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 reader! Second installment of purpleartist19's birthday update! Happy Birthday! :)
Here's chapter Seventy-Six!
Hope you enjoy it!
'Do you think they've even spoken about it?' Remus asked Sirius.
The two of them, along with Peter were sat in the kitchens waiting for James who had been called into McGonagall's office on a matter of upmost importance. Sirius and Remus had decided that it had either something to do with the upcoming final Quidditch match or they had finally found the missing Slytherin bed sheets which James stuffed behind every portrait along the sixth floor corridor in their third year. Nobody had even considered the possibility that they were still in the school considering he had also been caught sending their pillow cases to the ministry of magic via owl. He had received a whole month's worth of detention for that. If they found the missing bed sheets now he would probably be in detention till he graduated, especially after what he had done to them.
'Who cares?' Sirius replied, gratefully taking a pork pie off of one of the house elves walking past. He knew what Remus was talking about; James and Lily. He was wondering whether James had given Lily a chance to explain herself but Sirius knew he hadn't so he really didn't see the need to talk about it. Truth be told, Sirius was rather curious to know how Lily would explain herself and, if he was being brutally honest, because of how much they had hung around with her this year and the year before that and because he had seen her fun and caring side, the side which James had wanted him to see so much, he did sort of wish that they could work it out. It seemed odd now without Lily in their little group. Although he could do without Hestia. He didn't want the prejudice girl around them, but Lily seemed to fit somehow. But still, as James wasn't willing to find out why Lily had done what she had, and as Sirius was proved right about how James shouldn't have told her their secret, he didn't want to admit any of this to anyone, least of all Remus who openly wanted James to talk to her about it. So he kept it quiet and put up a false front.
'Good riddance to her.' Sirius went on, 'We can't trust her.'
Remus paused and narrowed his eyes. He had known Sirius for a long time now and, although he wasn't as good at this part as James was, he knew he was lying. 'You don't really think that.' he stated.
'How do you know?' Sirius defended.
'Because despite what you say I know you like her and you're actually good friends with her and if she and James made up you would be fine, even happy with it.' Remus replied assuredly. He knew that if James were here he would call Sirius out on the same lie. James could always tell when Sirius was lying
'Pfft. I don't care.' Sirius said through a mouthful of pie.
'She's your friend.' Remus pointed out, handing Peter one of the pork pies that the house elves had laid on the table in front of them, the ones that Sirius was now currently trying to horde by shoving them in his bag.
'Some friend.' Sirius scoffed, grabbing the pork pie back off of Peter, 'She told our biggest secret.' he continued, shoving the pastry into his mouth and speaking through the meat, 'A secret I didn't even want her to know may I remind you.'
'Yeah I know but how do we know she did it on purpose?' Remus questioned. He had been arguing this all along and he didn't see why James didn't want to believe the best in Lily. Every time he had tried to convince him that this was a possibility he just changed the subject. But then again, any time Remus came remotely close to this subject over the past week he had changed the subject or had just made some excuse to walk away. However, apart from the day that everything had happened, Remus hadn't tried to convince Sirius of the same thing. If he could get Sirius to see things his way, convincing James to do so would be a lot easier. And as it was clear that Sirius preferred things the way they were before and actually missed Lily's company, it shouldn't be that hard to do.
'I don't think she did it on purpose.' Remus stated assuredly after a moment's pause.
It was Sirius' turn to pause. 'Really?' he asked eventually, acting as if he didn't care.
'No.' Remus continued, suspicious about his nonchalance, 'I think it was an accident.' He went on. 'She'd just learnt something incredible, something she would never have expected and she was in shock.' he shrugged, 'It is completely plausible that it wasn't intentional.'
'Plausible? Intentional?' Sirius asked confusedly with a wave of a pork pie, earning a small titter from Peter which he ignored.
Remus sighed. 'She didn't mean to do it.' He explained in laments terms.
Sirius paused this time, studying Remus in his belief. 'You really believe that?' he wondered.
'Yeah.' Remus nodded assuredly. He took the pork pie out of Sirius' hand and took a bite of it himself before pointing it at the grey-eyed boy and saying, 'And you want to believe that too.'
'Will you stop telling me what to believe in Moony.' Sirius snapped, snatching the pork pie back off of Remus and stuffing the rest of the half-eaten pork pie into his mouth. 'I'll believe what I want too.' he said with his mouth full.
'Hence the fact you still think Santa Claus is real.' Remus said with a smirk.
Sirius mouth, still full of tiny chewed up bits of pork pie, dropped open as he said, spraying his food everywhere, 'Who else brings you presents Moony?' he swallowed dramatically, 'Who?'
Frowning in disgust, Remus said, 'Your friends. Friends like Lily.'
'Jeesh you're obsessed.' Sirius said with a roll of his eyes, now taking another pork pie off of Peter who had just been handed a stack fall by a small watery eyed house elf. 'More obsessed than James.' He went on in a mutter.
'I just think it's time they talked.' Remus said as if to close the matter. He could see he wasn't going to get anywhere with Sirius today, especially as there was an enormous amount of food about. Perhaps he should have started this conversation somewhere other than the kitchen.
'Yeah, well, it's not our decision is it.' Sirius replied, giving Remus the unexpected surprise of carrying on the conversation he thought was over.
'No but I still think we should convince James to give her a chance to explain herself.' Remus said tentatively, treading lightly with what he said, thinking through all possibly variants of how to word his next sentences in such a way that would make Sirius see sense. 'You know how depressed he is without her.' he went on, 'He does love her.'
Sirius thought this through. The one thing he didn't want was for James to be depressed. He was his best friend, he would never want to wish that sort of pain upon him. And now he was thinking it through, the past week, he could see Remus was right; James had been depressed without Lily. As for loving her, when James had told them this in their dormitory, when he had been asking for permission from them all to reveal their biggest secret to Lily, Sirius had dismissed it. He had put it down to an infatuation with the girl. It hadn't particularly occurred to him that James was genuinely being serious. That he did actually love the girl and wanted to be with her for as long as he possibly could. And, who knows, maybe the last part of this was now down to Sirius, Remus and Peter to sort out seeing as they were partly to blame for the fall out between the couple. Not completely, but there was some element of their interference there.
'Yeah.' Sirius said eventually after a moment of resolve.
Remus stopped. 'And you'd forgive her to.' he stated with uncertainty.
Heaving a big sigh Sirius said, 'Yeah. As I said before, it is completely plausible that it wasn't intentional.'
'I said that.' Remus corrected.
'I don't recall that.' Sirius answered in thought.
'Pretty sure you didn't.'
'Yes I did.'
'Moony please don't lie about this. It just makes you seem so desperate to seem smart.' Sirius said with a cheeky smirk towards his friend.
Remus narrowed his eyes. 'Pot. Kettle. Black.' he said.
'Well done.' Sirius clapped with a smile, sarcasm dripping from every word, 'And tomorrow we'll move on to cutlery.'
'I'll show you some cutlery in a minute.' Remus muttered with a wonky smile pulling up the left corner of his slightly chapped lips. 'So how we gonna convince James to talk to her.' Remus went on to say at full volume, now convinced in himself that he had Sirius on his side to help him resolve this matter once and for all. An ally on this case would be a lot more beneficial than going about it by himself.
'We're not.' Sirius said.
Remus banged his head down onto the table. That whole conversation in which he had both, given up and thought he had won, was futile. Nothing was going to come of it. He should have known really. If Sirius had really wanted to talk to James and try to convince him to talk to Lily, he would have done so days ago. He hadn't done for a reason, because he knew it was no use. Remus had just been fooling himself that they could have any influence over James Potter anyway.
'Prongs'll do what he wants.' Sirius confirmed, 'And if he wants to talk to her he will.'
'Do you really want him to be clinically depressed forever?' Remus asked in a half-hearted attempt at denying what he knew.
'So what are we going to do?' Remus still went on, even though he was now resigned to the fact that they could do nothing. He had gone into this conversation trying to convince Sirius that they could do something to help the couple but it seemed that Sirius had convinced him they couldn't instead.
'They may have already talked.' Peter piped up timidly, frightened that his input would be shunned or over looked as it almost always was.
'I doubt it.' Sirius scoffed as he picked up a spoon and stuck it into the tub of ice-cream the house elves had just placed in front of him, confirming Peters suspicions. 'James would have told us.' he went on.
'James would have told us what?' James asked surprisingly jolly as he walked into the kitchen with a bounce in his step. His meeting with McGonagall must have gone well.
'Whether or not Santa Claus is real.' Sirius lied without skipping a beat.
'Course he is.' James said with a small snort of disbelief at the ludicrousness of the question. He sat down in the bench next to Sirius and swung his legs over so that he was facing Remus. 'Who else brings you presents?' he asked him with a knowing shrug before picking up a spoon and stealing the tub of ice cream right from underneath Sirius' nose.
'Ha.' Sirius said in a monotone to Remus who narrowed his eyes at him. Sirius didn't notice this however as he was too busy stealing the ice-cream tub back away from James.
'What you been talking about?' James questioned the group at large as he put the one spoonful of ice-cream he had managed to scoop out into his mouth, keeping the spoon in his hand after he had done so in case he was able to secure another bite.
'Nothing.' Remus and Sirius said nonchalantly, as if there were some unspoken agreement between them that James should never know that they were talking about him behind his back. Unfortunately, Peter hadn't got the mental memo and said, 'You and Lily.' at the same time his friends had spoken.
'Wormy.' Remus sighed is exasperation.
'You idiot.' Sirius spat at Peter, kicking him hard under the table. 'We don't tell him that.'
'Why not?' Peter asked innocently, thinking all he had done was answer a question honestly. And as honesty, truth and trust were the foundations of the marauders friendship, (along with the ability to get up to all sorts of mischief), he didn't think he had done anything wrong.
'It's this little thing called because I said so.' Sirius said sarcastically with a sneer in Peters direction.
'Padfoot.' Remus reprimanded sternly, stopping Sirius picking on their weakest friend.
Sirius looked at Remus and saw his 'I'm not kidding' expression written all over his face. He huffed moodily and dug his spoon roughly into the tub of ice-cream he had, muttering under his breath, 'He's still an idiot.' adding another a swift kick to Peters shin for good measure.
'I'm not denying that but there's no need call him it.' Remus replied.
'It's the truth.' Sirius whined, his voice suddenly back up to full volume and moaning like a six year old in a temper tantrum. 'And you always tell us we shouldn't lie. You can't have it both ways Moony.'
'Why were you talking about me and Lily?' James said, deathly quietly. He had been silent for the rest of the exchange between his friends and only now thought it was prudent to speak up. And even though his words were quiet, they still cut across his friends loud whines and reprimands and brought an unearthly silence with them.
Remus, Sirius and Peter looked at James with something a little akin to fear. James never spoke that quietly and when he did, nothing good ever came from it. You could always tell when James was truly angry and now was one of those times. No one particularly wanted to be witness or provoke it so Remus simply said. 'Doesn't matter.'
James however was not satisfied with that response and so turned to look at Peter who he knew would wet himself with fright at his glower. He would spill the beans. It took less than three seconds.
'We didn't know if you'd talked to her since last week.' Peter whispered with a croak.
Remus looked at Peter in a sort of despair whilst Sirius just kicked him under the table again and said, 'Seriously Wormy! You are such an idiot. You need a muzzle.'
In a moment of pure unprecedented confidence, something which came out of nowhere, Peter suddenly said, with a small amount of venom in his words. 'You're the dog.' Immediately he regretted it. Sirius looked at him in a glaring shock, breathing heavily. Peter awaited abuse it the form of words, violence, anything really. But it never came. Instead, Sirius began to laugh madly.
'That's quite good.' he chortled, 'Almost makes me forget to be pissed with you.'
Remus laughed along with Sirius and Peter joined in. Even James broke his anger and gave a small chuckle at the exchange between two of his friends, something Remus noticed. Something Remus took advantage of whilst he had the confidence to do so.
'Have you talked to her?' he asked quickly when their laughter had subsided.
James' eyes flickered to Remus and then over to Sirius and Peter who were both looking at him curiously. He took in deep breath and started to roll the spoon he still had in his hands over the palm of his left. 'Not really' he said eventually.
There was a pregnant pause.
'Don't you think you should?' Sirius asked, suddenly deciding to help Remus out even though he didn't think it would do any good. He already knew James wouldn't talk to Lily unless he wanted to. Unless she gave him reason to or cornered him into doing so.
'I don't want to talk about this.' James said stubbornly, swiftly banging the spoon down onto the table and making the house elves jump slightly. He stood up quickly, ready to leave the room, ready to run from this topic of conversation yet again as he had been doing all week.
'Prongs-' Sirius tried.
'No.' James said.
'James-' Remus tried.
'Don't we have a prefects meeting to get too?' James snapped.
Again, there was a pause.
'Fine.' Remus sighed in resignation, standing up and leaving the kitchen with James in complete silence.
Another pause ensued after James and Remus left only to be broken by Sirius once again kicking Peter under the table and muttering the word 'Idiot.' once more.
James and Remus arrived at the prefects meeting fifteen minutes late due to James stopping and talking to a girl called Leanne who wanted to know if he was available to go to Hogsmeade with her the following week for the last Hogsmeade visit of the school year. James spoke with her for ages and Remus stood next to him on tenterhooks, wondering what his answer would be as he in no way seemed opposed to the idea. However, after speaking to the girl for a good time, James did let her down and say no. When she asked if she could know why he didn't give her a straight answer. He just told her it was complicated with him at the moment and walked away. After an unintentional smug smirk at the girl, Remus followed, knowing that the words 'it's complicated' meant that James hadn't ruled his relationship with Lily out.
When they arrived in the room, the prefects looked hungrily between their head students, wanting, expecting drama to ensue, but it didn't. Lily gave James a weak 'hi' and James just nodded in return, avoiding her eyes and sitting down in the seat next to her. He didn't move it away, he didn't move it closer. It was like he was in no-mans-land.
The meeting was tedious and dull and crawled by at a snail's pace. Rotas were given out and ideas to improve the prefect system were offered and quickly dismissed by James who saw no reason to change it. They discussed any problems the current prefects were having with their houses and Lily offered constructive advice. James however just sat there with his arms folded, rocking back onto two legs of the chair. The only time the front legs of the chair touched the ground was when the meeting was over and he stood up with the rest of the prefects to leave. But he was stopped.
'James can I talk to you please?' Lily said, loudly enough for all the other prefects to hear and for James to be unable to refuse the question.
He looked at Remus who raised his eyebrows and gave a solitary nod before herding the rest of the prefects out of the transfiguration room to give James and Lily some privacy.
When the door closed, James shoved his hands in his pockets and just looked across the room to Lily where she stood with her arms folded. There was a tender silence for several minutes before James prompted her to start speaking. 'What do you want?' he asked.
Lily looked up at James and tears swam in her eyes at the sight of him. His hair was messy, that was usual, but she could see hurt and pain in his eyes too. Behind his glasses you could see dark circles were beginning to appear under them as if he had been having a rough time sleeping. They could easily be confused as a shadow if you hadn't spent months studying and memorising his face like Lily had. His usually pristine white shirt with the sleeves roughly rolled up had a slight grubbiness to it as if it had been worn all week and not changed every day like he was used to doing and his trousers were creased beyond belief. He didn't look like himself. His spark has gone or at least greatly diminished. He looked unwell and just not himself, still handsome but only a mere echo of what was before. Other people might not notice it but she did. And she knew she was to blame.
'Look James I'm really sorry and I don't know what I can do to get you to forgive me.' she began to ramble, walking forwards towards James who looked away from her as soon as she made eye contact. Lily stopped in her tracks. 'You won't even look at me.' she said in anguish, 'I know you blame me-'
'Blame you?' James cut in, confused. 'I don't blame you I blame myself.' he said, his voice raising, anger flaring up in him again, something which he couldn't seem to control these days.
'What?' Lily asked in shock, taking a timid step back. She hadn't been shouted at by James before. At least not since they had been in a relationship.
'I blame myself.' James repeated, finally letting go and just spilling out his thoughts to her, the only person he could tell really and yet, the only person he didn't want to speak to about it. Nevertheless he continued. 'I vouched for you!' he yelled, taking his hands out of his trouser pockets and gesticulating around wildly, 'I promised Remus you wouldn't tell a soul but you did. I trusted you and I told Remus that he could trust you too but obviously he couldn't. I couldn't. If I'd never asked permission to tell you our secret Remus wouldn't have had to have gone through that and we wouldn't be in this mess. Sirius told me not to but no, I didn't listen to him because I told him that I was-' James stumbled over his words. 'I thought that I-' They were caught in his throat. He couldn't get them out. It was meant to be a blissfully happy moment when he told her this and now was anything but. So he continued to keep it to himself. Besides, did he really feel that way anymore? He would find out soon.
'Whatever. Doesn't matter.' he said, his voice back at his normal volume, his hands back in his pockets.
'Yes it does James.' Lily pressed, in suspense at what he was going to say.
James wouldn't play ball however. 'No.' he said as he turned around and made his way to the door, 'It doesn't.'
'I'm sorry James!' Lily blurted out, walking determinedly towards him, 'I didn't mean to tell Hestia. It just slipped out-'
'Slipped out?' James said through gritted teeth before continuing to say loudly, gesturing largely once again, 'Things like that don't just slip out Lily!'
'I didn't mean to-'
'I don't care.' James cut her off. They were now standing closely together, looking directly into each other's eyes, properly, like they used to do. James had to control his breathing, his heart racing at those searching emerald orbs. They were pulling him in, captivating him once again. But he wouldn't let them this time. He broke the eye contact whilst he still could.
'You know what I can't do this.' he said, holding up both of his hands in defeat as he backed away towards the door, 'I can't be in the same room as you right now, I'm gonna go.'
'James please!' Lily said following him out to the corridor, standing just outside the door as James walked away down the corridor. She didn't have the energy to chase after him and call for him at the same time.
'Let's talk about this?' she tried.
James ignored her and continued to walk away.
'James don't walk away from me!' she yelled at his retreating figure, 'James please. Wait! Come back! James! I love you!'
He stood still for a moment. He didn't move for a couple of seconds, staring straight ahead, not seeing anything. His face showed no emotion. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes and swallowed. He then suddenly turned around and walked back to Lily, immediately capturing her lips in a kiss.
He pressed her into the door frame she had been stood against. He took her face in his hands before allowing them to travel, roving over her body as if he hadn't touched her in weeks. They moved to her hips, tracing up her curves before moving round to the small of her back. From there his left arm circled around her waist pulling her tightly up and towards him, holding her body as close to his as possible. His right hand travelled up her back to the back of her neck into her hair, tipping her head up so that he could deepen their kiss.
Lily held her arms around his neck, her right hand tangled itself in his soft messy black hair. She revelled in his kiss, her eyes closed taking in every moment and inhaling his beech wood scent. He kissed her hungrily, his tongue running over her bottom lip before forcefully prising her lips open so that he could explore the depth of her mouth as if it was the first time he was kissing her. His kiss was hot and heady, passion burning through them, an intensity that neither had experienced before in their kisses. Lily never wanted it to stop but instead get as close to him as possible, be held in his arms, be kissed like this forever by him, but through a need for air, she felt him reluctantly pull away from her lips. She was breathing deeply.
He kissed her gently a couple more times, stroking the hair out of her face, his eyes scorching as he did so before he finally uttered the words Lily knew were coming, his passionate kiss a good clear indicator.
'I love you too.' he whispered against her lips, his forehead resting on hers. He was breathing deeply too, having never kissed her in such a way before, in such a way that his love for her, his adoration, seared through. He stayed close to her, just holding her against him for a couple of minutes knowing that she loved him back. But he couldn't stay like that knowing what had happened. No matter how much he needed her, he couldn't have her, and not because of the rules, because of himself. Because of what had happened. He knew what he wanted to do, but what he wanted to do and what he had to do were two completely different things.
He closed his eyes and with all his will power, with every piece of strength he could muster, what he looked on as the bravest thing, the hardest thing he had ever had to do, he pulled away from her.
When he stepped back, Lily's breath caught in her throat for just by this simple action, she felt she had lost a part of herself.
'It doesn't change anything though.' he said with closed eyes, 'It doesn't change what you did.'
Because even though he loved her too, he had made a vow to his friends. And he would keep that vow, protect their secret, protect Remus, even if it meant giving up the one thing that he loved more than anything else in this world. And he was doing it now, heartbreaking as it was.
'I'm sorry.' Lily whispered pleadingly, 'I've said I'm sorry. I don't know what else I can do to get you to forgive me. I'm sorry'
James stood in thought and looked at her. The fire in her had gone. He was noticing the changes in her just as she had noticed them in him earlier. This wasn't the strong girl he had come to know and he couldn't help but think that if he didn't help her find a way to make this right, she wouldn't be strong again. He would keep his vow. But he would also leave the door open for redemption.
'You never needed to apologise.' he said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and getting her to look him in the eyes, to read his message. 'Not to me.'
That night, Lily had a decision to make. Her hands were clammy with the thought of it. Her heart was breaking and she couldn't believe what she was about to do. She couldn't believe what had just happened and she couldn't believe what she had decided. It wasn't what she thought she would have done. And she would no doubt come to regret this decision later on in her life. She needed them both. Both Hestia and James were, what she would call, essential to her, but she could only have one. And now was the make or break point. It all hinged on which one she needed most. And she needed the person who had always been there for her.
She took a deep breath and whispered the password to the Fat Lady, having to repeat it a second time because she was so quiet on the first. She climbed through the portrait hole and stood in the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. Her eyes searched the circular room and immediately landed on the back of James' head. He was sat on the sofa next to the fireplace. Sirius was sat next to him, Remus was in the armchair the other side of James and Peter was sat crossed legged on the floor in front of James but behind the coffee table that separated them. She couldn't see if James was happy but she hoped he was. She sincerely hoped he was because it wasn't him she was looking for.
Her eyes searched the room a second time to find the girl who had been her best friend for so long at Hogwarts. Who had been with her through all of the ups and all of the downs. Who had listened to her whining, ranting and moaning and who had comforted her when she had cried. She searched for the girl who she had laughed with, played games with and shared secrets with for just over six years. But she couldn't find her. Instead she found the girl who had forced her into a dreadful ultimatum and who had recently taken a rather bleak outlook on life. She saw a prejudice girl with a frown. She saw the shell of her best friend, the filling which Lily had loved, zapped out of her as if by magic. She saw her descend down the girls staircase and made eye contact with her. When their eyes met, Lily shook her head slowly. She wasn't choosing her.
Hestia's face dropped and she watched Lily, her eyes filled with tears, make that small gesture and dissolve their friendship. And she didn't have too far to look why. She watched Lily make her way over to James Potter and his friends. She expected her to flop down on the sofa between James and Sirius. She expected James to put his arm around her, pull her in and kiss the top of her head. She expected to hear some fake gagging from Sirius and some sarcastic remarks. She expected to hear Remus tell Sirius to shut up and for James to join in on teasing Sirius. She expected to see Peter's pathetic little face gaze up at them adoringly. She expected to see this. She didn't, however, expect Lily to walk over to the marauders and stop directly in front of Remus Lupin; the werewolf.
'Remus?' Lily queried tentatively, 'Erm…I just wanted to say…I just…I haven't actually…about last week…I'm sorry about what happened Remus.'
Remus looked at James whose smiling slightly smugly to himself, satisfied with Lily's apology. James had made her do this. He probably hadn't told her directly that this was what she needed to do in order to earn his forgiveness but, nevertheless, she had gotten the message. And everything would be alright again. It might take a bit of time but it would be. All Remus needed to do was accept the apology which he did. No questions asked.
'Don't worry about it.' he smiled.
Thanks for reading!