Part 3 – Turn Back Time
The night before NEWTs, Lily and James met as Heads to wish each other luck and say goodbye to their duties as the year was coming to a close. They sat in the prefects' conference room and drank small glasses of Butterbeer in silence. Neither had spoken since she had yelled at him in Hogsmeade and run away. She wasn't proud of it, but she was too proud to say she was sorry to him of all people. Besides, he was the sort of person to accept apologies very well.
Lily had convinced herself that, the next time she saw him in private, she would tell him exactly how she felt and that she was sorry for all the horrors she had caused by keeping quiet about them. But, somehow, when they had entered the room together, she hadn't been able to do so. She just couldn't seem to form the right words or get them out of her mouth.
Finally, she settled for Smalltalk instead. "How's Mary doing?" she asked quietly, searching for a subject about which she actually somewhat cared. She hadn't seen Mary since she and James had started dating, so there wasn't much she knew about.
"What has she been up to?"
"Um, shopping?" he suggested hesitantly. He didn't appear to be too keen on the subject. "I don't know."
"How can you not know?"
"She's just been like she always has, I guess. I haven't noticed any changes, so I don't know what to tell you, Evans. You should know her better than me anyway."
"I don't really know her anymore," said Lily quietly. Frankly, she didn't want to know her after she had so blatantly disregarded one of her best friend's feelings and going after the boy that Lily had liked for over a year.
"Yeah, so she's told me. She really misses you and Elle Hathaway, you know."
"I do, but I don't care."
"How would you feel if Remus did something that you specifically asked him not to do? You'd feel hurt, wouldn't you? Well, I certainly do."
"What did she do that was so horrible?"
Lily took a deep breath and finally said it, "She went out with you." She thought that she had made her feelings clear in her tone of voice, but his response proved her wrong.
"What? Am I that horrible, Evans? It's not like I'm going to hurt her. For your information, I like her very much."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"Then, how did you mean it?"
Again, she tried to form the words, but they eluded her and refused to come. "I… oh, Merlin, never mind!" she finally succumbed when they just wouldn't obey her.
"No, what did you mean?"
"Nothing. It doesn't matter."
He groaned in frustration. "Fine, be that way."
James scowled for a minute before smirking and saying, "Never mind."
"You are impossible!"
"I'm impossible? You said it first, Evans."
"Oh, don't go around pointing fingers. Playing the blame game is a waste of time. It's so damn stupid."
"Are you calling me stupid?"
With a new incentive, she said, "Yes, I am!"
"I don't get you," he said angrily. "How am I bloody stupid?"
She groaned, knowing that she had to tell him exactly why he was such an idiot. That it was because he didn't realize that she cared about him so much. That it was because he had decided to date her friend, Mary, and give up on her. There really wasn't any way to describe him without using 'stupid', 'idiot', or anything of that nature.
But still, when she opened her mouth to speak those very words, they just wouldn't come out. The words refused to come to her. They eluded her.
In frustration, Lily finally screamed, "You just are! Just because I can't explain it doesn't mean that it isn't true, you know."
"Well, I don't believe you."
"You wouldn't. Otherwise, you wouldn't've asked me to explain."
"Merlin, Evans, most of the time, you're actually able to come up with a good response. What's wrong with you?" His voice held genuine concern, which startled her but somewhat renewed her hopes.
She took a deep breath and said, "I don't know. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything—even school and my studies."
"Why not?" He steadily grew closer as he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Lily turned away, afraid to look at him. "Please don't," she said. "Don't touch me."
He pulled back to his hand, saying, "Why?"
When she spun around to see him, his eyes were sad and hurt. "James, I'm scared—far too scared right now."
"Why?" he asked again.
She bit her bottom lip nervously, afraid to say what she was really feeling when she knew she had to. "I lo—no. I can't tell you." And that was it. She had backed out. She hadn't been able to do it. She was too weak. Elle would be ashamed of her. Hell, she was even ashamed her herself.
"What did you start to say?"
She shook her head. "Nothing."
"It's not nothing. It must be something."
"Yeah, well, it's not."
"Come on, Evans! You're a horrible liar. If you're going to get upset around me, the least you could do is tell me why you're so damn upset!"
"Sorry, Potter, but my entire world doesn't revolve around you knowing every damn thing about me. Of all the people in the world, you'll probably be the last to know," she cried as her anger grew until she was shouting. "Merlin, I bloody-well hate you!" And she stood up suddenly, disrupting the small table on which sat their mugs and spilling Butterbeer all over the table and then James's lap.
"Dammit, Evans!" he snapped as he jerked away from the spill and removed his robes as quickly as possible to save his clothes underneath from getting wet.
"Oh, get over it, Potter. It's not like Butterbeer will kill you, though I don't really care either way."
He moved toward her angrily. "Just because you hate me—" But he was interrupted as her hand rocketed toward his face. Barely able to stop it, he was suddenly holding her wrist at tight as he could to keep her from hurting him. "Merlin, don't try to kill me," he spat viciously.
"Let go!" screamed Lily.
She struggled and wriggled, easily flinging her other hand toward him as well, which he quickly stopped in the same way he had the first. "Let me go," she said again, even though she knew it to be futile.
James easily found himself in a rather compromising position, suddenly realizing that she was too close for him to be comfortable. And, just as he was about to let her go as she demanded, he realized that he couldn't.
The next thing he knew, they were suddenly kissing. Neither knew who had moved in first—it just happened.
After assessing the situation and growing scared beyond belief, Lily pulled away. As his grip loosened during the strange kiss, she easily removed her hands from his, shaking her head still in surprise. At the look on his face, all she wanted to do was press her lips to his again and stay there forever, but she knew she couldn't because of Mary. At the thought of her ex-friend, she remembered how much she hated James Potter despite how much she loved him, and she balled her hand into a fist and flung it at his face. He wasn't prepared this time and toppled over backwards as she smiled in triumph and left him there on the floor.
Not wanting to go to the wedding to see the man she loved get married to her good friend from five years past, Lily decided that she should pay her respects to Sirius's gravesite. She took a bouquet of yellow roses with her and laid them down on his grave at the edge of the old churchyard. The tombstone was just as she remembered it, bearing the words:
Sirius M. Black
Loving friend and brother
"My friends were always there for me. They encouraged me to make
new mistakes instead of the same old ones." -Rita Hayworth
Lily almost cried at the sight of it. She still hated to believe that he was dead. "Oh, Sirius, I'm so sorry," she said, kneeling down beside the headstone and moving her hand across the lettering. "I wish I could have been able to stop it. Oh, hell, I wish I could turn back time so that you could live and still be my friend and comfort me now. Of course, if I could really turn back time, I wouldn't have let James Potter ever decide to marry Mary Atwood. If anything, I'd convince him to marry me. Merlin, I love him so much, Sirius.
"I know you'd understand. Sure, we were dating when you died, but we both knew it wouldn't have lasted. I'm so sorry for leading you on if I ever did. I really don't know why you hadn't been with Elle anyway. You two were really perfect for each other. That's probably why I dated you in the first place. God, that sounds so stupid, but I just missed her so much. She had died just a little while before I saw you again. I needed someone, and you offered yourself to me. What else did you expect me to do, Sirius? It was still extremely stupid, though. That's my only real excuse. I can barely believe that I did it, but I did and I can't take that back. I'm so sorry.
"I do regret it. But what are regrets now? A waste of time, really. All we can do is say that we wish we could go back to say, 'I love you,' or, 'I don't love you and I'm sorry for making you think I did'. But we just can't. Life is still so full of regrets and what-could-have-beens, though. I know I waste time trying to imagine what my life would be like if I had told James all those years ago or if I had punched Mary in the face when she told me she was his new girlfriend like I know I really wanted to.
"But, seriously, if I could go back to tell my old self what I needed to do then, I know I wouldn't believe myself. I'd just think that it was stupid and that James would always love me or that I didn't love him in the first place. But, damn, would I be so wrong. Even right now, I have no idea what the future holds, so I certainly wouldn't back then, even if I told my past self what would happen. In any way, I'm screwed completely and utterly because James Potter and Mary Atwood (soon to be Mary Potter, which sounds so horrible) are at the alter, swearing their undying love and devotion for each other. Damn, I'm so screwed.
"What can I do, Sirius? Please, I need someone now. Remus is in prison because you died. I don't mean to blame you, but you really didn't choose a very good time to get killed. James thinks that it's his fault. He thinks that it was Remus that betrayed the Order and gave away our position and got you killed. You were thinking it was him, too, weren't you? How could you two be so stupid to think that? God, I don't know who it is, but, if I had to choose, I'm surprised to say that I actually think it was either Peter or Mary. That sounds stupid, too, but I know that James could never betray you as you could never betray him. And Remus—he couldn't do it either, I just know he wouldn't be able to, even if he tried, which he wouldn't in the first place.
"And now I'm rambling so much, and I can't stop. I'm just so afraid of what will happen now. If James and Mary are wed, where will I be? All that's left for me is Peter. You know, I'm actually considering suicide, but I know you wouldn't forgive me. Maybe I could try to get Remus out of prison. That would be a good hobby, wouldn't it—trying to escape the Ministry? They'd think I was a Death Eater or something? But, seriously, how can they even think of holding him prisoner? He doesn't have a Dark Mark, I know. I saw both his arms so I'm positive he doesn't have one. The Dementors probably just want another sad, sorry soul to prey on as they drink up the nastiness that is human fear.
"Please tell me what to do, Sirius. I need some sort of guidance right now. Maybe you could just give me some sort of sign that you can hear me… if you can hear me. I need help now more than ever. Or maybe I did five years ago. If you could, could you go back and convince me to tell James? Maybe you wouldn't die then. Maybe Remus wouldn't be in prison. Maybe Elle wouldn't be dead either. Maybe my heart wouldn't be so damn broken like it is now. God, I'm so miserable. Please give me a sign. I need your help, Sirius. I need you."
Lily could barely breathe when she woke up in the morning, scared of what would happen the next time she saw James. She had just told him she hated him and kissed him and then punched him. She could barely believe it, but she knew she had to face the day. There were the NEWTs, after all. Although, it wasn't like she'd pass them anyway. But she couldn't take them again. If she failed, she failed life. She had to get good grades now more than ever if she wanted to succeed in life—if she wanted to actually have a life.
"Lily, please wake up," came Elle's voice apprehensively. "You're scaring me."
Slowly, she sat up and pushed away the hangings of her bed. "I'm awake. I'm here," she answered with a morning moan. "I just don't want to be."
"Thank Merlin. You were really starting to worry me, Lily," Elle said, moving away from where she had been standing by the edge of the curtain and toward her own bed. "Breakfast is almost over, you know that?"
"I couldn't sleep."
"Why? What happened? You came back really late last night?"
"Yes, I did. I was at the Astronomy tower."
"Really? Were you with anyone?"
"Nope. I was definitely alone up there. Once the Ravenclaw couple saw me with the tears in my eyes and my red, angry face, they ran away without a word except one small, pathetic, 'Sorry, Evans!'."
"Crying? Why were you crying, Lily?"
She shrugged, trying to avoid the subject. "Well, I had spent the previous hour with James Potter, telling him that—"
"You told him?"
"—that I hated him and never wanted to see him again."
"Lily!" Elle was aghast at the words. "But you were supposed to tell him the truth."
"Screw the truth!" yelled Lily angrily. "He wouldn't stop talking about Mary this and Mary that and how we never spend time with her because she's such a bitch. All right, so he never used that word and neither did I until now, but I'll say it anyway because it's the truth and we both know it. How dare she go after the man she knew I liked."
"But she doesn't know."
"Oh, deep down, I know she knows."
"Fine, deep down, everyone knows. But you never told her. You never even really told me, so you don't get to talk about people knowing about your deep, dark feelings that you hide from everyone."
"We kissed. James and I did. At our meeting last night. We kissed."
"How was it?"
"Breathtaking. It was so breathtaking that I couldn't breathe when I pulled away."
"Thus the name."
"But I did punch him."
"Because it's cheap of him to kiss me and be dating someone else."
"If you told him how you felt then, he probably wouldn't still be with someone else."
"I've lost hope, Elle. I'm sorry, but I have and I can't deny it any longer."
"Oh, Lily, there's still hope. Now get up, get ready for the day, and ace those NEWTs I know you're dying to take."
Lily grumbled but complied.
She was late when she arrived at the wedding. She knew she was, but she didn't care. She didn't care if she ruined all their memories that would come with it. She didn't care if she broke up the wedding. In fact, she would have liked that. She knew she couldn't be with James anymore, but she could still derive pleasure out of assaulting everything wonderful he still had going for himself. At the current moment, she hated him with all her heart, though still a little less than she hated Mary Atwood. Lily sat in the back in her jeans and t-shirt, barely noticed the short glances that people sent at her clothing and her tardiness.
Meanwhile, James and Mary were at the alter, holding hands, and Mary was saying her vows. Peter was standing off to James's side in the place that Sirius would have stood if he were still alive. Seeing that, she suddenly greatly disliked him, too, and despised James even more for doing something he said he wouldn't do. He had said specifically that he didn't want to do that because of Sirius, but he had anyway. What kind of friend was he, even if his friend was long dead?
James looked back over the crowd with a smile, one that she knew wasn't completely real as it faltered when he saw her. He was surprised that she had even come—he definitely hadn't expected it after their conversation the week before. But, at the same time, he was happy that she had come. For some asinine reason, he wanted her to see that he didn't need her and he could survive without her, despite the fact that he had practically admitted to being in love with her.
When they turned away from each other, Lily looked back at Peter, whom was eagerly checking the time on a large grandfather clock nearby. She followed his gaze to see that it was almost noon. The wedding was almost over and the reception would begin in a little over half an hour.
Mary's vows were over, and, as James had already said his, the preacher asked them both the final question, the one that Lily had memorized from all the movies and television shows and all her fantasies about her own marriage. She tried her best not to imagine herself in Mary's place, but it was very, very difficult.
Finally, it came down to the words, "I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride." And, as their lips neared, Lily remembered her first and only kiss from those years ago when James and herself had done that same deed with much more passion than she had ever thought possible as all their emotions had raged. James and Mary's kiss was excruciatingly long—at least in her mind.
And the clock chimed noon brilliantly as they pulled away from each other just in time to hear many pops all around the group. Lily was startled by the sound of the Apparition of many witches and wizards in black robes that easily surrounded them all. And, suddenly, she realized that in the center of the group stood the man they knew to be Voldemort, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Albus Dumbledore was the first to rise from his seat and pull forth his wand. Lily watched in horror as he stepped toward Voldemort without uttering a curse or hex or spell of any sort. In fact, he said absolutely nothing, and neither did the Dark Lord before him. They pointed their wands toward each other.
Many of the other guests scrambled to get away from the Death Eaters around them. James and Mary were included in that group, which almost amazed Lily. James easily pushed his new wife back behind the grand piano to hide as best she could before he reached for his hand to protect her and anyone he could.
Peter, however, was not included in that group. He did not rush away nor did he try to attack the Death Eaters. Both Lily and James were surprised by this fact, but one of them (that one being Lily) was not surprised by what he did next. Peter pulled out his wand and pointed it directly at James.
For some reason, Lily had known this would happen one way or another. None of them had ever suspected Peter, even Lily. She knew that it was very unlikely, doubtful, and would be a very rare thing for him to be a Death Eater, but, as he pulled up the sleeve of his left arm with the elbow of his right, his wand still steady on James with skills they this didn't know he had, both Lily and James saw the Dark Mark that had been hidden there for almost five years.
Despite the fact that Lily knew Remus would soon be out of prison, her heart stopped as she saw the smirk on Peter's face as he said the words no one thought he could ever say and James's body fell to the floor of the chapel. She wasn't the only one to burst into tears as Mary had also seen the act from beneath the piano bench.
And she no longer cared whether the Death Eaters killed her right then or if she lived a long miserable life. No matter what might happen, no matter what the future might hold, her life was over at the sight of his scared, betrayed, helpless, hopeless, lifeless body on the floor. And it certainly didn't help—or even matter—that Dumbledore, still in the middle of the room with his arch nemesis, fell to the floor moments later just as dead as James and many others in the church were.
"Merlin," she murmured as the tears poured down her cheeks, "somebody kill me already." And the many flashes of green light told her that she would be dead soon, and, then, suddenly she was.
As Lily rushed into the Great Hall at the end of breakfast with Elle at her heels, she noticed James and Mary sitting together without the other Marauders except Peter, whom eagerly followed him anywhere. For some reason, Sirius and Remus were sitting at the opposite end of the Gryffindor table. Lily and Elle joined the two Marauders by themselves with curious looks in their faces.
"What's wrong with you guys? Why aren't you sitting with Pettigrew and Potter and his girlfriend?" asked Elle, pursing her lips and furrowing her brow in confusion.
Sirius almost laughed at the face she made, causing her to blush lightly, as he responded, "We've decided we're not talking to Prongs right now."
"He's being mean," whined Sirius.
Remus easily took over explaining in his stead. "Sirius and I agreed that, if he hadn't broken up with Atwood by the day we take the NEWTs, we weren't going to talk to him for a week. And, thus, we have begun that escapade."
"Merlin, NEWTs," groaned Lily. "Please don't remind me. I know I'm going to fail this."
"How could you fail?" asked Sirius incredulously. "That's ridiculous! You've studied since you found out you had to take them when we were in second year."
"Did Potter tell you what happened last night? That's why."
"No, actually, he didn't," replied Remus.
"Do tell," he said, changing his voice like Mary did when she was listening to a new bit of gossip.
Slowly and miserably, she told them, her voice as low as possible without them being unable to hear. Afterwards, they argued.
"How could you not tell him after that?" cried Sirius when she denied explaining her feelings after the kiss.
"I don't know. I just couldn't."
He took her left hand in his two from across the table and said, "Listen, Lily, you really have to tell him this. If you don't, I think you'll regret it forever. He loves you—he just won't say it because he's afraid that you'll hate him even more if he tells you."
Remus nodded in agreement at Sirius's words, despite how surprised he was that Sirius could actually speak such beautifully sincere and true words without cracking up and laughing like the maniac he really was. "He's tried for a long time," he continued. "Now it's your turn, Lily. You have to do this if you ever want to be able to be with him."
"Then, go get him already," snapped Elle. She pushed her friend away from the table and toward the area where James, Mary, and Peter still sat.
Anxiously, Lily made her way toward them, clicking her nails and biting her tongue nervously as she approached. When she stood behind the couple, she cleared her throat, gathering their attention, and said, "Excuse me, Potter. Sorry to interrupt your love fest, but Professor McGonagall would like to see us in her office." She was very thankful that their Head of House was currently not in the Great Hall, easily giving her an excuse to get him alone.
He agreed, kissing his girlfriend on the cheek before getting up and following her out of the Great Hall. When she stopped on the first landing of the grand staircase, he halted in confusion before she turned to him. "What's up, Evans?" he asked impatiently. "Don't we need to hurry to McGonagall?"
"She never asked for us. But I need to talk to you, James."
"What?" he asked again, startled by her use of his first name.
"I know you don't want to hear it, but you're going to anyway. We need to talk about last night—and everything else, too. I haven't been able to stop thinking about what's been happening. I keep wondering why you stopped asking me out and why you started dating a good friend of mine, but Sirius and Remus seem to think they know everything so they've been helping me. They've helped me realize that I don't have much time left to do this, so I have to do it now.
"Listen, James, I never meant to hurt you all those times when you asked me out, so I'm sorry for that. And I really have to thank you for trying to obey my wishes when you stopped, but that doesn't mean I wanted you to. You're not as horrible as I made you out to be, but that was just a defense mechanism. I was trying to hide from the fact that I actually have feelings for you beyond hatred or even friendship. I was also trying to hide from getting hurt because I really didn't think that you really cared about me, but I know now that was wrong of me to assume such a thing when I barely knew you.
"Well, I do know you now, and I know that you're a better person than I thought you were. I also know that my feelings for you are far beyond either hatred or friendship. This is very difficult for me, so I apologize if I'm stalling," she said, her voice quickening on the last sentence.
She took a deep breath and continued, "Well, I have to do this now to get it over with. James Potter, I've fallen in love with you. I know that you're with Mary now, but I just need you to know because, if I didn't tell you, I know I'd regret it for the rest of my life." Desperately, she lamely ended with, "Please just say something!"
But James didn't know what to say. He was suddenly scared and confused and angry and frustrated and yet also extremely happy. So many emotions came over him that he didn't realize what he was doing until it was too late to stop.
When Mary and Peter came out of the Great Hall to prepare for the NEWTs, they saw Lily and James in the midst of a steamy kiss that neither of them intended on ending until Mary's scream echoed through the school, gathering a crowd and (most importantly) Elle, Sirius, and Remus, who all were quite happy and excited by the sight of the fated lovers in each other's arms. It was rather obvious to the rest of the school, Mary included, that she was no longer in the picture and her relationship with James was completely over. Elle was so happy that she grabbed the nearest person (who just so happened to be Sirius) and kissed him.
The Marauders, Lily, and Elle gathered around the hearth in the common room at midnight, feeling quite good about the day and their NEWT scores, Lily especially, who had been extremely frightened of failing them quite miserably. Remus and Peter played a game of chess in the firelight as the other four watched on happily. Sirius and Elle sat hand in hand, glancing back and forth between and making faces at each other until they finally started to snog on the sofa in the middle of their little circle of friends.
Lily pulled away from the group, edging her way toward the window with a grin upon her face. She looked up at the cloudless sky, thankful that there was nothing to block her view as she searched out the constellation bearing the star Sirius, which twinkled down at her.
She giggled lightly as two arms encircled her waist and she leaned back against her newfound love and boyfriend, James Potter. "Hey, you," he murmured into her ear lovingly. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, I'm just thanking my lucky stars," she said with a large smile spread across her beautiful face, "that I have you—all of you." She heard him pout and quickly added, "But you especially, so don't you dare worry about that. Well, I love Elle about as much as I love you, so you don't get to beat her, but I think you'll get over that."
"No, I won't."
Her laugh tinkled in the breeze coming in from the cool spring night as she turned around to look him in the eye, and she said, "You're already over it, so shut up and kiss me, James."
Well, that's the end of this story! I hope you enjoyed it.