Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, themes, places, names, etc., from JK Rowling's Harry Potter series.
The clatter of cutlery rang out through the hall, mingled with the chatter of the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Suddenly, a large number of owls flew into the hall, dropping off letters and packages of all shapes and sizes. The post had arrived. A tawny owl landed unceremoniously in a plate of scrambled eggs belonging to a red haired girl with the most beautiful emerald eyes a certain James Potter had ever seen.
Lily Evans reached her hand out to the owl and untied the letter that was attached to his leg. Instantly she recognized her mothers' neat cursive hand. She brushed the egg off the envelope with her napkin and turned it over to open it.
Though her friends had long since returned their attention to their food, James Potter's gaze had never left her face. He studied and memorized her every expression as he had done countless times before. He watched her eyes flicker over the letter, reading, and her fingers lightly gripping the edges of the page. He was the only one to notice her eyes widen in shock, her knuckles whiten and the blood drain from her face and he reacted accordingly and with haste.
His chair fell back in his hurry to stand, but he didn't notice as he made his way over to Lily. He was there when her eyes fluttered closed and she slumped sideways on her chair. He caught her and lifted her into his arms like a child.
"Potter, put Lily down. She's not interested you. Take NO for an answer already. What on earth do you think you're doing? Lily?" Selene was confused. Lily had seemed fine a moment ago, but now she was unconscious and in Potters' arms. It just didn't make sense.
"What did you do to her Potter? Black?" she ordered.
"I swear we didn't do anything Sel. She was looking faint so I came over and…" James shrugged helplessly, concern etched in every line on his face. Sirius Black stood behind him, his brows knitted in confusion.
"Good morning Lady of the Moon. What is the matter with Lady of the Flowers? Surely she's not in Prongs' arms willing." He said with pomp.
"Shut up Padfoot! She was reading a letter and then she just fainted." James explained.
Remus joined them and picked up the letter Lily had been reading. As his eyes traveled over the words his expression clouded.
"It's from her mother. We need to get her to the hospital wing." Remus directed, he folded the letter and pocketed it. He glanced piteously at Lily and James for a moment before looking abruptly away. "I'll go tell Professor McGonagall we might be a few minutes late for Transfiguration and Lily won't be joining us today. It's better if Lily is awake before we discuss this letter."
James looked at Remus imploringly, but the Werewolf would not meet his eyes. Remus quickly turned to the Staff table and meandered his way up there. Sirius turned to Peter and grabbed him by the scruff of his collar.
"Breakfast is over Wormtail, come along." He commanded. Peter hurriedly pocketed the remainder of his breakfast including a soggy handful of eggs.
James carefully carried Lily out the large oak doors of the Great Hall ignoring the curious looks from many of the students and Selene's protestations. She was hysterically accusing and abusing him and Sirius, as they walked down the corridors to the hospital wing, of slipping Lily various potions and claiming that all of what was happening was just another of their elaborate hoaxes. Finally Sirius had had enough; he grabbed her by the wrist as gently as he could.
"Look Sel, the Marauders had no part in this, we're just as concerned for Lily as you are. James, most likely, is even more concerned. So just calm down and help us get her to the Hospital wing alright. We can't have our favourite flower wilting before graduation. Now can we?" he told her firmly but gently.
Her brown eyes were brimming with tears looked up into his. He drew her protectively into his arms.
"Come here, Little Moon," he whispered comfortingly. "You're getting yourself worked up over nothing. She'll be fine."
He gently kissed her forehead and for once she didn't protest.
Lily awoke sometime later, her eyes fluttered open slightly but she quickly shut them again. The light filtering in through the windows made the whiteness of her sheets blinding. With her eyes closed she sent out her other senses. A strange smell assailed her nostrils; a sterile smell. And the sheets were so starchy and stiff. She heard fierce whispering by her bedside and knew the answer immediately.
"Hospital wing…" she grumbled. The whispering ceased. She went to rub the sleep out of her eyes so she could see, but found she couldn't move her hand.
Blinking her eyes open, she saw a large hand covering her own. Her gaze traveled up the arm and rested on a most handsome face, his dark hair very sexily disheveled. Her breath caught in her throat as their gazes locked for a split second before she broke the connection, cursing herself for the slight blush she was sure graced her cheeks. He gave her hand a small squeeze but still she would not meet his gaze and pulled her hand away.
It tore away at her inside, but she just couldn't return his affection. The return of that memory inspired the cold hard realization that had come with her reading the letter. Her head reeled and she tasted bile in her mouth. Swallowing hard she sat up in bed.
"Ah, Miss Evans, you're awake. Drink this and you can be on your way. Black, you put that chocolate back on the table it is not for you it is for Miss Evans and if I catch you stealing my patients' food again I will serve you a potion so disgusting you'll be begging me to give you pond slime and liverwort to freshen the taste. Now out scapegrace, your friends will meet with you shortly." Madame Pomfrey ordered. Despite having only been the school's nurse for just over year she had become very well acquainted with the marauders as they often needed to be hospitalized after there many quidditch falls and mischievous exploits.
"Bad luck Padfoot. Be seeing you." James called out to the retreating form of his friend. Immediately Sirius spun around and made an extremely rude gesture with his hands after which he was forced to run for his life pursued by Madame Pomfrey waving a broom.
James, Remus, Peter and Selene laughed.
"Serves you right you beep" Peter yelled.
"Shut up, Wormtail, only I get to call him that." James laughed.
Lily, who had remained silent the entire time, quietly slipped out of bed, hurriedly wiping the tears from her eyes. She downed the potion with one swig. The discourse had been lost on her as she was too caught up in her own thoughts. She would have to tell them there was no way out of it.
"Please leave, I'd like to get changed." She spoke up. Their laughter died immediately. She would not meet their eyes. Realizing it was futile to badger her now they quietly left her bedside and drew the curtains to a close behind them.
"Remus, what the hell is going on? Come on mate, I'm your best friend, you can't keep this from me." James pleaded.
"James I can't, it is for Lily to tell you and you know that as well as I." Remus said. Selene gave him a doleful look but kept her silence. Sirius, ever playing the fool, had offered a momentary relief, but seeing Lily so subdued had cast a dark cloud over them all.
The walk back to the Gryffindor common room was very quiet. Lily was hugging herself and James kept giving her anxious looks. Remus kept his gaze trained on the stone floor, trying to ignore Selene's persistent inquisitive stare. They reached the portrait of the fat lady without ceremony.
"Glumbumble Treacle" Remus muttered.
Peter snorted. "He said bum." He joked to himself. Selene gave him a very disgusted look.
They filed into the common room silently. It was afternoon and everyone else was still at their last class for the day. When Remus had approached Professor McGonagall that morning, he had been obliged to show her the letter. Her young face had gone taut and white as she read it. She had allowed Lily and the others to be absent for class that day. She did not return the letter to him immediately. Instead she passed the letter to a concerned looking Dumbledore. Brow furrowed, eyes narrowed and lips thin, he appraised Remus over the top of his thin rimmed, full moon spectacles.
"Please inform Miss Evans that I would like to speak to her in my office tomorrow morning after breakfast. I trust that she will be well rested after that time." The headmaster had said.
They entered the would-be quiet common room to find their ears horrendously assaulted. An extremely loud male voice was singing a bawdy song that would have been much more appropriate in a bar, or better yet a brothel.
"…Oh, the lass that did follow me home." He finished grandly. "Quietus"
"Sirius Black! If I ever hear anything so foul as that… that …song…come out of your mouth again…I will, so help me, I will – " Paying no heed to the wand she held out menacingly toward him, Sirius clamped a hand over Selene's mouth.
"Now now little lady, no need for threats." He said with an American accent. Her eyes blazed with fury. Wrestling free from his hold she stomped so heavily on his foot that he swore. Composing herself she calmly and concernedly sat beside Lily, who was by this stage sitting in a chair near the fire, staring blankly at her lap. Remus went over to help a hopping Sirius to sit down.
"Come sit down Prongs," Remus said; his eyes sadder than usual.
"Lily," Selene began, "Are you okay what did the letter say?"
Lily look over the concerned faces of her friends, avoiding everyone's gaze, James' especially, it tore away at her heart what she would have to say. Remus gave her a small nod.
"You know," she said, staring at him.
"I read the letter, but you must tell them." He said his sad eyes filled with compassion.
She squirmed uncomfortably in her chair and drew her feet up beneath her.
"They want to have the photos taken here, at Hogwarts." She whispered her face completely drained of colour.
"Lily? Who and what are they taking photos of?" Selene pressed gently.
"My family and my fiancé."