It Wasn't Just Your Fault
James and Lily had been given detention for their argument in potions. On Friday evening the two Gryffindors walked out of the common room together. They walked awkwardly through the school until they reached the entrance hall where Hagrid was waiting for them. "Alright yer two?"
They both nodded. "Right off ter the forest with us," Hagrid told them.
They followed the half-giant out into the dark grounds, towards the forest. "So how come you two got detention anyway?"
"We had an argument in potions," James answered.
"It was Potter's fault," Lily complained.
"Ah come on Evans, that's not completely fair," James frowned.
"Yes it is," Lily replied, "You got angry and shouted at me and got me detention. I've never had detention before. I should have known you'd land me in one eventually."
"Whatever Evans," James sighed. "The worst thing is you were almost cool in divination."
"Only because you weren't hexing innocent people," Lily retorted.
"Right yer two – no arguing tonight," Hagrid told them.
"What are we going to do in the forest Mr Hagrid?" Lily asked.
"Mr Hagrid," James laughed.
"Yer don't have ter call me mister, Miss Evans. Now James I know yer mum taught yer never ter laugh at a girl. Lily? Can I call you Lily?" Lily nodded. "We are going ter have a bit of a look. Something has all the animals riled up. So we're gonna go find out what's causing their strange beh'vour."
"I see," Lily nodded.
"Filch is bringing a few others," Hagrid explained, as they stood on the edge of the forest. James looked up to the castle and saw three people making their way towards them. After several moments he could make out Filch but he was unsure who the students accompanying him were. When they were finally close enough James realised that they were in fact Snape and Avery, "great, just bloody fantastic," James muttered.
"What? Who is it?" Lily asked, looking over at the three people approaching them.
Filch smiled at Hagrid, "Here they are. Two Slytherins… thought it would be a good idea to hex Mary MacDonald in the hallway. Stupid fools."
Hagrid nodded, "right. Thank you Argus. Come on then. We better be getting going."
Hagrid led the four students into the forest. James walked beside Hagrid leaving Lily to walk with Snape and Avery. "Right we're going ter split up. Snape, Avery yer with me. James if you take Lily."
"We'll go this way so you go that way," Hagrid grinned.
James led Lily away from the rest of the group. "Do you know what we're supposed to be looking for?" Lily whispered.
"No – hopefully we'll know it when we see it," James half-smiled.
Lily almost screamed when she heard a noise in the trees. She grabbed James' hand without thinking. After a few moments she realised what she had done and thought briefly about letting go but then she heard the sound again and instead she held his hand tighter and clung to his arm with her other hand.
"What's wrong Evans? I thought you hated me," James laughed.
Lily frowned, "I – I do hate you," she said but she didn't loosen her grip on him.
"Shame," James sighed as they made their way through the forest. "How long do you think Hagrid expects us to be out here?"
"Don't know – I hope it's not too long," Lily sighed.
"Am I boring you Evans?" James laughed running a hand through his hair.
"You could never bore me Potter – infuriate me, irritate me, annoy me, anger me, drive me absolutely mental, sicken me… yes… but never bore me." She almost laughed.
James laughed, "That almost sounded like a compliment, Evans."
"Maybe – but don't get used to it!"
James laughed gently, looking straight ahead of them.
"I can't see a thing," Lily whispered.
"Evans, you're a witch," James laughed.
"Oh – I forgot… Lumos."
Just over an hour later James and Lily heard a strange noise from somewhere ahead of them. Lily's grip on his arm tightened and she leaned in closer to him. They continued forward suddenly very nervous. Lily suddenly shivered, "James, its freezing."
"I know," James frowned. He breathed out and saw his breath freeze in the air.
Lily was the first to see the creature ahead of them, "James, look," she said as she pointed towards the cloaked creature.
James looked at the creature, "shit! It's a dementor." The dementor was gliding towards them.
"A dementor? The things that guard Azkaban?"
"Well yeah – except no… well not any more."
"What do you mean?" Lily asked, suddenly scared as she felt a wave of despair pass through her. "Potter what do you mean?"
"They aren't working for the ministry any more…" James explained.
The dementor was closing in on them now. It would be on top of them in a few minutes at this rate. "You don't mean that they are in league with…"
"That's exactly what I mean!" James said holding up his wand, "Remember when I told you how to cast the patronus charm?"
"Er… in first year?"
James nodded, "right well now is kind of the time for you to do it. I believe in you Evans. You're the best witch I know. If I can do it so can you. Just make sure your memory is happy enough."
"But James I… I can't," Lily frowned.
"You can," James squeezed her hand, "chances are it's not alone."
James pointed his wand at the dementor, "Expecto Patronum." He focused on his happy memory; Christmas with the Potter's and their extended family. He tried to focus on it but as the dementor came towards them James heard screaming; Holly screaming. They were in the astronomy tower again and she was dying before his very eyes all over again.
Lily watched as James fell to the ground. "James!" She looked up as she realised that James had been right. The dementor was not alone. There were at least another five dementors following closely behind the first, "wake up James!" The boy on the floor next to her didn't move. He appeared to be out cold. They were surrounded now. "Expecto – Expecto Patronum!" Nothing happened. She tried again, this time trying a new memory; the moment she got her letter from Hogwarts, "Expecto Patronum!" Still nothing! Lily began to panic again. "James!" Harry was stood watching his parents being attacked by dementors and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He tried pulling out his wand and casting the spell himself but the dementors were not affected by his patronus. There was absolutely nothing he could do. Lily was seriously panicking now; "James! Wake up!"
The boy on the floor beside her suddenly opened his eyes, "Expecto Patronum!" James shouted. His stag patronus galloped across the forest towards the dementors. The dementors fled from the oncoming patronus. James lifted a hand to Lily's cheek, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear, "Lily, are you ok?"
"Yeah… you?" She replied.
"Just peachy," James smiled.
There was a sudden sound behind them as Hagrid, Snape and Avery approached them. "Everything alright?" Hagrid asked.
"Yeah. It's all good." James replied as he made to stand up, Lily offering him her hand to help him up. Snape was watching them, his eyes green with jealousy. James noticed the expression on the Slytherin's face but continued none the less, "we worked out what was wrong with the forest… dementors."
"I thought as much," Hagrid replied, "very well – let's get yer lot back to the castle and I'll let Dumbledore know about the dementors."
Hagrid walked them back to the castle. No one spoke. Snape was silently seething at the idea of James and Lily. She always promised me that they weren't friends… was she lying? Lily was thinking about the brief moments when she and James got on. It didn't happen often but when it did it made her wonder… Lily sighed. James looked at her, checking to see if she was ok, she's quite pretty when she's not being a stuck up bitch.
A few moments later James was stood in the common room with Lily. They stood there awkwardly trying to say goodnight. James opened his mouth to speak but Lily beat him to it, "thank you Potter – thank you for saving my life tonight Potter."
"Any time Evans," James replied.
"Maybe you could teach me the patronus charm so that next time…"
"Lily – there won't be a next time," James sighed.
"Just in case?" Lily blushed.
James nodded, "I'm sorry for passing out on you."
"It doesn't matter – you still saved my life… where did you go?" she knew that the dementors fed on emotion.
"What do you mean?" James asked.
"The dementors – they feed on your good emotions until all that's left is despair…"
"I know that," James replied.
"What horrible, desperate thought overpowered you?"
"I – I" he went slightly pale.
"Sorry – you don't have to say," Lily blushed once again.
"The astronomy tower… Holly…" James replied honestly.
She nodded, "It made me think about every bad thing my sister ever said about me…"
"You and your sister don't get on do you?" James asked suddenly intrigued.
"No, we really don't – worse than you and me," Lily replied.
James laughed, "that's impossible!"
They turned away from each other and began to make their way up the stairs towards their dorm rooms. Lily turned back briefly as her foot touched the first step, "James – it wasn't just your fault."
"It was my fault as much as it were yours," Lily smiled, "the argument in potions."
"Ah… thanks Lily," James smiled before continuing up the stairs.