The Start of Something Special.
Summary- Everyone knows that Lily Evans couldn't stand James Potter when they were at school together. So what made her change her mind so much that she eventually agreed to marry him?
Lily Evans, 7th Year Gryffindor and Head Girl, was leaning against the wall in the corridor outside the Charms classroom with her three closest friends, Branwen Morgan, Emma Adams and Beth Acosta.
Most of the students used to find it strange that they were such good friends, as they didn't seem to have much in common at all. By their third year however, people were used to seeing them together all the time and they forgot about the differences in character that had, before, been so evident.
Branwen was a timid, hopeless romantic from Mid Wales who came from a Muggle family and who barely said a word to anyone during her first few weeks at Hogwarts. Once she became friends with the other Gryffindor girls she began to come out of her shell but still remained relatively quiet around people she didn't know well.
Beth on the other hand was the joker of the group, always beaming, laughing and coming up with practical jokes that could almost give the Marauders a run for their money. Her mother was Spanish and Beth had inherited her exotic beauty. Thanks to her tall, willowy figure, mesmerizing deep brown eyes, long, sleek black hair and clear olive complexion she had many admirers throughout Hogwarts but she wasn't interested in any of them. The only guy she was interested in was her boyfriend of six months, Sirius Black.
Emma was very athletic and obsessed with Quidditch. She supported the Holyhead Harpies and had played on the Gryffindor House Team since her fourth year and always had some new piece of gossip to share.
Then there was Lily. A model student, very hard working and well behaved, who was first made Prefect, and then Head Girl. Lily was the calm, rational one her friends turned to for practical advice.
Yes, they were a strange group of friends, Lily thought as she watched them laughing at a story Beth was telling them, but she would definitely miss them when they all left Hogwarts for the last time next July.
A noise from the other end of the corridor interrupted Lily's thoughts. Looking up she saw James Potter and Sirius Black strolling down the corridor discussing Puddlemere United's latest match at the top of their voices. They were two people that Lily would certainly not miss!
Sirius approached Beth, wrapped an arm around her waist and greeted her with a kiss while James sauntered up to Lily. "Afternoon Evans."
"Afternoon Potter," she replied coolly.
"So, Hogsmeade trip tomorrow."
"I know," replied Lily shortly before turning back to her friends, silently begging one of them to start speaking so James wouldn't but they all simply grinned at her, too amused to help her.
"Well I was wondering if you wanted to meet up with me. We could go and get a drink at the Three Broomsticks."
"And why would I want to do that? Actually forget I asked that. I really don't have time to listen as you list your virtues," and with this she followed the rest of the students into the Charms classroom, stopping briefly by the door to add, "However short that list is."
"Bad luck mate," said Sirius, slapping a crestfallen James on the back as they entered the class.
By the time Branwen, Beth and Emma had sat down in their seats Lily had all her equipment out and ready, was sitting ramrod straight and refusing to meet James's eye.
"Do you really have to be quite so harsh Lils?" Emma asked, pulling her text book out of her bag.
"After all he must really like you. He's had years of you rejecting him and yet he's still not given up. Is he really even that bad?" asked Beth.
"Yes he's that bad," hissed Lily. "He's immature and arrogant and so conceited, the way he struts around as if he owns the place and-"
"Ok, we get the message," interrupted Branwen as Emma rolled her eyes.
"But is he really all those things?" Beth asked. Lily opened her mouth but Beth kept talking. "Hear me out. A few years ago I'd have agreed with you but last year he changed. Gradually enough that it was hard to notice but he has changed. He's matured more than you'll give him credit."
"And he is rather good looking," added Emma with a dreamy look on her face. The other three girls looked at each other for a moment before bursting into giggles that they quickly stifled at a stern look from Professor Flitwick.
"Oh shut it!" Emma muttered, red in the face.
"Just think about what I said," Beth said before turning her attention to the notes they were copying.
Lily tried to focus as Professor Flitwick explained the principles of the Protean Charm but she couldn't stop thinking about what Beth had said. James had seemed different last year now that she thought about it. Less childish and cocky and more mature and thoughtful. He had even been made Head Boy although he hadn't been a Prefect first. And Emma had a point, he was quite good looking.
She suddenly jerked, smudging her notes, as she realised what she had just thought and inwardly thanked any god that was listening that she hadn't said it out loud. Her friends would never have let her live it down.
Lily forced all these thoughts out of her head and focused on what Professor Flitwick was saying. About halfway through the lesson Professor McGonagall entered and asked to speak to Professor Flitwick outside. After a few minutes they came back in.
"Miss Evans, can you come with me please?" McGonagall asked.
Shoving her book, parchment and quill back in her bag and shrugging at her friends questioning glances she stood up and followed her Head of House out of the classroom.
"If you'll follow me, Professor Dumbledore would like to speak to you."
They walked in silence through the corridors until they reached the gargoyle which guarded Dumbledore's office. After McGonagall uttered the password ("liquorice allsorts") they stepped onto the spiral staircase and were soon in Dumbledore's office.
"Ahh, thank you Minerva. Please take a seat Lily," Dumbledore said gravely.
Lily felt very uneasy as she sat down. She had never seen Dumbledore look so somber.
As he studied her over his half-moon spectacles Lily felt a feeling of dread settle into the pit of her stomach.
"There was a Death Eater attack in the early hours of the morning in Spinner's End," said Dumbledore.
Lily gasped. 'Not them', she repeated silently in her head. 'Please let them be alright.'
"I'm afraid your parents were killed," Dumbledore continued softly. "I'm deeply sorry."
Lily was vaguely aware that Dumbledore was still talking but his words were drowned out by the rushing in her ears. Her mind went blank and she felt numb all over. She didn't know what to do or say. Part of her wanted to shout and scream and cry but she didn't. She simply sat still, staring at her clasped hands in her lap.
Dumbledore's clear blue eyes, void of their usual sparkle, took in her vacant gaze and ashen face and knew that she should really go to the hospital wing.
A few minutes later and Lily was sitting on a bed in the hospital wing and Dumbledore was standing in the office of Madam Pomfrey, the school nurse, informing her of what had happened.
After letting Madam Pomfrey know that he would be back later to talk to Lily, Dumbledore left the hospital wing. The nurse approached Lily with two cups in her hand. Giving her one that was half filled with a bright blue liquid she said, "Drink this down, dear."
Grimacing at the sour taste, Lily drank it quickly and handed the cup back and then took the second one that was offered to her.
"There you go. A nice cup of hot chocolate. Now-" Madam Pomfrey stopped as the door opened and a boy limped in with two of his friends. "You start drinking that and I'll be back in a minute."
The blue potion had obviously been something for shock as Lily no longer felt numb and could think clearly. The only thoughts that ran through her head were that her parents were dead.
Before long she had tears streaming down her face but she didn't do anything to check them. Ignoring the drink in her hands she simply stared, unseeing, at the wall opposite her.
A few minutes later Madam Pomfrey came bustling over, muttering disapprovingly about first years and broomsticks, but as she caught sight of Lily those thoughts were driven from her mind.
Placing the cup of hot chocolate on the bedside table she sat down next to Lily and wrapped her arms around her. They sat like this in silence for some time. Lily unable to even form any coherent thoughts let alone say them and Madam Pomfrey knowing that there was nothing she could say right now that would help.
After a while her tears slowed down and then Madam Pomfrey spoke.
"I need to go and speak to Professor Slughorn about some potions I need replenishing. Will you be alright if I leave you on your own for a few minutes?"
"Alright," Madam Pomfrey said, standing up. "I won't be long."
The bell rang signifying the end of the last lesson of the day and most of the students hurried up to their dorms to get rid of their bags and then went for dinner.
Beth, Emma and Branwen, however, lingered by their desks as the rest of their classmates filed out before approaching Professor McGonagall.
"Professor, we were wondering if you knew where Lily is?"
She put down the pile of essays she had just collected with a sigh. "I believe she's in the hospital wing. There was a Death Eater attack in the night and I'm afraid her parents were killed."
Branwen's eyes filled with tears and Beth wrapped a shaking arm around her shoulders while Emma gave a shuddering gasp.
"I'm sorry girls."
The three seventh years muttered their goodbyes and headed up to the hospital wing.
Lily was lying curled up on the bed in the hospital wing, tears still silently dripping down her face.
Madam Pomfrey was talking to the first year that had come in earlier, every now and then shooting a worried look at Lily when Beth, Emma and Branwen entered.
"We've come to see Lily. Professor McGonagall told us what happened."
Madam Pomfrey gave a small, sad smile, said, "Of course," and pointed to Lily's bed.
Lily sat up as she saw her friends approaching.
"Hey Lils," Beth said.
"Hey," Lily replied in a small, lost voice.
"We're so sorry," said Branwen, as she sat down next to Lily. Emma sat on her other side and Beth crouched in front of her and they shared a four-way hug.
When they pulled apart Branwen's cheeks were damp with tears as well as Lily's and Emma and Beth both seemed close to tears.
"Thanks you guys," said Lily, in a slightly stronger voice than before.
"Don't mention it," said Emma.
Madam Pomfrey came over. "If you want to go back to your common room you can. As long as you promise me you'll have some dinner this evening. You may not feel hungry but you need to look after yourselves. All of you," she added, giving them all a mock stern glare.
"We will," they assured her.
None of them felt very hungry so they decided to forgo the Great Hall and dinner and went straight up to the common room which was empty.
"I might just go and lie down upstairs for a bit. I feel quite tired," said Lily.
"Do you want us to come up as well?"
"No, it's alright. I'd rather be on my own for a bit if you don't mind."
"Course we don't. Just yell if you want anything."
"Thanks," replied Lily, before disappearing up the stairs to their dorm.
Emma flopped down into a chair by the unlit fire and said in a wobbly voice, "I can't believe this is happening. And what must Lily be going through?"
"I know," said Beth as Branwen nodded her agreement.
The three friends sat talking together, trying to keep their minds off of what had happened and were oblivious to the common room slowly filling up around them until James, Sirius, Remus and Peter came and sat down around them.
Sirius took one look at the girls' somber faces and exclaimed jokingly, "What's wrong with you lot? You look as if someone's died!"
The group of seventh years were silent for a moment and then with a dry sob Branwen ran to the stairs leading to the dorms and disappeared up them.
Emma shot Sirius a look of utter contempt before following Branwen up the stairs.
"What's going on?" Sirius asked, slightly worried, moving to sit next to Beth. "What's happened?"
"Lily's parents have been killed in a Death Eater attack," Beth replied.
"Nice one Sirius," Peter muttered dryly.
"Oh God, I can't believe I just said that."
"It's alright, you weren't to know," said Beth, leaning her head against Sirius's shoulder tiredly.
Sirius didn't look convinced but decided not to argue.
"How's Evans?" James asked.
Beth shrugged. "She's barely said a word. When we got back from the hospital wing she asked to be left alone for a bit."
"Well, will you tell her-" James stopped, unsure how to continue, then after a moment's pause he said, "Just tell her we're really sorry and that, you know, she doesn't have to worry about our Head duties. I'll take care of them all."
"Sure. I'm going to go up now so I'll see you all later," Beth replied. She kissed Sirius and then headed up the stairs to the seventh year dorm. Opening the door she saw Branwen and Lily sitting at the head of Lily's bed, Emma sitting at the foot and a pile of sweets in the middle.
"Beth did you know Nigel Owen has a new girlfriend?" asked Emma as Beth sat down next to her. Nigel Owen was the fifth seventh year Gryffindor boy and was almost as highly sought after so the girls of Hogwarts as James and Sirius watched any developments in his love life watched eagerly and obsessively by most of the female students.
"Yeah, that Gryffindor sixth year, what's her name? Um… Briony Smith. James told me last week."
"You mean you all knew and you didn't tell me. I had to overhear some midgets talking about it in the toilet," huffed Emma.
"We assumed you knew." "We're very sorry we didn't tell you." "Although you do realise you're losing your touch Em," they all teased.
Emma reached for a chocolate frog, ignoring her friends' teasing and pretending to be annoyed, but in reality she was just happy they had made Lily smile and laugh.
The pile of sweets slowly diminished as they sat trading snippets of gossip they had heard around the school lately. Lily tried to act as she normally would but she was just so emotionally drained from the day she had had that she simply lay back against the headboard and listened to her friends chatting.
The other three noticed her silence and the overwhelming sadness in her deep green eyes, that slowly manifested itself into tears which trickled down her face.
"Oh Lils," sighed Branwen, pulling her into a hug. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Lily shook her head.
"You need to let it out or else it'll just eat you up inside," said Emma.
"I know and I will talk about it but not yet, I'm just not ready," Lily replied softly, not catching any of her friends eyes'.
"Alright. But we're here for you when you're ready to talk."
They had been up there for about an hour when there was a knock on the door.
"Come in," called Beth.
Professor Dumbledore walked in. "I'm sorry to disturb you but I was wondering if I could talk to Miss Evans alone for a moment."
Beth, Emma and Branwen quickly and quietly left the room. Dumbledore sat down on the bed next to Lily's, Branwen's, as Lily pushed herself up and turned to face him, her legs crossed beneath her.
Staring at her hands Lily could feel Dumbledore's eyes studying her, and she knew she looked a mess, her clothes and hair were all crumpled and messy from her short sleep earlier and her face was all red and blotchy from crying, but she didn't have the energy to care.
"How are you feeling?"
Lily reluctantly raised her eyes to meet his, but instead of seeing the pity that she had been dreading she saw only sympathy and compassion. She thought for a moment, trying to figure out how to put the way she was feeling into words, but in the end she simply shrugged. "I don't know."
"That's understandable. I just came up to see how you were and to see if you had any questions now that you've had time to come to terms with what's happened."
"This afternoon you didn't mention my sister at all. She lives with… well, lived with-" her voice trailed away.
"I have since been informed that she was staying with friends and so is perfectly unharmed," replied Dumbledore.
"Right." She paused, and when she spoke again her voice had obtained a steely tone. "Were they caught? The Death Eaters that did it?"
"I'm afraid not. They Apparated away before the Aurors arrived."
Lily looked away from Dumbledore but not before he saw the hatred in her eyes.
"Do you really want to waste your energy on thoughts of hatred and revenge?" he asked softly.
Blushing slightly at being so easy to read Lily said angrily, "I just feel like it's my fault. I can't stop thinking that if I wasn't a witch they wouldn't have been attacked and then I think that I should have been there to protect them since it's my fault, I brought magic into their lives after all." Her throat constricted and tears welled up in her eyes but she briskly wiped them away before carrying on in a softer voice. "Since I failed to protect them I feel like I have to avenge them."
"Lily, I want you to listen to me carefully," Dumbledore said in a firm but kind voice. "What happened was not your fault. Voldemort didn't target your hometown because a witch came from there. Some Wizards and Witches are obsessed with 'blood purity'. Unfortunately you may have already experienced that first hand. But people like Voldemort and his followers take it to the extreme. They thrive on people's anguish and misery and love to cause sorrow and destruction, not caring who they hurt in the process."
Lily nodded but said nothing, her eyes on fixed on Dumbledore.
"And if you had been there the only likely difference would be one more name on the list of victims of this war and more people would be mourning the loss of a loved one."
Lily stayed silent but Dumbledore was pleased to see that his words seemed to have slightly lessened the guilt and pain that had been so evident in her eyes. She opened her mouth as if to say something and then abruptly shut it, paused for a moment and then asked, "Will I be able to go to the…to the funeral?"
"Of course," replied Dumbledore. He then began to explain the arrangements that had been made for her to go to her Grandmother's as soon as she was ready but Lily was no longer listening. Her eyes were swimming with tears and the sob that had been rising up inside her since she had been told the news was now fighting to get out of her.
A stifled cry escaped her lips and she forced herself to take deep breaths and calm down, willing herself not to cry in front of her Headmaster.
When Dumbledore saw that she was struggling not to break down he got up and moved to sit next to her, putting an arm around her shoulders. She stiffened at the touch, feeling terribly embarrassed but within seconds her shaky resolve crumbled and she leant against him and openly wept.
After a while, when it felt as if she had no more tears left, she pulled away and stared down at her hands, the feeling of acute embarrassment beginning to return.
Dumbledore didn't say anything, which she was thankful for. Sneaking a glance at him she saw he wasn't even looking at her. He was, however, holding a box of tissues out towards her.
Murmuring her thanks she took a few and started drying her face as a calm, numbness washed over her. After a deep sigh she looked up at him and said, "I'm sorry."
"Don't apologise for crying, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Nor is asking for help. The coming weeks and months are going to be terribly hard but you're not alone," Dumbledore said, emphasising the last few words. "There are many people here, teachers and students alike, who would be only to happy to help you, all you have to do is ask. No-one will think any less of you."
Lily nodded, "I know," she said softly.
"Good," Dumbledore replied. Giving her a swift, searching look he was glad to see that his words seemed to have given her some comfort. "If I've managed to answer all your questions then I'll leave you now. Remember, when you're ready to leave come up to my office, the password is liquorice allsorts."
"Ok." Lily watched as he crossed the dormitory and opened the door before she suddenly called out, "Professor."
He turned back to her with a questioning glance. "Yes?"
"Thank you," she replied with a small smile.
"You're quite welcome."
Lily returned to Hogwarts three days after the funeral and although she tried to act as though she was coping it was obvious that she wasn't.
The dark circles under her eyes, which were getting darker and more pronounced by the day, and her pale, haggard appearance were testament to the fact that, even after three weeks, she was still not eating or sleeping properly.
She had become quiet and withdrawn and her schoolwork was also starting to suffer.
The dorm was silent except for the soft, steady breathing of the four sleeping girls. Suddenly the girl in the bed nearest the window shot up with a gasp. Panting for breath her eyes flickered round the darkened room and as she realised where she was she gave a sigh and ran a shaking hand through her hair.
She reached over to check the time on her watch and fell back against the pillow with a stifled groan. It was only five past two! She knew that however hard she tried she would never get back to sleep now.
Lying in the darkness, listening to her heart pounding she couldn't stop the images that had been tormenting her every night for the last few weeks pressing against her eyes.
Flames. Dead bodies. Destroyed buildings. Her parents begging for mercy on the floor of their ruined family home. Nameless Death Eaters towering over them, wands in hands and glee in their faces. Her parents' lifeless bodies left to rot, the expressions of terror etched on their faces for evermore.
Lily couldn't breath. The images were surrounding her. She wanted to cry out but didn't want to wake up the other girls. She had to get out of there. Sliding her slippers on and grabbing her dressing gown she ran across the dorm and down the stairs.
She stopped abruptly in the entrance to the common room. She had expected to find it empty but instead four of the people she least wanted to see, especially in the state she was in, were sprawled out on the sofas and chairs surrounding the dying fire.
They all looked up quickly at the noise but were surprised into silence at the sight of Lily, her hair dishevelled, her eyes shining with tears and her lower lip trembling slightly.
Uncomfortable at their stares and wishing to be alone she fled across the common room and out the portrait hole as swiftly as she could, ignoring the cry of "Evans, wait," from one of the Marauders.
She carried on walking, unaware of where her feet were taking her until she felt a draught of cold air on her face and realised she was in the Astronomy tower.
Unaware of the tears that were steadily dripping down her cheeks onto the stone ledge below Lily leant against the window ledge and looked out over the undisturbed, silvery grounds below with unseeing eyes.
The visions from her nightmare began to recede but her tears did not. Slowly her knees gave way and she slid down to the floor. Hugging her legs to her chest she let out a sob.
Suddenly she heard the noise of someone climbing the stairs. The door slowly opened and James Potter's head appeared in the gap.
Lily wiped her eyes and jumped up. "What are you doing here? Did you follow me?"
"Yes. You're upset, I didn't think you should be alone right now."
"Right. Well you've done your chivalrous deed for the day and made sure I'm not going to do anything stupid so now you can go."
"I'm not going anywhere," said James, sounding totally unaffected by the anger in Lily's voice.
"Fine, I'll go," replied Lily, crossing the circular room. James quickly moved to block the doorway.
"No. You can't keep running away from what's happened. I know you've been through a lot lately but that doesn't give you the right to act so unbelievably selfish," he exclaimed.
She was totally still for a moment. Then, she slapped him with all her might and hissed, "Selfish? How dare you? I've lost my parents because some madman was so disgusted by their 'dirty blood'," her voice dripped with sarcasm, "and lack of magic that he ordered them to be killed in the most brutal, bloodthirsty way imaginable. Not only that but I know that as long as that man exists my life is in danger for the same reason. So don't you dare try and pretend you know what I'm going through." She was shaking with suppressed anger.
"You're right I don't know what you're going through," replied James and Lily was so taken aback by the venom in his voice that she took a step back from him but he didn't notice, he just carried on. "But I do know what it's like to lose members of my family because they spoke out against the way that man treated people like your parents. I also know what it's like to have parents who risk their lives daily to fight against Voldemort and his followers. You're not the only one who's been affected by this war you know."
Lily turned and slowly walked back to the window ledge still shaking slightly as James gingerly touched his cheek, wincing as he did so. He opened his mouth a couple of time as if to speak but then simply closed it again.
Lily broke the silence. "I'm sorry I slapped you."
"I'm sorry I called you selfish. It was totally uncalled for, it's just I'm worried about you. We all are, we want to help you but your pushing everyone away."
She gave a sigh. "I just - I don't know how to talk about it to anyone. And even if I did, everyone's got their own worries and problems without me piling mine on them as well."
James joined her at the windowsill and said, "I really don't think anyone would mind, you know. I guess it must have been a lot easier to talk with your family, you've got a sister who's around the same age as us haven't you?"
Lily gave a short humourless laugh. "Petunia was the reason I came back so quickly after the funeral. We were really close until my Hogwarts letter arrived. She was so upset that I was coming here and she couldn't come that she began to dislike anything to do with magic. It didn't take long for that to turn to full blown hatred."
She paused and ran a hand through her tousled hair. "From the minute I arrived at my Grandparent's she made it quite clear that she blamed me for what happened-"
"What? How can she think it was your fault?"
"Petunia doesn't understand our world. As far as she's concerned the only reason our village was attacked was because I'm a witch and," a couple of tears trickled down her cheeks, "she had no problem letting me know how she felt," Lily's voice wavered and died as she leant her head in her hands.
James stared speechlessly at her, shocked that anyone could be so cruel and malicious, especially to someone as warm-hearted and friendly as Lily who never had a cruel word to say to anyone. Then he hesitantly placed a hand on her back and, feeling slightly uncomfortable, started rubbing small circles.
After a moment Lily stood back up, sniffing. "I'm turning into a human hosepipe," she muttered, with an embarrassed smile. "I even cried on Dumbledore's shoulder the other week."
James started laughing and even Lily gave a small giggle.
The pair grew silent again. James wanted to broach the subject of Lily's behaviour since her return from her family's but he didn't want to upset her again so he stayed silent. He didn't realise that Lily had been studying him until she spoke.
"What is it?"
"Am I that easy to read? It's just I know you're still grieving, and I'm not for a moment trying to say you shouldn't," he quickly reassured her, "but the thing is you can't go on like this. You're not eating, you're not sleeping and it's just not healthy. Everyone's worried about you but we don't know how to help you."
"I know," she replied, sounding weary beyond measure. "And I've tried, I have tried to open up about it and move on but then I get this terrible feeling that I'm betraying their memory and forgetting them."
"You know that you're never going to forget your parents and I'm sure that they wouldn't see you living your life properly as betraying their memory. Especially if it means you're well and happy and not dwelling on what's happened," James said, looking out the window.
The moon slowly disappeared behind a cloud leaving the room even darker than before. Lily's eyes never left James's face as she thought about his words and shortly, feeling her gaze on him, James turned back to her.
"What is it?" he asked. "What?" he repeated, beginning to feel slightly uncomfortable with her continued staring.
"I don't understand you. I don't think I've ever said a nice word to you all the time I've known you. Most of the time I'm downright rude-"
James began to speak, "Yeah but I usually deserve it-" but Lily interrupted him.
"No, you don't. And after everything I've ever said to you you're up here making sure I'm alright even though it's not your problem and it would have been quite understandable if you had simply ignored me."
"I know you think I'm an arrogant show-off who doesn't think about anyone but myself, and I admit a few years ago you would have been completely right, but I'm not like that anymore," said James, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.
"I know. I think I've realised for quite a while how different you've become, I just didn't want to admit it. It was easier to pretend nothing had changed."
"Well what do you say we have a fresh start? If nothing else it'll make this year go a lot easier if we can get along."
"Alright," Lily replied, a small smile gracing her face.
"James Potter, an only child, seventh year Gryffindor and Head Boy at Hogwarts. It's a pleasure to meet you," said James grinning and holding out his hand.
Lily laughed, the first real laugh in weeks, and shook his hand. "Lily Evans, also a seventh year Gryffindor and Head Girl at Hogwarts." She paused, "What were you…" then trailed off. "Never mind."
"No go on, what?"
"I was going to ask what you were still doing up when I came down to the common room but then I decided it was probably safer not to ask."
James laughed. "You're probably right. I guess we should get back."
Lily nodded, trying to stifle a yawn. "At least it's only Saturday tomorrow, no need to get up early."
"You're alright, I've got Quidditch practice at eight tomorrow morning," James grumbled good naturedly as they left the tower, his hand in the small of her back gently guiding her in the darkness.
The dormitory was filled with a warm, drowsy silence. There were clothes and books scattered haphazardly all over the place and the duvet on the bed next to the door was trailing onto the floor. Three of the four beds were empty but the fourth had a person in, still sleeping. All that could be seen of the girl was her long auburn hair spread out on her pillow.
Slowly stirring, Lily became aware of the silence of the room, the heavy comforting warmth of the duvet wrapped around her and the soft winter sunlight shining on her face. She wondered what the time was and how long she had slept for but was too warm and cozy to move and look at her watch.
As she lay there her mind wandered back to the conversation with James last night. He was right, it was time she moved on with her life. After all there were people in the world who were suffering far more than she was who just got on with things and never complained.
Reluctantly she pulled the duvet off and sat up. The watch on her bedside table showed the time to be twenty-five minutes past twelve. Next to her watch was a photo frame, face down. Her hand brushed it and then withdrew and then after a moments thought she reached out again and grabbed it. Slowly turning it over she revealed a photo of her and her parents taken the summer before last. It had been turned over for the last few weeks because she had been unable to cope with the constant reminder of them and as she looked at it she felt the familiar ache in her chest that almost brought tears to her eyes.
She hugged the photo frame to her chest for a few moments then stood it back up on her bedside table. Collecting some clothes she padded over to the bathroom and twenty minutes later re-emerged feeling slightly more awake, her damp hair curling around her shoulders. Branwen's cat Tigger was now curled up on Branwen's pillow and he gave a small meow when he saw her.
"Hey Tigg'," she said sitting down next to him and scratching him behind the ears, which caused him to purr contentedly. "The others will have gone to lunch by now I expect," she muttered to herself.
At this Tigger fixed her with a stern look that was eerily reminiscent of Branwen when she wasn't happy about something.
"Don't look at me like that," she mumbled. "I know I should go down too."
"Did Lily not want to come down?" Emma asked. She had just come in from Quidditch practice looking dirty and dishevelled. "Pass the sausages Sirius, I'm starving."
"Actually she was still fast asleep when we left her so we thought it best not to disturb her," replied Branwen.
"Well that's good. She needs all the sleep she can get at the moment."
"Still, I wish she'd just talk to us about it, it's clear that she's not coping with it on her own," said Beth wearily.
Sirius, who had overheard their conversation, turned to James about to speak but James cut him off with a shake of the head and a look that clearly said 'Later' and carried on eating. None of the girls noticed this interaction.
Lily lurked outside the Great Hall just out of sight of anyone inside for a few moments. Listening to the laughter and chatter of the students she wondered if perhaps it would just be easier to head back upstairs and get some food from the kitchens later. Stopping this train of thought before it could develop any further she silently berated herself and vowed to stop ignoring her problems in the hope that they would go away.
She abruptly entered the Great Hall before her nerve failed. Finding her friends about halfway down the Gryffindor table she went over to them and sat down next to Emma.
"Oh! Hi Lils," said Emma, surprise evident in her voice. After all it normally took endless amounts of coaxing to persuade Lily to come down to the Great Halls at mealtimes.
"How you feeling today?" Branwen asked.
Lily thought for a moment. "Really good actually, thanks," she replied, shooting a quick smile at James who was sitting almost opposite her.
Branwen glanced at Beth who simply shrugged, smiled and started helping herself to her second portion of chocolate cake.
"How was practice?" Lily asked Beth.
"Not bad after we actually got started," replied Beth, looking pointedly at James.
"I guess I'm not the only one that slept in this morning then?" Lily asked laughingly, looking at James.
James grinned ruefully. "What can I say? I had a busy night last night."
Branwen nearly dropped the spoon she was holding, were Lily Evans and James Potter actually talking civilly to each other and even laughing and joking? She looked at Beth and Emma and saw they looked as confused as she felt and knew that she her eyes weren't deceiving her.
Lily didn't notice their confusion and started to eat when she felt eyes on her. She looked up and saw that Dumbledore was watching her from the Head Table with a smile. She smiled back, thinking that perhaps things might be all right after all, and went back to her apple pie.