A/N: Hi! Wow, that was a ridiculously long wait. I had a terrible case of writer's block with the Be our Guest scene. And the Jily Trope Fest is long over, but who cares? Anyway, the rest of this story should come a lot quicker.
Lily watched her Farbison fly away, attached to the carriage that her father was inside. The snow was biting at her, her robes were much too thin to keep out the cold, but she did not care. She felt numb. She had no idea when the next time she would see her father again was.
"Are you ready to come inside now?" said James next to her.
She turned and blinked at him, like she had forgotten he was there, forgotten where she was, just that she was not with him. Her father.
"All right," she said uncertainly.
She did not know if she trusted the, er, master. He had kept her father as prisoner-the dungeon made that clear enough-but she was being hosted as a guest. And his... friends, the talking candelabra and teapot had assured her they would do everything in their power to keep her comfortable.
The clock had been rather distant. She did not think he liked her much. Perhaps he felt she was intruding on their lives.
Lily followed him-James-up staircases and corridors. She had the oddest sensation that everything she saw had just been placed there, including the staircases. Like everything moved when she was not looking.
"You're a guest here," James said to her, in his low, growling sort of voice. "Feel free to go anywhere you want in the Castle, at any time. Just not the North Tower."
"Why, what's in the North Tow-"
"You can't go!"
Lily was startled. He seemed rather courteous before. She didn't understand why he had snapped at her.
"My personal chambers," James said, clearly struggling to keep his voice calm. "But as I said... everywhere else is your home."
Lily nodded, though he could not see her, as he was still leading her. "Thank you," she said.
They walked in silence for a few more minutes before they stopped in front of a door. "These will be your chambers," James said, turning to face her. "No one will enter without your permission."
"Thank you," Lily said again.
"Breakfast will be served soon," James said. "Join me."
It didn't sound like an invitation.
"No, thank you," Lily said. "I'm not hungry."
"I don't think so," she said. "I might just take the day to rest."
"All right," he said. "So I'll meet you for dinner."
But Lily did not want to meet him for dinner. She thought she was entitled to the whole day in bed. "Perhaps tomorrow," she said, "I'm very tired."
James was fidgeting slightly. "What will you do, then? Not eat all day?"
"All right then!" he burst out. "Starve! See if I care!" And with that, he swept off.
Lily stared at his retreating back in shock. What was with him? Why did he have these sudden bursts of anger out of nowhere?
Why had she agreed to this? Surely a bit of snow would not have hurt them at all. She could have been far away from this awful castle by now... with her father...
Lily fought back tears as she pushed open her door and sat on her bed. She would not cry. She took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself down and surveyed the room.
The bed she was sitting on was very comfortable. The headboard was nicer than the one Abba had made her, the swirls more precise, as if they had been made by magic. The sheets and throw pillows were all scarlet and gold, which Lily was vaguely aware of as Gryffindor's colours.
In her room was also a wardrobe, which stood tall against the deep burgundy walls. Lily stood up and approached it, hoping perhaps to find new robes inside which might fit her, as hers were still cold from her flight.
Lily reached to open the wardrobe, and the jumped backwards quite suddenly for it-it opened its eyes.
"Good morning, dear!" it said brightly.
"Oh!" Lily said.
"I didn't know we were having guests," it said, in a decidedly female voice. "I would have done something to brighten up the room! How about we open the curtains. You, open!"
At her word, the golden drapes pulled apart from each other, and the brilliant silvery-white light of the sun on a snowy day streamed in, making the whole room look a lot more cheerful.
"Oh," Lily said, "thank you."
"You're welcome, dear. I'm Poppy, your wardrobe."
"Lily," she said weakly.
"Lily. Lovely. Here, dear, let's draw you a bath. Get you out of those wet robes."
Poppy barked more orders around the room, and while none of the other objects had faces, they were all clearly sentient at some level, because they all did what she said.
After a warm bath, Lily, wrapped in a fluffy robe the rack had handed to her, stood by Poppy, whose doors were closed.
"I think I've got just the thing..." she said swaying side-to-side. "Aha! Yes! Here it is." She swung open her left door and, using the rod, gave Lily a set of red robes. "We normally wear only red and gold here," she said to her. "Gryffindor pride, you know."
"I'm a native of Slytherin," Lily said.
"Well, you're in Gryffindor now! How long do you think you'll be staying?" she asked, in a would-be casual voice.
"Er, until my father comes back to get me." Lily did not know when that would be, but she hoped it would be soon. Staying here for a long time with James made her uneasy. His mood changed so fast.
"Well, let's hope we get you for long enough!" Poppy said cheerfully.
"Long enough for what?" Lily said blankly.
"Oh. Er. To properly enjoy your company. Why don't you rest, dear? You must be exhausted."
And she was exhausted, but even though the bed was the comfiest thing Lily had ever lain on, she wasn't too keen on falling asleep with a talking wardrobe in the room with her. She tried to fight it as best as she could, but after ten minutes, the wear of journey and the emotional toll of leaving her father for the first time claimed her and she fell asleep.
Her dreams were vivid; she could see her father leaving, and a terrible beast leading her down into the dungeons of a castle... not this castle, surely, for the dungeons here were aboveground... and this beast was much more terrible than James... his fur was not brown like his, it was black... a greasy, jet black... no, it was not a beast, it was Severus... he turned to face her... his eyes met hers...
Lily awoke with a start. She looked around the room.
Through the windows she could see night had fallen, and white moonlight streamed in through the windows, making all the gold things in the room glow a strange silvery colour. Her wardrobe was asleep again.
Lily got up from the bed and walked toward the vanity on the far side of her room, looking at her reflection.
She had bags under her eyes, but she felt more awake than she had that morning. Her hair was a rat's nest. She picked up a brush laying on the table and a ribbon and tried to make herself look presentable.
When her hair was in a neat ponytail, Lily remembered that she needn't have fixed it up at all, because James told her she was not invited to eat if she did not eat with him.
But she was a guest here, wasn't she? And she was hungry! The candelabra and the teapot (what were their names? Sirius and Peter.) had told her they would make her stay comfortable.
Well. Food would make her comfortable.
Lily's mind was made up. Careful not to wake Poppy, she crept out of her room, closing the door silently behind her.
Lily did not know where the kitchens were, but she wandered around a bit, and after a while, she found Peter.
"Mademoiselle Lily!" he said. "Lovely to see you out and about. Feeling rested?"
"Yes," she said. "Thanks... for the room."
"Don't thank me, thank James," he said, rocking side to side. Lily felt if he were human, he would be waving an arm.
"Oh. Okay," she said.
"Is there anything I can get you?"
"Well... I'm rather hungry," she said. "Can you show me where the kitchens are?"
"Nonsense! We'll make you a meal. Let me find Sirius..."
Peter hopped down a corridor and Lily followed him. They went down a staircase, where Sirius was standing, talking (bickering?) to the candelabra.
"Honestly, Remus," he was saying, "there's no reason why not-ah! Mademoiselle!"
"Hello," she said shyly.
"How are you doing?" he asked, beaming at her, while Remus glared at him.
"Mademoiselle Lily is hungry," Peter said. "We came to find you."
"I'll get the house-elves started on your meal right away," he said happily. "Come, follow me."
The three of them followed Sirius, although Lily and Remus were faster, because they had legs, and Remus was clearly adept at walking at his pace, but Lily kept tripping over her feet.
"James will be angry," Remus hissed at Sirius, blowing out the flame on one of his branches.
"Nonsense," Sirius said, and with a puff at it, he lit it again. "He would be so upset if he found out we left our guest to starve. We know he's got a temper, Mademoiselle, but he's very sweet, really. And it isn't his fault." Sirius said the last sentence firmly, as though he had said it a million times before.
"Whose fault is it then?"
"She understands," Remus said to Sirius smugly.
"No, she doesn't," Peter said. "She was asking. It's a confusing statement."
"Yes, well, we'll get to that later," Sirius said briskly. "Now. More pressing concerns at hand. Mademoiselle, you're hungry. Here we are."
They stood at the end of a corridor, in front of a picture of some fruit. Lily stared at it, then at the three household objects in front of her, wondering if this was a joke. Perhaps they did not realise she needed real food?
"Could you tickle the pear, Mademoiselle?" Sirius said to her.
"Erm," she said, trying not to show her shock on her face. She didn't want to be rude. "Er, sure."
Lily stretched out her arm and, feeling rather foolish, tickled the pear painted between two oranges.
The moment the tips of her fingers brushed the pear, it started to squirm. Lily gasped slightly, but continued, smiling a bit as the pear started to giggle. How, she did not understand, because it didn't have a mouth, but she did not dwell on this because after another moment, the pear twisted into what was unmistakably a doorknob.
"Well, go on, open it," Sirius said after a few seconds.
"Monsieurs! And Mademoiselle!" squeaked someone Lily could not see.
"Good evening, Klayn," said Sirius.
Lily looked down. "Oh!" she said. "Oh, hello."
Lily, of course, knew what a house-elf was, and she had seen them in pictures, but never in person. The house-elf in question was larger than the three... men... at her feet, reaching her knees. She... he... they had big blue eyes, as big her fist. Their skin appeared to be made of leather, and was pale green.
"Klayn heard tell of a girl in the Castle!" they said in a squeaky voice, beaming up at Lily. "But she did not know how pretty she was!"
"Oh..." Lily said, blushing. "Thank you."
Lily did not like to accept compliments without returning them, but she couldn't think of anything to say. "Er, are you in charge here?"
"Yes," she said, beaming again. "Master James is told Klayn that she is as good as Mistress of the Castle." She giggled, as if this was ridiculous.
"Oh," she said. "That was... nice of him."
"Master James is very nice indeed, Mademoiselle!" Klayn said, bouncing up and down on her feet.
"Well," Lily said. She knew house-elves were treated horribly, and only kind souls were nice to them... but nice souls didn't really lock people up in dungeons, did they?
"Well, Klayn?" said Sirius. "Are you ready?"
"Yes," she said. "Come in, demoiselle, come in! Klayn and the elves is working all day long, for you!"
"Oh," Lily said, as she was ushered in by the three at her feet. "Oh-did you?"
"Yes, Mademoiselle Lily!" Sirius said, swirling around the entrance-room to the kitchen with flair. "We have prepared all this...for you!" He swung his left branch and his right branch out, as if he were throwing his arms to the side.
At once, elves appeared on either side of him, carrying dish upon dish of things Lily had never seen before in her life.
"Dinner," he began dramatically, "...is served."
James was furious with himself.
It was one thing to let the curse take over his mind and destroy a room in the Castle, but lock up an innocent man? And then lose his temper at his daughter? Unforgivable.
She would never love him, this he knew in his heart. But the look on Sirius' face...he had to try.
At least Sirius looked at him with hope. Though he knew he wouldn't live up to his expectations, it was better than with Remus, who had already given up and James, and would not look at him at all.
He didn't say it, of course, but James knew.
That was part of the reason why he was going up to the girl's chambers now, a sandwich on a golden plate in one paw and an empty goblet in the other. Not only to fulfill his promise to Sirius and Peter, not only to feed the poor young woman, but to show Remus he was not all gone. He was not entirely a beast.
But when he reached the girl's chambers, no one answered, and when he pressed his head to the door, he could not hear a human's breathing inside.
"In the kitchens," a voice said from behind him.
James turned to face the portrait who spoke. "What?" he asked, growling slightly.
"She's in the kitchens."
James was at the entrance before he had even realised he had moved. He had lost control, again, ready to rip into the wall and wreak havoc on the poor soul who had dared disobeyed him...but then he heard her laugh.
She was clapping along to Sirius' ridiculous dance-God, what was he doing-and smiling and cheering and laughing. Such a carefree, happy laugh. He had not heard one like that since...since before the curse. One hundred and nineteen years ago.
And it brought him back. He heard her laugh, and he could feel himself regaining control, feel the effects of the curse loosen on his mind...
He watched her for a moment longer, and then left to his own chambers.
A/N: So I've received some really lovely reviews, and they make me so happy, so please keep them coming! Let me know what you liked/disliked, something you'd like to see in the next few chapters, or anything like that. Thanks for reading!