Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter! It really means a lot to see that so many people are enjoying this story.
I've had a couple of questions regarding Remus' future love life. I do have special plans for him.
Lily crept down the hallway. It was after hours, a strictly forbidden time for a student, let alone the Head Girl, to be wandering about. Especially with the political climate at the moment. But she pushed aside the uneasy thoughts as she opened the Hospital Wing door.
She told herself that she was just doing her duty by checking on the Head Boy. She was concerned for him, like any friend would be. It had nothing to do with the butterflies that fluttered in her stomach whenever he smiled at her, and it certainly had nothing to do with the way her heart had stopped when the Bludger had hit him in the head and he had fallen from his broom.
The Hospital Wing was quiet as Lily slowly pushed the door shut behind her. But as she stood for a second, she heard whispers coming from behind curtains on the left. She approached the crack in the curtains and looked through.
She had been expecting to see his friends. It was a widely known fact the Marauders were inseparable. But instead of the three boys, Lily saw an elderly couple.
She had seen James' parents each year on Platform 9 ¾. At first, she had thought they were his grandparents, but then Marlene had whispered that that was the Fleamont Potter, James' father who also happened to be the inventor of Sleekeazy's Potion.
Now, Fleamont and Euphemia sat on either side of James' bed, Euphemia holding James' hand.
"We were so worried about you," she said, stroking the bandage wrapped around James' forehead.
"I'm fine, Mum. Honestly. You and Dad didn't need to come all this way," James reassured.
But Lily could still see the worry on the couple's faces.
Now, nearly fourteen years later, Lily understood the worry she had seen on her in-law's faces. Her son was in front of her, perfectly fine, she knew. But still, the tendrils of fear curled around her chest. They had relaxed and she could breathe now, but they threatened to tighten at any second.
"Mum? Are you okay?"
The irony of it almost made her chuckle, that her hospitalized son was worried about her.
"She's just worried about you, Harry. We both are," James answered. He sat opposite her, hands twisted in their son's bedsheet.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Really, I'm fine. You don't need to worry."
Lily raised an eyebrow skeptically. Did Harry understand the gravity of the situation? Did he get that he could have died if James and Lily had shown up any later?
"Mum, seriously, everything turned out fine, didn't it?"
This blasé attitude surely had been inherited from James and learned from Sirius, because she would never be able to write off what had happened so easily.
"Only because your mum and I arrived when we did," James said, his voice sharper than what he usually used with either of his sons. But Lily knew what was running through his mind.
Being overwhelmed by a sudden sense that something was wrong. Rushing to the school and learning that Dumbledore was gone. Finding Neville frozen in the Common Room. Overcoming the obstacles meant to stop anyone of malcontent, obstacles that they, and three first years, were able to easily surpass. Finding Harry facing off against a professor, Quirrell whom James had always mocked, who had Voldemort on the back of his head.
Lily's entire body shuddered as she pictured her son in the line of fire. Quirrell, on Voldemort's orders, had been vicious. But Lily had pulled Harry out of the way, ordered him to stay safe, but when had anyone with the last name of Potter ever listened to her? As James and Lily had battled the professor, quickly besting him, because even though he had Voldemort on the back of his head, he was no match for two angry Potters, neither had noticed Harry levitating a stone. Before any of them had realized what was happening, the stone was falling on Quirrell's head, killing him.
Lily had been torn between pride at her son's bravery and sorrow that he had killed someone at the tender age of eleven. She had rushed to his side, wrapping her arms around him. She had been in a state of shock, not feeling anything really, while she and James had ushered Harry, Ron, and Hermione to the Hospital Wing.
Now, over an hour later, Lily still felt proud and sorrowful, but a new emotion was quickly rising, one she had never been very good at controlling.
"Just what did you think you were doing, Harry James Potter?" Lily demanded, more than a touch of anger seeping into the words.
Harry looked surprised. "What are you talking about, Mum?"
"What am I talking about? I'm talking about the fact that you purposefully put yourself in that much danger! And you didn't just put yourself in danger, but you also dragged your friends into it too."
"I don't understand why you're mad at me! I saved the Philosopher's Stone."
"You should've let the adults handle it, Harry," James said, even though that was exactly the kind of statement that would have angered James as a teenager.
"You wouldn't listen to me," Harry said, folding his arms petulantly. "I kept trying to tell you that something was wrong, but you wouldn't listen."
Lily sighed, feeling a twinge of maternal guilt. It wasn't that she and James hadn't listened to their son; it wasn't even that they hadn't believed him. But they had placed too much faith in Dumbledore to protect the school and their son. And Harry's claims that something was going on at the school had been strongly colored by what was an apparently inherited conflict.
"No, we didn't believe that Snape was involved," Lily said, watching as her son's face grimaced at the mention of his most hated professor. James, too, struggled to keep his face neutral.
This whole situation would have been so much easier if her oldest friend had not been involved. But Severus had not changed over the years. And Harry looked a bit too much like his father and had a bit too much of his father's insolence for Severus to overlook his parenthood. Lily had built a tentative friendship with him after the war ended, but this year had strained it. She had finally had to end it when Severus had refused to quit making derisive comments about her son. But even though she could not be his friend, could not listen to him talk negatively about her beloved son, she had not believed he would be involved with whatever had been happening at the school.
But Harry hadn't been persuaded. Despite James and Lily reassuring him that everything was under control, to trust Dumbledore, Harry had persistently pursued answers. And while it had all turned out well in the end and Harry had been right on several points, the possibilities of what could have happened haunted Lily.
"We don't blame you for being suspicious of Snape, Harry; he's a greasy git."
"James," Lily reproached.
"He hates me," Harry complained.
"He hates me too, mate," James said.
"Because your father once saved his life," Dumbledore's voice announced his arrival before he parted the curtains and entered.
At any other time, Lily would be glad to see the headmaster, but at this moment, she only felt anger towards him. He had, after all, been the one in charge of ensuring the safety of the students. Not only had he hidden the Stone in the school, but he had also allowed Voldemort to be in close proximity to her son, even if the dark wizard was just a face on the back of a head. Lily wasn't sure how long it would take for her to forgive the old man.
"You saved Snape's life?" Harry asked his father incredulously.
James shrugged sheepishly. It wasn't a topic that James liked to discuss. Lily was more than happy to avoid it, too. The last time it had been brought up, the night had ended early with an awkward tension in the air. Sirius had still denied any wrongdoing, claiming that Snape deserved it, while James had fallen into stony silence. Remus, the one who had been wronged in the situation, had been the most nonchalant about it, shrugging it off. The whole thing had left Lily confused and upset.
She knew that James would not tell Harry the story, not now at least. Not when doing so would reveal a side of Sirius that Harry had not seen before.
Lily shook off the thoughts as Dumbledore sat down in the seat next to her.
"Harry, I must ask you what happened tonight." The headmaster's tone left no room for argument.
As her son quietly explained everything that had happened, Lily moved to sit next to her husband. Her hand slipped in his and squeezed. The returning squeeze helped calm her more than anything else had.
"It'll be all right," James whispered in her ear.
But Lily didn't quite believe him.
"I thought Voldemort was dead, Professor," Harry said, bringing Lily back to her son's conversation.
Dumbledore looked grave, reminding Lily of a night years ago when she and James and their friends had sat in the headmaster's office explaining how they had brought down Voldemort.
"No, Harry, not quite dead."
The words struck a familiar fear in Lily. Ever since that night in Dumbledore's office, she had been haunted by his words. Somehow, the headmaster had known that Voldemort would return. She had had nightmares, especially in those early days of peace, of Voldemort coming back and destroying everything she held dear. She hadn't wanted to believe it possible, but a small part of her was resigned to the fact that it was a possibility. Still, at Hogwarts? With her son in the middle of it all? It was the actualization of her biggest nightmare. And she knew from one look at his face that James felt the same.
Madam Pomfrey entered the room then, and even though Harry assured her that he was fine, the matron shooed the other three occupants out of the room.
Lily let James respond because she didn't completely trust herself not to begin yelling at the older man.
"I must apologize for the events that have transpired tonight." There was no doubt about the sincerity of Dumbledore's words, but still, he had allowed her baby to be in danger.
"I don't understand," James said quietly but urgently. "Does this mean Voldemort is back?"
"Not yet, James," Dumbledore responded.
"But soon?" Lily managed to choke out.
The headmaster nodded gravely.
Dumbledore considered James' question for a moment before replying. "I have my theories, but I do not yet know."
That wasn't good enough for Lily. If Voldemort returned, she was sure that he would not leave her family alone. He had to be stopped.
They had already defeated him once before, during a time when nobody had thought it possible. Surely, she and James and Sirius and Remus could do it again.