Five Minutes

Chapter 67

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.

Hello readers!

Early update today especially for Lily153 who's birthday it is today! 18th of July! Happy Birthday! :)

Heres Chapter Sixty-Seven

Hope you enjoy it!

Chapter Sixty-Seven

The thirtieth of March was a lovely spring day with a warm spring breeze blowing gently through the castle grounds as a light sun shone in the baby blue sky. It was James' eighteenth birthday, the last one he would have at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the celebration of the day was extravagantly huge. His birthday fell on a Thursday so, the first thing he and the marauders had done was, at breakfast, claim that no Professor was to give anyone any homework that day. When Professor McGonagall objected, before James and Sirius could begin to argue their case, Professor Dumbledore had reminded her that, the previous year, on Valentine's Day, she had promised them a homework free day; a day which they could choose. They had waited over a year to use their 'free pass'. Dumbledore thought they had gusto. The only other thing they did that morning was go talk to the house elves in the kitchen.

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter skipped school that day and went down to Hogsmeade. James had tried to convince Lily to go with him, claiming that she would complete his day if she went with them, but Lily refused to miss school. Instead, she promised him that she wouldn't tell anyone where he and his friends had gone even though it was against her better nature, wished him a happy birthday and sent him on his way with a long, lasting kiss which had Sirius, Remus and Peter wolf-whistling at first but shifting uncomfortably at the end. So the boys had gone to spend the day in Hogsmeade, only returning in the evening for dinner and, perhaps more importantly, James' birthday extravaganza.

Sirius, Peter and Remus had invited the whole school and the whole school came. Well, not exactly. Only the Gryffindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were invited through way of announcement in the great hall at dinner time by Sirius. Before dinner, Sirius, with the help of Peter, had managed to gather the whole of the Slytherin house in the dungeons by informing them via extremely convincing counterfeit notes that their head of house, Professor Slughorn had a special treat for them that none of the other houses in the school could have. It was like drawing moths to a flame. Only the flame was false and the Slytherins ended up being locked down in the dungeons, unable to get out due to some very complicated and impressive magic, (plus some Hogwarts inside knowledge), by Sirius and Peter. And they couldn't be helped by the Professors either. Remus had done the same sort of thing with them.

Remus had sent extremely convincing counterfeit notes instructing all the Professors of the school that Professor Dumbledore wished to speak to them in his office. Again, it was moths to a flame and all the teachers of the school progressively made their way up to Dumbledore's office only, once they were inside, they couldn't open the door to get out. Dumbledore was able to open the door and he knew this but, for some reason, pretended he couldn't and let the boys carry on with James birthday party.

With the Slytherins and Professors out of the way, James' birthday extravaganza began. The marauders had taken over the great hall, the entrance hall, the first two floors of the castle and the grounds, including the black lake. They set of fireworks in the castle and they bounced off of the walls until they finally until they exploded outside over the black lake. Remus rearranged the floating candles in the great hall to spell out 'Happy Birthday James' which Sirius later rearranged to say 'Happy Birthday Specky Git'. Two of the long tables in the great hall were covered in a delicious buffet of jelly and butterbeer, the marauders having convinced the house elves to do them this one favour earlier that morning. On the table at the front of the hall where the Professors usually sat, Remus and Peter had set up a wizarding gramophone and were playing music, enchanting it so that it kept going on a loop. The other two tables in the great hall the marauders had designated as 'dancing tables' which people clambered on and off of when they fancied dancing to the repetitive music.

If you didn't want to stay in the great hall to listen to the music, dance, eat or drink, you could always go out to the entrance hall where the marauders had charmed the floor so that it was bouncy. It was like a giant trampoline. But if that didn't capture your fancy there was always the first and second floor of the castle. James and Sirius had waxed the floors and stairs and had stolen all of the mattresses from the Slytherin dorm rooms for a couple of floors of mattress surfing fun. Quite a few people enjoyed that. But again, if none of this appealed to you, there was always something else you could do outside of the castle.

They had taken over the black lake so you could skim stones across it, dangle your feet in the water or use one of the boats which Remus and Peter had 'borrowed' from the boat houses. James and Sirius had broken into the Quidditch stores and nicked all of the schools brooms and Quaffles for those who wanted to fly about. Then there was the huge wreck of chairs and tables which all four of the marauders had taken from all the classrooms on the fourth floor and thrown out of the windows into a pile which people had taken to climbing, (Remus had secured it so that no one would get hurt). After that, it was just good old fashioned fun talking and laughing with your friends.

They were able to keep their party going for four hours, from seven o'clock when dinner started, to eleven o'clock when Dumbledore finally let it be known that he could exit his office. He, along with the other Professors of the school broke up James' birthday party. At the time, Sirius had been mattress surfing with a Hufflepuff sixth year girl, (not in the dirty sense to his dismay), Remus had been rallying the boats on the black lake and Peter had been bouncing on the entrance hall floor. James had been with Lily in the great hall, stood atop one of the 'dancing tables' surrounded by other couples slow dancing to the last song of the evening holding her close against him, his arms tightly wound around her waist, her arms loosely hung around his neck, a content smile on his face as her head rested on his shoulder. There, with her, he knew. It was his best birthday ever.

The school was sent to bed but Dumbledore had excused James, Sirius, Remus and Peter from clearing the mess up their party had caused. They scarpered quickly before they changed his mind laughing and joking as they climbed up to the Gryffindor common room, discussing what they were going to do for April fool's day. Sirius suggested doing something to the Slytherins but James just said, 'Nah. Done to death. Besides, who knows how long it'll be before the teacher realise that they're all locked down in the dungeons. They might not even be around on April fool's day.' (It would take eleven hours for the teachers to realise Slytherin house had gone missing).

It took a few more suggestions before they decided what they were going to do and, surprisingly, the idea had come from Peter. Sirius and James hadn't liked it at first but when Remus backed it up saying that it was a simple but elegant plan, they soon changed their tune. They decided to do nothing. Do nothing because the whole school was expecting something. Watching them all, whether at Hogwarts or Hogsmeade, (for April fool's day also happened to be on the day when the next Hogsmeade visit was), wait on tenterhooks, flinching or jumping, spending the day on fear of what the marauders were going to do, would be extremely amusing for them. They were chattering excitedly about it in whispers as they climbed up to their dormitory. When they got there, James found a card on his bed and his owl Sox flying around the dorm room.

'What's Sophie doing here?' Sirius asked nonchalantly jumping onto his bed and lying down with his hands behind his head.

Remus rolled his eyes at Sirius' use of the name which he had given to James' owl before James had had time to name her himself.

'Birthday card from mum.' James said, ignoring Sirius' blatant attempt to annoy him. He opened the card and read the inside. 'That's odd.' he stated.

'What?' Remus asked as he sat down on his bed and started to pull his shoes off.

'Mum wants to meet me in Hogsmeade this Saturday.' James said with a small frown. In all the years he had been allowed to visit Hogsmeade, his mother had never once suggested meeting him. Not that he would have in his earlier years because it would have been seen as embarrassing, but maybe he would have done after his dad died. Still, she had never suggested it which could only mean one thing. 'Must be important.' James muttered.

'Must be.' Sirius repeated, 'Want me to come with you?'

'Nah.' James said, 'She doesn't say if you can come or not so-'

'Best leave it Sirius.' Remus finished for James, now taking his socks off.

The four boys got ready for bed quickly and settled into their beds. They would have gone straight to sleep for they were all tired, (James having woken them all up at four o'clock that morning from birthday excitement), only James seemed to have other ideas. Not only had he forced them to wake up that morning, he was now preventing them from going to sleep now thanks to his own personal dilemma.

'Ah crap.' he said, sitting up and running a hand through his hair.

'Wet the bed again?' Sirius asked with a joking smirk.

'Again?' James laughed, 'I think you're confusing me with Pete.'

'Oh.' Sirius yawned, 'Sorry. Still dry Pete?' he said loudly across the room.

'Yes.' Peter answered begrudgingly. He had wet the bet once in first year because he was homesick and Sirius had never let it go.

'No wet dreams?' Sirius asked.

'Shut up Padfoot.' Remus muttered reprimanding over to him before asking James, 'What's wrong Prongs?'

'I was meant to go into Hogsmeade with Lily on Saturday.' he said with a sigh, rubbing his eyes which he scrunched closed.

'Why don't you just take her with you?' Remus suggested.

'He's not taking me' Sirius said, 'Why would he take Evans to see his mum if he won't take me?'

'Because she's his girlfriend?' Remus said as if it was obvious, 'Cause he's met her parents so it might be nice for her to meet his mum? Because he'd already planned to go to Hogsmeade with her? Because after hearing about his girlfriend which we know from experience is a topic James will go on and on about, his mum might want to be introduced–'

'Nah it's alright.' James said, cutting Remus off of his points and ending the conversation with, 'I'll just tell Lily why I can't go.'

And with that he laid back down in his bed, a clear symbol to Remus and Sirius that he had stopped this discussion. But just because James had stopped talking didn't mean the subject was dropped. In fact, it had just gotten interesting. Remus and Sirius sat up, leaning on their elbows as they glanced at each other sharing a look that they both knew had the same question mixed in it. Had James actually told Jane Potter about Lily?

Friday evening, after the Prefects meeting, Lily met Hestia outside of the Transfiguration classroom. Hestia had complained that Lily was ditching her for James the next day for the Hogsmeade visit and had demanded that they have a girly night to make up for it. Lily had agreed immediately, knowing that Hestia didn't like the idea of being left alone for a Hogsmeade weekend and was a bit depressed that she now no longer had a boyfriend. Also, Lily felt a bit guilty over that, Hestia having broken up with him because he had spread some gossip about Lily, James and Sirius, so she thought it was the least she could do to spend a girly night with her. What she didn't know though was that she would soon be free to spend the next day with her as well.

Lily began to walk away with Hestia when James, who she hadn't spoken to today about anything other than head duties, came out of the Transfiguration classroom after her as if he had suddenly remembered something, which he had.

'Hey Lils wait up!' he called after her, jogging down the corridor to catch up with her for she had walked a fair way away already.

Lily turned around, as did Hestia, confused and curious to what James wanted. 'Hey what's up?' she asked him, wondering what he had to tell her. What he had to tell her that he couldn't have told her only moments ago when they were alone in the Transfiguration room sorting out the Prefects patrol rota for the week.

'I forgot to tell you before,' he began, (Lily thinking ah, that's why.), 'I can't do Hogsmeade tomorrow.' he continued.

'Oh.' Lily said, a bit deflated. She was saddened by this. She didn't know why she was so saddened by this as she had spent the whole evening with him yesterday on his birthday and she had already been alone with him for more than an hour just before. Yet, all this time didn't seem to be enough. She felt as if she needed more time with him. Obviously he didn't. Unless there was another reason why he couldn't do Hogsmeade. She decided to find out, trying not to sound needy as she said, 'Ok. Why?'

'I'm me-' James started, about to tell her that he was meeting his mum instead. He was sure she wouldn't have minded. In fact, he was sure she would probably find it sweet or endearing and he would probably earn himself some brownie points for caring for his mother so. But still, he didn't tell her. He didn't know why he didn't tell her just like he didn't know why he hadn't told his mum about Lily yet. He searched and searched his head for a reason why he hadn't introduced them to each other but couldn't find one. Still, he wasn't planning on introducing them anytime soon. He wasn't planning on telling his mum about Lily either. He had no idea how to bring it up in conversation so he just left it. Plus he wasn't exactly sure what his mums reasons were for wanting to meet him so he didn't know if it would be a suitable time to tell her he had a girlfriend.

James looked back at Lily who was waiting for an answer. He didn't give her one though. All he said was, 'I can't say exactly. I'm sorry.' He saw her face had dropped slightly and he hated himself for it. But once again didn't tell her. Instead, he stepped forwards and placed his hand comfortingly on her cheek, tipping her head up slightly to look into his eyes as he went on to say, 'It's important though. I wouldn't cancel on you if it wasn't. You know that right?' in the most sincerest voice he had in him

'Yeah of course.' Lily nodded.

'Awesome.' James smiled, relieved that Lily seemed fine with this. 'Thanks Lils. You're the best.' he said, kissing her forehead quickly before saying, 'See you later.' and turning around to walk away.

'Bye.' Lily said unenthusiastically after him. 'That was weird.' she said to Hestia as soon as he was out of earshot down the long corridor. Hestia didn't answer. She tried again. 'Don't you think that was weird?' she asked her best friend, turning to look at her and raising her eyebrows at what she saw.

Hestia stood staring after James, her head tilted to the side slightly, the hints of a smile on her lips and her eyes trained on his behind, watching him walk away. 'Mmm.' she hummed absentmindedly.

'Hestia!' Lily said, hitting her friend on the arm in reprimand for staring at James in such a fashion right in front of her. She was used to girls staring at him this way but never Hestia. After her recent break up Lily didn't think Hestia would look at anyone in that way for a while, let alone James.

'What?' Hestia said innocently, 'He's got a nice arse!'

Lily paused in a slightly amused shock. 'That's my boyfriend.' she pointed out.

'And?' Hestia asked, not seeing the problem.

'Stop checking his arse out!' Lily instructed.

'Why?' Hestia questioned. She was only living vicariously through her best friend. She didn't have a boyfriend anymore and she saw no harm in looking. It wasn't like she would do anything about it. She had some of her famous un-rewritable unwritten rules about this sort of thing.

'Because he's my boyfriend.' Lily said.

'And his arse is your property?' Hestia asked with a small smile, challenging Lily to admit it, something which she knew she wouldn't do right out.

Again, Lily paused. 'Well…' she began unsurely. She technically didn't own James. Any part of him. People gawped at him enough anyway so she should be used to sharing the view of him. It just seemed different when it was Hestia and she felt she could stop at least one person looking at him the way she did. The way, by rights, if people had any respect for her relationship with him, only she could.

'Have you touched it?' Hestia queried suddenly.

'Hestia!' Lily said, blushing faintly pink, not wishing to share this information with her, especially in a corridor where anyone could over hear them. She had learnt her lesson after what had happened at the Quidditch match. After that she had become more like James, determined to keep their personal life personal. She wasn't going to tell Hestia what she did with James in private, so she said nothing. So Hestia assumed.

'You have haven't you!' Hestia teased with a bantering grin, 'Is it firm?'

'I'm gonna stop talking to you now.' Lily said seriously.

'Come on give me details!' Hestia insisted.

'I'm walking away now.' Lily stated, doing exactly what she said.

'Lily!' Hestia called after her, 'Take it as a compliment!' She started to walk after her with her arms out in innocent disbelieving question, whilst calling out for the whole castle to hear, 'Your boyfriend has a fit arse!'

James went to meet his Mum in Hogsmeade the next day in the Three Broomsticks, not knowing why she wanted to see him or what she was going to say. He had decided that morning though, if the tone of the visit was right, he would tell her about Lily and maybe introduce them if his Mum wanted, but only if the tone was right. If it wasn't he wouldn't for it might seem inappropriate. As it was, the tone wasn't right and it would have seemed mighty inappropriate for him to go fetch his girlfriend at that moment. Not that he had time to do so though because, fifteen minutes into Jane Potter telling James why she had asked to see him, James had stormed out of the pub. To anyone watching, it might have just seemed like a teenage hormone fuelled strop but to James, his walking away from his Mother when he did was perfectly justified. He was angry and upset at what she had told him and he couldn't bear to stay with her any longer. So he left before he said something he regretted.

He made his way back to Hogwarts, hands thrust deep in his pockets, not completely aware of where he was going or who he was passing. He was just walking. He surprised himself when he ended up in his dormitory. When he was there, not knowing why, he kicked his bed and picked up one of his Quaffles throwing it as hard as he could against the bathroom door which flew open by the force of it, the latch loosening. He then flopped onto his bed, sat on the edge, his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands. He had no idea that Sirius had followed him up from the common room and had witnessed his physical anger.

'Hey mate.' Sirius said warily, walking into the room and sitting on his own bed, concern on his face for his best friend, 'You alright?'

James didn't answer. He ignored Sirius and kept his head in his hands, his eyes staring blankly at the floor. He felt as if he should be crying. A natural reaction would be to cry. But James didn't cry. James hadn't cried since he was nine years old. So he was angry instead.

'Prongs?' Sirius said, trying to prompt James, hoping maybe he just hadn't heard him the first time and wasn't ignoring him, 'Prongs?'

Still James said nothing.

'James what's up?' Sirius demanded.

James looked up at the sound of Sirius using his real name. He shook his head and sighed, licking his lips and looking away momentarily before announcing, 'Linda's dead.'

Sirius deflated. The Potter's House Elf had died. The Potter's loved their House Elf, especially James. Linda had been the one to look after him when his parents were at work which, when he started Hogwarts, coming back only for the summer holidays, was most of the time. No wonder he had kicked and thrown things. Sirius didn't know what to say so he just asked softly, 'You ok?'

James looked at him in disbelief. He was really angry now. He raised his voice. 'No I'm bloody well not ok!' he yelled at Sirius, 'You think I'm ok? She was like family! She was family!'

'I know-'

'My family doesn't hold house elves in such low standards as yours!' James continued to shout, standing up and not caring that Sirius was nothing like his family, that he had disowned his family and their ways just as much as they had disowned him. But that didn't occur to James through his grief filled rage and he continued to yell. 'We loved Linda!' he said, 'We appreciated what she did for us! We respected her! At least I did!'

Then he stormed out of the room; stormed out on Sirius just as he had stormed out on his mother. Usually, if James stormed away or walked away or stalked away from his friends, his friends would let him get on with it. James was known to just disappear if he didn't want to talk to anyone. Normally, none of the marauders would be able to find him. The first few times he had done it they had tried to but hadn't succeeded. Then they made the marauders map and it had been easier to track him down but, in the end, James had become wise to what they were doing. From then on, if he wanted to disappear, he would take the map with him so they couldn't find him. There were just times when James really didn't want to be found. And if James didn't want you to find him, you wouldn't find him. And you just had to accept it. But this time, because this was a special case, Sirius didn't accept it and decided to track him down. Luckily, James, in such a volatile mood, had left the map and means for Sirius to find him with. But Sirius had decided that he wasn't going to be the one to find him.

Sirius took the map out of James' desk drawer and tapped his wand on it once, ink spreading out from the tip where it made contact with the parchment. He scanned over the map and saw the dot labelled James Potter moving swiftly through the castle, no particular destination apparent. After he found James dot, he searched for another, spotting it immediately in the library. He folded the map back up and put it in his back pocket along with his wand before exiting his dormitory on his way to the library.

When he got there, whispers immediately rang around the silent room. Sirius Black was in the library. Something had to be wrong. Sirius Black didn't do the library. Many doubted he knew where it was. Yet he was there and, not stopping as he usually would have done to wink at the girls who were staring at him, he made a beeline for the one person he believed James would talk to; Lily Evans. If James wouldn't talk to Sirius, Sirius believed that Lily would be the only other person he would.

'Lily?' he said, sitting down next to her.

Lily looked up in surprise from the book she was reading, her finger marking the place she had gotten too. 'Sirius?' she said in innocent astonishment, 'What's wrong?'

Sirius sighed. 'It's James.' he said, sounding rather ominous.

'Why what's wrong?' Lily asked immediately, her stomach dropping to the floor and an aching in her heart as she thought the worst possible things, as she thought he might be hurt. She'd never felt anything, any worry like this before. It was intense.

'Can you go talk to him please?' Sirius asked her, taking the map out of his back pocket and giving it to her, the parchment folded in such a way that you saw James' dot straight away as if its sole purpose was to find him. 'He won't talk to me' Sirius continued, 'He'll talk to you though cause…I know he'll talk to you.'

'Ok.' Lily answered with no hesitation, but with one more question. If she was going to talk to James about something which he wouldn't even talk to Sirius about, she needed to know, 'What's wrong?'

James was in a corridor in the west of the castle. He was leaning one shoulder against the wall, his head also resting against the stone with his arms folded and his legs crossed. He was looking out of a large window which overlooked the grounds; the black lake, the beech tree and edge of the forbidden forest. Hagrid's hut was obstructed from view but James knew it was there. He stared out of the window, lazily and unfocused on the students enjoying the light spring weather. James was wishing it would rain. He wished the April showers they were so used to would make an appearance so that he could clear his head. He just needed a walk in the rain. But instead of rain, he got a pain. A pain in the form of Severus Snape.

'Potter.' Severus sneered at him as he moved into his peripheral vision, his wand already out in his hand as if he was expecting a duel. He stood in front of a stiff suit of armour that was holding a machete. The armour was in front of a royal looking tapestry which, James knew, had a broom cupboard hiding behind it.

James saw this but didn't want to give him the satisfaction of being provoked and with the way he was feeling, he would probably do a lot more than just curse the slime-ball. He'd be lucky if he didn't kill him. James took a breath to calm himself. But Severus kept staring at him, forcing him to react with harsh words. 'Oh piss of Snivellus.' James spat at Severus, not looking at him fully.

Severus saw that James wasn't taking his wand out. He needed him to. He needed him to curse him, a curse with visible effects preferably or he would never be able to prove to Lily that James Potter hadn't changed. 'Gonna make me?' he taunted, trying to bait him, 'Hex me?'

'If you don't leave in the next five seconds, yes.' James said honestly and aggressively, his hand now itching towards his own wand which was in his back pocket.

'I doubt it.' Severus said with an evil leer, knowing what to do to get under his skin. He just needed the right reference and, luckily for him, he had it. 'You couldn't even curse me the other week in the library.' he said.

'Five.' James said, pushing himself off of the wall and turning to face Severus, his face stone.

'Remember.' Severus continued, 'When I was with Lily.'

'Four.' James counted down, reaching round into his back pocket.

'And I leant into kiss her.' Severus went on, getting his reaction.

'Three.' James said through gritted teeth, his wand in his hand, a dark look in his eyes.

'And she didn't pull away.' Severus sustained.

James was provoked. he would swear to it. He shot a curse, a burst of white light, out at Severus; a stinging hex which hit him square on the left arm, causing it to swell alarmingly fast. Severus didn't seem to mind the searing pain it caused him. In fact, he seemed to derive a sick pleasure from it but James didn't know why.

'What happened to five seconds.' Severus taunted with a sneer.

'I lied.' James snapped, throwing his wand into the air once and catching it fluently, allowing himself to be pleased at his handiwork momentarily before barking back at Severus, 'Now piss off! The sight of you makes me sick!'

But Severus didn't leave. He stayed, his left arm swelling and said with an evil curl of his lip, 'The sight of you probably makes Lily sick. Why do you think she didn't have any objections to me trying to-'

'I swear on Merlin's grave if you don't get out of here I will end you.' James cut in in a deathly quiet voice which threatened Severus' very being. He hated what he was saying. It made his skin crawl. It made him want to kill him. He knew it wasn't true because Lily had told him so and he trusted her. But Severus' words still made him feel nauseated.

Severus knew he was getting to him. He simply gave him a taunting sneer which sent a glimmer of a provoking smile through his sallow face. He was breathing heavily as he stood staring at James, aggravating him to the point where James could stand it no more. James gave a quick harsh flick of his wand and the still suit of armour that stood behind Severus dropped its machete. The sharp blade fell and skimmed Severus' right arm, ripping the material of his robes, (for Severus never wore muggle clothes), and grazed his skin causing it to bleed but only slightly. Against his will, Severus cursed at the pain yelling, 'You arrogant twat!' out at James.

'Leave me alone or I swear I'll do a lot more than let a suit of armour attack you.' James said back to him, still in that low but threatening whisper, more threatening than if he were to shout. He scowled at Severus and Severus scowled back.

'James?' came a soft voice from around the corner.

James' face dropped its scowl at Lily's voice and he couldn't help but close his eyes to savour it, his guard dropping knowing that Lily was near.

Severus' guard also dropped but not because he heard Lily's voice, because he noticed James' face. He knew that look. He gave that look. He knew it was the look he had on his face whenever he was alone and thinking of Lily. He knew.

James regained his composure quicker that Severus did and, fast as a flash, James stunned Severus and walked quickly over to him. He reversed the stinging hex he had cast on his left arm and he healed the skin that had peeled off when the machete had hit him, removing all evidence that he had cursed him at all. He then hurriedly, with the useful aid of magic, swept back the ancient tapestry to reveal the broom cupboard behind it, opened the door and levitated an unconscious Severus inside to hide what he had been doing from Lily. He had just enough time to let the tapestry swing back into place, stroll over to the window and lean on the stone sill below it before Lily came around the corner and saw him.

'James?' Lily queried tentatively, making sure it was him. Sirius had shown her where he was on the map and assured her he would stay there for a while yet but wouldn't let her take the parchment. So she didn't have the map with her and, even though her heart told her it was him, her head forced her to check.

James took a deep breath to compose himself before looking over his shoulder to confirm to her that it was him.

Lily walked forwards and stood next to him placing a gentle comforting hand on his arm. 'Are you ok?' she asked him softly, 'Sirius told me what happened. I'm sorry.'

James couldn't help but give a bitter disbelieving laugh at her apology. 'No you're not.' he said with a shake of his head, his mind returning to his anger over Linda's death rather than what he had now realised was a one-sided duel with Severus Snape. 'Nobody's ever sorry that a house elf dies.' he went on, turning his head to look Lily.

'I am.' she said truthfully.

James stared into her eyes, her emerald green eyes. 'You're about the only one.' he said, believing her.

'No I'm not.' Lily continued softly, taking her hand off of his arm so that she could lean her hip against the stone sill below the window. She looked at James and placed her hands over one of his on the window ledge. 'You're sorry.' she said, 'And your mum-'

'No.' James cut her off, shaking his head. 'Well yes, but…no.' he went on.

'What do you mean?' Lily questioned curiously.

James took a deep breath. 'My family,' he began, 'although probably one of the kinder wizarding families towards house elves is no better than the rest of them.' He sounded calm at first but slowly, as he spoke, his emotion started to show through his voice, 'That house elf gave her life to us, she was devoted to us and yet, still, my mum didn't think it…dignified to give her a proper send-off around 'eternally resting wizards'. She was given no coffin. No burial. No ceremony even. Just…burnt. Just burnt in the garden like a scarecrow on a bonfire. And I didn't even get to say goodbye.'

'Are you sad?' Lily asked hesitantly.

'No.' James said bluntly, 'I'm angry.' He took his hands off of the window sill where he was leaning, taking one of his hands from underneath Lily's hold and walked away from her. He stopped a few feet away, his back to her. He was facing the suit of armour, the machete it had been holding still on the floor. James stared at it.

'James,' Lily said from behind him, and James could feel that she had moved a bit closer. 'It's ok to be sad when someone you love dies.' she assured him.

'I know that.' James said, staring at the machete a couple of seconds before turning back around to face her. He ran a hand through his hair. 'I am sad.' he told her, not wanting her to think that he was completely devoid of that emotion even though he wasn't sure if he was sad at all. He felt too angry to be sad. 'I'm just…' he went on, shoving his hands in his pockets, 'I wish I could have said goodbye. Properly.'

'Well…' Lily said, taking a hesitant step forwards, 'It's not properly but, you could say goodbye now.'

'No.' James said immediately, dismissing the idea.

'James-'

'No.' James repeated strongly, 'I'm not saying goodbye to her here, when she's not here. That's stupid.'

Lily looked a bit hurt. 'James I'm trying to help-'

'I know.' James said, cutting her off again. He looked at her and immediately regretted his abruptness, the hurt look in her eyes gaining a strange vulnerability which he'd never seen before. He'd seen her vulnerable before on a rare occasion but this was different. He didn't know why but he couldn't stand the thought that he had caused that expression in her eyes. He immediately took on an apologising tone and walked forwards to her.

'Lils, I know you're trying to help and you are helping.' he said before pulling her into him for a hug, circling his arms around her. He felt her lay her head against his chest and he kissed her hair, breathing in her flowery scent before resting his cheek on the top of her head. 'Just you being here, with me…' he continued, 'It helps. I don't know why but it does.'

'Really?' Lily said into his chest, her words vibrating against him.

'Yeah.' James said honestly, stroking her long deep red hair and closing his eyes, 'Believe me. You're doing enough just by standing here. I couldn't ask you for anything more.'

'Well I-' Lily began but was cut off by a crash emanating from behind the tapestry. She pulled away from James to look at where the sound came from. 'What was that?' she asked him, now spotting the fallen machete on the floor.

James, who still had his arms round Lily's waist just as she still had her hands resting on his arms, looked over his shoulder to look at the tapestry. He gulped guiltily, praying that that crash wasn't the sound of the stunning charm he had placed of Severus wearing off. He wasn't concentrating fully so it might have been. He couldn't risk, he didn't want Lily to see Snape emerging from that cupboard and telling her what he had done.

'Err…nothing.' he said, turning her around so that she was gripped to his side, his arm around her waist. 'Come on.' he went on, 'Let's go outside. Maybe I can say goodbye to Linda there.'

And he led her away. But not before one last look over her shoulder at the suspicious machete that was still lying on the floor.

Thanks for reading

Galindaba

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