AUTHORS NOTE: Well, I'm back from the edge of the earth for, like... the fifth time, now, I think... I had free time this weekend (for maybe the second time in the whole year...) and I was in a relatively creative mood. I started thinking about Light and how I really need to post that last chapter (which is half done, for those interested!) and I thought back on one of the chapters involving the funeral. This idea sort-of created itself when I just started writing for fun about another funeral sort of scene, but you need absolutely no background from Light to understand this short lil' story (and when I say short, I mean short... Definitely my shortest short story to date).
So to those who haven't completely forgotten me in my year long absence, enjoy the story!
Funeral for a Friend
Lily proceeded slowly down the aisle.
"Lily," someone called from behind her. "I'm so sorry – I can't imagine how hard this has been for you."
The redhead stopped to face the woman speaking to her. It was her Arithmancy teacher from Hogwarts. Lily merely managed to flash a grim smile.
"Come here, dear," the woman said. She wedged her way through a thick crowd, moving towards Lily and shoving people out of the way. Her large, purple hat flew off her head and onto the floor as a man stepped into her path and accidentally knocked the oversized hat off with a gesture of his hand. The woman paid no attention, and continued without stopping. The woman approached her target and threw her arms around the frail, teenage girl. "Just let it all out. I'm here for you, darling."
Lily did not do anything but allow the sweet, old woman feel like she had actually helped Lily.
"Feeling better, honey?" the woman asked as she put two hands on each of Lily's shoulders and pushed her out to arms length. The woman searched Lily's eyes for any hint of tears, but found nothing.
"Yes, thank you, Professor Rutley," Lily said blandly, praying that the woman would just leave her alone. And to her surprise, the old woman left after a final hug goodbye.
Lily continued her walk as if she had never been interrupted.
"Lily Evans?" a voice Lily recognized as the Minister of Magic boomed to her right. "Well, I'll be," he smiled, maneuvering his way smoothly through a line of empty chairs. He pulled a hand out from behind his back and firmly shook Lily's hand in a political manner. "I never realized that you were – well…" He trailed off, nodding towards the front of the room. "A bit unfortunate, really."
Lily nodded. She pulled her hand back as soon as he released it and clutched it safely within her other hand. "It was, sir."
The man laughed with a loud guffaw and pat on his overly large belly. "No need to call me sir, Lily. You may call me Mr. Telon," he boasted proudly, as if this was a name only the privileged could call him.
"Mr. Telon," Lily automatically corrected herself.
The man beamed and nodded. A sobbing woman walked past him and he shifted awkwardly out of the hysterical woman's path, rather uncomfortable with the situation. He turned back and noticed Lily's look from his reaction.
He leaned in as if whispering a great secret. "I try to make appearances at these things," he gestured about the room. Mr. Telon held his hands up to his nice dress robes and stuck his thumbs behind the lapels. He leaned back with a smile, allowing his stomach to bulge out further than it had earlier. "Good for the publicity," he bragged, grinning at the next man that walked past. "Definitely doesn't hurt my image, considering re-election for my position begins next month."
Lily nodded, hardly registering anything he had been saying to her.
Mr. Telon held out his hand to shake Lily's again. She took it politely. "I expect to see you applying for a job at the ministry this summer," he said softly. He held onto her hand and pulled her closer to him, dropping a large, lazy arm around her shoulders. "I've heard so many good things about you – top of your class," he grinned. "We could certainly use someone with your skill in our departments." He laughed heartily from his stomach. Lily felt the vibrations of his laugh shake her small, unmoving body. "Many people retiring this year," Mr. Telon grinned. "Plenty of high positions open for you, Miss Evans. And nothing I'm sure you couldn't handle..." he chuckled, nudging her in the arm.
Lily nodded, too weak to fight her way out of his firm grip.
"Tell me you'll think about it, Lily," Mr. Telon said loudly next to her ear. He stared directly into her eyes without his gaze wavering.
"Yes, sir," Lily nodded, unable to keep eye contact. She stared at her scuffed, black shoes.
"Mr. Telon," he corrected her again with a smile.
Lily nodded, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
Mr. Telon sighed as he gave Lily a pat on the back. He pulled away from her as he spotted a co-worker. "Anne!" he called across the room with a jovial laugh. "Hey – nice work on that project last week!" Mr. Telon saw Lily raise an eyebrow at him. He smiled hurriedly and began to walk in the opposite direction with a hasty goodbye. "If you could excuse me, Lily…"
Lily nodded slowly, turning on her heel. She looked up and continued walking.
Her heart skipped a beat as she found her best friend's mother.
Without a moment of hesitation, Lily stepped forward, feeling like she finally had something to say.
"Mrs. Brinsdale," Lily whispered. She held her hand out to the woman sitting alone.
The mother wiped her cheeks, brushing away her tears. She looked up to find Lily gazing solemnly down at her. "Oh, Lily," Mrs. Brinsdale breathed, clutching Lily's hand. She pulled Lily into the chair beside her and hugged her as tight as she could. "I'm so glad you're here," she whispered into Lily's hair. She kissed Lily's forehead and slowly pulled away. "How are you holding up, dear?"
Lily sniffed, beginning to finally feel tears well up in the corners of her eyes. "I think the question is how you are holding up," Lily asked back in response.
Mrs. Brinsdale nodded, pulling out a Kleenex from the purse on her lap. She wiped away her tears and blew her nose. "Oh – you know," she stammered, shrugging. "I'm – struggling," she sniffed. "Brendan's going back into work on Monday," she said. "And Bobby, he's – well, Bobby's – "
Lily sensed an entirely new wave of tears springing forward. Mrs. Brinsdale hunched over in her chair and covered her face with her small, pale hands. "They were so close," Mrs. Brinsdale cried through muffled sobs. "So close…"
Lily did not move. She did not speak.
Mrs. Brinsdale removed her hands and quickly swiped her tears away.
With a shuddering breath, she whispered, "Bobby's an only child, now."
Lily felt her throat close up momentarily, as if something had gotten stuck in it. She turned her head away from Mrs. Brinsdale, unable to watch.
"Madeleine," a deep voice spoke behind them. "Madeleine, don't cry."
Mrs. Brinsdale's husband moved forward and took the job as Mrs. Brinsdale's support system. He hugged his wife around the shoulders and pulled her to her feet.
Lily stared. She was amazed at how much weight the couple had lost in the past three days.
Brendan Brinsdale slowly walked his wife through the crowd and disappeared from view.
Lily swallowed and stood. She shuffled through the row of chairs and reached the aisle yet again. She closed out all noise and focused on her journey at hand.
With miniscule steps, Lily finally reached her destination.
She found the plaque bearing the name and gasped.
Cassidy Melina Brinsdale.
Slowly, Lily held out her hand in front of her as she approached the coffin. Murdered, she repeated over and over to herself without the ability to forget that specific detail. Lily stepped close enough to let her finger touch the cool metal of the coffin.
Lily shuddered the moment she was able to peer inside the coffin. With a hiccup of fear, Lily pulled away her frail hand from the side of the open coffin and paled. She covered her mouth with both hands as she took a sharp inhalation of air in through her lungs.
It was her.
Just lying out in the open.
Lily's eyes wandered down the body. She was unable to see anything but Cassidy's lifeless face. The only thing she could remember was Cassidy's wand decoratively tucked into a small pillow just above her head.
This isn't real, Lily thought, closing her eyes to the horrible nightmare surrounding her. She wanted to forget the image of her best friend, lying dead, empty, cold in a coffin, but couldn't.Cassidy's face was scarred into her mind.
Lily shook her head, unable to accept the situation. It can't – she's not –
Lily did not open her eyes. She knew who it was and turned a deaf ear to the voice.
With a heavy sigh, Lily opened her eyes. She stared down at her feet when she realized she had no better place to look. "What is it, James?"
Like a panther from the shadows, James moved silently to Lily's side and joined her in mourning. They did not speak.
James had no idea what to say. He had no idea what to do. Cassidy and Lily were both in his house and his year at Hogwarts. He may not have been as close to them as they were with each other, but he felt the need to be by Lily's side, at the very least.
Bravely, James pulled his hand out of his pocket and took Lily's.
"Don't," Lily whispered firmly, afraid her voice might give away the tears hiding within it. She yanked her hand out of his grip and folded her arms protectively across her chest.
James blinked. He opened his mouth to say something and then stopped. He opened it again. "Lily, I was – "
"Just – don't."
Lily began to sway back and forth on the balls of her feet uncomfortably. She brought her gaze up to Cassidy's face again. Lily blinked several times and batted away the tears, but it wasn't enough. The tears streamed down her face without any intention of stopping.
"Lily – "
James hurried after her. He didn't let Lily's red hair leave his sight.
"Don't speak to me, James Potter!" Lily shouted the minute she ran out of the doors where Cassidy's funeral was taking place and burst into the sunlight. "You have no right to even be here right now!"
James took advantage of the high heeled shoes Lily was wearing and easily caught up to her. He grasped one of her arms and spun her around. He caught the other arm and locked his fingers around both of her wrists. She wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. "Look – listen to me, Lily – I have as much right to be here right now as you do." He took in a large gulp of air and continued bravely. "She was murdered by Voldemort, Lily – no one saw this coming! And you may have had a stronger personal bond with Cassidy than I did, but that gives you no bloody right to tell me that I can't attend my own cousin's funeral!"
Lily was not swayed by James' argument. She had known James and Cassidy were cousins, but neither of the two ever mentioned it. She flailed her arms about in an attempt to break free of his grip. Tears poured down her face as she screamed at him. "But that doesn't give you any reason to feel like you can try to – to – " Lily struggled to find the word she was looking for, " – to take advantage of me when I'm vulnerable!" she finally spat.
James was speechless. He had no intention of manipulating Lily when he knew she would be unable to think straight for days on end; he had only been trying to make her feel like she still had friends and no reason to give up just yet!
James opened his mouth to say this, but Lily's strength had steadily increased. With a great jerk of her arm, she pulled James into her. He lost his balance and fell to the ground. Another tug from his fall and Lily rolled steadily down an open, green, grassy hill with him.
The pair slowly rolled to a stop. James did not hesitate to control Lily's rash movements. He pressed both of his hands into her shoulders and pushed her into the grass without giving her any room to move around. He didn't care that days – weeks – maybe even months later, she might regain her normal mindset and yell at him for getting grass stains all over her dress robes. He didn't care. She had to understand.
James didn't have time to say a word. Lily's sobbing continued, but this time without any rapid arm movements. He breathed a sigh of exhaustion, rolled off of Lily, and lay next to her in the soft grass under the warm sky with their heads touching.
Slowly, but surely, Lily's sobs died off into the echo between buildings. Nearly ten minutes had passed until Lily stopped crying; another ten passed until James was brave enough to say something to her.
"I didn't – mean to make you feel uncomfortable," he whispered as he stared into the sky and watched clouds drift by. "I was trying to make you feel better – and clearly that didn't work…"
There was no response. There was no movement. James began to wonder if Lily had cried herself to sleep.
He was about to sit up to check Lily's eyes when he felt a small, warm hand find his and squeeze it.
They may not have been alright in that moment, but they both knew that, slowly, they would be.
Both Lily and James returned to the funeral together until the very end. Lily never once released James' hand throughout the entire burial process, nor did James want to.
James had been thinking the whole time that he needed to be Lily's rock, when in fact he found he was doing himself a favor. Tears soon caught up with James, and he realized that Lily had instantly turned into his own rock.
Once the day finished, both were reluctant to head home to their families for the weekend. When James finally reassured Lily that they would returned to the Hogwarts environment the following Monday, Lily found the strength to release James' hand.
Lily returned to Hogwarts that Monday as scheduled. Her late rise in the morning had caused her to miss breakfast on her first day back, but Lily was not bothered by this in the slightest; she was not hungry after noticing Cassidy's empty bed that morning.
Her first classes of the day consisted of Arithmancy and Muggle Studies, both of which James despised and Cassidy had thoroughly enjoyed. The empty seat on Lily's side in both classes had been a constant reminder to the reason why she had felt an empty pit in her stomach for the past week.
Lunch slowly made its way into the schedule. Lily shuffled her way between large crowds of students down many hallways, up a long flight of steps, and into the Great Hall, hoping people would not stare at her like they had been doing during the first two periods.
It was a hopeless dream.
The redhead found her usual spot at the end of the Gryffindor table while attempting to ignore the stares. She sat furthest from the double oak doors. She stared at the two empty plates and swallowed.
Lily wasn't hungry. The food did not look appetizing in the least, and she suspected that it wouldn't for another week, at least. What was she even doing here in the first place? Lily was seconds from standing up to leave when she heard a noise behind her.
"Hello there," a voice piped up.
It was James.
He sat down on Lily's right and immediately began digging into the food without a word.
"Oh man – I love custard tarts!" another voice said to Lily's left. She looked over her shoulder just in time to see Sirius Black bounding over to the food and jumping quickly into the seat next to Lily.
"Hey, Lily, can I look over your History of Magic notes from three weeks ago?" Remus asked as he and Peter joined the group on the opposite of the table. "Big exam tomorrow and Sirius accidentally misplaced my notes," he said as he threw a glare in Sirius' direction.
"Hey!" Sirius shouted in defense. "It's not my fault you left your notes in a spell-testing zone and I accidentally caught them on fire," he said in a calm, explanatory voice.
"Sirius!" Remus shouted back without any compassion in his voice. "They were in my bag under my bed!" Remus slopped a spoonful of mashed potatoes onto his plate and set down the spoon in the bowl. Peter was quick to pick up the spoon before anyone else had a chance to. "How was I supposed to know you wanted to use – what you call – 'useless parchment' in one of your stupid experiments?"
"I beg your pardon!" Sirius choked on his food and held a hand to his chest, clearly offended. "Stupid?" Sirius threw down his fork and began bickering good-naturedly with Remus.
Lily looked away from the group, unable to hide her smile. They purposefully sat around her to let her know she wasn't alone. They purposefully ignored the sore subject and continued with their daily lives as if nothing had happened.
And Lily knew whose idea it had been.
Lily tilted her head to the right to find James already smiling at her. Lily smiled back.
She was alright.
AUTHORS NOTE: Definitely short...
For those wondering, NO I didn't stop writing stories, I've just been in an extremely un-creative mood, which usually happens during the school year. Summer's less than a month away, so look forward to some actual stories getting put up (including an ACTUAL story, not just Harry Potter...)
Hope you all enjoyed it!