In which quidditch makes a brief reappearance in the plot, Lily reveals to Death the kids are not alright and gets around to asking a very important question, and Rabbit reminds us all that he's one creepy extradimensional bastard.
"Mother—" Lily bit off her curse, gritted her teeth, and forced herself to relax her right hand. Apparently, trying to pick up her teacup had been a mistake. Just as picking up a fork at breakfast had been a mistake, attempting to write anything down had been a mistake, and just trying to use her dominant hand at all had been a bloody mistake.
She wasn't going to say she regretted playing along with Umbridge in an act of petty defiance, it'd certainly felt great at the time, but Lily was starting to think that maybe she should have just walked out the door when the only damage was one measly "I". Now she was dealing with the aftermath of a hundred of them.
Except, where would that have gotten her? Right back in detention with Umbridge. And if she bailed on that detention, it'd get her into a meeting with Slughorn and Dumbledore. Dumbledore, who couldn't give a thimble worth of feeling about Lily's failure to attend detention. Then she might be taken to the board and, well, expulsion seemed extreme, but that was what waited at the end of that road. Wasn't it?
The idea of showing up with her trunk and Pettigrew tied up inside, all of fourteen-pretending-to-be-thirteen on Malfoy's doorstep, shouting, "Honey, I'm home!" was not one she enjoyed.
Well, that part wasn't so bad, really. Her first year she probably would have been overjoyed. Wizard Lenin would have been throwing a fit in her head, demanding she wipe everyone's memory or else attend her goddamn detentions already and quit whining, but somehow that wouldn't have mattered.
Now though, she'd come back and…
And she could just imagine him looking at her, small, useless, dropout without a place in this world or a future inside of it. The question of 'what do we do with you now?' would linger heavily in the air between them. That future Slughorn had forced her to consider, the one beyond Hogwarts, was a bottomless void.
Somehow, the idea of facing that so soon was much worse than going against his wishes and handing Pettigrew over to the authorities.
However, her hand also did hurt like none other and she couldn't go through this a second time in only a week. She needed that hand; it was a very important hand to have. Even in the train station, somehow, it hurt. As if the memory of it lingered just beneath her unblemished skin. Maybe it was crying out for the blood staining Umbridge's parchment.
She offered Death a cheerful smile as she picked up her cup with her left hand.
"Sorry," Lily said, "I had this detention with Umbridge yesterday and she had me carve lines into the back of my hand."
She looked down at her right hand, attempting to flex it, only to stiffen as pain shot up her arm, "Tequila's going to kill me when she finds out I'm down a hand."
It was either a blessing or a curse that Default's first quidditch game hadn't overlapped with Umbridge's detention. Given Default's pathetic roster and unofficial status their games weren't held on Fridays and Saturdays like everyone else's, instead they were relegated to Sunday afternoons where everyone could watch for the fifteen minutes it took the other team to score enough points and catch the snitch.
Honestly, it was a wonder the school had even let Default have a quidditch team after last year's pitiful performance. Lily was sure the other teams regarded Default matches as a giant waste of their time.
Unfortunately, Ginny was taking quidditch very seriously and other than herself, Lily was Default's only halfway decent player. More, as seeker, Lily was Default's shining hope of victory, at least, that was what Ginny had told her after tryouts.
For a moment, Lily thought Death would ask after Tequila or else why she'd be so upset about Lily's hand. He didn't. Instead, he was staring down at Lily's right hand with a cold frown.
"It's fine," Lily said with a strained smile, "Well, it's not fine, it hurts like a bitch, but you know what I mean."
With a small laugh she added, "Guess that's what you meant about Umbridge, right?"
Dangerous, right, Lily still wasn't sure she agreed with that. Certainly, Umbirdge had abused her authority, but Lily had faced worse things in the world than an aching hand. It was sad if Umbridge thought that'd be enough to break her. If anything, Umbridge had just ensured that Lily would take out a megaphone and shout from the astronomy tower, "Voldemort's back, bitch, and there's nothing any of us can do about it!"
The war might not be over, but Lily had certainly won that battle by a landslide.
He didn't say anything, just looked at her with such a sad and almost pitying expression.
"Oh, don't give me that," Lily said, "It's not like I just sat down and did what she wanted. I wrote the wrong lines and then called her a fascist toad. You should have seen the look on her face when I walked out!"
He didn't look impressed.
Lily couldn't find it in her to blame him. It didn't sound all that impressive when she said it like that. In fact, it sounded downright sad when she put it out loud like that. Maybe you had to have been there.
"You shouldn't have had to write lines at all," he said.
He reached out for her hand, gently took it in his and said, "If she gives you too many detentions, if you use the blood quill too many times, your hand will end up looking like mine."
"So that's—" she cut herself off.
Unwillingly, she looked down at his hand, covered by a glove. The writing was in English, for him that meant it was very old, but she'd always thought… She'd copied his hand, that line, had felt in some strange way that she was taking some of his legacy for herself, but she never thought he'd gotten it from Umbridge.
She had always assumed…
A war, perhaps, torture. She thought someone else had carved it into his skin or maybe forced him to do it. She hadn't pictured a boy in Umbridge's office, holding a quill and being told to write, she hadn't pictured him in her place yesterday.
"I was very proud and very stupid," he said quietly, "Only my closest friends knew what happened in detention with her. I refused to tell McGonagall or Dumbledore, I thought that complaining would mean she'd won… And yet I was the one who walked away with scars on the back of my hand."
Lily couldn't help but scoff, "And you think tattling would have helped?"
Perhaps, if he was someone else, he'd ask what she meant by that or how she could say something like that. Instead, after a pause, he said, "I honestly don't know."
"I doubt McGonagall could have done anything," he said, "She was deputy headmistress, but she was only a professor, she didn't have any power over Umbridge. In fact, I think she knew. I wasn't the only one who had detention. She just couldn't do anything about it."
"As for Dumbledore," he trailed off, looking at the train, "It was always so hard to tell with him. That was the year he started changing. When he started truly preparing himself for the inevitable. He instructed my closest friends to keep me in the dark, set a watch on me without my knowledge, and had a man I loathed regularly dig through my head to teach me occlumency when he couldn't be bothered to. I think that I thought… It was a way to get back at him, to go through Umbridge's detentions no matter what she did to me, and when he suddenly turned around and cared again I could shove my hand in his face and scream at him that he'd let it happen. Then he'd be sorry."
Death smiled, "It didn't occur to me that it wouldn't matter if he was sorry or not, it was still my hand."
Lily swallowed her tea, tried to think of something to say, then blurted, "Do you think he knew?"
"Yes," he said without pause, "Dumbledore knew many things, almost everything, that I had hoped he was oblivious to. I can't imagine he didn't know what she was up to. However, he was in a very tenuous position, barely holding onto his job as it was. If Voldemort hadn't revealed himself when he did, the way he did, then I imagine he would have been sacked. Umbridge was Fudge's agent, he couldn't touch her."
He looked at Lily and answered the question she hadn't asked, "He likely can't afford to touch her now. If she's at Hogwarts, if the ministry has started putting in their own direct oversight, then he's on very thin ice."
Lily just offered a hum of agreement, looking down at her own hand. It'd been red for hours after detention, the words gone, but the aftermath of them remaining.
"So, you never got out of it?" Lily finally asked.
"Well—" he paused, frowned, and with a grimace said, "I guess you could say we got rid of Umbridge eventually. Sort of. That certainly got me out of detention with her."
"Fred and George were expelled," Harry said, "I'd already given them money to start their store and after six months of Umbridge they'd hit their limit. They went out guns blazing."
"As for me, well…" he trailed off and finally said, "Don't do what I did."
"What did you—"
"It's not important," he said quickly, "Just don't do it."
She sighed, leaned back in her chair to look at the striped umbrella over their heads, "Expelled, huh?"
"I used to joke about it," Lily said, "Surely, today, they'd hit their limit and expel me. Either for missing too much school, stealing somebody's wand, skipping classes, the chamber of secrets… Lenin always said it was impossible, you can't expel the girl-who-lived, can't afford to but I didn't really care. It'd be nice, an excuse to not go to Hogwarts anymore. Hell, even a week ago it'd be a dream come true."
Never to go to Hogwarts again, she would have laughed in Wizard Lenin's face and thrown confetti. She would have been over the moon and dancing in the streets. Wizard Lenin tried to get rid of her, shove her into Hogwarts, well what was he going to do now?
Funny, how her perspective so quickly changed.
"I think it was Slughorn," Lily said, "Slughorn and Pettigrew."
"Slughorn held me back a year, you know," Lily continued, "Said I wasn't ready to start picking electives yet. He started talking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I realized that… I have a rest of my life. It's waiting out there for me, five years from now, beyond the gates of Hogwarts. I'll graduate from this place and I'll have to go somewhere, do something, be somebody."
She turned to look at Death, feeling the same dumbfounded wonder she'd felt in Slughorn's office when he'd told her the world was her oyster, "Except, I realized, I have no idea what that even means."
"Before, it was always about getting Wizard Lenin a body. If I graduated Hogwarts without one, no problem, we'd just travel the world and find one for him somehow. It'd be fun, like Indiana Jones with a few less Nazis. There was always a direction, a focus, a plan for the foreseeable future."
She scoffed, a bitter smile stretching on her lips, "Except now he has a body and it works fine. Now I'm just the dirty secret he stuffs under Malfoy's Persian rug."
"I didn't really notice last year. Last year there was the chamber to focus on, then the time travel, and piecing myself back together. Plus, he was still there, still in Hogwarts with the rest of us. Now that I'm all together again, now that the past is settled, I look out of Hogwarts and it's just… It's empty."
"What am I supposed to do out there? Do I become an auror, a curse breaker, a bureaucrat? And if I drop out, if I'm expelled, what the hell do I do then?"
"And Pettigrew?" Death asked.
Pettigrew reminded Lily, or perhaps informed her for the first time, that things had changed. No, not that things had changed, that Lily herself had changed when she wasn't looking.
There were lines she could no longer cross, not even for him. Her first year, Death had asked her to destroy the philosopher's stone, and Lily had weighed the Death and Wizard Lenin on a scale and decided she owed Wizard Lenin more. At eleven, it wouldn't have mattered that Sirius Black was innocent, she'd gleefully see him fry just so Wizard Lenin could get petty revenge on Peter Pettigrew.
That Lily, the eleven-year-old Lily whose world had been so small, might have had a place in his life. Lily, faced with the gaping hole of the future, faced with the fact that she could and would betray his friendship and trust in her multiple times, wasn't sure she did.
If she was expelled, if she was sent home never to return, she'd have to find out.
"Fred and George weren't expelled for skipping detention," Death finally said, "They worked long and hard for that expulsion."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" Lily asked.
"It means I doubt even Umbridge could get you expelled merely for failing to show up to detention," Death responded, "Though she certainly would try."
"Are you sure you can't just tell me what you did to get rid of her?" Lily asked with a sigh.
"Absolutely not," Death said, shaking his head violently.
"Really sure?" Lily pressed, but he didn't budge an inch.
"You realize what I'll come up with will probably be worse, right?" Lily noted and here she got a small smile, "I highly doubt that."
"Wow," Lily said slowly, "What did you do?"
"I'm afraid I can't say," he said, "Just that I'm sure you'll come up with something."
He took her hands again, smiling softly, "Remember, Lily, there will always be a place for you in this world. Even without—Especially without him."
The "him" in that sentence didn't need to be clarified. They both knew exactly who Death was talking about.
"Don't give her the satisfaction of thinking she's won," he said, "That, at least, I never did. I may have written a thousand lines for her in my own blood, I may have the results carved into my skin, but I never gave in and told her what she wanted to hear."
The details, he didn't have to say, he'd leave to her.
For a moment, she really was inspired. She felt a small smile drift onto her face. It'd be gone in a second, when she remembered everything waiting in the not too distant future, but for now it wasn't so bad.
"Well," Lily said glancing at her hand, "Then I guess I know what I'm not doing next Saturday."
She'd get out of writing those lines somehow. As for what came after, well, she'd cross that bridge when she came to it.
"I better go," Lily said, "Pettigrew needs feeding."
"Pettigrew?" Death started, "Haven't you sent him to the aurors yet?"
Lily laughed, only to stop when she realized he was perfectly serious.
Was he for real? Lily couldn't help but spare him a dull look. He must have forgotten how the ministry worked. Even if he could remember things like Umbridge, it was an awfully long time ago for him.
Still, you'd think if he remembered Umbridge he'd also remembered the ministry sucked.
"It's complicated," Lily finally said, "I'm working on it."
With that she stood from the table and walked out of the station, unwilling to answer whatever questions he had about Pettigrew. She'd have to wait until he was dealt with before she visited again. She wasn't willing to put up with the third degree and questions of if she was thinking of sending Pettigrew to Wizard Lenin after all. Hopefully, Wizard Trotsky would have those contacts for her soon.
Still, it was as if a small weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Suddenly, even with her burning hand, the rest of the week didn't look so bad.
"Scabbers," she called as she descended into the room beneath the floorboards with a plate of food, "I've come with breakfast."
And her good mood was suddenly gone.
"Can it Scabbers," Lily said in what felt like the billionth time she'd used that phrase.
Honestly, she'd give him points for persistence. Every time she came into see him, twice a day, he'd always scramble to his feet and beg her for mercy even while he wolfed down whatever food she'd brought for him.
"Please, let me—"
"Scabbers, please," Lily took a deep calming breath, "Please, I do not feel like doing this today."
She spared him a look. As always, he was looking back at her with terror in his beady eyes. He'd been down here for half a week now, the way things were looking, he could be down here for a month.
It depended how thorough Wizard Trotsky chose to be with those contacts of his. Lily hoped he'd return information to her as fast as possible, she really hoped he would, but if it was Wizard Lenin the man would take his goddamn time building up the most perfect dossier on every single person that worked for the ministry. She really didn't want to have to go asking a clueless Ginny for a status report.
Lily let out a long, loud, sigh, "Alright, alright, fine, we'll do this your way."
She looked at him directly and slowly said, "Peter, do you have something you want to tell me?"
He opened his mouth, closed it, and seemed to put together that this was his only chance. The next time he opened that fat mouth of his she'd give him a "Can it Scabbers" and be on her merry way. If he had something to say, some overwhelming argument that would convince her to let him go, then he had to say it fast.
She was almost curious what he'd come up with. What could he possibly tell her that would convince her to spare his miserable life? It would probably be something good, considering he must have spent months lying his ass off to her parents without them suspecting a thing.
Unfortunately, he panicked, "Please, Ellie, have mercy on me!"
"Oh, for the love of—" Lily threw her hands in the air, "Really, that's the best you can do? Not, 'it really was Sirius', 'it wasn't me either but the dark lord', 'they brainwashed me', or even 'to live as Ron Weasley's rat is to face the true ultimate suffering'? Just, 'have mercy'?"
"Would you have believed any of that?" he asked, looking at her in wary speculation.
"No, but at least I would have been entertained!" Lily summoned herself a chair and flopped into it, looking at Pettigrew in disbelief, "Honestly, you do realize that no matter what happens to you, you're doomed."
She listed off his options, "If the dark lord finds you, you face a fate worse than death. If the ministry finds you, you face a fate worse than death or death in the grisliest and most inhumane manner I can think of. A fate worse than death around every bleeding corner."
She then gave him a look, "Honestly, you really stepped in it this time."
He didn't respond, couldn't seem to find the words. He didn't say that she might have mercy (she wouldn't), that he might escape (he wouldn't), or that there might be some other way out of it. There wasn't, and she liked to think that he knew this was the end of the line.
Even if she'd sent him to the ministry first thing, not thinking about what might happen to him, somebody would have made sure he was dead before he could talk and embarrass the whole lot of them. That, or Wizard Lenin's moles would have gotten to him, and then Wizard Lenin and Lily would have had a very awkward talk about how Pettigrew could have possibly wound up there when Lily was supposed to be catching him in Hogwarts.
She cast another look at him, this miserable, wretched man, and found herself asking the question she'd never bothered to before, "Why'd you do it?"
"Sell out my parents," Lily clarified, "Your best friend, his wife, and their only child."
Lily never spent much time thinking about that period of her life, how it had all gone down. It'd been over, done with, and in some way had felt almost inevitable. She was destined to meet Wizard Lenin, to be his best friend later mistaken for Lily Evans, she'd written that destiny herself. There wasn't much point in wondering why when it was already written.
Here though, was a living piece of history sitting in front of her. Not her parents, but instead the man who had destroyed his life in order to destroy them. Perhaps his role had also been inevitable, but Lily was suddenly curious what would drive a man to do that.
"And don't bother lying," Lily said when he opened his mouth, "Trust me, I'll smell it a mile away and it will offend me far more than the truth."
"I—You must understand," he stumbled over his words, "I—I wasn't—"
"Oh, come on," Lily said, "You can admit to it easier than that. We both know it wasn't an accident."
That just seemed to make him worse, "Please, Ellie—"
"You can't even say it?" Lily asked, "Do you really want me to tell you why I think you did it? You can't even tell me yourself?"
It appeared he couldn't, or he was trying to fish for what she wanted him to say, which wasn't the point of this exercise at all. So, to hell with it, Lily thought about it from Peter Pettigrew's perspective.
"I think you thought they were going to lose the war," Lily said, "You're right, they probably were, from everything I've heard the nation was practically doomed. When he took over, he'd make sure that every single one of his enemies suffered a painful death, dying for their cause, and you didn't want to be one of them."
She smiled at him, "You didn't have any grand, higher, ideals after all. You don't love muggleborns but you don't hate them either. No, you just hung out with the wrong crowd in Hogwarts. As if that wasn't bad enough, they had an almost prophesied child and went into hiding. Before the Death Eaters came to hunt you down, hunt anyone down who might have the secret, you convinced them to make you secret keeper and ran to the dark lord yourself. You bought your miserable life with theirs, or at least, that's what you thought."
She nodded to herself, all of it falling together, "Because that's what you always do and always will do. You're a coward who bends to serve whatever master happens to be closest to you. It's why you're suddenly so sorry about it, begging for my mercy, because you'll say anything if it means you can live another second. You were willing to live as a pet rat for twelve years just so you could keep on living. It's almost amazing."
In a way, if you discounted Lily, then he was at the bottom of everything. If he hadn't gone to Wizard Lenin, her parents might have lived, she might not have grown up with the Dursleys, might not have met Uncle Death or Wizard Lenin either. Instead she'd be Ellie Potter, the strange almost prophesied child of two desperately young parents who had no idea what they were getting into…
For someone so important, he didn't live up to expectations.
You know, she was glad she was sending him to ministry, not just to free Black but to end the ridiculous farce that was his life.
"See you at dinner, Pettigrew," she said, banishing the chair, standing, and making her way out before he could make any last desperate pleas. Undoubtedly, he'd spend the entire time she was away trying desperately to escape or think of some means to appeal to her or threaten her.
She wished him luck, but just as she'd seen scarier things than Umbridge she'd seen scarier things than him.
The common room was empty except for Rabbit by the time she emerged, not surprising, as Lily had taken advantage of the lazy Sunday morning to visit Uncle Death and sleep in before she dealt with Pettigrew. Granger would probably be studying in the library, Greengrass and Zabini gossiping with Slytherins, Luna hunting creatures too mythical to even be mythical, and Ginny…
Lily didn't want to think about what Ginny Weasley, or the specter living secretly in her head, might be up to.
"Did it go well, your meeting with the man beneath the floorboards?" an ethereal, familiar, voice interrupted her thoughts
"Jesus!" Lily started, which of course caused her hand to ache like no tomorrow.
Rabbit was staring at her with his cold, black, doll's eyes again. He was sitting quietly on her bed, watching her with that silent intensity that social etiquette deemed uncanny and rude.
"Are those damn things close to the castle again?" Lily asked, every time Rabbit got extra chatty, she couldn't help but wonder if one of those things was looming out the window again. Every day it was like they kept getting closer and closer.
It'd be only too soon when Wizard Trotsky found her a contact. The moment she shipped in Pettigrew and cleared Black's name she expected every last one of these things to be gone.
"They're going to end up eating somebody one of these days," some stupid kid was going to break curfew or linger on the grounds a little too long and get the very soul sucked out of him.
"It's not about how close they are to the castle," Rabbit said, "Physical space has nothing to do with it."
"Right, it's because the world's ending," Lily said, "I forgot, because it's not like it hasn't been ending for the past billions of years."
"It's nothing to be upset about," Rabbit reminded her, sounding almost chiding, "There was a time before the universe existed, it's only natural that there should be a time after. This, life itself, that's the aberration."
"Well," Lily said with a sigh as she sat on the bed across from him, "I happen to like the aberration."
"Do you now?" he asked, and she swore he was raising his eyebrows at her.
"Most of the time," Lily clarified, "And even when I don't like it—It's better than whatever life isn't, right?"
He didn't say anything to that. Typical of him, really, get chatty enough to start dropping eerie comments and then shut up the moment he found it convenient. He always did it in private too, he never dropped his eerie, cryptic, "the end is nigh" bullshit in front of anyone else. Every class they'd had he'd continued his good old vegetable routine.
Normally, Lily would let it go, in fact whenever Ginny came to collect her for the quidditch match she would have to let it go. She probably didn't want to know what he'd say anyway, it'd just make everything ten times creepier, but she couldn't help herself.
"Why'd you ask about Pettigrew?" Lily asked, "You never ask about Pettigrew."
"He seems to be a great concern to you of late," Rabbit responded, "In some sense, that makes him important."
"I wouldn't call him a concern," Lily said, "I have him handled. It's just figuring out how to get him out of here, take care of Black, that's the hard part."
"Concern enough," Rabbit said, adding nothing else.
"If you're about to offer to eat him I'm going to have to decline," Lily said, "I need him here in reality."
After all, if Pettigrew disappeared there went Sirius Black's proof of innocence. In fact, if he disappeared from reality entirely, Black would probably assume he'd ratted out James and Lily because no one else could have.
"Oh, I'm going to eat him eventually," Rabbit said, "After all, if you get what you want then he'll be handed directly into my hands by your own people."
"Right," Lily said, she'd been much happier when she hadn't known that British wizards were feeding physical Rabbit fragments the souls of criminals.
Why was she talking to Rabbit again?
Lily glanced at the door, still closed, and asked, "Say, I don't suppose you know this, but do you know how much time we have left before Tequila starts dragging us to the quidditch pitch?"
Lily hadn't checked the time but it had to be soon and she had a feeling Ginny would search the whole castle to look for her wayward teammates. She hadn't stopped talking about this game since she'd become captain.
"One minute and twenty-three seconds," Rabbit replied easily.
"Really?" Lily asked, "Are you just pulling that out of thin air, or do you actually know that?"
"Time has become thinner," he said simply.
"This is because the universe is breaking again, right?" Lily asked dully, but he didn't have to say anything, with Rabbit's growing creepiness there'd also been a growing pattern.
Really, why was she talking to Rabbit?
She didn't have much time to ponder that thought, to note that she was getting exactly what she expected out of chatting with him when the door flew open. Lily didn't know if it'd been a minute and a half, but she also had the terrible feeling that Rabbit was right on the money as Ginny barreled in.
"There you are!" Ginny cried out, "I've been looking for you everywhere!"
"Sorry," Lily said, "Lost track of time."
Ginny didn't pay attention, just grabbed her and Rabbit, "You should already be down at the pitch! We don't even have enough players as it is, we can't afford anyone missing a match, let alone our seeker."
"Right," Lily said, trying not to think about her right hand, she'd have to catch the thing with her left. Well, if she even bothered to, maybe she'd take a page from her fellow teammates and bench herself.
"You've got to say it with fire!" Ginny roared as she pulled Lily out of the room and down through the hallway, "With passion! This is it, our first game, and we're going to kill those Puffs!"
"Have you seen our team?" Lily asked and motioned to Rabbit, "Rabbit here is our goalie and he can't even figure out how to ride a broomstick."
"Zabini's keeper," Ginny corrected, "Zabini's going to be keeper, Greengrass and Granger our beaters, Luna's a chaser with me, and Rabbit's… the water boy."
That was very generous of Ginny. As it was, Rabbit couldn't even do that much.
"And don't say we're going to lose," Ginny said, "We're going to win, and we'll show everyone!"
Lily wanted to cut in that this was not an inspirational sports movie but managed to resist. Ginny would find out soon enough for herself. Ginny must have read Lily's expression though because she looked even more determined.
"Look, that's the great thing about quidditch. Your entire team can be pants, absolute garbage, if you can just score the minimum number of points and catch the snitch. It's what keeps you on your toes, it's not the best team that always wins, not even the best seeker sometimes. There's always a chance, always, and we're going to win!"
Which was, of course, how Lily found herself floating in the air, eyes wandering the field, wondering if she should just summon the snitch to her hand or actually try to look for it. According to Ginny, summoning the snitch was cheating and wasn't even supposed to be possible, but Lily didn't like the idea of flying around looking for it either. Of course, staying in one spot meant getting hit with the bludgers, and Lily wasn't going to stick around for that.
It was cold outside, wet too, and just as Lily had suspected the stands were almost empty. A few dedicated Hufflepuffs had shown up to support the cause but the other houses were few and far between.
The staff was a little better, they probably felt obligated to come to most of the games. Slughorn was up there, beaming out at them, trying to look proud instead of morbidly embarrassed by the lot of them. All the heads of house were there, Snape looking as miserable as Lily felt. Umbridge, too, was there, watching Lily with narrowed eyes and an unpleasant sneer.
That said, Ginny and the gang were doing surprisingly well. Rabbit alone was benched, as apparently Ginny's quidditch related wrath was much scarier than Lily's had been a year before. So far Granger and Greengrass hadn't managed to hit the other team's seeker, Granger looked as if she dearly missed the ground, but Ginny had miraculously scored a few points and Zabini had almost managed to block a goal.
They weren't good, they weren't going to win, but compared to last year they really weren't half bad.
Already, they'd broken their record of having a zero-point season.
It still would have been nicer if it'd been a sunny day, and if Lily's hand hadn't been Umbridged.
Lily rolled out of the way of a bludger, nearly falling into the other seeker while she was at it. Great, she must actually be close to the snitch.
The other seeker started only to lean into his broom and head straight up into the sky, clearly preparing for the dogfight over the snitch. Lily glanced at the score board, Hufflepuff had enough points for the snitch, Default didn't.
Still, Ginny would scream her ear off if Lily went down without a fight. Better to force the match to a draw if Lily caught the snitch than let Hufflepuff just take it. That was how that worked, right?
"Alright, let's go," Lily said, leaning into her own broom and chasing after the Hufflepuff.
Why did they let the snitch wander this far anyway, Lily thought, with the deluge nobody in the audience would be able to see where it was. They'd barely be able to make out Lily and the other guy.
Lily tried to wipe the water out of her eyes, barely able to see anything, but able to see the smallest flicker of gold.
Was it supposed to be this cold already? Lily didn't think she'd gone that high, but it felt like the rain was turning into sleet and the sky was going dark. Even her right hand had gone completely numb.
She blinked, tried to focus, tried to keep the rain out of her eyes but the sky just kept getting darker and the air colder. She reached out, maybe for the snitch, maybe just for the other seeker but they both suddenly seemed too far away.
Everything seemed too far away.
Lily began to tumble downward into nothingness.
Rabbit was falling next to her, looking at her with dark eyes, the same endless darkness that surrounded them now.
"Rabbit!" and just like that Lily got a hold of herself, "What the hell did you do?!"
He grinned at her, an expression far too human for him to manage. He got the lips right, but the smile failed to reach his eyes.
"Your precious wizards have made this castle my playground," Rabbit said, "I thought I'd take advantage of that."
Lily's eyes widened. The dementors. Of course, the bloody dementors. They weren't supposed to be anywhere near the quidditch pitch, or the students, and Lily was sure the dementors had listened to whatever stern talking to the ministry officials had given them.
"Well, stop taking advantage of it!" Lily spat back.
"Are you sure that's what you want?" Rabbit asked, "This doesn't end well for you, Lily."
"What are you even talking about?" Lily asked.
"Your people have put me in a position of being able to offer you the easy way out. You don't have to stay in this place. You can simply walk away now and let it fade," he held out a single hand to her, offering for her to take it.
"Fade," Lily said, waving her hands wildly about her, "You mean fade into this?! This… pit?!"
"Less than that," Rabbit responded, "The pit is still something after all."
"Why would I ever want to replace Scotland, replace anything, with a giant black pit?!" Lily may have her problems with Hogwarts now and then, she may have her problems with the ominous world outside Hogwarts, but it was better than a giant pit of nothing.
"Because these people will drive you from the bounds of this world and all others," he said.
Maybe it was the darkness, maybe it was the pervasive cold feeling in the air, the physical manifestation of hopelessness but she couldn't laugh. She couldn't brush that aside, ask what being driven from the bounds of this world, other worlds, even meant.
He believed what he said, and for this strange moment, she believed it too.
"They can't help themselves. You could say it's in their nature. You could almost say it's in your nature," he continued, "By the time they are done with you, you will have nowhere left to turn except to me."
Then he answered the question he never had before, the one clarifying answer he'd refused to give, and he gave it so easily, "That, Lily, is how this world and all others end."
He smiled at her, almost softly, still holding his hand out for her, "You've fooled yourself long enough, Lily, it's time to go home."
Her answer was simple, so simple it was almost thoughtless, but she said it clearly just the same, "No."
And just like that, Lily crashed into the quidditch pitch, taking out a chunk of grass with her and more than likely breaking a few bones along the way. Rolling onto her back, staring up at the sky, she could see Madam Pomfrey making her way down to the ground at record speed. She also could see the dementors, circling in the air above her like vultures.
God, she hated dementors.
Author's Note: Because Uncle Death wasn't about to tell Lily he had Umbridge gang raped by centaurs.
Thanks to readers and reviewers, reviews are much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter