, she had thought of her dream in the forest, the buzz of adrenaline that she kept chasing with James, the future she hadn’t let herself believe in before that moment. The sparks of happy, the immense power of her dreams built up a current of energy powerful enough to send her delicate doe careening around the classroom. James, clearly thinking about her, had sent a stag, like the stag in her dream (or was it a dream now?), moving with the same energy as Lily's doe, fitting and belonging together like puzzle pieces.
James made her happy. That was undeniable now, as it seemed as though the universe was trying pretty fucking hard to show her. She had been negating her feelings for years now, and for what? She was afraid, as James had pointed out. She was afraid for dreams to become a reality and to share herself with him and the world. The questions and emotions tugged at her brain with a fierceness, refusing to be ignored.
Why did it feel so dangerous? Sure, James had made her feel like the butt of some joke in the past in the way he asked her out, the way he had humiliated her. But people changed, they both had changed. She was ready to stop hiding from that.
Remus left Charms that day feeling frustrated. He had failed to produce a patronus, and so had Sirius. Remus felt like something was holding him back, and maybe it wasn’t just from producing a patronus. What even was happiness to him, anyway? He had always been so burdened by his condition, itself breeding a lack of trust and a lack of a tangible future. But Sirius had made him happier in the last year, it had been a good year. What was wrong?
Remus glanced over at Sirius, like himself deep in thought. Remus couldn’t read him in this moment, closed up from the world.
Sirius turned his gaze to Remus. “The full moon is on Wednesday, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Remus replied. He could feel his body weakening, sickly. His weakness felt disgusting.
Sirius stopped walking, and leaned against the corridor wall with Remus facing him. Sirius voiced what Remus had been thinking: “Do you think we're not happy? I was thinking about you, you know, and trying to cast a patronus. This last year has seemed the best of my life, you know, even as I fell out with my parents. But something isn’t right.”
The last phrase was not a question, but a statement. Remus didn’t answer, couldn’t bring himself to answer. Was it just the darkness brewing in their country, the hate threatening to fill even the hallways of Hogwarts, or was it something more?
Remus and Sirius were pulled out of their reverie by footsteps. Even, steady footsteps walking fast, a frenzy. Lily walked by them without even noticing, clearly caught up in her own thoughts after Charms.
Before Lily could turn a corner, Sirius called out to her: “He cares, you know. He really does.”
The statement stopped Lily so abruptly that it looked like she had been caught by an invisible rope.
Lily slumped, her facade of anger sloughing off her. She peeked over her shoulder, her emotions on her sleeve, shyness, hope, as she said, “I hope so.”
And just like that, she was gone again, maybe to realize her dreams with James, as Remus and Sirius were caught in a growing abyss of silence, their dreams too far fetched, too painfully out of reach, to be said out loud, in the frustrating stagnancy of a secret relationship.
A/N: I hope you all are having a lovely day xoxo
Chapter 5: Disco and Delirious
Her smile was sunshine on a rainy day, the sight of the golden snitch in a long Quidditch game. Her skates were on, and he held out his hand to hers, and she grabbed it.
For the next couple of days after the Patronus incident, as Lily started to think of it, classes flew by in a whir, the comfortable routine of school life at Hogwarts, and Lily only saw James Potter in passing. It was like they were both scared to confront each other again, to ruin the purity of the the last time they talked to one another. She knew they were building up to something big, though. It filled her with fear and excitement, allowing her to coast out the mundanity of the week.
After dinner on Wednesday night, Lily and Lucy held a Mermish club. Lily walked toward the empty classroom on the fifth floor where she and Lucy led their Mermish club. They learned about Mermish culture and tried to speak the language. Hogwarts had used to offer Mermish as a class, but had discontinued it, so passionate students like herself had decided to keep on exploring Mermish in a low key club.
Lucy was the only one in the classroom when Lily arrived. Lucy was slumped in an armchair, and looked up at Lily as she walked in. Lily could immediately sense Lucy’s bad mood. She had disappeared for most of the week, so Lily hadn't been able to fill her in on the Jamer Potter situation. Her face was contorted into a scowl, her brows creased. Lucy was prone to mood swings of the most dramatic variety, standing up and giving rants to her friends about anything from inequality and corruption to isn’t Samantha such a bitch?
In her attempt at a gentle voice, Lily said, “Hey, are you alright?”
“Oh, don’t even,” she snapped, “It’s just been a day. Don’t talk to me.”
Lily was slightly taken aback, as Lucy’s approach was usually to talk things out. However, used to her moods, Lily just shrugged, finding another armchair to sit in. It was hard to sit in silence, as Lily was bursting to talk to Lucy about her patronus and her realizations about James, so she sat tense and fidgeting, fighting the urge to start biting her nails.
Finally, members of the club started to filter into the room. Lily walked over to a group of fourth year girls notorious for gossip and stood on the outskirts of the circle to hear their conversation.
“Did you hear that Sirius Black was seen leaving the Slytherin sixth year girl’s dorm last night? Which one do you think he was shagging?”
“Lilah Yaxley, for sure. She’s one of the fittest girls in the year.”
“Well, Katrina Vasieliev is rather pretty too, it easily could be her.”
“Well, I heard he’s going steady with some unknown Ravenclaw girl” Lily quipped, adding a sly quality to her voice.
The girls looked sufficiently shocked to hear this information. Knowing Sirius’ secret was rather fun, and she figured it wouldn’t hurt to add more potential girls to the mix to confuse the gossip mill. Lily smirked to herself and walked away to find a more interesting conversation to butt into.
Some sixth and seventh years were engaged in an increasingly heated political discussion.
“The political situation in Britain is getting worse and worse,” one said, “This so called ‘Voldemort’ is really making a name for himself as force to be reckoned with.”
“My mom who works in the ministry says they have found a couple of people put under the imperious curse. Voldemort apparently did it to try and gain access to ministry secrets.”
“He had been mostly targeting muggles, but he has started targeting muggleborns too. We're not safe anymore”
“For fucks sake, when will this muggleborn rhetoric stop? Wizards in Britain are so fucking backwards!” a voice filled with anger said loudly.
“I guess I better step it up in Defense Against,” Lily quipped. “It’s not exactly my strong suit. We’re the generation that’s going to have to deal with this, you know. This rhetoric and this darkness can’t be allowed to live on. We gotta fight, for fucks sake.”
“Oh, all of you, stop being so fucking cynical, for Merlin’s sake! Dumbledore’s going to wipe him out, he’s not as powerful as you all are making him out to be. We don’t really have anything to worry about!” This point of view came from Edward Perry from Ravenclaw. She recognized him as one of the guys who thought himself superior, talking down to everyone. Lily absolutely hated that kind of guy. She felt her blood beginning to boil.
“Easy for you to say, Pureblood.” Lily shot back. She tried to steady her breathing, to not get blinded by her emotions. Venom felt like it was seeping from her very bones.
“You’re just acting like you’re in danger for attention, all you muggleborns. Some backwards prick who doesn’t know his left from his right says some epithet and now you’re in fucking danger? It’s fun to think you’re needed, and you’ll have to enlist and fight for freedom in some bloody war like its some bloody revolution, but that’s not reality.”
“Once again, Perry, you are completely ignorant to a real fucking war that’s going to happen. I bet you’ll just call on some rich grandmummy in America to go to during the war, and once it’s all over, come back and act like you went through such hardship. It’s all a bunch of bullshit.”
“Alright, alright, that’s enough. The meeting should be starting now, anyway,” the remediating voice of Alaynie from Hufflepuff sang out.
Lily, attempting to swallow her pride and ignore Edward, went to sit in an armchair in the front next to Lucy. Everyone else sat in desks, which had been arranged in semi circle facing the front of the room, or in armchairs around the room, all facing Lucy.
Lucy, being the great leader she was, wiped off all traces of her bad mood and addressed the group: “I read an interesting article in the Daily Prophet about the Mermish population in Wales today…”
The group chattered and put in findings and practiced spoken Mermish in its usual haphazard way, and Lily tried to forget her misgivings about Lucy’s behavior and James.
After the meeting, Lucy escaped quickly, and Lily missed yet another opportunity to talk to her and see what was going on.
Lily tried to stay and socialize for a minute with some other club members, but felt too tense. She couldn’t discern why anxiety had started to creep into her veins, making her itchy and paranoid, and her heart pound faster in a familiar way. Something seemed really off about Lucy, she thought, it was the only reason I could think of for this anxiety?
Thus, Lily quickly made her goodbyes and snuck out of the classroom. As she slowly made her way back towards Gryffindor tower, she felt comfortable in the familiar corridors, liked the way her steps echoed loudly like they always did. However, it wasn’t enough to completely abate her bad feelings.
Surprisingly, she saw someone was approaching her. It was almost 9 o’clock, so it was strange for anyone to be in this part of the castle. However, she quickly recognized the figure, and let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. It was only Connor.
Connor called out to her, “Hey, Lils, is your Mermish club already over? I was gonna come check it out!”
“Yep, its over, I mean, curfew is in an hour.”
“Well, that’s alright. I’ll finish that Transfiguration essay on time next week. I’ll tag along with you to Gryffindor tower?”
Lily nodded, and Connor changed direction to walk with her. He was a sixth year, like her, with brown hair and blue eyes. His hair swooped over his eyes in a casual fashion, his hair loose and wavy.
They walked side by side, Connor occasionally brushing his hand against hers.
Lily was starting to feel vaguely startled by this whole interaction. Where was the attention coming from? They only really ever saw each other at breakfast, and he had never seemed interested in Mermish before. He had seemed a little put out by James’ interruption that one morning at breakfast, however. What did it mean?
Connor had started by asking her about her Transfiguration essay, and from there they had talked about various teachers and assignments, funny things someone in class had said, the type of small talk that was comfortable between classmates. There is only so much to be said about these things, however, and an awkward silence eventually fell.
“Sooooo,” Connor started, “Do you like…fancy James or something?”
Lily, taken aback by the bluntness of his asking, was lost for words. “Me? Like James? You’re crazy, I hate that twat, he disgusts me.”
Connor, unfazed by her harsh use of language, went on, “Well, it seemed to me that once he sat down you became…absorbed in him, you know? The rest of us didn’t matter to you after James came in the room.”
There was something edging its way into his voice, an unfamiliar tone. Could it be…jealousy? No, Lily thought, That’s ridiculous. Jealous of James because of…me? No, thats bonkers, pure blasphemy, come on Lily, don’t be stupid.
“Come on Connor,” Lily punched him in the arm, “I don’t like him, okay?”
“Alright,” he said, still uncertain. He seemed to ease, however, losing tension from his shoulders. “Hey, I just remembered, there's going to be a party in the room of requirement this Friday, with the roller rink. Are you going to be there?”
“Oh yeah, a lot of my friends are going, I’m going to be there too.” They managed to make some lighthearted conversation until Lily was in front of the Portrait of the Fat Lady.
As Connor walked away, Lily leaned in to try and wake up the Fat Lady, as she appeared to be sleeping. However, the Fat Lady quickly sat up straight.
“What’s up with you two, that boy is mighty cute! I won’t let you in unless you tell me!” The Fat Lady said in her high pitched tones. She liked to spread rumors with the other portraits.
“Oh, come off it.”
The Fat Lady only raised an eyebrow.
“Pigfarts. That’s the password, you have to let me in. Nothing’s going on, alright? Just let me in.”
“Oh, good, I was kind of routing for you and James,” The Fat Lady swung open to let Lily in.
As Lily was climbing the rickety staircase to the dorm, a confused state of mind overcame her. Could Connor like me? she asked herself, No, come on Lils, you’re imagining this. If a boy is showing affection, he’s probably going to use it to make fun of you, and there’s no reason for Connor to like you, so come off this whole thing, just forget about it. You’ve had enough of a time trying to figure out James, just come off it.
Despite her own attempts to settle her mind, Lily was kept up with thousands of questions.
The next day, she had walked through the portrait hole after dinner to do homework in the common room. The Gryffindor common room was bustling that night, as it had been raining hard outside all day so no-one had anywhere else to go. Lily curled up by the fireplace, becoming absorbed in a book for charms. The loud ambiance of the common room had died to steady buzz, as if she was behind a veil. The heat from the roaring fire was so comforting that she was beginning to feel drowsy, when Natalie called out to her.
“Hey Lils, get over here, I’m sure the homework can wait!”
Lily walked up and sat to next to Natalie on a plush, scarlet velvet couch. Various chairs and couches had been arranged in a disorderly sort of circle. Lily looked around the circle, pausing briefly on each face.
She supposed that this was the “cool” group of Gryffindors, all in the year above except for two of her roommates. Hannah Williams, one of her roommates, Garrett Lopez and Elijah Hughes were all on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and the trio was well known for the most ridiculous after parties they threw after Quidditch games.
The other two were Natalie Johnson and Michael Young. They had been together as a couple for the last year, and the subject of a lot of gossip as one of the most well known couples in the school. They were both beautiful, smart and charismatic.
“Who would you rather shag, Flitwick or Dumbledore?" Natalie asked her with childlike excitement.
“Dumbledore, I suppose,” Lily said immediately, with a complete sense of seriousness, “Sort of a silver fox?”
They all burst out laughing at the way she sustained seriousness when saying something so ridiculous.
Lily smiled. “So, do all of your conversations revolve around the potential shagging of professors? I would have thought you seventh years had a more refined sense of humor.”
“I’m taking a poll of the sixth and seventh years, its for scientific reasons, actually!” Natalie said in mock indignation.
“I’ve decided maturity is overrated, anyways.” Garrett said, “Remember when in like, fourth year, we were so fucking pretentious and were like “Were so cool and mature, and it was like the 'thing' to be–“
“Oh, I insisted we listen to classical music while we studied, I tried so hard to be 'adult' and all,” Natalie cut in.
“Hey, what’s wrong with classical music?” Lily asked in indignation. “Classical music is the best.”
“Someone’s a pretentious nerd.”
“Ooh, burn,” Lily said sarcastically. “Sorry you all aren’t cool enough to be as nerdy as I am.
They all laughed. The laughter burst out of her like gentle bubbles.
They reminisced about what little shits they were back in fourth year. What a time to be alive, back then, she thought with a wry smile.
Sirius and Remus walked through the portrait hole, and Natalie immediately piped up to ask them her question.
Sirius didn’t hesitate for a second, “I mean Dumbledore, obviously, like what a silver fucking fox,” He said as he sat next to Lily on the couch. He nudged his shoulder against hers, and gave her a quick wink. Her and Sirius were going to be great friends, she realized. Him and Remus too. Lily smiled at all her blossoming friendships.
Remus was still deliberating as he sat down on the couch next to Sirius, “Hmmm, I’m leaning towards Flitwick. He has a charming smile, don’t you think?”
“Hey, I was thinking Flitwick too!” Elijah piped up. He popped up from his armchair to high five Remus. Lily rolled her eyes and smiled.
The conversation meandered from Quidditch to summer to politics and everything in between. Lily had become completely absorbed in the conversation. She was a bubbly, more radiant version of herself. Why had she been intimidated to talk to them earlier? She had always been intimidated to talk to people, naturally shy, but she was done holding back.
Lily leaned back against the couch and smiled up at the ceiling. Garrett was telling an elaborate story, throwing his hands all over the place and talking excitedly as he tried to explain something. Suddenly, however, Lily felt a presence behind her, a familiar presence. The smell of pine and strawberries and the Earth after a rainy day. A finger was twirling in her hair and then he was gone, almost through the portrait hole, when he peeked over his shoulder. “Your hair smells nice, Evans.”
He was out the portrait hole before she could say a word.
Lily felt the blush creeping up her cheeks as she turned back towards the circle.
“Still denying you're in love with him?” Natalie laughed, “It’s been since what, third year?”
Lily thought for a second, “Yeah, sounds about right.”
They all laughed at Lily’s sudden candidness on the topic, and Lily couldn’t help but laugh with them. The laughter filled the room with a lightness, as the pure force of the laughter expelled out of their chests made them lightheaded with a dazed happiness.
Lily was lost in thought and staring at the ceiling in her dorm room on the fateful Friday night when Lucy barged into her dorm room. Lily sat up in surprise: Lucy had disappeared for the entire week, Lily barely even seeing her in passing. Something was definitely off.
“Tonight!" Lucy yelled, releasing an out burst of pent up energy. She grabbed Lily’s hand and pulled her off up the bed and sent the two of them spinning in circles around the room. “We are young, and we are beautiful. C’mon Lils!’
Her pulse quickened at the thought of tonight. Tonight. She would let her personality burst at the seams, she wouldn’t limit herself, she wouldn’t sink inside herself. All her confusion and doubt would be vanished, she wouldn't worry about Lucy, and she wouldn’t be afraid to talk to James tonight. The party in the room of requirement with the roller rink was tonight, and it felt like a turning point for something.
Lily put one of her favorite Beatles albums into her record player and set the mood for the night. Strawberry Fields Forever came on, and Lily remembered her day in the forest and meeting the stag. Could the stag be James? she mused. It didn’t feel so impossible now.
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
Lily was closing her eyes to life and had been misunderstanding James Potter for years. Tonight, tonight, they were opened wide, filled with the light of the stars, a doe gazing in the moonlight.
As she looked through her clothes, she danced slowly and awkwardly to the music, savoring the familiar lyrics. Lucy took her hands and they started dancing, lazy slow dancing with lots of twirls and missed steps and and easy laughs, around the room. The room had picked up a faint lilac scent from someone’s perfume. She breathed in the music and the scents and the room and felt her hair swing wildly around her.
A piece of midnight blue velvet caught her eye.
She didn’t remember ever buying the dress. It was like it had appeared there because she needed it tonight. Pure Magic.
45 minutes later, she felt dazzling. Dark red curls, eyelashes glittering with fresh mascara, black streaks of eyeliner applied expertly to her eyelids. She dabbed some rose oil to her wrists. The gown was a glove, simple yet flattering with with its semi-modest neckline and ending at her mid thigh. The dark blue velvet contrasted her skin and her hair. She wouldn’t be invisible, another face in the crowd tonight. She was Lily fucking Evans.
Lily felt more excited than she had in a long time. The room of requirement felt full of anticipation. The party was informally that of the rebellion, muggleborns and blood-traitors, and this was obvious, with muggle music and the primary activity, roller skating, that of muggles as well. She was part of the group of people who wanted desperately to simply piss off stodgy, old fashioned purebloods who were averse to any sort of muggle culture. She knew they were a bit pretentious and naïve, trying to become cultured and really change what the world though of muggleborns and muggles, but it was something. She had a feeling their informal rebellion had the potential to grow into something more someday. The room of requirement was a roller rink, the large circular wood floor set in the middle of the room. The room was darkened, with disco-balls and multi-colored flashing lights going off in all directions. Plush carpet, a forest green color, surrounded the rink, with comfy chairs and couches sporadically occupying the floor. Towards the right, a full bar took up the entire wall, and three seventh year Hufflepuffs were serving drinks.
A fantastic muggle song, Dancing Queen, was playing over the stereo. The song made her think about how young she was, and she felt inspired. I am going to make a move on James tonight. She had been denying her feelings for years. She couldn’t possibly like that prat, she had told everyone, emphasizing how much she despised him. However, as an afterthought, she realized the fact that she had hated him, couldn't get him off her mind, made it seem obvious that there was chemistry there.
She saw Natalie and Michael talking quietly to themselves and walked up to them. She threw an arm over Natalie’s shoulder, and gave Michael a quick punch on the shoulder.
“Looking to suck face with Potter tonight?” Natalie whispered to Lily with an exaggerated raising and lowering of her eyebrows.
“Maybe in the middle of the roller rink? Or is that asking for too much attention?”
Lily said it with such a serious expression. Natalie stared at her for a minute, a beat of silence, and then she burst out laughing. “Um, what have you done with the real Lily? Where has this Evans been all my life?”
“Waiting to make a grand entrance,” Lily said easily. “Hey, why haven’t we ever been close? I love you, you're just the best girl!”
“You too bitch! Wait, look who just showed up.” Natalie leaned over to whisper into Lily’s ear for her last comment, “Get it girl."
She heard the door close, and intuitively knew he had made his way straight to the roller rink. She whispered her plan into Natalie’s ear and quietly snuck towards the bar, weaving in and out of mingling students.
Lily went to the bar for some liquid courage; she knew she needed it.
“Two firewhiskeys, please,” Lily asked the bartender brusquely. The Hufflepuff, Barry Anderson, merely raised his eyebrows at her as he poured the drinks. Lily wasn’t exactly known as the partying type around Hogwarts.
Lucy arrived as Lily took the two drinks from the bartender.
“Hey Lils, already downing the alcohol? What’s gotten into you?”
Lily didn’t say a word as she handed one of the firewhiskeys to Lucy and took the drink in one gulp. She wasn’t used to the taste, and it burned her throat.
“Whoah, Lils, that stuff is powerful, and you haven’t exactly built up a tolerance to alcohol. What’s with you tonight?”
Lily was already imagining that she was feeling the effects of the alcohol, feeling unsteady on her feet. “I need to talk to James,” she said a little louder than she meant to. “I need to tell him something important.”
Lucy smirked slightly. “Alright then."
Lily looked across the room and locked eyes with Potter. He was standing by the edge of the roller rink, picking up a pair of skates. Lily put on her most fierce expression and walked over to him with all the confidence in the world. She stopped in front of him and put on her own pair of skates.
“Got as much skill on skates as on the Quidditch field, Potter?” Lily said flirtily.
“Oh, you know me,” he said airily, “I’m a man of many talents.”
“Well, we’ll see. I doubt you’ll even be able to stand up without falling over with that big head of yours.”
James smiled, “Evans, hasn’t anyone ever told you sarcasm is the lowest form of wit?”
“Well, has anyone ever told you you’re an idiot? Cause you are. You think you're clever, but you’re so stupid that you, with your whole look and charm thing going on, couldn’t get me to go out with you after asking a hundred times!”
James was grinning more happily than she had ever seen him before. “Did you just admit that I’m good looking and charming? You must really be drunk Lils.”
“Not too drunk to notice, that you, James Potter, look fit as fuck right now.” She couldn’t help the flirty, suggestive smile as she said it.
Had that really just happened? Had she really just blatantly come on to James Potter like that? Who the fuck was this bitch? Lily laughed at that last thought. Despite the fact that usually this type of flirty banter would cause her an intense amount of anxiety, she felt alive, carefree, lighter than air. Her laughter was coming in bubbles again. She could tell that James was feeling the effect of her infectious laughter. He was laughing too, in a way she had never seen him laugh before. Out of control, tears of happiness and mirth gathering in the corner of her eyes.
“I’ve never seen this side to you before Evans, and I have to say, I love it. I don’t really have a comeback for that one, but of course to say you are, obviously, the most beautiful girl in this room. You’re always the most beautiful girl in the room.”
Her smile was sunshine on a rainy day, the sight of the golden snitch in a long Quidditch game. Her skates were on, and he held out his hand to hers, and she grabbed it. Their fingers intertwined, and she could pick up his scent of rain and strawberries. She felt clumsy in her skates, as she made her way onto the rink, but she could tell he was no more comfortable on skates than she was.
They had become awkward and shy and clumsy on skates, as they both tried to get their bearings. James almost fell as soon as he was on the rink, and Lily’s bright laughter bubbled inside her again. She felt a sense of bliss, like she had found something she had been looking for for a long time. She looked up at James, and really studied his face. His hazel eyes looked more like a light green with little specks of gold in the lights of the disco. His jawline sharp, cheekbones high, his lips soft and red like strawberries and so ready to form a smirk. His hair, she loved his hair, its messiness, dark as ebony.
He finally looked at her too, really looked at her. He lifted the side of his mouth in his signature smirk, eyes twinkling. His eyes were the stars, and she felt as if she were gazing up at the universe, feeling insignificant but not invisible, dazed by the complexities that she couldn’t yet grasp, that she maybe could never fully grasp. She looked and she looked and she couldn’t look away.
He grabbed her other hand and they went to the middle of the rink. James was trying to lead her in some sort of waltz in skates, and he was horribly clumsy, smiling sheepishly in his awkwardness. He clearly didn’t know how to dance at all, but it was alright because neither did she. He sent her twirling in her skates and she felt like a ballerina, glittering and beautiful and elegant in her midnight blue dress. The room had taken on a pinkish glow, the disco lights filling the room with a steady, soft light instead of flashes. In the alcohol and the adrenaline of being so close to James, the air was shimmering as if filled with a golden glitter, and love and dreams and anticipation were so absorbed in the atmosphere that the room felt frozen in time. Maybe that was part of the magic of the room of requirement.
James twirled Lily back to him. Their bodies were pressed close, his calloused hands caressing the small of her back. Shivers were sent up her spine so violently she felt unsteady on her feet. She took the opportunity to run her hands through his hair. It was thick and smooth, lovingly soft as she curled her fingers around it. She wanted to feel closer to him, so she pulled his head down toward her own. She paused an inch from his lips, staring into his starry eyes, their flecks of gold so bright they were blinding.
“I have to go,” James whispered. And he was gone just like that.
Lily stood there alone in the middle of the rink, beyond shock and hurt. The light no longer seemed soft and pink and shimmering, but dull, its fluorescence making her eyes sting. What was this game he was playing, appearing like a knight in shining armor and leaving her again? He was making her out to be some fucking damsel in distress, reliant on him for attention. He left so she would crave him even more.
Well, she was fucking sick of this game. She looked around the party and saw Natalie by the bar. She ripped off her skates in a vengeance and approached her.
“Where the fuck did Potter just go?”
Natalie raised her eyebrows, “Potter? Well, I saw him with Alaynie MacDonald just a minute ago.”
“What do you mean, with her?” Lily asked, her pulse starting to race, anxiety scattering her thoughts like a single beam of light scattered into the colors of the rainbow when it strikes a prism.
“I dunno, he grabbed her hand and beelined out of here.”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Like seriously, it was the most romantic moment of my entire life, and he throws me aside for some other girl, right as I was about to make the first move?”
“Babe, oh my God, what a prick. No matter what your history is, do not put up with that shit. Forget him.”
Lily was breathing hard by now, feeling dizzy, like she was a top that James had sent spinning.
She couldn’t believe how thick he was. Their chemistry had seemed undeniable, and she was ready to be open with him, to no longer be afraid. However, this was clearly just a game to him. His incredible charisma allowed him to connect with anyone, and she had mistaken their interactions for something more.
Not only that, but she had seriously embarrassed herself, by calling him fit and charming. Was she just a tool to satisfy his ego?
She was always making interactions out to be more than they were, overthinking everything, she scolded herself. The fury and the passion for arguing with him had felt real, but it never was real with James. As much as Lily made fun of him for his sense of humor, he was truly funny and charming, and people liked him. Was he this flirty with all the girls at Hogwarts?
As for herself, she just wasn’t on his level, she wasn’t universally liked. She tried being nice, but it didn’t really work for her all the time. She managed to be just a little too honest, a bit disconnected and quiet sometimes, and she often felt herself stumbling through social situations despite feigned confidence. She could never start an easy conversation like James. He was down to earth, and she was up in the clouds. He was cool but confident, while she was smart but standoffish. She could make herself poised in his presence, feeling confident in the moment. It all faded, however, when she realized how little she actually meant to him.
The only logical way to get out of the situation at this point was with alcohol. She wanted fun, she wanted flirty, she wanted to just escape herself for a moment. Lily sank into a seat, and, seeming to understand her distress, the bartender gave her a shot of fire whiskey.
She downed the shot in one go, and signaled to the bartender to keep it coming. She was beginning to enjoy the glasses drinking gave her, in which everything looked fuzzy and surreal.
The sharpness of Lily’s realizations about James was not successfully dulled by the alcohol. Despite the sweetness of her current alcoholic beverage (apple martini) her mouth tasted bitter.
“Okay, that’s it,” she said to no-one in particular. “Where’s Lucy?” Lucy was sure to understand, she was always able to comfort Lily, and she desperately needed comfort right now.
In her drunken haze, everything looked of another world and too real at the same time, the lights playing tricks on her brain. The mess of dark curls caught her eye. Lucy was trying to flirt with a Hufflepuff seventh year in a corner. Lucy watched as she threw back her head and laughed beautifully. Lily, in her pathetic state of mind, walked over to the pair, her feet feeling so heavy it was like the floor was a magnet.
Lily felt Lucy tense before she even turned away from the guy.
“What do you want?” She shouted over the music. Her voice was laced with venom, a snake striking its prey.
Lily blinked, taken aback. The world had turned itself upside down. Something had clearly transgressed since she had talked to Lucy last. It felt like there hadn’t been enough time for her to do anything wrong, it didn’t feel like any of this night was real anymore. She hardly remembered the last hour she had spent in a drunken haze. Had she done something she couldn’t remember? She suddenly felt so alone that it was like her soul had shrunk in on itself, condensing her pain in an audible ache.
The flush of emotion, the ocean wave rising above her head and threatening to crash was too much. It felt like someone, some outside influence, had torn apart her life as easily as ripping through wrapping paper on Christmas morning.
Lily turned around slowly, gazing about the room. She saw Connor in the corner of the room with one of his Ravenclaw friends. He was safety, and he was revenge.
She walked up to him confidently, throwing her hair over her shoulder.
“Heeeeyyy,” she said with a flirty wink.
Connor seemed a little taken aback by her sudden forwardness, but happy to see her nonetheless.
Hi, Lily,” he said, shyly. “Are you alright?”
“You know, Connor, I’ve never been better! I’m in the best company in the best castle in the whole world. How couldn’t I be absolutely perfect!”
Without waiting for a response, she threw her arm around his waist, leaning her head against his shoulder.
“You know, Lily, this is nice,” he said earnestly.
Lily heard the door open, and she whipped her head around. James had come walking back in, searching the room frantically.
Lily quickly turned around and made herself the picture of nonchalance, and decided to put on a show for James. She let out a loud laugh that sounded fake to her own ears, “Oh, Connor, you are so funny. I’ve never heard a funnier joke in my entire life.”
Connor wasn’t getting it, “Wait, what did I say?”
A hand had started tugging on her left shoulder, insistent. She continued to laugh in that obnoxious, fake manner as James Potter turned her around.
“Can we talk?” he asked earnestly.
“After abandoning and embarrassing me like that?” I think not.”
“No, no, its not like that–“
“Now that I’m thinking, answer me this: have we ever had a conversation that wasn’t flirty banter or arguing? That’s not real to me. It’s a game. It’s always been a game to you, hasn’t it?”
“Lily, let me explain–“
“No, I don’t give a fuck about your excuses. You were using me to inflate your ego! All that romantic stuff was bullshit, because right as I was about to kiss you, you backed away! What, I’m so unattractive that you leave at thought of kissing me? I’m done, Potter. I’m just done.”
Lily stormed out of the room faster than the golden snitch, ignoring the congregation that had gathered to watch the scene.
Sirius looked over at Remus. They had settled comfortably on a forest green velvet couch in a more secluded corner of the room, watching the revelry from afar. They had mostly sat there in silence, as their conversation after Charms on that fateful day had put an uncomfortable weight between them. Sirius, breaking the tension, slowly leaned into Remus and whispered into his ear, “Do you want to skate with me?”
Remus’ face retained its usual control, but Sirius could sense the ghost of a smile. They both stood up and walked over to the rink. Sirius and Remus smiled as they saw Lily and James on the rink holding hands, and skating without too much skill. They both watched for a moment from the edge of the rink, and then noticed a couple of pair of skates had been abandoned by the edge of the rink. Sirius snatched them up and magically adjusted the sizes to fit his and Remus’ feet.
It was clear that Remus was nervous to get onto the rink. He’s probably never gone skating before, Sirius thought logically. Sirius grabbed Remus by the wrist and gently guided him to the rink.
“Here, hold onto me in the beginning, and then you’ll get the hang of it,” Sirius told him.
Remus looked around nervously for onlookers, but everyone was too wrapped up in their own dramas to notice the two of them. Remus relaxed, and let Sirius guide him around the rink.
Remus got the hang of it quickly, but he didn’t let go of Sirius. Sirius looked away to hide his smile.
Their peaceful skate continued on in this manner, Sirius leaning in to whisper in his ear every once in awhile, either to point out something funny or to say something obnoxious that was an attempt at romance. The rest of the world faded out of Sirius’ mind, as it was just him and Remus. He all of the sudden noticed that the rink had mostly emptied.
Hey, want to get out of here for a minute?” Sirius said huskily into Remus’ ear, adding an exaggerated wink for effect. Their roller skates were abandoned in an instant, and the two of them quietly left the room of requirement to avoid attention. It was easy, as everybody was engaged in watching some drama the two of them had no interest in. Outside the door, as soon as they were out of sight of prying eyes, they grabbed each others’ hands. Suddenly, however, in the absence of the atmosphere of the party, away from all their friends on this mischievous night, a melancholy settled over them like a light drizzle of rain: barely there but persistent.
“All the sneaking around makes me feel like I’m lying all the time. Like my life is a lie,” Sirius said sadly. “It is a lie. I’m living a lie everyday.”
“I know. I thought the whole ‘secret relationship’ thing would be fun but the hiding is starting to get old,” Remus said.
“Yeah, well, what are we supposed to do? I can’t risk losing my friendship with James, I just don’t know how he would react,” Sirius sighed sadly.
They were both tired of talking about this. It was a conversation that repeated itself again and again, but had been putting an uncomfortable weight on their relationship for a long time.
“Why would James be upset?" Remus said logically, "We’re the same people we always were. He’ll understand."
“What if he doesn’t though? Will I still be welcome in his house? Will there even be a Marauders anymore?”
“Sirius, babe, you have to learn to trust at some point. We can’t go on living like this.”
“Oh, yeah, it's that simple, I just have to trust,” Sirius said with sardonic sarcasm. Sirius felt his anger growing, coming off him in emotional waves. “I can’t even trust my own fucking parents!”
Remus said softly, “You can’t live you're life like this Sirius.”
Sirius’ anger was a supernova, burning bright and cooling down fast. Quietly, as an afterthought, he added, “I’m not sure I even trust myself…”
The tense silence that followed Sirius’ proclamation was interrupted by the opening of a door. It was opened in such haste, such violence, that the whole castle seemed to shake.
Lily was standing in the corridor, the portrait of distress. She looked at them, wild-eyed and afraid. She was so fragile in that moment that it seemed a single gust of wind would knock her over.
In response to the startled expressions of him and Sirius, she burst into tears. It mimicked the earlier violence of the ripping open of the door: vigorously, a fountain pouring down her cheeks all at once. Sirius felt as though he could taste the salt encompassed in her tears.
With a glance to Remus, he gently walked up to her and took her hand. They walked that way, hand in hand, all the way to Gryffindor tower. Not one word was exchanged: Sirius demanded no explanations. He squeezed her hand in affection as the tears slowed to a gentle rolling, an aftershock of their earlier violence. He took her all the way up to her dorm room (the castle must have sensed his good intentions), waited for her to change, then tucked her in, brushing the tears from her cheeks with calloused fingers. Her eyes spoke of her gratitude, and he quietly left her to sleep off her sadness.
A/N: I hope everyone is having the loveliest of days xoxo thanks for reading!
(Again, I don't own Harry Potter or the Beatles or anything else you might recognize!)
Chapter 6: Roses and Reflection
She was a moth drawn to a flame, but she had flown too close this time. Her wings were burning in the hot, fiery fingers.
Since the party, Lily’s life had become dull, a vivid color diluted to nothingness. Lucy still wasn’t talking to her, and she didn’t know why, couldn't think of any reasons. She brushed by Lily in the hall, serving her cold looks. Her other friends were still seen conversing with Lucy, and while they weren’t hostile to Lily, they hadn’t been around as much, and so she was more alone than she had ever felt at Hogwarts.
She had successfully avoided James, but that hadn’t helped to alleviate the ache left in his absence. Her life was a canvas, and James was the blues, the reds, the magentas. Clearly, however, his presence hadn’t come without a price. She was a moth drawn to a flame, but she had flown too close this time. Her wings were burning in the hot, fiery fingers.
Lily had once thought that she could be happy with the smooth routine of the everyday, waking up at the same time, going to the same classes, seeing the same people. Life was comfortable. However, once she had a taste of adventure, the novelty that James offered, after she had imagined a life where she something more to him, she felt stuck, muddling through life like she was stuck in molasses.
At the same time that she felt like she was stuck, life had other ideas, moving faster than she wanted it to. Lily felt like she was looking at life through a foggy window, the shadows flickering over vague shapes, the light creating fuzzy halos over everything. For the week after the party, she was absorbed into the grudging nature of daily life at Hogwarts. She was another face in the crowd, her quill another scratching furiously to finish that essay. James put her in the spotlight, and without it, she was invisible. It wasn’t that she missed attention: invisibility had become more than a feeling, something tangible. She felt like she had to shout just to be heard. People knocked into her in the halls and didn’t seem to notice as they brutishly moved on. She was faded, a shadow walking among the living. So, she was quiet, keeping to herself and to her work and to her books.
The following Saturday, Lily went down to the Gryffindor table to enjoy a luxuriously late breakfast. Delicious smells of freshly cooked sausage and expertly prepared eggs greeted her nose. She shoveled all the different kinds of food onto her plate and poured a cup of coffee. The sun was already up, with blue skies and white wispy clouds over her head in the enchanted ceiling. Vases of big, bright purple flowers were arranged on the table in regular intervals, making the space feel even more beautiful than usual.
As she took a sip of coffee, she looked over to see James covertly studying her movements, her facial features. When she noticed, he continued to stare at her defiantly. They hadn’t talked since their last encounter. The sight of him, so roguish and wayward in his stance, made her bite her tongue so hard she drew blood, its syrupy, metallic taste coating her mouth. She couldn’t tear her gaze away, no matter how hard she tried. They eyes were locked, as sticky as the syrup she was dipping her pancakes into.
His gaze was questioning, and full of something she didn’t recognize on his face: concern. Did he regret his actions of that night? Because of his outrageous nature and the attention it had garnered, she doubted it. Still, something seemed slightly different. Like a room had been painted a slightly different shade of blue from its original cerulean hue. It was the same room, but one could tell something was different.
James seemed to have caught himself, and he turned his head to crack a joke to Sirius. That’s what she was to him: a joke. Lily refused to let her inner turmoil show, as her eyes narrowed into a fierce glare. Her food was shoved angrily into her mouth as it became harder to fight her emotions.
No-one noticed as she simmered in her anger, acid burning a hole through the floor. Food half finished, she abruptly stood up and sauntered out of the hall. She walked aimlessly, absorbed in her thoughts.
She didn’t want to need him. It made the anger harden in heart, like the melting wax of a candle dripping and cooling immediately into an ugly, waxy texture. Everyone else was occupying their regular niche in the vast social networks of Hogwarts, living happy and obliviously, while she was here, a fly caught in a spiderweb, paralyzed in the middle of the chaos that came with living in a school full of witches and wizards.
Her life at Hogwarts had turned into a meeting with James, her the image of poise and rationality. And then? Nothing seemed important, everything was just building up to the next moment she got to talk to him. Life was knit together with the white threads of mundanity, mixed in with the vibrants, silky threads of James.
Every thought, especially in the last week, brought her back to James Potter. Why was she consumed, nearly obsessed? She needed to pull herself out of this black hole.
She had dared to become lost in the dreams of a happy, impossible future. However, it was time to return to the present. Her starry-eyed stare become dull when harsh realities awoke her and she realized that the idea of being with James, her symbol of living outside the ordinary, was just a dream.
Thus, Lily went to explore the castle, to find a spark of imagination and inspiration in its dusty halls. Her solo journeys through the depths of the castle was where she felt the most Gryffindor, belonging to something outside herself. In her distracted musings, she had made her way to the fifth floor, and was struck by a sudden thought. The Room of Requirement.
James watched as Lily escaped once again. He had been studying her at breakfast, and he had cracked a joke to Sirius to try and ease his own anxiety. Once he turned his head back around, she was gone. She had run off like a doe caught in wand light.
He was beginning to become very worried about her. She looked paler than usual, and wasn’t surrounded by her group of rambunctious friends. She had closed off everyone else, walking around the castle like a ghost.
He had gone up to her, time and time again, to just explain. She ran away every time. She wasn’t even trying to tease him or say anything mean. The silence hurt more than her mean jokes ever could.
The situation in the party was actually quite simple to explain. He had gotten an alert from the charmed coin his parents had got him. His parents had given it to him because, as Aurors, they wanted him to be able to know when they were in danger. He had gotten the alert, and immediately grabbed his cousin Alaynie to go to Dumbledore’s office. With the recent Voldemort attacks, his parents were on the front lines, and James was growing more and more anxious about their safety. Fortunately, however, the whole incident had quickly been deemed a false alarm, his parents making it out safely. After knowing this fact, James’ first thought had been to explain to Lily. After the years of humiliation he had put her through, he knew he had to be open and honest with her if he wanted her to trust him. And, well –bad timing– and things were over with her before they had even had a chance to start.
He sighed. He understood her concerns: asking her out time and time again had been a game to him, one he had found entertaining for many years.
James, feeling depressed and moving through the day sluggishly, returned to his dorm room early that evening. He was lying on his bed enjoying Tolkien’s masterpiece The Hobbit when he heard Sirius sit on the end of his bed. James finished his page, then gingerly placed the open book face down on his bed.
“Mate, come on, you can’t keep doing this routine. Where’s your….zest?”
“Zest? You a poet now?”
“Oh, sod off.”
“No really, Sirius, with your flourish for words, you should write a fucking novel instead of interrupting my book, like honestly–“
“Prongs, you ramble on about everything, ever consider shutting the fuck up?”
“No not really, I quite like the obnoxious sound of my voice–“
“James, I had something important to tell you–“
“Oh really? I thought you came in here simply to bask in the beautiful melodies of my wonderfully obnoxious voice?”
“Whose adding unnecessary flourish to their vocabulary now? Merlin, you’re dramatic.”
“What’s life without drama, you know, actually, I have a funny story to tell you–“
“James!” Sirius practically shouted. “What are you going to do about Lily?”
James finally stopped talking. He had rambled on like a lunatic to avoid this conversation with Sirius. Him and Sirius were the type of bros that avoided serious conversations at all costs, only communicating through rude jokes and unnecessary conversation. They only brought up serious subjects in dire circumstances.
James sighed, “What is there to do? She’ll barely look at me. She seems really lonely, though, if only I could just explain.”
“Well, when I’ve talked to Lily–
“Wait. How often do you talk to Lily? Since when?”
“I don’t know, pretty much everyday, we’re becoming good friends actually–“
“What the fuck Sirius? Where have you been? You really haven’t been around as much and now you’re BFFs with Lily, like–
“Did you just say BFF? What are you, like, in primary school exchanging friendship bracelets–“
“I’m serious, Sirius!” James paused and frowned at the accidental pun. However, he couldn’t hold a straight face for long and burst out laughing, along with Sirius. Once they had recovered, James tried again.
“Sirius, something seems different. I haven’t wanted to say anything cause I’m not that guy, but like…You good?”
“You good? Of course I’m fucking good. I swear, you better never date Lily because then you’ll be even more of a softy. I’m honestly disgusted right now–“
“You’re the one who came here to talk about me and Lily!”
“Yeah, because you’re fucking useless at relationships, you dumped that one girl in front of everyone in the great hall–“
“I was in, like, fourth year! I’m better now.”
“Well, have you ever been in a relationship that lasted more than a month?”
“I mean, I guess not, but that’s by choice!”
“Yeah, just not your choice”
“Mate,” Sirius said, lowering the volume of his voice. They had both been raising their voices steadily in the heat of the banter. “Lily is so obviously smitten with you, if she won’t listen, make her listen! I mean, its understandable why she’s upset, I mean that has to be the most comedically timed emergency–“
James frowned at that as Sirius chuckled.
“–Anyways, you two are meant to be or whatever other romantic shit, so go for it mate.”
“Well, that was a surprisingly good pep talk by your standards.”
Sirius smiled. “Glad to help mate. It’s time to stop moping.”
Sirius left the dorm room as James flopped back on his bed, feeling just as unsure as before.
Lily quickly made her way to her destination. She recognized the familiar statue midway through the corridor and walked in front of the wall across from it. A single, melodious word, two syllables repeated itself in her mind like a record player caught on an imperfection, the needle scratching over the spot again and again. Escape.
A door materialized. It was a glowing mahogany, with a bright red door knob. It was perfectly sized to her frame, and Lily didn’t hesitate to cross the threshold.
It wasn’t at all what she was expecting. Her intake of breath was so sharp that her expanded lungs seemed to lift her off the ground.
It was light, breezy, the stuff of dreams. Mahogany floors and light grey walls. The wonderful scents of lavender and rose oil putting an involuntary smile on her face as she breathed in. Inside, glass coffee tables and pristine papasan chairs dominated the space. An upright piano, vintage but still in perfect conditions with its off white keys and ebony frame nestled itself in a corner. Beyond giant french doors was the garden. Lily was immediately drawn there.
The garden felt like it was really outside, but also somehow not. It was too pristine and the colors were too vivid beneath a bright azure cloudless sky, yet bumblebees buzzed around lavender hydrangeas and tiny white flowers lined the round stepping stones she delicately placed her feet upon. There was a wooden bench just off the path, which she went to and sat upon. A collection of different colored roses caught her eye, however, and she just as quickly got up and went over to them. She found a bush of pale yellow roses and stopped in her tracks. She grasped the velvety petals, and already felt the hot tears rolling down her cheeks as she was lost in the memory of the place she could never forget, that she craved to forget, could never let herself forget.
She was walking in her neighborhood in the urban sprawl of Manchester. It was suburban bliss, houses of red brick, yellow slats, all of them small and comfortable and lonely. The children played hopscotch and from the front porch the wives kissed their husband’s cheek as they went to work in the morning. She looked down at the cracked sidewalk, little clovers growing in the seams. It was the type of place that never seemed to change, but each moment there, in this life, felt fleeting. She was wearing her favorite shoes, stained, worn, faded yellow maryjanes, and a forest green corduroy dress. Up ahead, the sidewalk went on forever, lawn after lawn of dying yellow-green grass, with trees stripped of their leaves by winter hanging their skeleton limbs over her head. The sky was faded, a greyish blue with soft, barely there clouds. A storm was waiting in anticipation, hovering and refusing to strike. She could already taste a metallic hint of impending thunder. The slight breeze pulled at wisps of her soft red hair pulled back in a single plait.
She was walking steadily. Where was she walking to, and why? She couldn’t let herself think about it, think about any of it. She walked by a pale yellow rosebush, and she trailed her fingers along the soft velvety petals. She lingered there. Its beauty, the innocence of its subtle color were a mask for the secrets in the house behind it. Secrets concealed the lives ruined there.
The storm was finally done waiting, and unleashed itself in all its glory.
James had been staring at the ceiling for quite some time since Sirius had left, lost in the abyss of his thoughts.
Lily had been drunk when she came on to him, right? Did that mean it still meant something? It was just so unlike her to begin with, he wasn’t sure he could trust it. The night was insane, from beginning to end, and it was immortalized in his brain as too many emotions and colors and sounds to reasonably sort through.
Despite everything he and Lily had gone through recently, he felt unsure about all of it. Many aspects of his past interactions with not only her, but much of the student body haunted him, left him insecure and anxious and full of regret. He remembered a particular moment at the end of last year. He winced at the memory that he had been that stupid and ignorant a mere year ago. The details of what he had done were even cringier. The memory rose to the surface of his mind, and he was absorbed back into that moment in time.
He was walking in the rain. It was the type of storm that had interrupted the prettiest of days, coming out of nowhere. His white pressed school uniform shirt was sticking to his skin, the tie hanging loosely around his neck saturated with water.
He was trying desperately to forget what he had done, to think of a way to apologize enough. This one had gone to far, and he needed some way to relieve himself of the guilt.
It wasn’t permanent, he tried to console himself. It was no use, however: what was done was done, and this was a deed he couldn’t take back.
Jackie Summers was one of the most obese girls at Hogwarts, almost comically so.
He had partially transfigured her into a pig, most notably her face with a bright pink pig’s snout. He had then gone up to her, saying not so wittily, “Well, Summers, I can’t really tell the difference . You were awfully piglike to begin with, wouldn't you agree?.”
The comment had garnered several laughs from students gathered in the corridor. Lily, however, who he was desperate to impress, was not laughing.
As the crowd had begun to disperse and Summers ran off crying to the hospital wing, Lily walked up to him seething.
“Really Potter? I thought your jokes were meant to target people who at least somewhat deserved what they got. I’ve talked with Jackie and she’s struggled with anorexia before. She has a condition that makes her put on weight. She’s very insecure and you have to humiliate her in front of everyone? You disgust me, you fucking twat.”
She stalked out of the corridor. He was the only one left, staring at the floor as he was forced to confront his actions. Why had he done it? Was he that desperate for attention that he was willing to humiliate someone vulnerable whose…defect, no it was not a defect you twat women don’t deserve to feel as if they are broken, was out of her control?
He had felt especially out of control recently. He had been unable to stop himself from biting back mean comments, from hexing anyone in the halls that even slightly annoyed him. He regretted each of these actions as soon as he did them, but that wasn’t making it any easier to stop.
Feeling as if he had hit rock bottom, James had flown from the corridor and out into the rainy day. And here he was walking the grounds, trying to expend all the excess energy his anxiety had stored up. The rain soaked him, surprisingly cold for almost summer. He walked and walked and walked to try and lose himself in the vastness of the stormy sky and the water pouring off him in rivulets. He ventured deep into the familiarity of the forest, trying to saturate himself with the nostalgia of better times there, but it was no use. He couldn’t run from the person he had become. He had to own up to it, and find a way to change.
And, so, as soon as he returned to the castle, he sat down, favorite quill in his hand, and explained, but did not defend his actions. The only course of action now was to apologize. He tried to be as sincere as possible. When have I ever been sincere with anyone? he asked himself, vaguely troubled, But I think its a good thing. He wrote the best apology he knew how, and delivered the letter to her in person, to the hospital wing where she had been forced to stay overnight for the hysterics the afternoon had caused her.
And this time, he really did change.
The memory gradually faded from James’ mind. Jumping off his bed, he slowly approached the window. It was raining outside. Without a second thought, he was out the dorm room and making his way through the castle towards the outdoors.
He walked down the stairs in a rush, the rain coming down hard now, relentless. He was reminded of the rain in the memory. However, it just made James walk with even more purpose.
He walked toward the forest, like always. The forest was home, familiar. It didn’t matter who he was, what had he done. Solitude was a pleasure there, it was much more bearable there than in his dorm room.
James’ family history was embedded in this forest. The legacy of the Potter family was unlike that of any other in Wizarding Britain. The family had never been the type to build large mansions in the middle of nowhere. Before the “forbidden” forest had been annexed into Hogwarts land, it was his family’s. Many of his ancestors had been animagi, like himself, transforming into wolves and stags and bunnies, other creatures associated with the forest.
Any Potter had the power to manipulate the land itself, like the strawberry fields James had created for Lily. He liked to think of himself of a forest veela, because, as he told himself with a smirk, according to Lily I am good looking and charming. Despite his apparent magnetic qualities, however, the metaphor didn’t quite translate.
His parents, to some degree, had followed society’s norms, the norms set by the purebloods: living in London and working at the ministry as Aurors. Still, at heart, James didn’t want the city life, didn’t want to work for the ministry like every other wizard. What could the ministry do against the forces of evil brewing throughout Britain? James wasn’t naïve to the threat Voldemort was posing to wizarding society. It made him shudder to think of the risk Lily and other muggleborns were currently under.
James didn't want to think about that now, instead thinking ahead to a happier future. He thought about how he wanted to live close to the forest in close knit wizarding communities, living a simple life. Maybe he would follow in his parents footsteps as Aurors, maybe not. He wanted to live in a log cabin, a homey space with a bright fire and plush armchairs, comfy quilts neatly folded on top. He would be removed from the world, from its heartbreak and drama, but at the same time have it at his fingertips.
James crossed the threshold into the cluster of trees at the border of the forest. His magic felt more powerful in the forest: an itch at his fingertips. Despite the rain, the forest was greener and more full of life than ever. Moss speckled the rich chestnut color of the tree trunks, the roots forming a puzzling set of stepping stones on the forest floor. Green, like emeralds, like like her eyes. It was his favorite color by far. He loved the feeling of being saturated in it.
He sat by the tree where he had led Lily to the strawberry fields. His back leaning against the trunk, he noticed some tiny white flowers. Those are new, he thought vaguely. He picked one up, and with an ironic smile on his face, began the cliche ritual.
“She loves me.” A petal plucked. “She loves me not.” Another petal slowing floating down.
There was only one petal left. “She loves me..” he whispered into the silence. He leaned his head back against the tree trunk, peering up at the leaves. The rain had ceased, but little drops of water hung on the leaves, illuminated by the dying, golden light of the sun in the distance.
And, as the land itself seemed to validate Lily’s love for him, he began to dream, his idealistic, starry eyed dreamer persona overtaking him. He and Lily could live together after Hogwarts, in a small little cottage, in somewhere like Godric’s Hollow, a removed, homey village. He would see his best friends, the Marauders, everyday, and him and Lily could become best friends with their next door elderly neighbors. He would bake (he would never admit this but he quite like to cook) everyone in the neighborhood cookies.
And maybe, if a war was avoided, they could all adventure the world together, for the world was a big place he longed to explore. He wanted to climb mountains and fly his broom over alpine lakes and meet wizards from different countries.
What about work, though? I could be a professor at Hogwarts, he thought suddenly. He hadn’t realized he had ever wanted it, he had felt programmed to become an Auror for so long. But he really did want it, he knew. Hogwarts was the best place in the world. He wanted to be the one to shape the next generation of wizards, be a driving force against this oncoming fight against evil. He would fight, and he would help others fight too. It was like the fogged glass through which he had been viewing his life was cleared.
For while he knew he was delusional to dream so far in advance, about a girl who he wasn’t sure loved him back and a world that could be erased by the evil of Voldemort, he couldn’t help it. He had a sudden gut instinct, intuition, that things would work out between Lily and him, that he could find happiness in life’s little moments until he died.
Lily, standing there alone, in the cold winter rain, in the place she wanted to erase. Despite her chill, the blueness descending on her soul, she still felt the hotness of the tears trailing down her cheeks. Peeking through the rosebush, the house was still standing there, same as it always was. She fought the memories crashing in her head.
The house was a stark red brick, entwined branches creeping up the surface. Fluorescent green interrupted this pattern in the form of the back door, which led to bright tile flooring and pastel wallpaper. When she was there, she would sit in a plush blue armchair. Beside it, in the corner, was a circular mirrored glass side table. It reflected the patterns of the wallpaper, highlighting a tear in its surface. The pretty pastel was a facade to the dangers encompassed in the house. But, most of all, she remembered him. And her mistakes.
She tried to pull herself away from that moment, the shame she craved to outrun, into the part of her childhood where the colors were brighter. She played hopscotch on the sidewalk with her primary school friends, she rode her bike through the neighborhood, her and the boy next door shared a wet, sloppy kiss underneath the peach tree in the park. When she would tear wildly through the street on a bright summer’s night to outrun the inevitability of bed time, when time moved in a slow golden haze on Sunday morning, when the world was still brand new and full of mystery, when life was one long pattern of running and laughing and discovering that she never wanted to escape.
She became saturated with a lonely nostalgia, a nostalgia necessary to mask her shame. She wanted to live in it, that feeling of nostalgia. It was the happiest kind of sadness.
She faded in and out of her memories, until she was more dream than reality, and the images of the past faded into oblivion.
Lily brought her fingers to her cheek, and they came away wet with her tears. The tears still rolled down her cheeks, even though it seemed there was no emotion left to feel. She stayed there, lost in the pale yellow roses, deciding never to leave this palace of memories.
Lily finally pulled herself away from the pale yellow that was drawing her towards the past. She came back to the piano and sat down. When she was little, still ignorant of the existence of the wizarding world, she learned to play piano. She learned to love the discipline that came with it, the act of sitting down every day to practice. She started playing the Allemande movement of French Suite in E Major by Bach. It was strictly timed, a fast flurry of notes in a melody she felt in her soul. It flowed from her in a perfect stream of notes, a constant pattern of fingering. She sat there for at least an hour, repeating the song again and again. All the angst was disappearing as she dissolved into the music. The tears still flowed down her cheeks, but she was so absorbed in where she was placing her fingers, putting the melody in her heart out into the empty room, that she didn’t notice.
Her fingers too raw to continue, Lily walked over to one of the soft couches facing the big french doors and sat down. She immediately noticed a book on the coffee table. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez. Tea all of the sudden appeared in front of her, lavender and bergamot, steaming in its dainty porcelain cup. In the pure silence of this place, in its floral scents and sunshine and lavender tea, she picked up the book and read, never stopping and becoming more absorbed in the book than she had ever been in any book she had read in her life, feeling and living through its pages.
She stopped on a particular quote, where a character was facing her death and looking back at her life, and the two potentials loves she had rejected:
“…Both actions had been a mortal struggle between a measureless love and an invincible cowardice, and that the irrational fear that Amaranta had always had of her own tormented heart had triumphed in the end…”
She stopped reading. She would have to finish the book later. She couldn’t live in her memories, she couldn’t be afraid. Would she regret it if she never at least explored her feelings for James? Was she just afraid, afraid of something so real, just as he had said to her in a rare glimmer of genuine feelings?
She smiled at her best memories of Hogwarts, entwined with those of James. In her memories, everything was so saturated in color it was like the edges were blurred, the vivaciousness of each thing jumping into the next in a mirage of mystery.
She remembered meeting Lucy on the train. There were scrawny first years, both anxious but excited. They sat by side, staring out the window in a stunted silence, until Lily squeaked out, “What house d’you reckon you’ll be in?”
From there, they talked about everything, and Lucy was able to help Lily learn about the ways of the wizarding world. Despite their different houses, they were never far from one another. She remembered the first time she and Lucy explored the grounds, sneaking into the forbidden forest and the greenhouses to look at dangerous, exotic plants.
She then remembered the first time she met James, before all the history and the fighting and the confusion and the angst and the desire. He was so small back then, 11 year old James with his signature messy hair and smirk. He came up to her, learning of her fascination with the secrets of Hogwarts, and led her through a secret tapestry he had discovered that led up a staircase to an amazing lookout. He had told her earnestly of his desire to become an Auror someday, his fascination with transfiguration, and they had bonded over a shared love of dark chocolate. It was an emerald of bliss in her maze of memories, this first impression of James buried deep in the back of her mind.
The next day, however, she saw him hex someone in the hall, use his family name and reputation to get away with horrible things. His booming voice, charm and charisma, lulled people, but was later used to humiliate them. If she was being honest, she was envious of him. Envious of the way he commanded a room, had a pull on people. Being close to his fire and then pulled abruptly back made her feel cold and lonely. Therefore, it was easy to find excuses to avoid and hate him, especially when she felt she was the target of his ego rampages.
Despite feeling that she didn’t fit in with the other Gryffindors in the beginning, being more shy and less outspoken, her Gryffindor side was brought out in they way she craved exploration and adventure, her troublemaking side she desperately hid from authority and was exacerbated by James in their first encounter. Every tapestry, every secret tunnel, every hidden room spoke to her. Hogwarts still a mystery then, one she was determined to get to the bottom to.
Now, she realized, she would never discover all its secrets. But she had come to like that, that there would always be something new to discover. It stored magic in its nooks and crannies in the most delightful of circumstances.
She didn’t know where her and Lucy stood now, what had happened with James, where any of her relationships with her friends stood quite frankly, as she had been disconnected from reality since that fateful Friday night, walking through her life like a ghost, so invisible and quiet no-one knew she was there. But the drunken haze of nostalgia was enough for now. It would have to be.
She felt like the girl in the Halloween fable who had a ribbon around her neck to keep her head in place. Nostalgia was a beautiful baby blue ribbon around her neck, tight and chokingly painful, but without it, only oblivion would be left.
With a certain hardness, however, she realized she had to leave this beautiful place full of nostalgia now. She didn’t want to be a coward marked by bitterness, her heart unable to love fully because of fear. The nostalgia for things gone and things to come wouldn’t be enough forever. She wanted to touch all the things of the Earth with her heart, saturate the people and things of Hogwarts in love and charisma, like a golden wind sweeping through and spreading happiness on its wings.
The magic binding her to this peculiar place, specifically crafted by the walls of this castle for what she required in this moment, released her. She said goodbye to the land of corduroy dresses and pale yellow roses and mysterious books. She opened the door with resolve, a promise to herself for something that wasn’t quite tangible in her mind yet. And, of course, standing outside the door was James Potter himself. Seeing him there, looking rough around the edges but beautiful in his mysterious way, the majestic nature of the stars reflected from his golden hazel eyes, she knew. She knew what it had all meant.
“... that the past is one lie, and the memory has no returning, because every old spring is beyond retrieve, and even the craziest and most persistent love is just a temporary truth...”
Was this love a fleeting memory, a crafting of her imagination, a reminiscence distorted and disfigured by her mind, or was it more…maybe all that mattered was that the two of them existed here, together, at the same time and the same place in the same universe. That they were drawn together in a way that couldn’t be explained, written in perfect clarity in the stars. Would it be enough?
A/N: Quotes are from Gabriel García Marquez's book 100 Years of Solitude, and a lot from this chapter was inspired by that book, as it has inspired my writing so much since I read it! Also, the space in the room of requirement was partly inspired from Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Grey.
To anyone reading this I hope you are having a great day all my love to you xoxo
Chapter 7: Hugs and Heartache
The feeling the music was giving her was something she wanted to share with James.
Lily stepped carefully outside of the room of requirement. James was here. She couldn’t help but smile despite the anxious beating of her heart.
James looked nervous as well as he said, “Lily, about the other night, it’s really not what you think, Alaynie is my cousin–" He was throwing his hands around in crazy gestures and refusing to look her in the eye as he spoke. She had only recently seen his nervous side, and she realized he had a tendency to ramble when he was anxious. She absolutely loved this aspect of his aspect of his personality. It made him more…human than he had used to seem to her.
“It’s okay James. I believe you, don’t worry.”
James visibly relaxed at her words. “Oh…okay. That’s great! Things were really great at that party Lils, I….I had wanted it for a long time.”
Lily blushed, and tried to embody her usual fierce attitude towards him. “Do you want to meet me by Sir Gregor’s tapestry in the Charms wing tomorrow night?””
James blinked in surprise. “Yes.”
“Alright,” she said as she started walking away, “Don’t forget to bring your charm and wit or I might change my mind.”
Lily quickly turned the corner and let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. She was turning over a new leaf, and it started with James.
She started skipping towards the Gryffindor common room. She looked out a window, and saw the sun high in the sky on a beautiful cloudless day. Lily reasoned it couldn’t be later than noon. It was if time had actually stopped in the room of requirement…it seemed that the room had more secrets than she knew up its sleeve. She would have to inspect the more specific aspects of the magic of that place later.
Because, right now, she was living in the moment instead of in the past. It felt like what Lily had imagined it would be like to have just woken up from a coma, like life was new, somehow. She was looking at things through rose colored glasses. She had just successfully asked out James Potter. James Potter, who she could now admit she had wanted for ages. She constantly felt nervous, thought she said the wrong thing, but just being around James gave her confidence. Things she didn’t know she was capable of communicating were put into the world with clarity and eloquence, her the picture of confidence with her fierce flair for life.
She walked up to the portrait hole unable to hide her beam. It tugged at the corner of her mouth, and she averted her eyes to the ceiling because she just couldn’t handle the flush of happiness building in her chest and moving through her body, making her want to skip and jump. She felt so light she thought she could fly.
The common room was mostly empty when she entered. A thought struck her mind and she walked over to a cork–board nestled in a forgotten corner. It was simple, with a Gryffindor red border, full of notes pinned with thumb tacks. The notes ranged from Comics Club Room 313 Every Tuesday at 5! to a polaroid photo of McGonagall with an angry look on her face, with the caption “Me when I see my NEWT grades”. From a little table full of quills and parchment, Lily ripped off a corner of a sheet of parchment and found some lavender ink to write:
Flight of the Emerald Deer. 15 minutes in RoR.
Each Common Room had its own cork board. Students used it to communicate with students in other houses. Anyone could post a note or picture on the board, and an identical copy would appear on all of the boards. All the notes would disappear after a week, or until the person who put up the note took it down. Lily used it for her various club meetings, and for her friends she had started an impromptu band with. They played rock music and ate food together. She hadn’t seen any of them in a while, and she felt inspired to see them again. Not everyone in the band would see the note, but Lily felt it was worth a shot.
Before leaving, Lily ran up to her dorm to change. Natural light cast the room in all its shades of brilliant red. It was one of her favorite colors. Beauty could be found in every corner of Hogwarts, she thought. She quickly put on a pair of brown corduroy pants and a striped colorful jumper and went back towards the common room.
She saw Remus and Sirius at the bottom of the stairs. She decided to be bold.
“Hey guys, want to come on an adventure?”
Sirius grinned at her, and she led them out through the portrait hole.
Sirius immediately started walking beside her, chatting about everything and nothing, while Remus hung back. He would strike up a conversation with passersby, something he usually avoided. It was obvious he was avoiding conversation with Sirius right now. Something had happened between them. She sensed a certain tension between them, a hesitance familiar to Remus but strange to witness in Sirius.
“Did you talk to James?” Sirius asked with a smile.
“You clearly already know I talked to James. Did you talk to him?”
“I saw him like 10 minutes ago. He was beaming and practically bouncing off the walls, so I had the faintest idea of what had happened.”
Lily didn’t even try to hide her smile. “I asked him to meet me tomorrow night.”
“I guess you had to be the one to ask him out since he’s already tried so many times.”
She laughed, but then grew more serious in her tone. “I’m just done with the games, you know? Before, I didn’t think it could be real when it seemed like such a game to him…but I guess it's just his way. Better to be humorous then to show what you’re really feeling, right?
Sirius smiled at her. “Me and James, we’ve always been like that. But you’re right. You shouldn’t play games when you care. Hiding, lying…it’s all bullshit.” Sirius' voice had risen in intensity and volume, and a silence settled in the hallway.
Lily linked her elbow through Sirius', and leaned in to whisper to him. “Are you two…alright?”
“Fine and dandy,” Sirius remarked dryly, but he felt stiff, uncharacteristic of him.
Lily leaned against his shoulder. “It’s going to be okay.”
“I wish it felt like it would. But it doesn’t. I have so many people to lose, people I think I’m close to losing. Its like...the lie is close to crumbling apart. I don't have the strength to hide anymore.”
“Well, you’ll have me, no matter how it all goes down, okay?”
Sirius smiled at her, a smile that contained sadness and doubt, but a glimmering sense of hope. They walked in silence the rest of the way to the room of requirement.
Lily paced in front of room of requirement. They had always used the room of requirement for rehearsal, thinking of the band name, Flight of the Emerald Deer, to get the perfect room for their purposes.
The door finally appeared, and Lily stepped inside. The room became a quintessential 70’s masterpiece. Bright purple shag carpet covered all of the floor except for the stage in the far left corner. A white upright piano, drum set, electric guitar, electric bass, and a microphone were on the stage. To the right of the stage, some papasan chairs faced it, and a big table with a couple of lava lamps in the middle was on the right side of the room.
Lily saw that Natalie was already there. Natalie played the drums, but hadn’t shown up to practice with them in a long time.
Lily quickly hugged her. Natalie laughed and said, “I couldn’t miss a chance to play with you love!”
When the embrace was broken, Natalie held Lily by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes.
“You alright?” she asked.
“Great.” Lily breathed. “How are you?”
Natalie winked at her. “We’ll have to talk later…I know that smile.”
Lily grinned. She felt like dancing around the room. She grabbed Sirius’ hands and they spun around, while Natalie put some waltz vinyl on the record player.
Minutes later, two other members of the band showed up: Steve and Jonathan.
Steve was a laid back Hufflepuff obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons. He had thick, squarish glasses and was always smiling. He was skilled at the bass guitar. Jonathan, their guitarist, was a Ravenclaw with a flair for herbology. He often led groups of students into the forbidden forests to identify plants, and was best friends with Hagrid.
Lily quickly greeted the other two, and they all jumped up onto the stage. She started playing the piano intro to a song they had started practicing a couple of weeks ago.
Lily smiled as Sirius jumped up onto the stage. He grabbed the microphone, and separated it from the stand, and magically extended the end of it so he could twirl it around. He spun on his heel and burst into song, his voice loud and resounding throughout the entire room:
Set my alarm, turn on my charm
That's because I'm a good old-fashioned lover boy
Lily laughed as she watched Sirius pretend to be Freddie Mercury. He really pulled off the drama quite well, and the fun, playful, easy romantic tone of the song. She could see Remus sitting in an armchair in front of the stage, obviously trying very hard to not smile, but it was pulling at his lips, and his eyes were shining with admiration and affection for Sirius. Because Lily knew their secret, it was incredibly obvious to her how much they loved each other, despite whatever they were going through. The emotion Sirius was putting into his voice that he tried to mask with his sense of drama, and the way Remus couldn’t pull his attention away. The hesitance she had felt between them earlier was gone in the simple pleasure of the moment.
It was the kind of relationship she was looking for with James, the kind that was seeming possible now. She was feeling overwhelmed by emotion, manifested physically as a squeezing sensation around her heart. Her friendship with the two lover boys was fuzzy and warm. Her anticipation for a future with James added another layer to her emotions that wasn’t quite tangible yet. It caused her to play the chords on the piano with a new vigor and their music seemed to have so much more energy than it used to. The guitar riffs were brighter and harmonized with the piano, the bass thrummed and could be felt within Lily’s bones. She wished that the song would never end.
The feeling the music was giving her was something she wanted to share with James. This was new to her, the need to have a good feeling shared with another. She had always kept her emotions to herself, even the good ones...maybe she was self-absorbed, as James had implied once. But something in her was changing, in a way that was frightening but incredibly necessary.
They all became lost in the magic of the music as they practiced the song a couple more times. At Hogwarts, magic wasn't only found in spells and charms, but in the little happy moments that were the threads of everyday life. Afterward they finished practicing, they all sat on the atrocious carpet and ate some dark chocolate Lily had brought. Life was better than it had been in a long time.
Sirius and Remus had gone off alone to talk, and Lily was walking back to the common room by herself. She started to realize that she hadn’t smiled so much in a long time.
When she finally arrived outside the portrait hole, she noticed Lucy waiting for her.
Lily approached her warily. “Hey.”
“Hey. Can we…talk?”
Lily just nodded, and she followed Lucy down the hallway. She led her to an empty classroom, where Amelia and Danielle were waiting inside.
The air immediately became tense, and they were all looking at her with a mixture of pity and distaste, masked by fake cheery smiles. So they all had been avoiding her, it wasn’t in her head as she had tried to convince herself. They hadn’t hung out as a group since that one night in Lucy’s dorm room. Something was wrong, and Lily had no idea what it was.
They all seemed afraid to speak. Their expressions, the tension, it was too much. The fire of anger she was constantly tamping down was about to explode, as Lily grew tired of the awkward silence. “So…you guys have been avoiding me. I don’t know what the fuck I did to deserve this especially when I’m, like, going through shit, like embarrassed in front of everyone at that party–"
Lily felt like the things that had been boiling underneath the surface, the things that were constantly being ignored by everyone, couldn’t be hidden any longer. She couldn’t hide any longer.
Lily's outburst immediately provoked Lucy’s quick temper. “Oh, give me a break, Lily. There’s always something to be upset about with you! God, you were so dramatic about this James thing, it’s always been about him, hasn't it?
Amelia cut in, trying to be calm, reasonable, but barely concealing her own anger: “Did you ever even care about what’s going on in our lives? We called you here because...well, we’re involved in something dangerous–”
Danielle interrupted, “We can’t tell her anything…I just..don’t know if I trust her.”
“First of all, don’t talk about me like I’m not fucking right here! What the fuck? You don’t trust me? You’ve known me since we started at Hogwarts, and now you don’t trust me?”
“Lily, you have to understand.” Amelia started, “You tend to…overreact sometimes–"
“You’re accusing me of overreacting? I’ve always walked on eggshells around you guys and your fucking feelings, especially Lucy–“
Lucy’s eyes were all fire, her voice silky smooth and sharp as a knife. “Yeah, because you have a tendency to be a bitch, like all the time–"
“Oh, you’re one to talk, as you’ve been ignoring me and I don’t even know why–“
Lucy became more serious, unusually showing her vulnerable side. “Yeah, because it never seems like you care when I’m going through something. I’m feeling all this pressure to succeed, and my grades haven’t been good enough. You’re so eager to prove how smart you are, to prove that you’re better than me–“
“That’s bullshit. You have always out shined me at everything and I have never complained. I’m so careful about you feeling inadequate at school, I try so fucking hard–"
“That doesn’t matter…You’re so smug that you have wonderful grades, the most fit boy at Hogwarts wants you–"
Danielle cut in to the back in forth between Lily and Lucy, her voice venom. “Honestly, I bet he doesn’t even want you. You’re a joke to him Lily, you’re nothing to him.
“I’m more to him than to the new guy you snog every other week!”
Things were getting out of control, things being said that couldn't be taken back. Amelia tried to cut in as the peacemaker. “This conversation wasn't supposed to be about us attacking each other! However, Lily, maybe things wouldn’t be like this if you would only talk , not yell, these things out with us, and I still don’t know if we should trust you with this–"
“How have I all of the sudden lost your trust–“
“Maybe, you never really had it!” Lucy screamed.
Danielle cut in, starting to sound hysterical. “I still can’t believe you told the whole school about my first kiss with Tommy–"
“That was in fourth year! Fourth year! Yes, I was stupid and I made mistakes when I was younger! I’m truly sorry I did that but c’mon, how are you still not over that–“
“Of course you’re still so blasé about the whole thing! You don’t even care. How am I supposed to trust you when you don’t even care that you broke a promise you made to me.”
Amelia’s voice was quieter this time. “That wasn’t even the only time Lily. When you know you can hurt and stir up trouble, you can’t shut the fuck up! You’re just not in tune whatsoever to what any of us need–"
“I mean, what else can I do to apologize? I said that I’m sorry–"
“Apologies don’t build trust! We wanted to let you in on something that we’re all going through right now but why should we, it’s not like you would care–”
“Of course I would care! Just because I don’t act emotional doesn’t mean I don’t care!”
“You used to call James mean, but look at you! You act all quiet and innocent, until you see a vulnerability in someone and strike–“
“Yeah, like that one time last year when you straight up told Becky everyone hated her and that she’s stupid–"
“Okay, I was in a bad mood, and she started it, c’mon guys, I’m not mean to people who don’t deserve it–"
“Who are you to judge whether someone deserves it! You’re missing the point Lily!”
“Yes, I lose my temper sometimes. I have a mean sense of humor! However, it seems rather hypocritical of all of you guys to come after me. Lucy, you always act morally superior to everyone, I have never met anyone more condescending than you!”
“Yes, we’re not fucking perfect Lily. But you’re refusing to face your mistakes!”
Lily paused for a moment. Was she refusing to face her mistakes? Maybe never outwardly, but they still kept her up at night. She would try to say something funny (perhaps borderline rude), and the silence that ensued made her want to crawl out of her own skin. It was that feeling that haunted her the most.
It was like Lily was walking on thin ice all the time. One relationship or another was always fracturing with every move she made. Many things came naturally to her, but this…she just felt so…inadequate. Like, why hadn’t she realized things weren’t okay with her friends? It should have been so obvious. Was she blind to their emotions, to the struggles everyone else was going through? She thought she was unselfish with her friends: she let them choose the music, what they did on Friday night. All she did was be there. And it wasn’t enough.
Maybe she was the one who lacked trust…she often avoided hard conversations and let her feelings bottle up. Her fierceness, her tendency to communicate with James and other people through insults and banner…it all masked this emotional fragility she was afraid to face. She felt like broken glass, shattered beyond hopes of repair.
Lily knew she couldn’t hold back tears much longer. It took everything out of her to say two more words while remaining composed:
And just like that, she walked away. It felt like she was walking away from something that needed, still deserved to be fixed. But she didn’t know how. It was simple, but beyond her reach at a moment when she felt like falling apart. She had to fix herself before she could fix those relationships. So she walked away, without looking back.
Lily was awoken by a blinding light. Their dorm room was at the top of Gryffindor tower, and on bright summer mornings, it became flooded with light. She looked around, and confirmed she was the only one in the dorm room. Lily, overwhelmed by all of her emotions, stayed laying down and somberly looked out the window. A tall evergreen tree was highlighted against the foggy gray day.
A house elf, apparently attuned to the mood swings of teenage girls, brought her toast with jam and a cup of lavender and bergamot tea. She felt a surge of affection for the house elf.
However, her mind was a torrent of angst, trying to figure out who she was and what had gone so wrong with her friends. The insecurities they had laid out to dry were making her reconsider everything. Her mind kept reaching the same worse case scenarios.
None of her friends cared about her, they never had. She was nothing but a joke to James. Every time she opened her mouth, people wished she wouldn’t. In fact, everyone would be happier if she simply didn’t exist. If she didn’t force her way into conversations, into outings with her friends, people truly wouldn’t know that she existed. She had to fight and claw her way to not be invisible, but was the fight even worth it?
She couldn’t bring herself to care anymore about any of it. Her emotions were all used up, leaving her hollow inside. And yet, the hollowness inside her made her heavy, pinned down by a weight she couldn’t perceive.
She imagined casting her voice for the entire world to hear.
Why do you think I talk so loud, just to be heard?
Why do you think I let things slip that are borderline offensive, accidentally but intentionally hurtful?
Why do you think that it hurt so badly when you pretended I wasn’t there, that I meant nothing to you?
Why do you think that I just want to escape all of it, every last bad memory and the good ones that hurt even more, because they meant nothing to you?
You know why. I don’t want to be the girl hiding in the shadows. She's always hiding because she's afraid. She doesn't even know what she's afraid of anymore. But what’s so wrong with wanting the spotlight every once in while, with wanting to change the world? The world can't be changed from the shadows.
You move an inch away, and it feels like I’ve lost you forever.
Any more hurt and I fall off the precipice.
Lily pulled herself back to reality. She realized that she couldn’t wallow in her own self pity forever. However, she had a new sense of doubt about tonight, about James. She felt a pressure, antithetical to her lightness of the day before. Everything was on the line tonight. Last time, when she had become vulnerable and open to him at the party, everything went wrong on a technicality. Would Lily survive something like that again? She suddenly felt incredibly fragile, her visceral nature overpowering rationality.
He could leave her for an instant, and all the fear would coming rushing back. She still didn’t really know what happened at the party, but she was extending a branch of trust. However, she wasn’t sure she had any left to give.
Lily could no longer take the emotions ripping at her insides. She had to leave this room. Despite its light, airy atmosphere from the foggy sunshine, it was closing in on her, making her feel dizzy. She burst from the dorm room and tore down the stairs.
And, of course, James was right there. He had gotten up from the couch in an intuitive manner when she burst from the girls’ stairs. Lily just stood there, frozen, her stillness on the outside masking the way she was shaking internally, her heart beating too quickly, like a doe facing a predator.
James didn’t say a word. He walked over to her and laid his arm gently over her shoulder. She immediately felt the sensation of a comforting blanket, its warmth seeping into her bones. James gently led her to the couch. She tucked herself into the corner and curled up like a cat. James grabbed a gold blanket and wrapped it tightly around her shoulders. Their was a pot of tea on the table, and he made her a cup, handing it to her carefully. He sat down next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder again. She leaned against him without hesitation, drinking in the scent of strawberries and rain. His hair tickled her cheek and she smiled.
Lily felt herself becoming vulnerable, open to him. Hot tears ran silently down her cheeks. James still didn’t say a word, just leaned over and kissed her tears away. How could she have doubted James for a second?
Because that’s what Lily truly needed at the end of the day. Someone who didn’t demand explanations, but who was just there. Someone to come home to after a hard day. Someone who was home.
She felt fragile around James, but, for once, she was okay with it. When her fragile pieces shattered, he put her back together again.
A/N: I've been stuck for a while writing this chapter and I'm not too happy with it...I'd love to hear what you guys think. I just love to write unnecessary fluff and really angsty arguments lol that's basically all this is. It's kind of just a filler, the next chapter will be so much Jily!
Do you think the girls were fair to Lily? What's their secret? And what's the Jily date going to be like? I'd love any inspiration you guys have to give!
Also, I obviously don't own Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Queen) (Definitely listen to this song its cute and ridiculous and amazing) and Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling). If you're still reading this I would just like to thank you for reading this story and I hope you have a lovely day xoxo