A/N: So, I haven't updated forever, but here's chapter 6. There are two ways to get me to upload faster, which are a.) leave lots of reviews, and b.) somehow make my schedule not busy. Good luck with that. Anyways, I was in a car for 14 hours total these past few days, so I had some time on my hands. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to J. K. Rowling.
Oh! And if you are a beta or know a beta, this story is currently un-beta-ed. So help would be appreciated. Thanks!
6.) Don't Just Sit There, Do Something
Sirius gave James space during the last week of break, hoping that he would come to his senses if given enough time to think. But if anything, James had shut himself off even more, avoiding all human contact. Sirius didn't even see him eat, though he knew that James must've since he hadn't lost any weight.
Mrs. Potter gave up the pretense of normalcy once Sirius found her in the garage with tears streaming down her face as she stared at Mr. Potter's workbench. Together, they planned the funeral for the Saturday before the boys left for Hogwarts, with the visitation the night before.
James felt an overwhelming resentment towards everyone who came to the visitation. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to strangers who had known his dad once and assumed that they knew how he felt. Since his mum was watching him like a hawk when she wasn't too busy accepting condolences, he was on his best behavior, talking long enough that he wouldn't be considered rude, but always making excuses when the conversation got too awkward or personal.
Remus and Peter came down and stayed with the Potters at Sirius' request. He desperately needed help taking care of Mrs. Potter and knew that James needed the extra support, support that Sirius was too emotionally drained to give himself.
The funeral was a quiet affair, but crowded. Mr. Potter had been well-loved in life, even if people only really showed it now that he was dead. The speaker noticed this, gently chastising the assembly to treasure every moment they had with their loved ones. James wanted to be mad at him, too, but found too much truth in his words to really conjure up any righteous anger.
Two of Mr. Potter's fellow Aurors lowered his casket into the ground and presented Mrs. Potter with the Medal of Valor awarded to those who had fallen in battle. James tried to remain listless throughout the ceremony, choosing numbness over pain. He only showed emotion twice – he started when he saw Lily's red in hair in the crowd, and then three tears found their way down his cheeks as the speaker intoned, "Of dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return."
The train ride back to Hogwarts was tense. Sirius slumped in the corner, catching up on much-needed sleep. Remus and Peter kept up a steady stream of justice to fight back the overbearing silence. They tried to draw James in to the conversation but to no avail; he answered in monosyllables, if at all. When the trolley came, Remus woke Sirius up and all three of them forced James to eat two Pumpkin Pasties and a Chocolate Frog. He spent the rest of the train ride methodically tearing the Circe card up into tiny shreds.
When the train came to a stop, Sirius and Remus hung back, asking Peter to keep an eye on James.
"We have to do something," Sirius said immediately. "He's going to waste away into nothing at this rate."
"It isn't our place to interfere," Remus argued. "He probably just needs time. I mean, he just lost his father. I wouldn't want to talk to anyone, either."
"It's not just that, though," Sirius exclaimed, pacing around the compartment. "It's like he doesn't want to be happy ever again. He's a self-created Dementor. I don't think this is just a phase, Remus," he said in a low voice. "It's been weeks and nothing has changed. We've got to help him."
"But how? I mean, you've been trying for weeks, and nothing's worked. What else can we do except be there when he's ready to talk? Or are you suggesting we torture it out of him?" He raised an eyebrow. "The point is, we can't help him if he doesn't want to be helped."
"Yeah, torture's a bad idea," Sirius sighed. "We just want him to be happy again."
"Wait." Remus had the same look in his eye as he did when he'd solved a particularly nasty Arithmancy problem. "What makes James happiest?"
"Quidditch," Sirius replied promptly.
"From what you told me about winter break, that didn't help. Though maybe it was a good outlet, getting rid of all that pent-up aggression, so that he only took it out on you once." He shook his head. "Anyways, come on, what else makes him happy? We need to show him something worth living for."
"Evans," breathed Sirius, a slow grin spreading across his face. "Do you think she'll help us?"
"I think she must have warmed up to James, at least a little bit. You saw her at the funeral, right? But even before that, I was talking to her, trying to get her to at least be nice to him."
"So that's why she was calling him 'James'!"
Remus nodded. "So yeah, I reckon we stand a chance. Let's talk to her tonight in the Common Room. I expect James'll go straight up to the dorm."
"Can't you talk to Evans," Sirius whined. "She hates me!"
"You're as much a part of this as I am," scolded Remus. "Besides, I think she just finds you . . . overwhelming."
"Fine. But you do all the talking."
Dinner was just as painful as the train ride had been. James picked at his food the whole time, checked his watch every few minutes, and only spoke when spoken to. Without James, the Gryffindor tables were awfully quiet. Marlene McKinnon came over and flirted with Sirius, but he brushed her off.
"We definitely have to do something," Remus murmured in Sirius' ear. "You, not chasing after any girl who seems interested? His melancholy must be catching."
Sirius nodded, then shook his head like a dog to clear it. "I say we corner her right after supper."
Lily's attention had initially been drawn to the Marauder's end of the table by Remus and Sirius' furtive whispers, but she found herself noticing just how different James looked. Gone was the smirk that always graced his handsome features, gone was the mischievous glint in his hazel eyes. He'd even stopped messing up his hair. James looked like he had been cracked, and Lily intended to do something about it.