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Old December 5th, 2010, 5:21 pm
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Fourth Year
 
Join Date: 15th February 2010
Location: England
Age: 26
Posts: 660
Re: Learning to Live Again

This chapter was originally going to include Christmas, but I decided to pad it out a bit so Christmas can get its own chapter (or it could be two - I have an amazing skill for writing a lot ). Not much happens but I hope you enjoy it anyway

Chapter 11

The next few days saw Lily jumping at loud noises and carrying her wand with her everywhere she went. She knew that there was no reason for it – Dumbledore was the Secret Keeper for headquarters and it was impossible for Death Eaters to gain entrance without him telling them specifically where it was – but the attack on Privet Drive had unnerved her and her actions weren’t harming anyone.

It probably didn’t help that there was now only two of them staying at headquarters during the day. Sirius hadn’t stopped complaining about being stuck in the house and Dumbledore had finally given in to his whinging; he was now the protection for Petunia and her family that Dumbledore had promised. Dumbledore didn’t seem happy that there would only be Remus at headquarters, but there was no one else to do the job.

Sirius didn’t appear to be entirely pleased with his assignment, but he didn’t say anything in the presence of anyone other than Lily and Remus, fearing that it would be taken off him and he’d be back to moping around the house all day. However, it did prove useful for Lily, who, despite not knowing how she was going to be able to at the time, had promised to keep in contact with Petunia. Now, she was able to get updates on how she was, with Sirius’ additional comments about how much she spoilt Dudley and what an annoying kid he was.

Lily spent the Monday after they had visited Privet Drive poring over a potions book and preparing ingredients. For that night it would be the new moon and she would have to start making the Wolfsbane potion. She hadn’t made potions regularly since Hogwarts and was a bit uncertain about whether she would be able to brew one this complex, but she knew she had to give it a go for Remus.

As Lily finished setting everything up so she could start the potion later that evening, Remus began to cook tea. She stayed in the kitchen to keep him company; having left him to take care of Harry for the day while she checked and double checked ingredients, Lily felt a bit guilty. When she mentioned this, he shrugged it off.

“It’s not a problem. Sure, if Harry was the worst child in the world, then I might complain. But it’s not as if you dumped him on me while you went out for some drinks with other Order members or whatever – you’re trying to help me.”

Lily watched him cook for a while in silence, keeping a firm hold on Harry so he didn’t decide that the armadillo bile would serve as a better meal. She watched as Remus chopped the vegetables precisely, adding them to the stew at intervals, taking sips of it now and then to get the flavour right. His usually dark brown eyes looked brighter and the circles under his eyes appeared less pronounced. Lily wondered whether the change in his appearance was due to the fact that there would be no moon in the sky that night, or just that he enjoyed cooking.

After a few more minutes of silence, in which Lily didn’t want to disturb his concentration, Remus sat down at the table with her having left the stew to simmer. He glanced towards the other side of the table where the potion ingredients were and pulled a face.

“What’s the matter?” Lily asked, cautiously.

“It’s nothing.”

“Tell me anyway.”

Remus rolled his eyes.

“I was just thinking that I’m glad you’re making that potion instead of me. Knowing my luck, I’d do it completely wrong and end up killing myself.”

“What? I’ve just watched you cook from scratch without so much as glancing at any sort of recipe. How is cooking any different from brewing potions? You still follow instructions.”

“The very important difference is that you can taste food to make sure it’s right. It doesn’t work if you try that with potions.”

Lily thought about it for a moment. “Fair enough.”

“Come on, you’ve got to see where I’m coming from. Cooking is a lot more relaxing than making potions – with potions you have to follow the instructions exactly or you end with a load of mush at best. You can start experimenting with anything when you cook.”

“But if you start adding anything then it’ll turn out awful.”

“Well, you learn when to stop. It’s mostly common sense, really. You wouldn’t add chocolate to a vegetable dish.”

“I think I know someone who would.”

“Harry?” Remus grinned.

“No, Sirius.”

They laughed. It had been so long since Lily had felt light-hearted. Even before … that night …they had made the best out of the situation that they could, but knowing that Voldemort was after them had been stressful, and there hadn’t been much reason to laugh. Despite the situation being worse now, Lily seemed to have developed a part of her brain that she was able force the unhappiness into, and being constantly surrounded by other people forced her to not think about it. This gave her a chance to have fun and laugh with her friends.

As soon as Lily realised this, her laugh faded. She watched as the smile slid from Remus’ face as well.

“It doesn’t go away, does it?”

Lily shook her head, sudden tears threatening to run down her face.

“It’s just… I think that I’ve stopped thinking about it… but then… it feels wrong when I’m having fun…and it all comes back.”

A lump rose in her throat, restricting her speech. Lily hugged Harry closer to her.

“Do you think it’ll ever go away?” She whispered.

“I don’t know.” Remus looked down, shaking his head slowly. “Do you want it to go away?”

“I want the pain to go away,” Lily said, and she could hear it clearly in her voice. “I still love him, but… if it stopped hurting… when I think about him… I think I could manage.”

Remus didn’t say anything straight away; he stared down at his fingers on the tabletop. Then, he spoke, still staring down.

“Time makes everything easier – that’s what they say, at least. I think that, one day, you’ll be able to be happy for the time you spent together.”

“Do you really think that?”

“Seriously?” Remus looked up at her. “I don’t have a clue. I’ve never been in your position and, to be honest, I don’t even want to imagine how you’re feeling. My own grief is bad enough.” He paused. “That sounds really harsh, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I know what you mean.”

He got up, then, to check on the stew. Lily stayed sat down, wrapped up in her thoughts. She wondered whether there would be a day when her heart didn’t ache, her stomach didn’t contract when she thought of James. It didn’t feel like there would be. At the moment, it felt as if the pain would never go away and she would feel like this everyday for the rest of her life.

The sound of the front door opening and closing brought Lily back to the present. She reached for her wand automatically.

“Who’s there?” She shouted.

“It’s me,” Sirius’ voice answered, moments before he came into view.

“How do we know it’s really you? A Death Eater might be using Polyjuice Potion.”

“Because even if a Death Eater was using Polyjuice, they still wouldn’t know where headquarters was,” he answered. “Oh, and…”

Sirius transformed into the great black dog and bounded over to where Lily was sat. He placed his front paws on her knee so that he was face-to-face with Harry, and started licking his Godson’s face, making him laugh.

“Stop it, Padfoot. I gave Harry a bath this morning and I don’t know where you’ve been.”

Sirius gave her a distinctly un-canine like look, transformed back into his human form and settled into a chair next to her.

“What’s for tea?” He asked Remus.

“Stew.”

“Stew? Really? Since when have we been on a budget?”

“We’re not. There was some unused veg so I thought we should eat it. Have you got a problem with it?”

“No,” he shrugged and then turned to Lily. “I hate your sister.”

“Don’t say that, Sirius, I’m trying to get back on speaking terms with her. What happened today?”

“Absolutely nothing. I was bored so I was just charming things and Petunia started giving me really dirty looks so I stopped.”

Lily knew that this couldn’t have been all that happened. “And?”

“I transformed, but then all of Figg’s kneazles started attacking me. So I was trying to get them to leave me alone and she just started telling me to stop it and that I was upsetting her brat of a son. I ended up going outside in the snow to keep an eye out.”

“Well, you know that Petunia doesn’t like magic. You probably made it worse when you transformed.”

“What else do you want me to do? There’s nothing to do - at all - and those boxes that they watch all day –”

“-Televisions-”

“- give me headaches.”

Lily sighed. It hadn’t been the best idea to send Sirius to spend the days in Muggle company, not being used to it and not having the patience to just sit it out. Still, he had celebrated at the chance to get out of headquarters on a daily basis and it was this, perhaps, that stopped him from adding “I’d rather stay here and sit around all day” whenever he complained about it.

Remus ladled the stew into the bowls in front of them and they ate in silence. Once they had finished and tidied up, they retired to the living room. Sirius had taken to playing with Harry every evening to make up for not being there during the day and tonight was no exception. Lily didn’t mind most days as it gave her a break from looking after him, but today she had concentrated on the potion and hadn’t spent much time with Harry. As a result, she joined them sat on the floor and was soon surrounded by toys.

Lily lost track of the time while she was playing with Harry. It had been a long time since she had let herself relax and play with him – even though she didn’t have anything to do and looking after Harry was all she did now, her thoughts had often been elsewhere. Somehow, she had managed to force everything else to the back of her mind, allowing her to pay full attention to her son.

“Moony? What’s the matter?” Sirius had looked up and, at his words, Lily did too.

Remus had collapsed into a chair soon after tea and started reading a book. He had put the book down was now sat, slumped in his chair, with his eyes closed. He opened them groggily.

“Hmm? Nothing, I’m just tired,” Remus yawned.

Lily glanced at the clock.

“It’s half eight! Harry should have gone to bed half an hour ago.” She stood up, taking Harry with her. “Are you sure you’re OK, Remus?”

“I’m fine, just tired.” Lily scrutinised his face: the circles under his eyes were back and more lines seemed to have appeared over the course of the evening. “It’s the new moon, Lily, nothing to worry about.”

“If you want an early night you can sleep in the bedroom and I’ll stay down here for the night. I’m going to be up until at least ten starting that potion so you wouldn’t get any extra sleep in here.”

Remus looked as if he was about to reject the offer, but quickly decided that it was the better option.

Sirius said goodnight to Harry and Remus. Lily went up to put Harry to bed and, half an hour later, she was sat in the kitchen in front of the cauldron adding the ground up asphodel petals to the potion that was simmering quietly in the fireplace. Ingredients had to be added every twelve hours and Lily had worked out that if she started it at nine o’clock at night then she would be able to be up in time in the morning to continue.

Sirius joined her in the kitchen. Lily was too busy concentrating on adding the correct ingredients for them to start a conversation, but he stayed anyway. As she had predicted, it took Lily just over an hour to complete the first stage of the potion. When she had finished, she set the cauldron over the fire at a low temperature so that it would keep warm overnight. Lily’s movements stirred Sirius from his thoughts and he sat up properly in his chair, having sat with his arms in front of him on the table and his head resting on them for the better part of the past hour. Sirius yawned.

“You know you didn’t have to sit up and watch me for an hour.”

“I know. I just felt like I hadn’t spent any time in decent company in the past few days.”

“I thought you’d be happier now you weren’t sitting in the house all day and you weren’t stuck in the same company.”

“Trust me, I’d much rather be here with you and Remus than having to put up with your sister and old Figg - neither are great conversationalists. I know I was complaining about being in this house all day, but I want to be out there doing something, not just sitting in another house all day.”

“Dumbledore says it’s too dangerous for us to be going out all the time. He’s only trying to keep us safe.”

“You know as well as I do that that’s not true. We’re in no more danger than anyone else is, as long as one of the three of us is still alive to look after Harry. It’s not as if one of us can tell the Death Eaters where he is anyway.”

“Why would he keep us locked up then?”

“I dunno. Maybe he thinks we’re not up to it, after…” Sirius paused, and didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he moved on. “He’s wrong if he thinks that, because there’s nothing I’d rather do than fight a few Death Eaters, especially Snape.”

“Or maybe that’s why he won’t let you do anything, because he knows you’d rush into any opportunity for a duel.” Lily grinned wryly. Sirius laughed.

“Could be. I don’t see any problem with it though.” His smile faded. “We’re never going to win this war if we stay defensive. We’ve got to take some risks.”

“Don’t you think Dumbledore knows that? He did fight against Grindelwald, he knows what needs to be done. And taking risks is fine, but people die. Have you stopped and thought about how many we’ve lost in the past year? The McKinnons, Dorcas, Fabian and Gideon…” Lily didn’t add the name of the most recent casualty to the list. She knew that Sirius would have immediately thought of him. “There’s not enough of us,” Lily added in a whisper.

“I just can’t sit here while he grows stronger. Next thing you know, he’ll be taking over the Ministry, and then Hogwarts.”

“Dumbledore would never let that happen.”

“What if Dumbledore isn’t around to stop him?”

“Don’t even say that, Sirius.”

“It’s a possibility.”

“Yes, but it’s also a possibility that all of us could die tomorrow. It’s no good to think of all the possibilities - you’ve got to think that we will all make it through and that it’s going to be alright.” Lily stood up. “I’m going to bed, I need to be up early to do more of the potion. Goodnight.”

“’Night.”

Lily went to the living room and Summoned a sleeping bag that was hidden behind the sofa during the day. She changed into her pyjamas and climbed into it. Settling onto the sofa ready to sleep, she thought she heard Sirius open a bottle in the kitchen and pour a glass.

She lay there for a long time, listening to Sirius become more and more drunk. There was next to no chance that Remus would come downstairs to meet her in the kitchen like they normally did. Lily waited for sleep, not wanting to go upstairs and wake him if he was asleep. The occasional tear trickled down her face onto the cushions, but she didn’t allow her thoughts to become uncontrollable, which would have resulted her sobbing loudly and quite possibly a drunk Sirius trying to comfort her. That was the last thing she wanted.

Eventually, Lily fell into a restless sleep. Sometime during the night, she awoke, feeling someone’s fingers run through her hair. She opened her eyes, however, to an empty room, apart from Sirius snoring loudly in the chair. Lily lay, confused for a moment, before deciding that she must have imagined James’ presence and she fell back to sleep.
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