Marauders: The Beginning of the End

Chapter Six: For the Sake of Lily's Sanity

His breath caught in his chest. There were words stuck on the tip of his tongue. His brain was wracked in confusion. What the devil just happened? James thought to himself as he eyes grew wide with the touch of Lily's silky lips. And they did feel like fine silk, ones that you could spend hours caressing and kissing. Stop. James cried to himself. These thoughts, to him, were like drinking pure vertasium. And they were going to get him in trouble, quickly.

"Thank you. Thank you for saving my life."

If he could frame those very words in midair, he would've. Lily pulled away from James, her soft hand still on his cheek. Hazel eyes met vibrant green ones, full of life and sprite. They were enchanting, mystical, and alive. That was what mattered most right then. Lily was alive. And he'd never been so happy to see her. James continued to stare at her, unaware of the room still watching their every move. A hand of his own came up to touch one of her cheeks as he smiled back at her.

"I told you Evans," James smirked at her with a wicked glint in his eyes. "You can't get rid of the marauders that easily."

And with that James stood up gently, slipping out of her weakened grasp. He bent down just as gingerly to place a kiss on her forehead and forcing her back down against the pillows to rest. He gave her one last half-smile before he turned away and left the room, leaving Lily puzzled but grateful that nothing else had been said. She was tired, exhausted really. In a matter for thirty minutes she had been hounded and prodded but she could feel sleep tickling at the edge of her subconscious. But then the thought of sleep… What would she see? Vaguely she began to remember her dreams. Nightmares? Was it real? Her thoughts became mushed together and she was left with a headache to settle down with. Noticing her discomfort, Arianna pushed past the group of ministry folk still left in the room to come sit with her friend.

"Alright there Evans?" Arianna whispered.

Lily turned her head weakly to her friend. She gave a half-heartened smile that Arianna didn't buy. "Just a headache." Was all Lily said.

"Right."

"I'm okay," Lily whispered. "Just… I'm tired, but I don't want to sleep."

Arianna pulled Lily into her lap, letting the red head hug her waist as she played with her hair. There were tears threatening to spill over in the young witch's eyes. Arianna couldn't have that; she couldn't have Lily think the events were affecting her friends like it was. Or she would never tell them anything again. "Shhh… I've got you. Sleep Lily."

Yet just as Arianna had whispered the words had she caught the undertone of an older ministry witch complaining nearby. "Hmpf. The muggle-born thinks we'll just go away. Look at her! All cuddled up like a baby dragon. Thinks we won't question her! This is ridiculous, Argus! Do something! People died, Argus! She might've done it."

The good thing about being a teenager was that no one ever blamed her for shooting of her mouth in the fit of a temper. And if they did, it always chalked up to hormones and association with her misfit cousin. After hearing the older witch's comment, Arianna thought now was as good of a time as any to use her age to her advantage. Merlin's beard was she mad! 'The old hag! How dare she?!' Arianna snarled to herself. She then shot off the bed to stand at her full height of five foot six, and addressed the remaining ministry officials that had ignored her older cousin earlier. Lily might not have heard the comment but she did, and her temper was known to do some damage. "Alright gents," Arianna shouted. "Obviously you lot think you're entitled to stay. Visits over. Lily's not feeling well and she doesn't need you boneheads adding to her headache. Get lost and find something else to do with your miserable time." There was think Scottish accent that burst out of the young witch's mouth that had room full of the remainder of their friends gaping for the second time that hour. She didn't care, but she knew she'd have to answer for it later, being the nosy lot that they were. She was English for all her friends knew, a Scottish accent was going to raise eyebrows. "Well you heard me, out with you!"

"And who might you be to order us about?" Came the snide comment from an elderly witch, whom to Arianna, reminded her of the female version of their potions master, which induced vomit right at the sight of him. Suddenly she wasn't feeling very well either.

"My niece."

Thank Merlin for Uncle James! Arianna thought. The officials might have been causing them grief, but in reality, Arianna was a fifteen-year-old kid with nothing but her talents to back her in a fight. She wasn't a politician, and this certainly wasn't her house. James Sr. walked through the threshold enough to lean heavily on the door frame. He was a cool and collect man, never once could Arianna recall their Uncle every yelling or getting mad at her cousin, herself, or even the marauders amidst one of their ridiculous pranks. He was a man of even temper and humor. He enjoyed a good prank as much as his son. But he loved causing the ministry problems even more than that. Dressed in jeans and a v-neck t-shirt, James Sr. eyed the crowd of officials amusingly. He swirled his wand playfully between his fingers, never once dropping it. Never once breaking eye contact with the group. In that moment she knew exactly where her cousin learned to be so suave – from his near identical image of a father. Arianna rolled her eyes at him from behind the group but she would let her uncle do the crowd control – this time.

"That is my niece and that is my charge laying in that bed. And this is my house. So if my darling Arianna says Miss Evans is tired and does not feel well, you are to leave them be and find someone else to pester for the day." James' glared at the clearly annoyed officials. "Do I make myself clear ladies and gentlemen?"

"We have questions to ask her!" Cried another official in a matter of fact tone. This time a younger man with dorky glasses and a nasally accent spoke out to James. Arianna suspected this was the one named Argus. In his pressed dress robes of navy blue and lopsided hat he continued, "An investigation is to be made! Underage magic and dark magic mixed in the same area! Very sketchy. Reports of dementors and death eaters in the same night? Especially not far from the house of which was magicked to burn. What if this mudblood is one of them?! What if she put the dark mark-"

The room grew silent with no one paying attention to the brazen young man any longer. All eyes were now watching Lily. James and his mother had joined in the doorway to Lily's room as well, and they too paid the outburst of the ministry puppet no attention. As Lily lay in her bed, as sleep nearly took her away from all the snide comments, the sudden outburst of being accused of causing her parents deaths and others that night snapped Lily Marie Evans into a fit of fury. Though the young ministry official had ranted on to the Auror in front of him, he had yet to realize that Lily was slowly kicking back the blankets to her bed and throwing her legs over the side, letting her feet feel the soft texture of the rug and the coolness of the air wrap about her skinny legs. Arianna had tried to push her friend back into the bed but Lily shot her one angry look before trying to push herself up. Arianna sighed and rolled her eyes at Lily all the while helping her into a standing position, letting Lily put most of her weight on her. Besides the healers that were sent for, Arianna had been the only other person to see Lily's body afterwards. And knowing she had dressed Lily in mesh shorts and a tank top, Arianna knew the room was about to spin for everyone.

"Lily…"

James hadn't been the only one to whisper the red head's name, so did Remus and Sirius. The group of officials finally caught noticed that no one seemed to be listening to them, especially the young man. Slowly turning in their spots they all faced Lily. And one by one each let out a gasp, a moan, and a sigh at the sight of the girl's body. Lily, weak but angry and infuriated by the accusations, stood at her full height ignoring the pain of doing so. Her green eyes flashed and her face creased as she thought of the words she might say. Her body, riddled in burns and bruises stuck out like a sore thumb against her milky white skin. The pain she felt then was more than evident.

"Do you know I have a sister?" Lily snapped as she glared at the young man in the dress robes. "She's twenty-two, about your age. Forgive me, you look young. And stupid."

"I beg your-"

"Did you know," Lily talked over the outranged man. "My mother and father were murdered in front of me. Did you know, I watched them bleed out on the kitchen tile as man in a mask held me in place with his wand to my neck? Did you know, Voldemort is recruiting muggleborns of intelligence?" Lily swayed in her spot, holding tighter onto her friend. She groaned slightly at the wave of pain that came over her.

"Enough Lily…" Arianna whispered, letting a tear sneak away down her cheek.

"No." Lily growled. "If you have the audacity to call me names then at least know the pain I felt laying on that kitchen floor, almost burning alive. If you don't believe me there's a pensive around here with the memory of that night." Lily breathed, choking up on her words. They softened as she finished her rant. "If you don't believe me, my parents are in a morgue somewhere so my sister can mourn them properly.

The young man froze, staring horrified at Lily. Perhaps he never thought the young witch would challenge their authority. He clearly didn't know Evans. "I don't study dark magic, and I never will. I would have willing died before I became one of them. Is that enough of an answer for you, Sir?"

Lily fell against Arianna then, exhausted and in pain. Thankful for quidditch reflexes, Arianna caught her friend and just as quickly tucked her back into the bed, cradling her protectively. Lily might have been older but she was like family, she would be damned if these people thought they could do her anymore harm. James Sr., after seeing Lily's body, after having looked after her himself the last forty-eight hours, stood up from his spot in the doorway and walked toward the young official and his followers.

"You have ten seconds to get the hell off my property or I get the joy of getting rid of you lot myself." The words were barely out of his mouth before the first of the group disapparated from the Potter Manor, the rest wisely follow suite.

"Auntie," Arianna called for Selena who stepped into the room. "Can we get her a pain potion? And maybe some salve? I'll dress her wounds and stay with her awhile."

Selena Potter smiled solemnly at her niece before nodding and walking away. The rest of the group continued to stare, the shock of the last fifteen minutes slowly sinking in for them. The sight of their friend, the heartache she felt, the reality of events. Taking it in, it seemed almost unbearable.

"Let Ari tend to Lily." Came a hoarse voice. The group of teenagers looked up to James Sr. whose eyes reflected the raw emotion he seemed to have felt. "There's been enough excitement for her in one day, eh?"

And with that they were shooed out of the room, leaving Arianna only to tend for a fading Lily.


It had been some hours later before Arianna managed to break away from Lily's room and head down to the kitchen where everyone had gathered for diner. A small feast laid before them on a long mahogany table of their favorite foods. Arianna couldn't be more grateful than ever for their wonderful house elves. She could do with food, lots of it actually. Exhausted, Arianna made her way quietly next to Sirius who only gave her a hug and a lingering kiss on her forehead. She was grateful for him too.

"How's she doing?" Remus inquired, resting his elbows on the table and pressing his face against his folded hands. How very Remus, she couldn't help but think.

"Asleep. Don't think she'll wake up til the afternoon."

As she reached for a piece of bread she noticed her cousin and friends were all staring at her, confused. Just as confused as they were, she stared back all the while stuffing the piece of bread and butter into her mouth and asking, "What?"

"Since when do you have a Scottish accent?" Sirius cried out, looking at his girlfriend in bewilderment. "Knock it off already."

Arianna and James both started laughing at Sirius reaction. "What's so funny? She's English! Enough with the accent love! It's like dating I'm dating McGonagall or something."

There was and pause and then a collective gag from the teenagers at the table. James and Selena Potter, who sat at the head of the table observing the group just as amused, shook their heads and chimed in.

"Arianna is Scottish though, Sirius love." Selena Potter giggled at her adoptive son. The blanched reaction he gave her at the mother of the ringleader of troublemakers choking on her wine.

"She was born in Stirling." James Sr. piped in just as highly amused.

"But Uncle Cedric and Aunt Stella have never stepped outside of the UK, aside from Hogwarts." James pondered as he chewed his food.

"That you know of." Selena commented lightly, Arianna shot her aunt a look as to say 'ew'.

It seemed to be a day for unsettling silences. As James thought aloud and her aunt and uncle found their friends' astonishment highly amusing, Arianna sunk further down in her seat beside Sirius, who continued to stare at her confused. Her face could match Lily's hair at this point she bet and her heart rate raced at an abnormally faced paced. Of all topics to talk about at dinner after a day of hell, she was about to the next big thing.

"How come we never heard your accent before?" Alice Summers asked curiously.

"It's only when I get to telling people to piss off that sometimes I forget myself and it sort of slips." Arianna answered sheepishly. "Besides we spend most of our year in Scotland anyway, it's not a hard accent to pick up."

"Suppose you're right." Frank agreed. "Me mum is Scottish, being around her all the time I picked it up too."

"See! Nothing strange here!" Arianna huffed and continued to eat. "Give it a rest already will you Sirius."

"Hmpf. Datin' a bloody Scot…"

WACK!

"The bloody 'ell was that for!?" Sirius growled at Arianna, rubbing the sore spot on the back of his mangy head.

"For being a prat."

With that Arianna stood up from the table, taking her plate of food with her and walked off. All the while grumbling about 'stupid wankers' and 'bloody boyfriends' before disappearing into another part of the Manor. Sirius, still massaging his wounded pride, stared at James in disbelief.

"Dunno why you're getting so bent out of shape mate." James laughed. "I wouldn't make her mad, she's got the worse temper out of all the Potters."

"Yea, and one hell of a swing too."


After a long few days, Selena and James had ordered their charges to bed early. The excitement of the ministry and Lily had finally sunk it. Even the Marauders and their infinite amount of energy couldn't deny that even their bones ached with the exhaustion of the overwhelming events. But just because they were sent to bed, didn't mean they simply followed orders. James' room had been a place of gathering. Though it was only Sirius and Remus occupying James' other furniture, the company was welcomed.

In a corner spot of James' overly sized bedroom, Remus sat with one of their new Defense Against the Dark Arts books. On the floor leaning again the doors that opened out into a balcony, sat Sirius twirling his wand and staring off into space. On his bed lay James. Snitch in hand, the sixteen-year-old boy pondered the last few hours carefully. The room itself held a tension waiting to be cracked. James was wondering which one of his mates was going to be the first to mention it.

"I'm curious Prongs." Remus called over for his attention.

"Hmm?"

"How long?"

"How long what?"

"How long were you going to wait to tell us you loved Lily Evans?"

If one could count the awkward silences in a day, James thought. He sat up abruptly, losing his glasses in the process. The small ball of gold went rolling off somewhere. James stared a Remus whom hadn't looked up from his precious book. Sirius simply stared at James in disbelief.

"C'mon Mooney," Sirius laughed nervously. "Just because the man helps a gal out doesn't mean he falls in love the same minute!"

"Right! Sirius is right!" James scrambled for answers. "This is Evans we're talking about Remus! You might be fond of her but c'mon, the poor man that catches Lily's eye is doomed! I've said it before. I care about what happens to her of course. Loving Lily Evans? Wouldn't be caught dead mate."

There was a righteous nod of agreement from Sirius. But Remus didn't buy it. He didn't bother to look up from his book to know that James had found his snitch and resumed playing with it. But Remus wasn't clueless either. He didn't need to look up at James to know his playing had turned to fidgeting and he was thinking about the day. He left it alone. Their fearless leader would figure it out one way or another.


A/N: Hi everyone! I am so sorry for the long wait in updates. Life is just crazy and unfortunately fanfiction doesn't pay my bills (I wish it did!). Getting back into writing again, I hope you all like this addition. Remember, R&R! Thanks!