An Alternate Chain of Events

Chapter 3 - Mistakes

Chapter Three – Mistakes

The morning that the Potters were due to go round to the Weasley's house, James sat at the table reading the paper.

"Erm, Lil?" He wandered out to the garden where Lily was tending her herbs.

"What?" She looked back towards the house, shielding her eyes from the sun.

"Have you seen the paper this morning?"

"No. Why?"

"Harry's in it."

"What?" Lily abandoned her trowel and ran up to James. To her great surprise she saw an enormous photograph of her son and Gilderoy Lockhart. Lockhart was beaming and waving with one arm, whilst the other arm was attempting to keep Harry in shot. Harry, to his credit, looked decidedly embarrassed.

"This must have been his book signing."

"He's the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher?" James said incredulously as he read the accompanying article.

"He can't be worse than the last one," said Lily darkly.

"He's an idiot." James wasn't paying attention to her.

"How can he be an idiot? Look at everything he's done!"

"He's just a man who loves to have his photograph taken. Moody's done loads and you wouldn't want his picture on your bookshelf, would you?"

"Maybe not." Lily conceded, "Sirius could always make a career out of it though, if things get rough I mean."

"What about me?"

"You're not classically handsome enough." Lily teased. "Sirius has got those defined aristocratic looks."

James was outraged. "Inbred looks you mean? The Black family were awful for it, no one was good enough for them. Haven't you noticed how alike they all look? Except for Narcissa Malfoy, that is. And you've never seen his sixth toe."

Lily was laughing. "He doesn't have a sixth toe."

"That's what you think."

Lily wiped her eyes. "Oh stop it. You're just jealous. I think you're very handsome, of course."

James grumbled something in a good nature and padded back inside. Lily followed, still laughing,

"What do you mean Narcissa Malfoy is the only one that doesn't look like she comes from Sirius's family?"

"Because she's his cousin. Come on, you knew that."

Lily was taken aback for a moment. "You know, I'd completely forgotten." Lily shook her head. "It's no wonder Sirius doesn't like to talk about his family, is it?"

"Nope." James agreed. "And you thought you had it bad with Petunia." Lily glared at him. "Too soon?"

"Just a bit."

That same Sunday morning in London, Emilia was trying her best to convince Sirius to stop ignoring Grimmauld Place.

"Andromeda's right." Emilia insisted. "You need to deal with it. The quicker you decide what to do the quicker it's gone. Do you want it hanging over you for the rest of your life?"

"It's not hanging over me now." Sirius retorted. "I feel no differently about that hell hole now than I did before the old bat died."

Emilia was not giving up. "How you feel is irrelevant. Now the old bat's dead, it's yours whether you feel like it is or not." She cleared the breakfast things and went to the sink. "You need to deal with it. Ignoring things is unhealthy."

"Going back to that place would be unhealthy." He grumbled. He got up and leaned on the metal counter top. "Why do you care so much about it?"

Emilia was glad she was facing away from him. It gave her a moment to compose her face. "Because I care about you." She turned round. "The sooner you deal with this Sirius, the sooner you can move on."

Sirius didn't soften. "I already have moved on. I moved on when I was sixteen. They're nothing to do with me."

"I give up." Emilia sighed. "Do what you want." She tried to move past him but he caught her arm.

"Why do you really care?" His intelligent dark eyes were determined.

"I want a baby."

Sirius had not expected that. He let go of her arm feeling as though the rug had been swept from under him.

"I want us to have our own family. And we will never be able to have our own family while you're still, still haunted by yours."

"Emilia," said Sirius gently. "I don't want children. We agreed on that years ago."

"But so much has changed since then!" She exclaimed. "We're different people. Everything's different."

"Nothing's different!" Sirius snapped. "Nothing! We're in the middle of two wars Em, I can't bring a child into this, it's not fair!"

"James and Lily had a child!"

"AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED!" Emilia was wide-eyed. He had never yelled at her like that. "I'm sorry." He said quietly.

"That wouldn't happen to us." Emilia used a smaller, gentler voice.

"They didn't think it would happen to them." Sirius countered. "And even if Harry hadn't have been hunted by Voldemort," Emilia flinched. "He would still have grown up in a world where people are slaughtered everyday and you're always scared that the people you love won't come home."

"You don't know that it'll happen again."

"I do."

"No." She insisted. "You know what Dumbledore has told you. He can't know everything."

"I believe him."

"I don't." She replied flatly. "And I want a child."

"I don't."

She stormed past him into the bedroom, slamming the door. Sirius thought it was just typical that as soon as his life was running smoothly the Blacks would cause its upheaval. He could just imagine his mother's spiteful face staring up at him from hell and smiling.

The Potters and Weasleys and a lovely farewell dinner for the children. Harry spent much of the evening being taunted by his father for his appearance in the Prophet.

"Snape and the Slytherins are going to eat me alive." Harry grumbled.

"You'll live." Lily told him. "As long as you stop drawing attention to yourself with heroic stunts." Harry rolled his eyes. "Be nicer to Professor Snape, Harry, he did his very best to help you last year."

"But he's really horrible." Harry insisted.

"He's a good man!"

"Very deep down," added James. Lily elbowed him in the ribs, but all the children chorused in agreement.

"Be polite at the very least." Lily conceded.

Lily had managed not to cry when she said goodbye to Harry at the Weasley's House the night before school. And she urged him to be careful, and yes this year she really did mean it, and yes she really did mean it last year too but this year she'd follow through and pull him out if he did anything dangerous. So naturally, Lily and James were incredibly surprised when they received an owl from Dumbledore late in the evening on September first.

"WHAT HAS GOTTEN IN TO HIM?" Lily paced up and down the room, too furious to sit still. "THEY WENT TO SCHOOL IN A FLYING CAR, JAMES! HE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED! HE NEARLY WAS KILLED BY THAT MURDEROUS TREE! WHAT HAPPENED TO KEEPING HIS HEAD DOWN? WHAT HAPPENED TO A LOW BLOODY PROFILE?" Lily was walking more frantically and gesticulating wildly. "I don't even know what to say to him! Clearly nothing I say has any effect! Why is he doing these things? Is it the publicity going to his head?" Lily flopped into the armchair and hid her head in her hands.

James had been quiet up until this point. "Arthur is going to get a thrashing at work." James was particularly unhappy about this. For the first time that James could remember, he wasn't proud of his son. "I'll talk to him, Lil. Maybe it'll be more effective coming from me this time."

Lily nodded. She couldn't think of anything else that they could do.

In the Great Hall, Harry had just listened to Ron's awful Howler over breakfast. Harry had quite lost his appetite. Everyone was watching them and Harry wanted the ground to swallow them up. He was just counting all his lucky stars that he hadn't received a Howler himself. It wasn't until the noise of Mrs Weasley's voice had completely died out that he noticed an owl pecking his hand.

Harry opened his letter with deliberation. Whatever was inside couldn't be good news. He was immediately surprised to find his father's handwriting.

Harry,

I managed to stop mum sending a Howler with great difficulty. I didn't think it would be healthy to draw even more attention to you. But if it's attention you're after then you've certainly got it. What we would like to know is why you're doing all these stupid and dangerous things? Is it fame Harry? Has being the Boy who Lived gone to your head? I strongly advise that you drop it, because if you keep acting like this you will be the boy who won't live much longer. I mean it Harry, one more thing like this and you're out of that school faster than you can say Quidditch.

The boy you're acting like is not the boy that we raised. I'm sorry to say this, but right now we're ashamed of you. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

Clean up your act.

Dad.

Harry couldn't remember ever feeling so miserable or so ashamed of himself. There was no use writing back and explaining, he knew his father wouldn't believe him, it was the same way no one believed him about the house elf. He would just have to take their anger, and try to be as inconspicuous as possible. They'd have to get over it eventually.

Miserably, he passed the letter over to Ron, who read it and passed it to Hermione. "Well at least your thrashing was private."

That didn't make Harry feel any better. His parents were ashamed of him; they thought he was a fame-seeking horror. It made no difference whether it was out loud or not; it was still the worst possible thing that they could have said.

Lily sat in the lab at work. She was harvesting Mandrake leaves for a potion wearing enormous earmuff's to protect her from the sound. She gave a scream that nobody heard when Veronica patted her shoulder and motioned towards the door.

"I didn't mean to startle you." Veronica explained as they closed the lab door and removed their earmuffs.

"That's alright." Lily smiled but it didn't reach her eyes. Even though she'd had no owls about Harry in the last month, she felt utterly downtrodden.

"I just came to inform you, that we're going out for a drink after work tonight. No excuses." Lily looked like she was about to protest so Veronica decided to be frank. "Lil, you're a bloody misery lately. It's unpleasant." Lily raised her eyebrows in surprise. "So we, you're delightful colleagues at St. Mungo's, are going to cheer you up." Lily was so touched that she agreed.

Five of her colleagues, including Veronica, took Lily to a small pub in town and got her drunker than she had been in years. It made her feel quite a lot happier.

The pub was dark and very crowded, it seemed that far too many tables were crammed into too small a space. When Lily left for the toilet her balance was compromised so she kept knocking drinks and people as she tried to clear a path. To her great surprise, sat by the bar on his own was Severus Snape. Lily immediately forgot about the toilet.

"Severus!" She hiccoughed and went straight in and hugged him, forgetting his awkwardness. "Oh it's been so long since I've seen you." Lily flopped down on to the stool next to him and grasped his hand. "Are you mad at me?"

Snape was paralysed. He could see that she was inebriated, but she also seemed to be without Potter and she looked so pleased to see him.

"Of course not." Snape said finally, and Lily smiled dopily back at him.

Before she knew it, Lily was emptying her heart out to her old friend. Since Snape knew Petunia, Lily reasoned that he could provide advice and reassurance. In her current state she had forgotten some things, like that Snape hadn't seen Petunia since they were children, and that Lily herself hadn't spent longer than a minute in Snape's company in well over a decade.

Snape was overjoyed. Lily seemed so dissatisfied with her life; Potter and his son were making her miserable. This was it, he just had to take his chance and after all these years Lily Evans could be his. Snape forgot that she was drunk. He leaned in and kissed her.

It took Lily a second to realise what was happening, but as soon as she realised that Severus Snape was kissing her, she withdrew.

"What are you doing?" She slurred in horror. "I'm married."

Snape flushed beetroot with embarrassment and rejection. "You seemed so miserable," he spluttered, "I thought this was what you wanted." He trailed off, sensing his own mistake.

"NO!" Lily yelled. "I love James. I thought we were friends Sev, I thought we could be friends again now that school is in the past."

"I'm sorry-" Snape tried to get her to sit back down, to talk to him again.

"No, Severus." Lily shook her head. "I'm sorry. This is my fault." Lily weaved her way back to Veronica.

"You've been in the toilet ages!"

"I didn't go to the toilet. I saw an old friend." Lily leant her head on the table while she told Veronica what happened.

"Oh dear," was all Veronica could say. "Are you going to tell James?"

"I don't know. I think I have to."

"Lil," Veronica bit her lip cautiously. "Would it really do any harm if you didn't tell him?"

Lily didn't like the thought of lying to James, but on the other hand, James would never find out and she would never do it again. Did he have to know?

Hello! Thank you all so much for reading! Your reviews are all so appreciated and I'm taking note of what you said. I know that the car has an important plot function in the chamber of secrets, but it's just too fun not to include and I have tried to make it relevant to my story. I really hope you're enjoying the story, I have big plans for the plot.

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