Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: This was a short piece that just evolved out of nowhere. Dedicated to child-of-scorpio, author of the first L/J I ever read.
I'm comfortably snuggled in a corner of an old and worn sofa, waiting for something. A drink? Yes, someone's making me hot chocolate or tea or something warm, something to soothe my nerves. I'm so jumpy; I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of something, about to fall off, frantically waving my arms to regain some sort of balance.
I hear a strangled yell from the kitchen as something shatters. Oh, no. Not one of my best mugs. I open my mouth to ask if it was one of my mugs, something but a choked voice reaches my ears first.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off—"
My mind spins at the words. Fear seizes me, almost freezing my entire body. I panic, but my feet apparently do not as they carry me at a remarkable speed to a small…nursery. It's so quiet, like a haven of peace.
I sweep my precious bundle into my arms. My Harry. Mine. No one is going to take him away from me. No one.
Why Harry? Why?
The cloaked figure smashes the door down. He is so evil, so vicious. Why?
Don't take him away. I won't let you.
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!"
"Stand aside, you silly girl... stand aside, now..."
His voice is so cold, so cold. It is like frost to my ears, a breath of ice blowing into my veins.
"Not Harry, please no, take me instead—"
He laughs, a chilling laugh that reaches deep and ignites a frozen fear within.
"Not Harry! Please... have mercy... have mercy..."
I think I wake up from my own screaming. I'm gasping and I can't stop. My chest is rising in erratically, in shakes, as I struggle to calm myself. My hair is damp from a cold sweat.
It was so real. I held my beloved bundle in my arms and I heard the cackle that chilled my bones, the cackle that is still echoing in my head. I blink and see the cloaked figure in my head—I see Voldemort.
The curtains jerk open, and I look up to see my wide-eyed best friend. Her face is frightened and worried, more so than I've ever seen.
"Lily?" she whispers. "Lily, what's wrong?"
I don't reply. I don't even think I can talk at this point. I struggle to look up at her, into her worried eyes. She wraps her arms around me tightly as I fall into her.
"Shh…it's okay. It's okay."
"Did you hear about Evans?…"
"I heard she woke up screaming…"
"And the whole dormitory woke up…"
"It was about You-Know-Who!"
I hate it. Hate it all.
Whispers of rumors stemming from truths, truths that I would not like to admit are actually true. The murmurs fill the corridors, and I wouldn't be surprised if the all the paintings are talking about it, too.
They look at me like I'm some kind of freak, everyone does. They don't think I hear their muffled whispers. They try to hide them in vain.
Even the portraits' gazes follow me as I patrol the corridors at night.
It's late afternoon now, and I'm in the library, at my usual table. Marlene is sitting beside me, fervently scribbling some notes in her Ancient Runes textbook. Meanwhile, my head is about to detonate from frustration at a certain Potions essay.
And I heard Daniel, that Hufflepuff I used to fancy, whispering.
It's about me. Stupid nightmare. Stupid Ellie, who told the entire Hogwarts population about my nightmare.
Marlene stops scribbling and just looks at me. I feel my throat slowly constrict as her eyes bore into mine. She knows.
After all, I can only stand this for so long.
It's a horrible feeling, knowing that everyone is talking about you behind your back. And they think that I don't hear them. I hear it all. People pretend not to be staring at me when I walk to Herbology and Potions and Arithmancy. I see them turn their heads away, embarrassed at being caught. I feel the first-years shrinking back when I enter the common room. I catch the sympathy and fear in their eyes. I know all the rumors about me.
I'm a Death Eater. I follow He-Who-Must—Voldemort. I follow Voldemort. I am a crazed seer. I will murder and kill. I am evil. I will die soon.
I wonder which one Daniel chose to whisper to his little friends about.
"Let's go," Marlene whispers.
We sweep all of our books and parchment into our bags and hurry out of the library. Nothing is said. Nothing needs to be said. I am so, so thankful for her.
Finally, we reach our room. I throw open the door and fling my book bag into some messy corner of the room. I collapse onto my bed; she sinks down slowly beside me, not saying a word.
And I do something I don't remember doing for a long, long time. I have a good, long cry.
James is sitting on the floor, busily scribbling something down for Dumbledore. We're in the Heads' Room. I'm looking over our schedule and planning our next meetings and discussions for Prefects.
"Did you really have—"
Oh, no. Not him. Not James. Not the Head Boy, who's been so responsible and mature this entire time. Not one of the few last people that haven't talked about me, or stared at me. Not him. Not the boy that claimed to love me, no matter what. Not James. Not him, too.
The rumors get them all, sooner or later, I guess.
"Yes!" I exploded. "Yes! I did have a freak nightmare and I did wake up screaming and it was about Vol—You-Know-Who! Okay? Happy now?"
His hand freezes in mid-writing, his knuckles visibly tightening on his quill. He slowly puts it down and looks up at me. His face is calm, but his eyes show that he's taken aback by my lashing response. But I can't help it anymore.
"What?" he calmly asks.
We both stare at each other for a second.
"I was asking if you really had a whole plan for the, er, Christmas celebrations…" he trails off.
I realize the horrible mistake of my outburst and stare at the fireplace instead. The flames are slowly creeping over the logs, flicking orange and sparks. My face is burning with shame. Shame and embarrassment. No, just the former. Shame at my rash outburst. For my impatient temper. For jumping to conclusions. For mistrusting him.
"Sorry, I—I thought you meant…" My mumbling sounds far away.
Awkward silence. I glance up at him, and he looks at me almost sympathetically. Almost. The difference is that I don't see pity in those eyes, nor sorrow. I see hurt and almost a bit of disappointment.
I feel ashamed.
After these months, and the trusting partnership we've managed to build, one piece at a time, slowly and cautiously, I'm pounding my fists into the shaky foundation. I'm ripping it down, tearing it apart. All because of my outburst. I feel so much like my fifth-year self, shooting him down.
And I'm in the wrong this time. Maybe I've always been wrong.
He takes a long breath.
"Lily, I'm not that clueless. I'm sorry about your dream. But I'm not listening to all those ridiculous rumors flying around the school. I thought you would know that."
I do know that. I do. I really do.
"I'm sorry," I crack out in a whisper. He doesn't say anything, but I feel him still looking at me. He's probably wearing that concerned expression of his, like when he hears that someone he cares about is in the Hospital Wing.
"It's just that—it's hard, James." I don't take my eyes off of the fire, but I feel a weight shift in the cushiony couch I'm sitting on.
"I know. But I think you knew that I wouldn't be one of those people that gossip. The most I can do is hope to think that you don't hold me in such regards."
He speaks the truth so openly, freely. Why can't I always express myself so?
"I'm going to go to bed. Goodnight."
"Night." I answer mechanically. The flames burn quickly, consuming and flickering.
I hear him pause at the door. I don't look at him, though. I'll see him tomorrow. I'll be collected then. I'll be alright. Right now, I just need to be alone. And James knows that. He knows me.
"And Lily, I'm here for you, alright?"
I nod numbly while choosing to ignore the faint prickling in my nose and behind my eyes. The door closes with a telltale creak.
I know, James. You've always been there for me.
A/N: Really weird style, I know. Please review and tell me what you think of it. Suggestions and criticism more than welcome.