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Chapter 19

Lily was miserable.

She hadn't spoken after that to James for barely a day, and yet she felt so hollow, so empty, so… in pain. She was scared too. Who had done this to her? Who had framed her? Inside, she was cold with fear: what would they do next? And, she thought bitterly, James wasn't even there to love and to comfort and to hold her in her moments of doubt. She missed him, sorely. She hated him for it. She yearned for his touch and forgiveness of whatever sin she had been framed for, and yet she despised him for making her feel so broken.

Or maybe he had never really loved her – maybe he just viewed her as a challenge. Lily almost threw up with pain and disgust at the thought, and her eyes stung.

Only her girls believed her, and seemingly and strangely Remus Lupin. No, scratch that. Colette didn't believe her either. She seemed to believe strongly that she had actually seen Lily with Hunter. Neither did Andromeda – Sirius, regardless of the rather strong sibling, or rather family, they were cousins, rivalry, had convinced her that Lily had betrayed James, convinced her that Lily was a two-faced and untrustworthy bitch. And that made Lily sad. Just sad, a drowning sad, heavy and breathless, and mottled with anger and disbelief.

"I-Andromeda, you-you're my friend – you don-don't believe me? But I-I-" Lily couldn't choke out any more words and could only look pleadingly at her friend. This friend just looked at her – and turned her back on her. Lily was crushed. A crushed, broken flower.

Colette had been worse. Andromeda had just left. Colette had yelled at her. Called her names. Told her how she thought she knew her and how she now knew who she really was. Lily had tried to reason with her, but Colette had none of it. Lily got mad. So, so mad. The catfight had been only verbal – fifteen year old girls like them didn't resort to violence – but it had been terrifying, leaving several shocked and weepy girls watching Colette storm away, and watching Lily staring after her in disdainful contempt. Lily masked herself in rage and disgust, but inside she was crying. Inside she was torn.

Derek Hunter, of all people, had tried to comfort her. He seemed to think that she had been cheating with him on James, and this made her really, really mad, especially when he offered to help her get revenge.

"Hey, Lily baby, I'm sorry that you had to lose James for me, but there was no need to coo all over him just now," Derek had told her, his face stern, before he smiled in a way a mother would when forgiving a child. Lily had looked up from her Transfiguration book, her sour expression hinted with her incredulity.

"What the hell are you talking about, Hunter?" she demanded, fuming, casting her book aside. "I don't know what the freak is going on, but I'm not with you!"

"Oh, Lily darling, there's no need to get mad," he smirked wrapping his arms around her, ignoring her futile efforts to struggle away. "Never mind, pumpkin, it's okay, you're just a little confused. It's perfectly understandable. That bastard Potter had no right to insult you. Should we get revenge on that git? I could have him and his pathetic little friends beaten up. How about it, honey?"

Regardless of how tempting this might have been to real-backstabbing and heartbroken exes, Lily had no intention whatsoever to humour him. She was in a fiery, bitter temper, and she didn't feel like playing along to whatever crappy games people thought they could get away with. Getting 'revenge' on James like that was pathetic, and she wasn't wasting her precious time doing that kind of shit, especially not with Hunter.

She gave him a burning glare of complete hatred and disgust, before kneeing him, rather hard, in the groin. He howled in shock and pain, dropping her. She wasted no time in raising her hand and slapping him clean across the face as blood rushed to form a bright print on his tanned cheeks. Scarlet seemed to understand that her mistress did not like this fellow, and on the contrary loathed him with a passion, and put her claws to good use.

Lily then scooped up Scarlet and ran to her dormitory, and cried as she held her mewling kitten close.

"Oh, Scarlet, you're all I have left of James… Please don't leave me."

Lily cast charms on her bed that night.

No one heard her crying to sleep that night.

James was miserable.

He couldn't stand it. It was killing him, consuming him, tearing him apart. All he could think was Lily, Lily, Lily. All he could think of was how foolish and lovesick he was.

He irritably ignored the girls that made those annoying sympathetic coos as they tried to gain his favour now that he was uninvolved and ignoring them instead of cursing them away. He was particularly irritated when the slut Boot basically crawled into his lap – trying to comfort him, of all things, and he shoved her away.

And all the while he was thinking of her beautiful voice.

He and his mates, the Marauders, his best friends since they crawled from their cradles, entered the only empty compartment in the Hogwarts Express, at the age of eleven. Or well, almost empty. He could see a figure curled up at the window, a mop of red hair facing him. She was small. She looked like a first-year, like he was, and she looked like she was really upset. He sniggered internally. Cry-baby.

He sat down, laughing boisterously and loudly, chatting in booming voices, when he heard a quiet, female voice say, cuttingly, "I expected you had enough manners to knock."

And even in its icy factor that was when James Potter fell in love with Lily Evans' voice. But he didn't know that. He was eleven. Eleven year old boys don't fall in love.

They turned to glance at the girl. She hadn't even turned around.

"Mind your own business," Sirius had sneered. "It's not your compartment." Before he could continue insulting her, Remus cut in, "I'm sorry, that was very rude of us. Is it alright if we sit here? The other compartments are all full." It was just like polite Remus Lupin to be nice to a sniffling, grouchy, prissy first-year girl.

The girl sighed. "Yes."

Her beautiful eyes.

"Let's go, Severus!" she had said angrily, standing up, with that idiot Snivellus by her side.

"Let's go, Severus!" he imitated in a lofty tone. He nearly fainted with shock when she turned her clear orbs on him – bright, flashing, a dazzling and rich deep green, framed by long red lashes and murderous with rage, glowing with emotion, withering and intently, a burning gaze.

That was when he fell in love with Lily Evans' eyes.

Her beautiful laugh. Her beautiful smile.

He thought he heard an angel, and his head turned, automatically with about half the school.

It was not an angel. It was Lily Evans, laughing at something one of her friends had said, and laughing so hard she was bent over. Her laughter was not the gentle, flirtatious tinkle of the other girls, but a string of unidentifiable music, harmonious and flowing, sweet and lilting and completely unfamiliar, breathless and beautiful.

Her smile was radiant and bright, and seemed to light up the entire Great Hall, and her eyes were laughing too, bright with joy and light.

That was when he fell in love with Lily Evans' laugh and her smile.

Her touch.

They had been paired up for Potions, and Lily didn't seem in the least pleased, but obediently did her work. For once, James did his fair share of work. After all, it was in his instincts to impress pretty girls, even at the age of eleven.

"Pass the lacewings," she ordered, not looking up from the cauldron, and James held out the little package of bugs, but when Lily's hand wrapped around it, he didn't let go. She looked up at him in annoyance, only to see a shocked face with wide chocolate eyes and a slack jaw. She sighed, and tugged gently, and finally he let go. Then she turned back to her cauldron.

Meanwhile, James was staring at his hand. When Lily's skin had come into contact with his, electricity had crackled in his veins and fire had burst in his mind and his heart. He thought love-crazed people just imagined that feeling. But his hand was still tingling, prickling, with a longing, a yearning he had to control.

That was when James Potter fell in love with Lily Evans' touch.

Her.

His heart sped up every time he saw her, heated up with delicious warmth every time she laughed, melted every time she smiled, burned with rage every time she was angry, tore every time she cried. He was consumed in her presence, dead in her absence.

Other girls, pretty and plain, rich and poor, pureblood and mudblood, seemed a minority. Only she could put an impact in him. Only she could make him soar inside. Only she could bring out the gentle side in him. Only she made him feel... love, that way.

It was only she that he yearned for.

That was when James Potter knew he was in love with Lily Evans.

His Lily Evans.

His Lily Evans.

She was not his anymore. She was nothing. She was a lie. She was not the Lily Evans he knew. The Lily Evans he knew was a dreaming fancy. She didn't exist.

He sighed. What was Remus talking about? Lily had said it herself. She had said she had betrayed him herself.

His heart was withering away.

He looked out the window, where Lily seemed to be pondering, leaning against a pillar. Scarlet was padding around her feet.

Then suddenly he realized something strange. Very, very strange.

...

Remus Lupin left Professor Dumbledore's office, a smile of triumph on his tired face. He had been successful. Professor Dumbledore had not said it directly, but Remus had a feeling he had agreed with his theory. He had signed the slip anyway.

Remus ran down to the library, as fast as he could. He checked his watch. It was half an hour to his next lesson. The faster he could prove his theory, the better. Finally, as he approached Madame Pince, he pulled the slip of paper from his pocket, and passed it to the librarian.

She lifted in up to the light, and scrutinized in, as though checking it for a forgery, but pass her test it did. She passed it back to Remus and went off for a few minutes, and returned with an old, thick tome. Its magical aura was dark, dangerous and powerful, and Remus almost shuddered when he took it in his hands.

He looked down at the title inscribed on the old leather, and checked the borrowing list behind the cover, and found exactly what he wanted.

He quickly but carefully shoved the book into his bag, and smiled once again at the slip of paper.

I, Professor Albus Dumbledore, allow Remus J. Lupin to borrow from the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library, Moste Potente Potions.