Disclaimer; I don't own the wizarding world of Harry Potter or any of the characters in it. I wish I did. But I don't.
Here's chapter Twenty-Seven!
Hope you enjoy it!
Sirius was sat alone in the common room near the fire, with his head in his hands. He was thoroughly depressed and in a foul mood and had been since Dumbledore announced that the Hogsmeade visits were reinstated fourteen days ago. He had been in his mood for the simple reason that, out of the whole school, he was the only student who was banned from Hogsmeade. It didn't help that the final Quidditch match of the season was the next day and he wasn't allowed to take part in that either.
He had been back in the common room from his detention, which took place every Wednesday and Friday for two whole hours in Dumbledore's office, for ten minutes. He hadn't come straight back to the Gryffindor tower after his detention but had rather wondered around the school for an hour and a half. When he finally arrived back, nobody else was in the common room, so nobody saw him take his anger out on the chairs and tables as he walked past them. When he had entered the common room, in rage, he had kicked any chair that he walked past and he had hit the tables. He made such a frustrated racket that he was surprised that nobody had come down to see what was going on. But they were all in bed so that they could be wide awake for the game early the next morning. Sirius didn't care much. It's not like he had any special role to play anymore.
Everything that Sirius loved about being at Hogwarts, Quidditch, Hogsmeade and a free Friday night had been taken away from him because of a stupid mistake he had made months ago. Now he regretted it. It was the one mistake in his life which he hated. Other mistakes he could live with. Staying at his parents' house for so long, he could live with. After all, he wasn't there now. Leaving his motorbike magazines behind at his parents' house, he could live with. He had re-bought them since. And even spending half of his savings on a new racing broom, he could live with. After all, he got a broom out of that mistake. But this mistake would plague him for the rest of his life.
The punishments wouldn't last. His friends anger at him for being so stupid had already dissolved. It was his guilt ridden conscience that would cause him trouble for the rest of his life. Merlin forbid he be sent to Azkaban. The dementor's would have a field day with this little gem of guilt. He would be able to suppress it and had been doing a bang up job so far but, having the whole school excited about things he was now expressly forbidden to do just brought his regret back to the surface.
He sighed and looked up. The fire was just dying out and the light in the common room was slowly dimming into pitch black. He didn't want to go to bed. He should do really but he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep and even if he did, his dreams would be filled with Dumbledore's disappointed face, Remus' betrayed one and an angry James. Whenever he went to sleep thinking about this that was what happened constantly. It was a reoccurring nightmare he couldn't shake. What was worse was that sometimes, especially on Wednesday's and Friday's, the days of his detentions, the nightmare continued into the day.
He heaved himself out of the comfy armchair he had slumped himself down in and walked around the common room. He looked at the things, possessions and such that people had left in the common room overnight. There were scrolls of parchment which had foot long essays scrawled across them. There were games of wizards chess which had been left half played, ready to be returned to the day after. Quills, ink, books and even a pair of socks. Nobody was worried about their possessions being stolen in Gryffindor tower. They were one of the most trusting houses, not unlike Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. It was the Slytherin's you had to watch out for. They didn't just nick things within their own house, they stole anything they felt valuable. You could be sitting in the library and if a Slytherin student saw something they thought could be useful to them, it would disappear from your side and you wouldn't know for minutes that anything was missing.
Sirius put down a remembrall that he had been throwing up and down in the air. He turned to the winding staircase that led to the boy's dormitories and began to trudge up them. His hands were deep in his pockets, almost weighing him downs as he moved slowly up the spiral staircase. It was a few floors up, his dormitory, and when he got there he slowly opened the heavy door which let out a slight creek. He shut it carefully and dragged his feet over to his four poster bed which was dressed in red and gold. He sat down on his pillow, his legs bent up making triangles with his bed, his wrists resting on his knees leaving his hands hanging in the air. He looked around at his friends. They were all sleeping.
James, who never really slept like a normal person, had on foot on his pillow at the head of the bed and his other leg bent underneath his knee. He was lying on his back. One of his arms was hanging off of the bed, holding his glasses, and his other hand was placed, palm up on his forehead. His quilt was hardly hanging onto the bed and only covered James from his chest to his knees. To Sirius, James couldn't possibly be comfortable.
Remus was a more usual sleeper. His quilt covered his entire body, from his chest to his feet. He was lying on his side with his hands resting on his pillow. His bed was still surrounded by birthday cards and presents that he had received about a week ago on the 10th of March; his birthday. He had received a lot of chocolate frogs which Sirius had gladly ridded him of. The watch he had been given by his parents, a traditional present for young male wizards who were coming of age, turning seventeen, was resting on his bedside table, its insufferable ticking easy to hear in the deathly quiet dormitory. He had also gotten a lot of books. So many that the huge pile covered up his calendar which was hanging up above his bedside table on the wall.
Peter was curled into the foetal position under his quilt, sucking his thumb. The big baby! Sirius thought. He had always slept like this and Sirius constantly tortured him about it. Sirius had always told Peter that he slept like that because he had been babied by his mother for his whole life. Peter would just stay silent at these comments but he, Sirius and the two remaining marauders, knew that this was true, but it wasn't like it was his fault.
Not yet feeling the drowsiness of sleep overtaking him, Sirius reached for a book. If you knew Sirius, this was a very strange occurrence, but when you saw the book that he was going to read, it all made sense. It was the book, more like a manual, that Mrs and the late Mr Potter had bought him for Christmas. He opened it up to the section he was reading at the minute on the tools he would need for building his motorcycle and lit his wand. He didn't understand a word that he was reading. Start with a metric 3/8" drive socket set from 8 mm to 19 mm. And a 3/8" ratchet wrench. 3" and 6" long 3/8" drive extensions. Metric combination wrench set from 8 mm to 19 mm. Phillips and straight blade screwdrivers, he read, allowing the information to seep into the front of his brain and out of the back.
'What are you doing?' came a tired voice from across the room.
Sirius looked up from his battered motorcycle manual to see Remus sitting up in his bed. He gave a huge yawn and reached for his watch. He looked at it through tired eyes and gave a huge annoyed sigh when he saw the time.
'It's the middle of the night Sirius!' he moaned at his friend, throwing a small cushion at him in frustration, 'What you doing up at this time! The game's tomorrow.'
'I know.' Sirius said with a sad look at his kneecaps.
Remus, exhaled with a slight groan. 'Are you still feeling sorry for yourself?' he asked with slightly raised eyebrows. He was in no mood for sympathy. It was the middle of the night and, due to his lycanthropy, not getting the sleep he needed made him very cranky.
Sirius, seeing Remus getting very impatient and annoyed with being woken up when he was perfectly sound asleep, knoxed his wand. 'Don't worry.' Sirius said, pulling his quilt over himself and settling into his bed, 'Go back to sleep.'
'Thank Merlin.' Remus murmured, putting his watch back down on his bedside table and making himself comfy in his bed again.
Sirius smiled sadly to himself as he placed his motorcycle manual under his pillow. He flopped his head down heavily on his pillow and moved about until he felt relaxed enough to go to sleep. He closed his eyes and had a peaceful night's sleep. But instead of his dreams being filled with Dumbledore's disappointed face, Remus' betrayed one and an angry James, he dreamed of motorcycles that flew.
'Welcome to the final Quidditch game of the Season! Gryffindor vs. Slytherin!' the commentator shouted, her voice magnified by the sonorous charm. It resounded and echoed around the Quidditch stadium which was filled with the whole school, three quarters of which were supporting Gryffindor. Mary McDonald, the commentator of most of the schools Quidditch matches, spoke again, her loud voice reverberating through all of the cracks and crevices of the stadium.
'This is going to be a nail biter guys. I've never seen the teams so strong!' Mary announced to the crowd at large.
Through the walls of the stadium, James could hear Mary speaking. He was trying to give his team a little pre-game pep talk but kept being put off of his train of thought by the loud voice emanating from the Quidditch pitch. He was very nervous about the game. He was always nervous about the final game of the season, mostly because it was his last chance to show the school how good his team was. He was also nervous about this game because if they didn't win, they would lose the Quidditch cup and it would go to the Slytherin's. That was just something he couldn't bear, plus Professor McGonagall would be very angry if James lost her the cup. She had, after all, grown accustomed to it being in her office.
James gave up on his pep talk. Instead he just told the team to do their best and warned them that McGonagall would eat them alive if they lost. The team laughed nervously and prepared to walk onto the pitch with their captain.
They walked out onto the pitch to a rapturous applause. James waved to the crowd in with a cocky attitude. It was something he did before every Quidditch game and he saw no fit reason to stop this tradition now. He walked ahead of his team, who were flanking him in a triangle type shape, and met the Slytherin's team captain in the middle of the pitch. His team was also flanking him yet they looked a lot less friendly than the Gryffindor's did. James shook hands with the opposing captain. He tried really hard to crush James' hand but James took it, showing no pain on his face but his mind was screaming.
Madame Hooch stepped towards the boys whose hands were still clasped in a locking handshake. Neither would give up. They were both really stubborn.
'All right boys let go!' Madame Hooch said, breaking their handshake once and for all, 'You can all hold hands in your own time!' she continued, now separating the two boys, the Slytherin captain glaring evilly at James and James staring smugly back with unwavering confidence.
'Everybody on your brooms!' Madame Hooch announced.
Collectively, both teams mounted their brooms, flew up into the air and assumed their positions. James turned around to his team and gave them all a thumbs up. Most of the team smiled back apart from Dirk Creswell, who, after the recent practices and the last game against Hufflepuff, wasn't feeling too confident. He gave James a small, weak grimace and looked around the pitch. James sighed. There was a reason that Dirk didn't make the original team, but he was the only option when Sirius had been banned from playing.
The teams looked down at Madam Hooch who held the Quaffle in her hand. She gave them all her usual stern warning, telling them all that the game should be nice and clean. The Gryffindor's nodded. They would adhere to the conditions. The Slytherin's however, would seize every opportunity to play dirty. They would try to win at any cost, in any way. It was up to James' team to keep the rules of the game.
The Bludgers were released from their case with a flick of Madame Hooch's wand. They erupted into the air and the four beaters, two from each team, immediately hit them further into the air to give their team more time to escape when the game finally began. The Snitch followed the Bludgers out of the case. It whizzed in front of James, behind Hestia's head and up into the air so you couldn't see it. The seekers from both teams watched it fly away. Madame Hooch then threw the Quaffle into the air beginning the game. Everybody scrambled. The beaters flew away to protect their team from the Bludgers and the seekers left to find the Snitch. The keepers went to their goal posts and the chasers from both teams raced forwards to grab the Quaffle.
'And the captain of the Slytherin team has the Quaffle!' Mary announce to the watching crowd, 'He swerves around the attempts to seize the Quaffle by Hestia Jones and heads towards the goal posts! He shoots…he misses! An excellent save by the Gryffindor keeper there!'
The Gryffindor's and everybody else supporting the team, or just everybody else who wasn't a Slytherin, cheered in delight at the keepers excellent save, denying the Slytherin's any points at this early stage in the game. The Slytherin's however, cursed and spat and booed at the Gryffindor team.
Hestia took the Quaffle from there. She and James passed the odd shaped ball back and forth between them, giving the Slytherin's no real chance to snatch it away from them. As soon as they tried to intercept it, James or Hestia, whoever had the Quaffle at the time, dropped the ball down to the third chaser who would zoom off and attempt to score a goal for the Gryffindor team. It was a tactic James liked to use because, if their opponents weren't too bright, such as the Slytherin's, they would have all three chasers focusing their energies on him and Hestia who had the Quaffle and wouldn't pay and heed to the third chaser beneath them. It meant that as soon as the Quaffle dropped, the third chaser would have about five seconds to make a dash for it and score a goal.
'…she shoots…SHE SCORES!' Mary McDonald yelled, her hand moving to change the score board as she said, 'Ten points to Gryffindor!'
The crowd yelled and cheered, this time in a more enthusiastic manner than they did when the Gryffindor keeper had saved the Slytherin's attempted goal. This time they were up on the points. One step closer to Gryffindor winning the game and the Quidditch cup.
'The Slytherin captain takes the Quaffle!' Mary shouted, getting into the swing of commentating a Quidditch match once again, 'He races up the pitch to shoot…OOH! A great shot with the Bludger by Dirk Creswell. Well that decides it folks! We thought he'd be no good, even saw it in the last game he played but here he is proving us wrong. If he has a significant other they're very lucky! Looks as if he's been working on his game if you know what I mean!'
'Miss McDonald!' McGonagall snapped sharply, 'Please concentrate on the game!'
'Sure thing Professor!' Mary said, turning back to the gripping game of Quidditch that was happening in front of her. She looked at the crowd who had just been roaring jubilantly.
'Err…Professor?' Mary whispered as quietly as she could considering her voice was magnified by the sonorous charm, 'What's the score right now?' she asked.
Professor McGonagall sighed. 'It's still 10 to nothing. Gryffindor.' she said, shaking her head exasperatedly at her student.
'Right you are Professor!' Mary said with a salute to her head of house. She continued with the commentating of the Quidditch game. '…and James Potter takes the Quaffle. He dodges a Bludger from the Slytherin's beater and…HEY!…That's got to be a foul! The Slytherin captain has stolen his beaters bat and has hit our team captain over the head with it! What a prat! What a tosser! AIM THAT BLUDGER AT HIM DIRK!'
'Mary!' McGonagall said sternly.
'Well you saw what he did Professor!' Mary retorted, outraged that the head of Gryffindor house wasn't the least bit bothered that her star chaser and captain of the Quidditch team had just taken a mighty blow to the back of the head.
'Just commentate on the game!' McGonagall hissed at Mary who rolled her eyes and carried on telling the spectators what was happening.
'And it seems like James Potter is out of the game at the minute! He's off the side of the pitch having his head looked at by Madame Pomfrey. It was a nasty whack that was…I'm commenting on the game professor!' Mary said in response to McGonagall's glare.
James was holding the back of his head in pain. He was sat on a bench, on the ground, at the side of the pitch. Madam Pomfrey was hovering over him trying to get him to move his hand from where the bat had hit him. He was applying pressure to it because it hurt so much. He knew that if he took his hand down, it would hurt but it would be healed in a matter of second. It was just gritting his teeth and doing it that was the problem. He counted to five in his head and quickly took his hand down. In an instant James' head was healed and he was able to get back onto the pitch.
He flew back up to join his team in the air. Straight away, whilst wondering why he was such a wuss and unable to let his wounds be healed straight away because they hurt, he grabbed the Quaffle off of the Slytherin who had hit him over the head and threw the Quaffle a distance of ten metres to the goal posts, scoring another ten points for Gryffindor easily. He then flew up to the Slytherin captain, stopped in front of him, and smirked. That'd tell him that no matter what, James could still come back fighting.
'James Potter is back on the pitch. He throws the Quaffle to Hestia Jones who takes it to the hoops. She shoots…SHE SCO-…did she score? YES SHE SCORED!' Mary yelled to the roaring crowd, 'That brings the score to thirty-nil!'
The game went on for two more hours. Near to the end, the spectators, who had been attempting to keep their enthusiasm levels to the standard they were at the beginning of the game, had begun to get tired. Now when Gryffindor scored, (because nobody cared about Slytherin), the crowd didn't cheer so much as grunt in tired respect.
The score was 320 to 280 to Gryffindor. James was getting frustrated. The game couldn't go on much longer. He'd already lost one chaser and one beater because of the Slytherin's ruthless tactics. He flew further into the air to catch the Quaffle that Hestia had just thrown his way. He dodged the Slytherin's attempts to steal the odd shaped ball and scored another goal bringing Gryffindor's score up by ten points proving that, even without part of their team, they could still give the Slytherin's a challenge.
'Yay.' Mary said unenthusiastically. It was the extent she was now going to in commentating the game. She had been doing these short comments on the game for nearly half an hour but now something was happening that warranted a proper sentence.
'THE SNITCH HAS BEEN SPOTTED!' Mary yelled suddenly, waking everyone in the stadium up from their bored stupor, 'The Gryffindor and Slytherin seeker are neck and neck! The Slytherin seeker knocks the Gryffindor seeker off course! No! The Slytherin seeker makes a grab for the snitch…AND THE GRYFFINDOR SEEKER CATCHES THE SNITCH! Wow folks what a way to end the game! It looked as if Slytherin was going to win at the end there but good old Gryffindor snatched it back at the last minute! What a way to end the season! GRYFFINDOR WINNING THE QUIDDITCH CUP! YES! GO US!'
The crowd roared in appreciation, finally managing to muster enough energy to congratulate their team who had fought for the cup so valiantly. Three quarters of the stadium were celebrating. The final quarter was Slytherin and they weren't best pleased. They were hissing and stamping and throwing wrappers from the sweets they'd been eating pathetically down onto the pitch at the Gryffindor team who had just landed on the pitch looking worn out.
James punched his fist into the air in triumph. He smiled at the crowd and at his friends and then finally at Professor McGonagall. She was clapping politely in a dignified manner. If you weren't James you wouldn't have seen how gleeful she actually was with the Gryffindor win. You would have just seen her as an unbiased teacher, even though her house team had won. James however, received a wink and a quick victorious smile which also said, in James words, that the Slytherin team could 'suck it'. She didn't always show it because she was a professor and she wasn't supposed to be biased, even towards her own house, but Professor McGonagall always got satisfaction out of Gryffindor crushing the other houses in Quidditch.
James returned the smile and breathed a deep sigh. Quidditch was over.
Severus, with his hands clenched in fists beside him, was walking through the entrance hall on the way back from the Quidditch pitch where his house team had just lost sorely. He was thinking about the meeting Voldemort had held the other day. It was the meeting which they had snuck out of school to attend only to return to Hogwarts and realise that they couldn't get back in. The group had stood out in the cold night air for an hour when finally, Professor Slughorn on one of his less than innocent wanderings opened the gate to nip down to Hogsmeade, presumably to sell some tentacula leaves that he had taken from the Herbology greenhouses without permission. Just as the gate was swinging shut behind him, the six potential death eaters slipped back into the school.
On their way up to the castle, through the vast grounds, the group discussed the meeting. They had each been given until the end of the summer after their final year at Hogwarts to, for the last time, prove their worth to Voldemort and formally and forever join his ranks by being branded with the dark mark. All they had to do, was to either, bring someone else who was worthy into the fold or, with no easy way to say it without sounding vulgar, kill somebody who was unworthy of magic or had none at all. Muggles, muggleborns or blood traitors would fall into this category. They didn't have to show him bodies, he would know if they had done it.
Bellatrix was the one who was most excited with this prospect. She was bouncing as they had headed towards the castle, laughing madly at the thought of finally spilling some blood which wasn't worthy of magic. She jumped around suggesting people who they could sacrifice to serve Voldemort. Of course the first group of people out of her mouth were most of the Gryffindor's. Severus had to tense himself to stop himself lunging at her when he mentioned one certain name. The others that she mentioned he couldn't care less about. In fact, if he wasn't so nervous about taking someone else's life he'd have probably killed a couple of them at that moment.
Now, back in the present and slowing up the crowd which was trying to race into the school to celebrate the Gryffindor win, Severus wondered what to do. He did have more than a year to decide but doing it early would take the pressure off of him quickly. If he was honest with himself, he would prefer to bring someone else into the death eaters rather than kill someone. He wouldn't admit it to anybody but he was scared to commit such an act. An act you could never come back from no matter what you tried. No amount of redemption could save your soul one it was ripped in pieces by cold blooded murder. But he had to do it. If he brought someone else into the ranks instead of helping to purify the wizarding world, well, he saw it as a coward's way out. And he was no coward.
He looked among the throng of students passing him. Many of them were muggleborn or had families which liked muggleborns. He could easily pick any of them. Watch their movements for a while. Recognise their routines. Capture them alone. Disarm them, taking their wand and kill them with it so that their murder couldn't be linked back to him through a magical trace. It would be easy if he could do it. But committing such a crime under Dumbledore's nose would be near to impossible. If he was going to do this, he would need to do it when he wasn't at school.
He walked down some stairs into the dungeons and made his way across to the Slytherin common room. He said the password to a blank space of wall which instantly transformed into a small passage which led to the Slytherin common room.
The room was very large and rounded room which was lit by dim green lights. The furniture was a deep rich mahogany apart from the sofas which were deep green leather. The fire place, which had carved snakes entwining themselves around the frame, was glaring out a fire which was the only emitting light. The common room was cold beyond belief but Severus' crowd, for he could hardly call them friends, were buzzing. He walked over to them.
'So who are you thinking?' Avery asked Mulciber. He was strewn out across one of the sofas his head resting on Bellatrix's feet as she was sat on the arm of the couch.
Mulciber, who was sat opposite Avery in an armchair, replied 'Someone who bugs the hell out of me. Like Alderson.'
'Why does he bug you?' Wilkes asked who was sat on the floor near Avery's head.
'He always wears his jacket inside out.' Mulciber sneered. The Slytherin's around him laughed.
Severus pushed Avery's legs off of the couch and sat down in the place where they were. Avery was about to argue but after a stern and evil look from Severus, he backed off. Nobody in the Slytherin house messed with him. It was a shame that the same didn't apply to those in other houses, more specifically Gryffindor.
'You should go after Potter.' Avery said to Severus with a malicious smile, 'He's a blood traitor.'
'Are you stupid?' Severus spat at Avery, 'The dark lord would not want valuable magical blood to be spilt. Even if it is Potters!' Of course, this wasn't the real reason that Severus didn't want to go after James Potter. If truth be told Severus would rather avoid a real duel with James. He had seen what he could do in school boy fights. His reflexes were fast and his skills as a wizard were faultless no matter how much Severus hated him.
'Who you going for then?' Mulciber asked Severus with a daring look.
Severus thought for a moment. 'Not someone in Hogwarts.' he said finally.
'Why?' Bellatrix snapped as if this was a totally outrageous thought.
'Because,' Severus began, giving Bellatrix a harsh glare, 'if it is someone in Hogwarts, Dumbledore is bound to get suspicious. I don't know about you but I'd rather leave that duel to the Dark Lord. After all, he is the only one who can match his power. Also, if it is someone out of school, it can be done over the summer. I'll get branded quicker and the Dark Lord will be able to rely on me to do his bidding. That is why.'
'What about you then Bellatrix.' Avery said to her, 'Who are you going to unleash your wrath on?'
'I was thinking my cousin.' she said thoughtfully, her face glazing over with a truly wicked look.
'As much as I would love to see that happy event,' Severus smirked, 'I should reiterate that the Dark Lord wants no pure blood spilt. And besides, with that lot, you attack one, you attack them all. It would be a blood bath and, let's be honest, you wouldn't survive against three of them.'
'Fine!' Bellatrix spat. She knew he was right. 'Then,' she continued, 'I have someone else in mind then and I'm sure you'll be pleased. A little mudblood whose sunny disposition annoys the hell out of me!'
Severus tried with all his might to not let himself react. He knew who she was talking about. Anyone with half a brain did.
'Lily Evans would make a great offering to the Dark Lord!' Bellatrix whispered with a hushed but malevolent tone to her voice, 'Don't you think Snape?' she asked, daring him to disagree.
Severus looked up slowly, keeping his expression under calm control. He looked around at his fellow Slytherin's who were waiting for his answer with baited breath. They all knew how he felt about Lily and their past friendship. He knew that if they even suspected that he was still involved with her that they would give him no chance to explain, tell Voldemort at once and Severus wouldn't live long enough to give a defence. His betrayal would be all that was seen.
He finally turned to Bellatrix to give her an answer. 'I couldn't agree more.' he said.
Gryffindor celebrated their glorious win in the common room in true marauder style; with lots of butterbeer and jelly. The celebration lasted for four hours and, surprisingly, everybody's energy levels kept up for the whole of the party, unlike during Quidditch game. It ended at eleven o'clock at night when McGonagall had to go up to the Gryffindor common room to break the party up. They had become so loud that the Ravenclaw tower, at the opposite end of the school, could hear them. So the Gryffindor's departed the common room in groups until James was the only person left.
He sat staring into the dying embers of the fire, his defence against the dark arts homework lying untouched in front of him. He had stayed up to attempt to finish it but wasn't having any luck. He sighed and threw his quill, which he was holding poised and ready to write, on the table. He stood up and turned around to head to his dormitory but was stopped by the sight of Lily Evans on the staircase to the girls' dormitory.
'Hi.' she said tentatively. She stepped down a step so that she was only a couple of steps from the bottom of the staircase and only a couple of centimetres above James. (He was quite a tall lad).
'Hi?' James replied, a little bit confused. They hadn't spoken to each other in almost a month.
'It was erm…a good game.' Lily said with a small nod, 'I mean…I don't know a lot about Quidditch but, we won so I'm guessing that we played well. Look at me! I'm saying we when I didn't actually play. I've never even been on a broom. The idea of flying just scares me I guess-'
'Lily.' James said, cutting her off. He was smiling fondly at her. 'You're rambling.'
'Right.' Lily said after a short pause. She guessed that not having conversations every day with him for a month had sort of, strangely, made her forget how to talk to him. She had lost the rhythm of the relationship. 'So,' Lily began again, 'I see you came late to the celebrations. Of winning. Were you celebrating elsewhere? With someone else?'
James frowned, 'What do you mean?' he asked her. He folded his arms and tipped his head to the side slightly in question.
'I think the question is pretty self-explanatory!' Lily said in response. She now walked down the remaining two steps in front of her and entered the common room fully. She walked over to the fire place and turned to face James, also folding her arms.
'I don't think so.' James sighed, hiding a smirk for he knew that this would aggravate her. Also, as they hadn't spoken in a month and he assumed that they wouldn't speak again after this, he had to take all that he could get and he knew this would get her talking for a bit longer.
'Yes it is!' Lily replied already getting annoyed. She was very quick-tempered. Why couldn't he ever just answer a question straight out?
'I'm gonna need some kind of explanation for that question.' James said with a shrug of his shoulders, walking towards Lily slowly. He was now level with the couch opposite the fireplace where she was stood. 'Why do you want to know?'
'Just…because!' Lily exasperated, shaking her head and looking at her feet, her arms still folded, 'Just answer the question.'
'Why do you want to know if I was celebrating with someone else before I came to the party?' James asked before cheekily adding, 'Are you keeping tabs on me?'
'No. I was just wondering…you know it's just a bit rude for you to go off with someone else when there's a party being thrown for you.' she said, becoming increasingly frustrated.
'Technically it was for the whole of the Quidditch team.' James muttered under his breath and turning his head to the side slightly. It was almost as if he was trying to disguise his words but purposely doing it badly.
'Mainly for you though!' she snapped at him, wishing that she hadn't come down to the common room and started this in the first place. She could see that he was getting obvious pleasure from annoying her this way though.
'So…why do you want to know where I was?' James pressed, attempting to keep the growing smile off of his face.
'Just because I do!' Lily spoke, her voice becoming raised and her temper flaring up again.
'You gotta give me more than that!' James laughed, taking a step closer to a clearly irritated Lily, 'What do you want to know? Where I was or who I was with?'
'Both!' Lily said straight away, without hesitation before adding, 'Who.'
'And why do you want to know that?' James asked her, his tone becoming more serious as he began to realise where this was going. Was this it?
'Why won't you just tell me?' Lily stressed taking a step closer to James. She was getting closer and closer to boiling point.
'Because you won't tell me why you want to know!' James said in a quieter voice, an even more serious voice.
'Because I like you!' Lily announced finally, leaving a stunned and tangible silence behind her. She shocked herself. She hadn't come down stairs to tell him this. She had actually just come down to get dressing gown which she had left in the common room. When she had seen James however, she had decided, on a whim, to attempt to make peace. She missed being his friend. But finally, after weeks of failed attempts, weeks of silence and weeks of convincing herself to just let it go, she had told him how she felt. But how would he react?
'I know.' James said softly, raising his eyebrows and a small kind smile creeping across his face.
Lily looked at James, confused. The silence continued with neither of them saying a word. James was waiting for a response from Lily and Lily was trying to think of something to say. In this situation, she believed that she would be the one who would be waiting for the response, however, the tables had been turned somehow and, instead of James, she was the one in shock and she was the one who needed to give a response.
Lily thought for a few minutes but the best she could come up with was, 'How?'
'Jones told me around a month ago.' James shrugged. He wasn't smiling now. Neither of them was.
Lily rolled her eyes and heaved a great, and irked sigh, 'I'm gonna kill her.' she muttered to herself, shaking her head. She looked up at James who was looking at her curiously, wondering what she was going to do. Lily deflated and made her way towards the staircase, now unsure of how their conversation could go anywhere else.
'Doesn't matter anyway.' she said as she walked away from him, 'You have a girlfriend.'
James grabbed her arm as she walked past him. He turned her around to face him. She looked extremely surprised and, for some reason, nervous. James looked into her startling emerald green eyes and as soon as he had captivated her, dropped her arm.
'What girlfriend?' James asked, determined to know where this ludicrous idea of him having a girlfriend had come from.
'Sophie.' Lily said, obviously uncomfortable of saying the name of the girl she believed to be dating James.
'Oh…' James whispered. Everything fell into place for James as soon as Lily said that name. It was as if somebody had flicked a switch on in his head and he suddenly understood who they thought his girlfriend was. He understood that she would have overheard him speaking about Sophie on many occasions. Obviously, they hadn't heard the full story of who she was though.
He gave a breathless laugh and smiled at Lily, nodding his head. 'Come with me.' James said, explaining nothing to Lily but taking her hand and leading her towards the portrait hole.
'Where are we going?' Lily asked, willingly being lead out of the room by James, (much to the displeasure of the Fat Lady who was woken up when they stepped out of the common room), and following him without thinking about the fact that they were now out after curfew. Her hand tingled at the touch of his and, although she believed that she was crossing some kind of line because of the relationship she thought James to be in, she couldn't drop her hand and had to check every couple of minutes that he was actually holding it. Her heart beat fast at the contact, even if it wasn't in a romantic way.
James didn't say anything to Lily as he led her through the dark school. He dragged her up a few flights of stairs and through a door into a cold tower. Inside the tower was a spiral staircase which grew colder as you climbed up it. He took Lily to the top of the tower, opening the door that was at the top of the stairs. They entered the circular room, the coldest room by far in the whole of the Hogwarts due to the lack of windows. James whistled. Lily watched him.
'This is Sophie.' James said with a smile, gesturing to the figure that was now next to him. She was beautiful. She was sleek and brown with large, round brown eyes.
Lily smiled. 'This is Sophie?' she whispered.
'The one and only.' James smiled, looking to Sophie with a proud look on his face.
'She's an owl!' Lily cooed, walking forwards to the tiny bird who was perched tentatively on James' arm.
'That she is.' James nodded, 'But,' he continued cautiously, 'She's not really called Sophie.'
Lily looked at him confused.
'When I got her, at Christmas, I couldn't think of what to name her.' he began, taking a step closer to Lily so that she could stroke the owl and get a better look of her in the moonlight, 'Anyway, Sirius decided he'd call her Sophie and she started to respond so I tried to pick a name that was similar. Turned out that all I had to do was give her a nick name. She responds to it and Sirius is happy. Her name is Sox.'
'Sox.' Lily whispered with a small smile appearing on her face. It all made sense now to her. When she had overheard them talking in the Owlery, (their location also making sense now), when Sirius had been saying about her flying, Remus asking James if he was happy with her, James saying that he loved her already even though they had only 'met' over the Christmas holidays. It was all coming together. Anytime Sirius had said to James, 'can we go and see Sophie?' and his replies of 'no, but we can go and see Sox.', made sense to Lily now.
She had been stroking Sox for a couple of minutes in silence. Her feathers were so soft and even changed in shade towards her feet so that she looked like she was actually wearing socks. Lily had been involved in her head, making things clear to herself, not realising that things were now a little bit unclear to James.
'So,' James said, recapturing Lily's attention, 'You like me…and I still like you. Do you want to…do anything about that?' he asked slowly and cautiously, being very careful not to ask her out directly, as she had specifically asked him not to do that at the beginning of the year. He also didn't want her to think that he expected anything or scare her away.
Lily's face dropped and, without thinking, she said, 'I'm sorry.' and quickly left the room, leaving James devastated, holding the owl that had caused so much confusion.
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