A/N: Hello friends. This is just a small ficlet that I couldn't forget the idea of. Forgive me. Also, enjoy.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize (e.g. the Harry Potter universe and everything in it lol) is not mine.
"Before we begin, I would like to say how sorry I am for your loss, Miss Evans."
In a way, Lily appreciated Dumbledore getting that out of the way. She knew he had asked to speak with her for a more important reason than to express his condolences for the death of her parents. She shut her eyes briefly as he spoke, nodding in response and in thanks.
"Now, I believe it might interest you to know that Professor Slughorn is taking a year off from teaching." It did interest her, though she didn't know why he was bothering to tell her. "He claims he hasn't seen enough of the world, and that staying here in England is causing too much stress. Quite understandable, given the circumstances, and I of course do not wish for him to be in bad health. However, I must find a replacement." He looked at her with that unnerving, pointed gaze of his that sent her back to her years at school. "Miss Evans," he continued, "Horace requested you."
She blinked, thrown. "But, sir, surely you're not considering this? I couldn't possibly be qualified!"
The Headmaster tilted his head and surveyed her. "Ah, but I agree with Horace. You are perhaps the best for the job, and just what this school needs."
"But I've been living in the Muggle world ever since school. And besides, I'm too young! No student in their right minds would listen to me. I'm barely older than them."
"Again, you do not give yourself enough credit, Miss Evans. You are perfectly qualified, if your N.E.W.T. scores are anything to go by. And, as I recall, you were Head Girl. You were successful at leading the student body then, and I fully believe you will be now." Dumbledore clasped his hands together. "As for your time in the Muggle world, I will not pry, but there are some things I will need to update you on. I'm afraid I must inform you of several issues that have arisen since you left the magical world."
Again, there was that gaze. It left Lily wondering if he was disappointed in her, and what could possibly have happened in the three years she was gone.
"But first, I must know if you will agree to take the post of Potions professor. You will be offered private quarters here in the castle, should you wish to live here."
Lily sat quietly for a long moment, staring down at her lap. On the one hand, she could return to her simple job at the book shop and her childhood home in the Muggle world, where her parents lived no longer. Or she could start anew in the Wizarding world, like she did at age eleven.
She raised her head and met her old professor's gaze. "I'll accept, professor."
He smiled. "In that case, you may call me Albus. We are colleagues now, after all."
Lily made a face, though she tried to hold it back. "Of course, Albus."
"Now, to update you. I'll start with the Order of the Phoenix, an organization of mine that I am quite proud of, I must say…"
The Auror office was nearly empty when James and Frank returned from their raid. Only Darcy, the office secretary, Alice, and Moody remained. Alice, James assumed, was waiting for Frank, whereas Moody would be waiting for their report.
Frank dropped a kiss on his wife's cheek before he followed James into Moody's office.
"Anything good?" the Head Auror asked in his usual grunt, hardly glancing up from the papers on his desk as the men filed in and shut the door.
"Only minor Dark artefacts. Stuff you could find at Borgin and Burke's. Nothing incriminating enough to pin him with," Frank reported.
"Aye, but that's better than nothing. Anything else?"
"Just that their wards are complicated, and that they're definitely hiding something," James added, his expression dark.
Moody snorted. "Of course they are, boy. Nott Senior is a known Death Eater. What else would you expect?" He leaned back in his seat and surveyed the partners standing before him. They looked exhausted, which was understandable given the understaffing in the Auror office. But they were his best men, so they were assigned the most work. "Tomorrow, then."
His blunt dismissal came as a relief to both James and Frank. They exited Moody's office, and closing the door behind him, James let out a sigh.
"Guess it's my turn, then?" he asked.
Frank nodded and grinned. "Paperwork doesn't do itself, mate." James groaned. "Besides, only one of us has a girl waiting up for them, and it's not you." He winked and left for the main doors, beckoning for Alice.
James look at the stack of parchment on his desk and sighed again. "Darcy?" he called.
They woman in question looked up at his voice, and immediately smirked. "Yes, James?"
"Looks like I'll be here for a while. Wouldn't exactly object to company…" He trailed off, but Darcy got the idea. She hopped off her seat, blonde curls bouncing. She perched on the corner of his desk and ran a hand through his hair.
"Long day?" she asked.
"Mhm," he replied, enjoying her attention but almost entirely focused on the parchment. The sooner he left, the better, in his opinion.
Three months in, and Lily's new position was a success. Teaching came more naturally to her than she thought—that is, once she got over her anxieties about it. The students had come to respect her, even the older ones. It was strange being a member of the staff at such a young age, but she had good relationships with her professors as a student, so it wasn't too difficult to get along with them as colleagues.
Along with her Potions classes, Lily helped Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing, even brewing potions for the Healer's stores. She visited Flitwick to talk about Charms, her other best subject in school, and regularly went down to Hogsmeade.
She forgot how much she loved the Wizarding world. It helped that her pay and living quarters were much better than what she had before. Working menial jobs and living under her parent's roof hadn't been ideal, but it was the best she could do without a full Muggle education. She had left to avoid the rising threats the Wizarding world posed, and her parents had never really accepted that she'd stick with magic after school. It was all too easy.
She remembered all too well why she left. Coming back to Hogwarts had reminded her of the prejudice and hate that came from a portion of the magical population. She'd had to put a stop to many taunts in the corridors, and her classroom wasn't much better.
But she wasn't going to think about that. It was the weekend, and once she finished the Blood Replenishing Potion for Poppy, she had plans to go to the Three Broomsticks.
She absentmindedly stirred the mixture in her cauldron counter-clockwise, adding one clockwise stir every few rounds. Just like Severus had taught her.
No. She wasn't going to think about that either.
James let himself into Sirius' flat and waited on the couch for his friend. They were due at an Order meeting soon, and James had finished his work earlier than he expected, so he decided to kill some time at his best mate's house.
"Hey, Prongs!" Sirius called from the bathroom. "Rumor has it we're inducting some fresh meat tonight."
James groaned. "Great. More people for me to train."
"Yeah, mate, but Dor says they're good. Anyways, you ready?"
James stood and nodded as Sirius came into view. They Disapparated to Hogsmeade with a small crack and set off on the path up to the castle, where all Order meetings were held.
They were a few minutes early, so Sirius went to go chat with Dorcas. James just took a seat and stared at nothing until Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"Alastor, I believe you had something to report?"
His tone of voice left James a little wary. He had a feeling he wouldn't like what Moody had to say.
"Right," Moody began gruffly. "Well, you all know Crouch has been getting aggressive. He's just proposed we grant all Aurors permission to use the Unforgivables."
"What?" James didn't know what he was expecting Moody to say, but that wasn't it.
"Yes, Potter. You'll hear more about it on—"
"What is he thinking? That it won't matter whether we kill or properly arrest them, as long as they're Death Eaters? Bullshit! That'll only make us just as bad as them!"
"You'd do well not to interrupt, James," Dumbledore said with a piercing look.
"Hold your fire, Potter," Moody growled. "I'll be sure to let the others know that the Unforgivables are a last resort."
James slumped back in his seat and kept his head down for the rest of the meeting.
"Now that all the reports have been given, I'd like to introduce you all to our newest member," Dumbledore addressed the room. "For those of you who don't know her, this is Lily Evans. She has filled Horace Slughorn's position as Potions Master while he is away."
Sirius, who sat behind James, leaned forward and muttered, "If I'd had her as my Potions professor, you can bet I would've gotten us many more detentions."
Peter snickered from his seat next to Sirius. James took the opportunity to actually look at the new member. She was certainly pretty, he realized with flip of his stomach. She had to be just a few years younger than him at most, which made her position as a teacher at Hogwarts even more impressive. And yet, he didn't remember her from school.
Sirius voiced his thoughts. "Funny, she doesn't look much younger than us, but I don't remember her from Hogwarts."
"I do," said Remus. The other three looked at him in surprise. "She's Muggleborn. Gryffindor, too, you know. And quite smart, so I'm not surprised she's a professor."
"Gryffindor, eh? How do I not remember her?" Sirius wondered, turning to watch the girl in question.
Lily Evans was talking to Dorcas as if they were old friends, which only confused them more. Who was that girl?
Her first Order meeting completely altered her new life in the Wizarding world. She reconnected with some of her friends from school, and suddenly it was like she had never left in the first place.
She had plans to meet Dorcas Meadowes and Benjy Fenwick for a butterbeer. Dorcas was one of the few Gryffindor girls in her year, and Benjy was her favorite Potions partner. They were both in the Order and delighted to see her again.
Benjy arrived late and slightly out of breath. "I hate to cancel on you, but there's just been an attack. Oakham in Rutland. I've been called to help."
"Wait," said Dorcas, alarmed. "Isn't that the town near Cokeworth?" she asked, looking at Lily.
"Yes, and near Uppingham. Those were where the last two attacks were, so they seem to be moving through the county. But I really do have to go." He dropped a kiss on Lily's cheek. "Another time?"
He left before she got the chance to nod.
Lily turned back to face the table and noticed Dorcas watching her. "You're from Cokeworth," she said, her voice hushed. Lily stiffened. "Oh, Lily," her friend breathed. "I didn't even think—oh, I'm so sorry."
Lily sat silently in her seat. Though they were in the Three Broomsticks, the atmosphere around their table was anything but warm and cheerful.
"Have you heard from Snape? Was it him?"
That was the worst question Dorcas could've asked, but it was the one that needed to be said. Lily shook her head, but Dorcas didn't know which question that answered.
Lily felt a burning sensation behind her eyes, but blinked several times. She refused to cry. She had joined the Order. She was working to avenge both her parents' deaths and her right for a place in the magical world. She was strong. She would not cry.
James and Frank were back at Nott Manor for another raid, though this one was not for the Ministry. It was Order business this time, so the Nott family was unaware of the two Aurors in the forest on the edge of their estate.
Due to their earlier assignment to the manor, James and Frank had familiarized themselves with the wards and defensive charms surrounding the property. They were able to cross the boundaries of the property and begin their mission, to search the grounds for any hidden Dark artefacts or objects of that nature.
They came across a smaller building, too big and well-kept to be a shed, while wandering the forest. Breaking the enchantments surrounding it was easy enough, but while they searched the place, voices approached them.
They couldn't leave without being spotted, and they didn't want to attract attention. James dove into what looked like a closet and Frank followed. However, only bad luck came their way, and soon enough they were exposed.
They did have a split second where Nott stared at the unwelcome guests, and in that second, James shouted, "Stupefy!" The man fell, but he wasn't the only one in the room.
Both James and Frank were immediately caught up in duels. A curse barely missed James' ear as he ducked to avoid it, and he rolled behind a couch. He cast a Shield Charm to cover for Frank, and then another one for himself. He popped up and sent, "Petrificus Totalus!" but the Death Eater blocked it. It cost him a curse to the arm, and James grunted in pain. Another man joined James' opponent and he was outnumbered. He cast hex after hex, but the Death Eaters got in a few hits of their own. James could feel blood trickling down his neck as he pushed himself from the ground after a particularly hard curse.
He heard a shout of triumph and knew Frank had come out on top. Good thing, too, because James was only just managing. Frank hit one of the Death Eaters in the back and they toppled to the ground, stunned. James overpowered the other, and then he and Frank took off. They managed to escape from the shed and fled to the edges of Nott's property. They saw more men running towards them in the distance, but Disapparated before they could get caught in more duels.
Frank wasn't hurt, having had easier adversaries. James knew he couldn't exactly go to St. Mungo's for help, since he hadn't been acting on Auror business, so his next best option was Madam Pomfrey at Hogwarts.
"I'm going to check in with Alice, or else she'll go mad with worry. I'll come back right after, mate," Frank told him once they made it to the doors of Hogwarts.
"Tell her I said hello," James replied before he set off for the Hospital Wing, attempting to ignore the steadily growing pain in his temple. He trudged through the doors, but the room was empty. He sighed and sat down on a bed, resting his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.
"Merlin's bloody—!" a voice yelped, and James jumped. He groaned, the sudden action causing a jolt of pain in his head. He slowly raised his head so as not to worsen the headache, and was surprised to see the new Order Member and Potions Master, Lily Evans, watching him.
"What, are you the new school Healer as well?" James grumbled.
Lily frowned. "No. Madam Pomfrey was called away, and she asked me to cover the Wing for her, should anyone show up."
"I can assure you, I'm more than capable of taking care of student injuries or illnesses." The indignation in her voice was clear. "And besides, she'll only be gone for a few hours."
"Let's hope 'more than capable' can fix me up," James replied wearily. He was in no mood for an argument.
The change in her expression was immediate. She dropped to her knees so that she was level with James and immediately began inspecting him for injuries. She inhaled sharply once she noticed the gash near the back of his head. Lily whipped out her wand and went to clean up his scrapes before working on the worst of his wounds.
Hoping to distract him from his pain, she attempted to strike up a conversation. "It's Potter, right?" she asked.
"Right. And you're Evans." He had agreed with Sirius at the last meeting that the newcomer was pretty, but it hit him then just how much. Up close, he could see how clear and green her eyes were, which only stood out more because of her red hair. She had a small spattering of freckles across her cheeks, though her skin was pale, and she had a nice smile. She seemed friendly, too, and obviously smart. Quite the witch, James thought.
It wasn't a question, but she nodded in response anyways. "You're an Auror?" He hummed a yes, and she continued, "I take it these weren't from Ministry approved business, then, since you came to the school and not Mungo's."
"Yeah," James agreed. "It was a double check of one of our jobs, but on Dumbledore's orders. Didn't go as planned, though."
Lily let out a short laugh in agreement. "Well you've only got one bad cut, and it's easily healed." She moved his head so she could reach the gash and began to clean it.
"Lucky me," James quipped.
Lily continued to clean and close up the wound on his head. Her back was to the main doors of the Hospital Wing, so she jumped when they opened and a pair of voices interrupted her concentration.
"All fixed up, James?" Frank asked.
"Almost," he replied. "She's still working on me." He motioned to the redhead attending to his injuries, who Frank only then noticed wasn't Pomfrey.
Before he had a proper look, Alice, who stood at his side, gasped and cried, "Lily Evans!"
Lily jumped again, but this time she turned to face James' guests. Her eyes widened as she recognized her old friend.
Alice rushed towards her and engulfed Lily in a tight hug. "Oh, Merlin, it's really you! Where have you been? How have you been? I heard about the attack in your home. Oh, Lily, I'm so sorry. But, Merlin, I've missed you! It's been so long!" She paused upon realizing she was gushing, and ruefully smiled. "I do hope you're okay. It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you, too," Lily replied.
James spoke up from his position on the hospital bed. "You know each other?"
"Oh, yes. Lily was my favorite member of the Slug Club, and the only reason I ever went to those ridiculous parties," Alice told him, smiling fondly at Lily. "She went to our wedding, Frank. Though," and here she furrowed her brow, "I believe that was the last time I saw you."
"But that was a good three years ago," Frank pointed out.
Suddenly all gazes were on Lily. James didn't understand why she left the magical world apparently three years ago. Everything he had heard led him to believe she was exceptionally bright, and she had plenty of friends. But one look at her face told him there was a good reason for her disappearance, and he wasn't sure he wanted to hear it.
"It was in my best interest to return home." Lily's voice was strained, and Alice narrowed her eyes.
"That's shite. But what matters is you're here now, and a member of the staff of Hogwarts. How did you manage that?"
Lily shrugged. "I'm not actually a Healer. Poppy's just out for a while. But Dumbledore said Slughorn requested I be his replacement, so here I am."
James added, "She's in the Order now. Joined last meeting."
Alice gasped. "We had to miss that meeting for a mission! I can't believe it!"
"Yeah, well, I already tried to escape this war, and it didn't work. And besides, I'm a Muggleborn teacher at Hogwarts. It was a given that I joined eventually."
The woman's tone was casual, but it didn't sit right with James. Then he recalled Alice's comment about an attack, and added that to Lily's about failing to avoid the war, and it clicked.
"What happened?" he asked abruptly, interrupting whatever the women were saying to each other. Alice sent him a warning look, and Evans didn't turn to face him. Her body went still, but James pressed on. "You said you tried to hide from the war—a war that hadn't quite started yet, mind you, if my numbers are correct—but that it didn't work. And Alice, you mentioned an attack on her home. Were you hurt? Did the Death Eaters get to you?"
It took a moment, but Lily replied. "I'm from Cokeworth," she said, and immediately James guessed what she'd say next. "I'm sure you heard about the attack. I was away, at the shops. They killed my parents." The silence in the room was thick and pressing. "So, no, I was not hurt. But, yes, they found my home. I had foolishly thought I'd be safe, but evidently not. So I came back."
James didn't know what to say to that. He just sat and stared at the girl in front of him who suddenly seemed much older than he knew her to be.
"I'll just finish that cut, Potter, and you'll be free to go." It was clear she was putting an end to that topic of conversation, so he continued to sit quietly. She returned to her earlier position, squatting in front of him with her wand to the base of his neck. Within minutes, she had sealed the gash and he was healed. He was the last to leave the Hospital Wing, trailing behind his friends, and smiled at her in thanks on his way out. She returned it, albeit feebly, and then he left.
"Mate, I've got news for you," James said as he entered Sirius' flat. His friend was sprawled on the couch, reading a letter. As soon as James walked up, Sirius set the parchment down and cocked his head.
"Do tell, Prongs," he replied. "I could use some gossip. It's been a terribly boring day."
Remus walked in, then, fresh out of the shower according to his wet hair. "What's this about gossip?"
James settled down on an empty chair and looked at his two friends. "Right. You know Evans?"
"The fit new Potions professor?" Sirius asked, sitting up and leaning forward in interest.
"That's the one. Well, you know I had that mission today. It didn't go well, and I had to go to Pomfrey to get fixed up—only, it wasn't Pomfrey in the Wing."
"I'm assuming it was Lily," Remus said wryly.
James gave him a look, but nodded.
"So she's brilliant at Potions and Healing," Sirius cut in. "Moony did say she was bright. Is that all?"
"Oh, no, Padfoot. Alice and Frank showed up, and apparently she and Alice are old friends. Only, their wedding was the last time she'd seen Evans. Turns out she left the Wizarding world right after, to avoid the war." James sat back in his seat and waited as Sirius took that in.
"What's she doing back, then?"
"Death Eaters attacked her home. Remember that night in Cokeworth? That's where she's from. Lost her parents because of them."
"Fuck," Sirius commented, and Remus looked alarmed.
"Yeah. She came out of hiding because of that. Dumbledore offered her the job, and now she's back to fight."
"Merlin," said Remus. He paused, deciding how to say his next words, and if he even should. "She was friends with Snape, you know."
"Snivellus?" Sirius asked incredulously. "Evans was friends with Snivellus? Bloody hell!"
"Can't imagine they're still friends now," James remarked darkly. "She's not stupid. She had to know he was there that night."
The three men fell silent as they remembered the attack in Cokeworth. There was so much destruction that had been caused before they arrived to defend the Muggles, and there were many familiar faces on the opposing side. It wasn't uncommon to recognize Voldemort's supporters, but it only just hit James what it meant that Snape was one of them on that particular night.
"Dorcas knew her in school," Sirius said, breaking their reveries. "She might know something, like how Evans could ever have been friends with Snape. I'll go visit her tomorrow and find out what she knows."
James nodded resolutely. He wanted to get to the bottom of this, if only to help Lily recover from her parent's deaths. From what he saw, she wasn't coping in a healthy way, and he couldn't have her Healing him if she wasn't even taking care of herself.