Song: No Explanation by Peter Cetera
By Natali K. A.
(-Present: Next Morning, at Lily's kitchen table…-)
"You've got one shit load of explaining to do, Lils," Julie sang out as she sipped her coffee. "A very big shit load." She looked at James. "Yeah, you too, I think."
James scowled at her. "I'm very much aware that I need to explain. And perhaps you'd be so kind as to let me know what you were thinking when you almost broke down the door at seven in the bloody morning?"
Lynn laughed. "We had woken up early to make sure we didn't miss you guys, and the subject of Julie's engagement came up." Lynn smiled cruelly at Julie, who was trying to shrink away. "She changed the subject by suggesting we come over here."
Lily raised her eyebrows. When Julie nodded sheepishly, Lily squealed and ran over to hug her friend. "I'm so happy for you two! Finally!"
"Just because we don't get engaged at an absurdly early age, Lils," Remus said calmly, looking at her frankly, "doesn't mean we took a long time."
"I call six bloody years a bloody long time to be just bloody dating," Lily retorted. "And, if you'll be so kind as to remember, James and I felt we should take our relationship to the next level, and so we did. Thank you very much!"
"Alright, quiet down, girls," Sirius said, chuckling. "Point is, you're now putting the pressure on me to propose to Miss Clancy here"—he pointed to Lynn—"and I'd hate to be pressured."
Lynn snickered and kicked his shin, a little harder than Sirius would have preferred.
"Seems to me that people are getting married left and right." Lynn sat on Sirius's lap and stretched out on him luxuriously. "Angel just sent us a wedding invite. I hear half the year's already got little buggers in the nursery. What do you make of that, Black?"
"I think they're nuts."
"They're still with their sweethearts from school, that's what." He grinned at her. "Now, you're thinking that I might be a hypocrite, but I'm not actually. I'll totally attest to the fact that I'm nuts. Lynn, would you like to concur?"
"Naturally," Lynn grinned. "And that's exactly what makes us such a good match, you see," she told the others. "We're both so crazy that we'll never notice it in the other!"
"What you are, Lynn," James rolled his eyes, "is a person with too much time on your hands."
But Lynn shook her head. "Now, think about this James. What makes you and Lily, or Julie and Remus, such a good couple?"
They all looked at each other, including Sirius, who was as lost as they were. Lynn looked victorious.
"Elementary, my dears. Opposites—while not completely opposites, because everyone has to have something in common—attract!" she declared flamboyantly, stretching out her arms.
Lily raised an eyebrow. "You're crazier than I thought."
"I'll call the asylum, loves," Julie laughed, heading for the phone. She glanced at Lynn, who was throwing kisses to her "audience". "On second thought, perhaps we should just kill her and be done with it all. I don't think anyone'll miss her."
Lynn glared at her. She smiled innocently.
"Right, but we're digressing here," Remus said, setting himself in a chair by the counter. He turned to James and Lily. "What's this that's been going on? Because frankly, I think it's just one big mess."
James looked at Lily, who sighed heavily, as if not wanting to talk about it.
"Fine then. James, I'll start."
"But my part comes first," he protested.
She smiled mysteriously. "Oh, no it doesn't. You see, I, like someone I know, also kept a few secrets of my own…"
"You, Lils?" Lynn laughed. "You never kept anything from us!"
Lily shrugged. "There's a first time for everything. Now, you may remember that program I enrolled in after Hogwarts as a side thing? Well, I wasn't entirely truthful about that. Not to you either, Potter…"
(-Memories… The day before James broke off the engagement…-)
Lily walked into the office where she was doing her internship… Well, not really her internship. More like… volunteership.
"Hello, Lily," Anne smiled. Anne, the receptionist, handed her a stack of papers. "You've gotten a load of calls. Mostly from some Jim or John or whatever…"
"James," Lily laughed, shaking her head. "Whatever will I do with him?" She walked on and entered her "office". Personally, Lily found it most like a broom closet, but she'd take what she could get.
She began to sort through her messages. "James, James, James, James, J-Oh, Lynn. James, James, Julie, Miriam, Angie, Ja—" She stopped, and went to the last message. "Angie?" She picked up her purse and headed back to the entrance of the office.
"Yes, Lily?" Anne asked. "Is something the matter?"
"No, I don't think so. It's just that James's little sister—he's my boyfriend—she told me to go to ASAP, and since I'm not really doing anything…" Lily hesitated. "Well, she'd only call me if I was important, you see."
Anne nodded, smiling. "I'll keep that witch we call a boss off your back, sweetie. Go on and see her."
Two minutes later, Lily was in the Potters' house, knocking on Angie's bedroom door. When it opened, she was met by a sobbing Angie, who exploded into louder sobs at the sight of her.
"Angie! Are you alright?" Lily asked when she turned away and ran to her bed. "What's the matter?" She ran to comfort her.
"Oh, Lily, I'm so sorry!" Angie cried, wetting Lily's shoulder with tears. "I'm so sorry!"
"About what, love?" Lily asked. "Oh, come now, stop that sobbing. You're overreacting, I'm sure."
"But I'm not, and that's why I'm so upset," Angie insisted. "Lily, I've been enrolled in that thing at my school for the more advanced Defense Against the Dark Arts students for over a year now. And… Well, I'm a little more involved than most." She quieted a little, and Lily sat back so that she would have some air.
With a deep, shuddery breath, Angie continued. "Basically, I've gotten into this club of sorts with kids from all around Great Britain whose parents are working on special cases for the Ministry. Even though Papa is only working on a minor case, I told them it was a little more important, and they let me in. I really wanted to be in it, you see, because of this boy. His name is Kevin, but that's not important. Anyway, I've been talking to a bunch of the members.
"They told me that there's an uprising of forces near Baghdad and then again in Norway. Dark forces from this guy they're following in the Ministry. His name is Voldemort. Well, point is that a few of the more prestigious members have been in contact with me. Their parents mostly work in the Department of Mysteries, and they tend to overhear things.
"Long story short, there is a prophecy that surfaced a few days ago. You see, there was a break in at the Ministry. They caught the guy—he wasn't that difficult to catch and he was working alone—but in the struggle, one of the orbs that contain the prophecies shattered."
"You're losing me, Angie," Lily said when the other had stopped for breath. "I don't even know what a prophecy is. Or the orb part. And what's the Department of Mysteries?"
Angie shook her head. "A prophecy is something that's—Oh, never mind," she sighed. "What I'm trying to say is that when the orb, the thing that contains the prophecy, crashed to the floor, they silenced everything and listened, because the prophecy is then told from the Seer who predicted it in the first place."
Lily nodded slowly. "What does this have to do with me?"
"The prophecy was that you'd be killed."
Lily jaw dropped.
"Are you out of your mind, Angie?" she asked. "Since when am I going to die?"
"No, I didn't say that right. What I mean to say is that you might die. Not any time soon, at least we're not sure." Angie tapped her chin. "The prophecy wasn't too clear, from what the informant said."
Lily laughed—she couldn't help it. "I think you're mad, Angie. Come on, I've got to get back to work. I'll see you tonight when we all go to dinner." She kissed Angie on the cheek and turned to leave when Angie burst out something.
"I wouldn't have believed it either!" she said anxiously. "Lily, you must listen! Look what I found in James's old room." She walked to the desk in the corner of the room, opened the bottom drawer, and began to extract papers. When she'd taken them all out, she fiddled with the back of the drawer.
After some time, she managed to pull out a piece of metal that seemed to hide the hidden compartment. Lily, who was peering on deeply interested, noticed that there was a single sheet of paper in there. Angie pulled out the paper, and handed it to Lily.
"Just for the record," Angie told her, "I wasn't snooping when I found it. He'd told me to get him something in there, and I spotted it by accident. I wanted to ignore it, but I just couldn't. Finally, when he left, I took it and brought it here."
But Lily had stopped listening. Instead, she was reading the note, growing more nauseous with every word. It was addressed to James, the date read last week. Angie watched as Lily's face went pale and her hands began to tremble.
The note read:
Now Mr. Potter, we've been communicating for a while. But the time has now come for me to tell you why I've been doing so. You have something I want, and you know what it is. The thing is, something in me tells me that you won't be too willing to give it up, so I've decided to give you an ultimatum, sir. Either you give me what I want, or I'll kill what's most dear to you… Can you think of what's most dear to you? I can.
I can see why you admire her so. Oh, yes. I know you do. I've watched the two of you together. You hang on her every word, you spoil her. Ah, dare I say it? You even love her. Yes, Miss Evans is very pretty indeed. Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to feel that silky flaming hair on my skin… And I promise you, if you fail to oblige me, I will find out before I kill her most painfully.
You are a man of reason, or so you've led me to believe. Don't be thick about this. You have seventy-two hours to comply.
Lily handed Angie the note again, and turned wordlessly for the door.
"Voldemort misunderstood, Lily!" Angie called after her, chasing her down the stairs as Lily headed for a place she knew would give her comfort. "James doesn't have it!"
"And just what, pray, is 'it'?" Lily asked emotionlessly, heading through the kitchen.
"Oh, that explains all," Lily answered sarcastically. "I can see now."
Angie frowned. "Well, I'm not sure what it is. No one in the club knows."
Lily stopped and turned to face her so suddenly that Angie almost lost her balance.
"Angie," Lily bit out, trying to contain her temper, "you and your club are sticking you noses in things that have nothing to do with you. My advice is that you drop it before you get into real trouble. It's ridiculous what you're saying. If anything like this note had happened, James would have told me." She reached for the back door and opened it, one foot out the door before Angie replied.
"How sure are you of that?"
James flushed, partly with embarrassment and partly from anger. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Oh, you're one to talk," Lily rolled her eyes. "Don't be stupid, James. I didn't think it was true until you broke off our engagement. Then, the fact that you hadn't told me pissed me off, so I didn't tell you I knew." She shrugged. "Communication is important, you see. Next time, open your mouth, you git."
"So kind," James muttered.
"So, Angie is involved in some sort of not quite legal society, which she shouldn't be in, and she has privileged information?" Remus asked.
"Basically," Lily replied.
"And she showed you the note," Remus went on. "And knew what the Maroset was?"
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "You know what that is?"
Remus nodded. So did Julie, who seemed pale all of a sudden. Lily, having noticed this, sent her friend a questioning look.
"The Maroset," was all Julie would give. She raked her hair with a hand haphazardly and closed her eyes. "Oh, my. Remus…? But—How?"
Remus made no reply, and walked to the window, peering out at the busy Dublin street.
"I hate to distract your thoughts, Remus," Lynn said after a minute, "but I'm simply longing to hear what the Maroset is, if you would so oblige me."
"In a nutshell, the Maroset, an heirloom of the Marosets of Northern France which could control all the wands of every wizard or witch on earth, is a jewel. It's two thousand years old, all the way from the time of Christ. Christ himself made it, or rather, enhanced it in the special Christ way to control all forms of magic. The simplest way to explain that is by saying that the jewel would control all of the wands, not the person it belonged to."
"I still don't see the connection. Perhaps I'm just stupid," James interjected. "And I'm supposed to be one of the most informed here, too."
Remus gave them all a shy smile. "Yes, well, you wouldn't see the connection, seeing as it's the only thing I ever kept from you and Sirius. Well, the only important thing."
"Somehow, that disconcerts me," Sirius frowned.
"The Maroset was passed down the line for over fifteen hundred years, until one day, the last and final Maroset male died before he could produce an heir for it, male or female. He did have a single sister though, and no other relatives. She was given the jewel, as custom, and it passed into her husband's possession. Naturally, when he died, it was passed down to his eldest son, Octavius."
Lynn, who'd been trying to add two plus two during his discourse, suddenly gasped. "Remus… Octavius Lupin was your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather or something. You told us once about his conquests over the Giants in Eastern China. He isn't… Is he?"
Remus nodded and smiled. "Yes, he is. Octavius acquired the jewel, and since then, it's been passed down from one generation to the next."
"Notice he didn't say father to son," Julie added. "It stayed in the family, but it wasn't always possession of the head male of the family."
Lily raised her eyebrows, and eyed the diamond and sapphire engagement ring—or what she'd thought a diamond and sapphire engagement ring—and said, "And exactly how long has that engagement ring been in your family, Remus?"
He smiled. "About five hundred years, give or take a few."
James nodded. "So then, why did I get the notes from Voldemort, who ended up threatening me?"
"Because no one knew my family had it," Remus explained. "When the last Maroset had died, everyone wondered, but then forgot about it. That's why now not too many people know it exists. Not even my family knows about it, bar the ones who will inherit it. It's supposed to be that way."
They all looked at each other.
"I think it's time to continue with the story," Lynn said. "Maybe then we can figure this all out."
James frowned. "Do I really have to?"
"Yes," they chorused.
"You owe it to us after the hell you've put us through this past year," Julie added. "So go ahead, James. Start talking."
"There's not much to say," he shrugged. "Some mysterious guy started writing to me, and gave me the ultimatum, like Lily said. I thought I could get around it, because I didn't have whatever he needed, by breaking up with her, and therefore saving her. I was wrong. Sort of."
Lily looked at him lovingly. "I just wish you had told me, James," she reprimanded him slowly. "But that's in the past. What matters now is what we're going to do."
He groaned, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "Alright. I guess I'll begin with the day that we broke up."
A/N: Ok, so originally I'd had the Maroset, right? Ok, so rereading this, I was going to remove it, right? Yeah. Um… I haven't, obviously, removed it. Why? Oh, I don't really know. Looking back, I hate how AU this is. But I just can't move myself to completely changing this story all that much.
Now, questions to pose—Will James and Lily get married? How is it that Lynn and Sirius don't get together? What about Remus and Julie—they'd been engaged! How come they never married?
So many questions. So many answers.
You'll have to wait and see, I suppose. The next chapter is going to change considerably from the original, simply because it was quite… queer. And stilted.
Love to all my little doggies!
Oh! I've got bug jokes!
What insect goes "zubb zubb zubb"?
Where do bees go on holiday?
Why was the bee's hair sticky?
What is a bee's favorite music band?
:-P. Let me know if you figure it out! Answers next week!