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Learning to Live Again



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Old September 9th, 2011, 4:00 pm
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gelowo93  Female.gif gelowo93 is offline
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Re: Learning to Live Again

Woah, when did I get to 5000 views Thank you so much you guys Sorry for taking so long to get this chapter posted. It was proving a hard one to write and then I got busy

Chapter 40

Sirius PoV

Sirius walked back through the hospital in silence. A few paces behind him, Remus followed.

He wasn’t sure what he had hoped to achieve by coming today. So far, he had managed to say no more than ten words to Remus. So much for coming to admit that he had been in the wrong.

Sirius hated to admit it, but his argument with Lily last night had made him think about how he had been acting. Lily had been right that he had not been coping well after James’ death, much worse than she had, in fact, and somehow that wasn’t right. Sure, James had practically been his brother but Lily had been his wife, and Sirius got the impression that she didn’t dwell on James whenever she wasn’t doing something else. Drinking had helped Sirius stop thinking about it, now he wondered if that hadn’t helped him get over James’ death as much as he had hope it would; he should have learnt to cope with it without the help of Firewhiskey.

They reached the welcome witch’s desk, where Remus handed over his discharge documents. The welcome witch glanced over them and put them onto the top of a pile that threatened to topple if anything else was added to it. She reached into a drawer of the desk and pulled out a wand.

“Here’re your belongings that were checked in,” she said, handing the wand to Remus and then looked back down to carry on with what she had been doing before they had interrupted her.

“I didn’t check in a wand,” said Remus, staring at the wand in his hand.

“It was found on your person when you were brought in.” The witch didn’t look up as she spoke. Remus half glanced at Sirius as if he was hoping for an explanation.

“Who’s is this? The Death Eaters snapped mine.”

“Think it’s Peter’s. Lily disarmed him but I didn’t see her give you his wand. You might as well keep it, he won’t be needing it.”

Remus must have noticed something in his voice because he asked, “Why?”

“Dead,” Sirius grunted. “Come on.”

He started towards the door but quickly noticed that Remus wasn’t following him. Sirius turned. Remus had been heading in the opposite direction towards the fireplace.

“I’m not queuing in that.” Sirius eyed the queue that was winding through the chairs of the waiting area.

“The Healer said I wasn’t supposed to Apparate.”

“Do you want to get home or do you want me to strangle you while we wait to get home?”

Remus didn’t argue and followed Sirius out of the door. Sirius felt bad about threatening him. Despite knowing that it was only him who seemed to be stuck in the past, and having come to try to make some amends to Remus, it was still hard for Sirius to accept that Remus had kissed Lily. Remus and Lily had been friends for years, and Lily had married one of Remus’ best friends.

Sirius shook his head as if it would help him get rid of his thoughts. It didn’t make sense to him.

They walked into a short alleyway that ended in a dead end. Even though St. Mungo’s was in an area that was less frequently visited, they still had to be careful of Muggles wandering nearby.

Without looking at him, Sirius held out his arm for Remus to hold onto. Once Sirius was sure Remus was holding on tightly, he twisted on the spot.

When they arrived on the front step of Grimmauld Place, Remus quickly released Sirius’ arm. Sirius felt his stomach twist at this; he was treating his oldest friend like his worst enemy. He scowled inwardly as Lily was proved to be right once again - he was pushing his last friend away.

Still not saying anything, Sirius pushed open the front door, leading the way into the house.

The portrait at the end of the hallway was sleeping, filling the hall with the sound of its snores; Sirius saw a pile of trunks at the bottom of the staircase that had not been there when he had left that morning, and Seth stood in the middle of the hall, holding Harry.

At first, Sirius didn’t realise anything was wrong.

“Hi, I wasn’t expecting you to be here. Where’re you taking Harry?”

Seth raised his free hand and Sirius saw that he was holding his wand. Reflexively, Sirius drew his own and, out the corner of his eye, saw Remus pull out Peter’s.

“I’ll give you one chance to get out of my way,” said Seth. “If you do, you may be able to help your friend down there.” His head jerked towards the kitchen. “If not, I’ll kill you. Either way, I take the boy out of here.”

Sirius didn’t even think. “You missed out the option of us kicking your butt,” he said, and shot a spell at Seth.
Seth blocked the spell, but didn’t start firing back.

“You’re actually going to do this? I was under the impression you wanted him alive but if not I can return him once the Dark Lord has killed him.”

Sirius gritted his teeth. His initial suspicions about Seth had been right, but instead of following them as he usually did, he’d decided to go against them. Now wasn’t the time to curse himself for his foolishness, however. Now they had to rectify their mistake before it proved to be fatal.

“Yeah, we’re going to get your disgusting hands off my godson and then lock you up somewhere unpleasant. Maybe Azkaban, I don’t know. Locking you in the attic with plenty of dark artefacts that have hundreds of possible ways to kill you sounds like a good idea as well.”

This seemed to anger Seth enough to make him start firing spells towards Sirius and Remus. They blocked them, and sent their own jets of light back at him, though with difficulty; Seth was holding Harry in front of his chest, which made it hard for Sirius to aim and be sure that he wouldn’t hit Harry. Seth deflected the spells with ease, allowing them to leave black burn marks in the walls.

The duel grew more and more intense as it carried on, and soon Harry’s cries joined the sound of spells being cast and hitting the walls, and Sirius’ mother’s screams, who had woken up. Sirius grew fiercer in his duelling in the cramped space, not giving himself a moments rest. Unfortunately, Seth didn’t even have to block a lot of his spells – they flew way over his head in Sirius’ attempt to not hit Harry.
Around them, the hallway was starting to fall apart. Portraits fell from where they were hung on the walls, the wallpaper was covered in scorch marks and Sirius began wondering when it would finally set alight. The duel had caused a lot of dust to hover in the air, making it hard to see, and it was growing thicker.

Sirius took a moment to squint at the air. The dust wasn’t growing thicker, Sirius could see a stream of smoke coming up from under the door that led to the kitchen.

The kitchen was on fire, and he didn’t think Lily’s bad cooking skills had caused it.

Damn, Sirius thought. Seth had said Lily was stuck down there, but Sirius had thought he’d meant he’d just locked her in, not that he’d been attempting to kill her.

“Remus!” Sirius shouted over the din, ducking a jet of light as he did so. “Get Lily from the kitchen – it’s on fire!”

He saw Remus’ eyes flash towards the kitchen door and widen as they took in the smoke coursing in from the small gap between the door and the floor. Remus shook his head briefly and threw himself into the duel with more energy than before, even though, Sirius now saw, he was turning paler by the second. Maybe Disapparating from the hospital and starting a duel wasn’t the best thing for Remus’ health, but Sirius felt his stomach clench at the thought of what would had happened had they waited to use the fireplace like they were supposed to have.

Sirius didn’t have time to wonder why Remus had refused to go help Lily – wasn’t he supposed to be in love with her or something? – as he followed his lead and pushed himself harder than ever in the duel.

Harry’s cries grew louder and shriller while the duel progressed. Sirius felt his heart jump into his throat; hearing any baby scream like that was painful, but this was Harry, who Sirius didn’t allow to not be happy. Someone might as well be trying to gouge his eyes out.

Above them, the lamps began sporadically flickering on and off. It wasn’t a distraction for Sirius as he was concentrating solely on sending as many spells at Seth as possible, but he could see that it was causing Seth some concern; he had glanced up at the flames and down at Harry, who he was now holding slightly further away from him. Sirius understood Seth’s thought process – Harry had become upset enough for his unrefined magic to start being released and Seth was worried about what his accidental magic might do to him who was so close to the toddler.

The lamps sputtered out and the duel was plunged into darkness compared to before. A second later, there was a roar and the lamps gave life to uncontrollable fires that burnt the wallpaper and started to spread across the walls.

Seth yelped in surprise and jumped backwards in surprise at the flames that were drawing in on him. As he did, his arm holding Harry moved from its position of holding Harry in front of him and Seth’s torso was momentarily unprotected.

Sirius was not alone in taking advantage of this. However, he was confused when three jets of red light hit Seth square in the chest. Sirius span round to see Dumbledore stood in the doorway, his wand out and an expression of utmost anger on his face.

“Go,” was all he said, and Sirius and Remus didn’t have to be told twice. Sirius ran forward, not even bothering with the flames that were lapping at both sides of him. He grabbed Harry from the floor, pulling him into his arms.

There wasn’t time to make sure that Harry was okay. Sirius ignored Seth’s body, guessing that Dumbledore would sort it out, and he jumped over it to reach the door to the basement. Remus reached it before him and pulled it open hard enough that it hit the wall and bounced back, but not before Remus had slipped through it and was sprinting down the stairs.

“LILY! LILY! LI-” Sirius could hear Remus shouting before a coughing fit cut him off.

Sirius followed, keeping Harry’s head buried into his chest to prevent him from breathing in too much of the smoke. He stopped when he found Remus standing at the bottom of the stairs, staring around the room despairingly. They could see nothing through the flames and smoke – all they could do was hope.

Aguamenti!” cried Sirius, pointing his wand at the fire. A powerful jet of water erupted from the end of his wand, and Sirius heard Remus cast the spell as well.

Together, they extinguished the flames until all that could be seen in the kitchen were bits of blackened and half destroyed furniture, piles of ashes on the floor, and a motionless figure –

They rushed to where Lily was lay on the floor. Remus let out a half-choked noise that resembled a mixture between a sob and a cry of pain. Sirius ignored it; he could feel a lump rising in his own throat and his arms carrying Harry were shaking.

Remus rolled Lily over so they could see her face. Her robes and hair were wet and slightly singed from where the flames must have reached her. Sirius couldn’t tell whether she was breathing or not.

He glanced at Remus who was shaking violently and whose eyes didn’t move from Lily’s pale unmoving face. Seeing him like that, Sirius couldn’t be angry at him; he had never seen Remus look at anyone like that.

It didn’t mean Sirius was happy about it. Just that he knew that he couldn’t begrudge Remus his feelings for Lily when Sirius knew that - if Lily got out of this alive and decided to move on – there were worse people she could be with.

Sirius swallowed.

“We need to get out of here,” he said.

Remus nodded and breathed deeply. Then, in one swift movement, he pulled Lily into his arms and stood up.Sirius carefully got to his feet. Harry’s cries had quietened now and Sirius took care to not jostle him.

With their wands at the ready, Sirius and Remus climbed the stairs back into the hallway. Dumbledore had managed to put out most of the flames, but they joined him to get rid of the last of them. It was beginning to become hard work for the two of them; they had been breathing in the smoke for too long and now it was starting to get to their heads. But they fought through the dizziness that it caused until there was no more fire, and Sirius and Remus stumbled out of the front door and down the steps to the small unkempt square, coughing and choking on the fresh air.

Once they had stopped walking, Remus placed Lily on the grass. He sat down and Sirius joined him.

They sat in silence. Sirius relished the fresh air, even though it burnt his throat as he breathed it in. They watched as Dumbledore came out of the house, carrying Seth’s body. Sirius glared at the unconscious man.

Dumbledore placed Seth on the grass not far from where Sirius sat with Remus and Harry. Then, he turned to them and spoke,

“What happened here? I came as soon as I was able to.”

“How did you know?”

“One of my spies happened to be at the warehouse when we broke in and he recognised Seth. He sent me a message.”

Sirius felt a small surge of anger rise up in his chest.

“That was a week ago. Your spy isn’t very good.”

“I believe that he got the message to me as soon as he could without making himself suspicious,” said Dumbledore, peering over the top of his glasses at Sirius. Sirius looked down under Dumbledore’s gaze.

“What happened?” Dumbledore repeated.

Sirius and Remus looked at each other for a moment, silently asking the other who was going to explain. Eventually, Sirius spoke.

He told Dumbledore how he had gone to St. Mungo’s to try to have a decent conversation with Remus and Remus had been discharged, how they had come back to Grimmauld Place and found Seth with Harry, and how he had threatened them. That was how the duel started.

When he finished, Sirius asked Remus, “Why didn’t you get Lily when I said?”

Remus shook his head, but didn’t reply straight away.

“She’d have killed us if my leaving you had meant losing Harry. Lily’d always tell us to save him first.”

Sirius nodded, knowing that what he said was true.

“We should move, I believe the Muggles are beginning to notice us,” Dumbledore spoke after a moment of silence. Sirius glanced around at the houses that lined the square. Sure enough, curious faces were pressed against the windows of many of the houses. “I’ll see what needs to be done about our traitor, you two take Lily and Harry to St. Mungo’s.”

“What’s wrong with Harry?” Sirius looked down at him.

“He was breathing in the smoke. You should get him checked by a Healer, though he’ll probably be fine.” Dumbledore stood up. Sirius and Remus followed suit. Remus picked up Lily, and Sirius saw him falter slightly under her weight.

“Are you going to be alright there?” asked Sirius.

“I’ll manage.”

“You sure?” Sirius stared at Remus, a meaningful look in his eyes.

“Yes.” Remus nodded.
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Last edited by gelowo93; September 24th, 2011 at 1:53 pm.
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  #42  
Old September 14th, 2011, 7:19 pm
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gelowo93  Female.gif gelowo93 is offline
Fourth Year
 
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Re: Learning to Live Again

Okay, so last chapter before the epilogue now I cannot believe I've actually nearly finished writing this, it's taken me a year Enjoy!

Chapter 41

She had been sure that she was dead, but the steady breathing she could hear suggested that people near her were alive, so she couldn’t be dead and still be hearing them. And she didn’t feel how she had imagined death to be like; she could feel her heart beating in her chest and her throat burned as she breathed in and out. The pain was what convinced her the most – death shouldn’t be painful.

Lily opened her eyes.

At first, her conviction that she was alive wavered. Everything around her was white, but as Lily’s eyes began to focus she could see that she was in a hospital; the bed sheets, curtains around her bed and floor were all white.

As Lily grew accustomed to her surroundings, the last few minutes that she had be conscious for drifted into her memory. Flames surrounding her; Seth holding Harry, taking him away from her; more flames – this time with smoke; fuzzy images seen in the fire. These memories came into the forefront of Lily’s mind and she felt fear, anger and self-blame creep in with them.

Lily didn’t know what she was going to do, just that she knew she had to know – she had to know the worst.

The bed sheets had been tucked in tightly around her and Lily struggled to get out of them. While she was slowly working them loose, Lily spotted Sirius sitting in a chair at her bedside – asleep. She wondered why he was here and not frantically trying to rescue Harry. Unless…

Lily tried to shake that thought away and attempted to make her escape from the bed quieter so she wouldn’t wake Sirius. He’d probably been put there to act as a bodyguard for when she did wake up so she wouldn’t do anything rash, though she didn’t know why Sirius had been chosen. The last conversation they had had involved Lily shouting at him and walking out of the house, and then she had proceeded to partly cause the burning down of his kitchen, if not his entire house – there was no way he was talking to her.

Lily hadn’t been quiet enough; she had one leg out of the sheets when she saw Sirius stir and blink his eyes a few times. Lily froze.

“You’re awake,” said Sirius, and then, “What are you doing?”

“I’m going.” Lily’s voice was rough from lack of use and the pain in her throat increased; it cracked on the last word, giving away the fact that she was brimming with emotion.

“No you’re not. You have to stay here and rest.” Sirius got out of the chair and tried to push Lily back down onto her bed. Lily fought him as best as she could.

“I have to go.” Again, her voice cracked and this time she felt herself start shaking.

“Where are you going to go?” Sirius was easily restraining her and spoke softly. Lily didn’t know why he was stopping her.

“I have to find Harry, I have to get him back, I – I –I h-have to…” Lily’s voice trailed off and she felt the emotion overwhelm her. She stopped trying to resist Sirius and he simply held her while she shook and sobbed into his shoulder. Lily could barely breathe for the sobs ripping themselves from her chest and she didn’t care about controlling them, she didn’t think about controlling them. All she knew was that everything she’d wanted was gone and she hadn’t done a thing to prevent it.

“Listen to me, Harry’s fine –”

“N-no, I need t-t-to –”

“We got him, he’s ok –”

“S-Seth – he took -”

“I know.” Lily heard Sirius’ voice go hard.

There were footsteps, and then the sound of curtains being drawn back.

“What’s going on? Half the ward has woken up.” It was an unfamiliar voice, but Lily could guess that it was a Healer. The words didn’t have any sort of impression on Lily, she knew they probably should have but at the moment that part of her brain was very small and being overridden by the guilt and grief.

Lily heard Sirius murmur something to the Healer. She must have been satisfied by what he said because lily heard the curtains close again and Sirius moved her so that he was holding her at arm’s length.

“Look at me,” he said. Lily kept her eyes downwards. “Look at me.” This time Sirius spoke the words with a forcefulness that was almost a growl and Lily looked up into his eyes as if she had been put under the Imperius Curse. “Harry is fine. He’s at Grimmauld Place with Remus and he’s going to bring Harry to visit sometime today. We got him away from Seth in time, he didn’t even get the chance to leave the house with him.”

It took a long time for Lily’s brain to process Sirius’ words. At long last, she said, “He’s ok?”

“Of course he is.”

Lily burst into renewed sobs, this time of relief. It seemed to alarm Sirius who released his hold on Lily briefly. Once he had gained his composure, he took Lily back into his arms until she cried herself out.

It took a long time for that to happen, and when it did Lily couldn’t help the odd sniffle or tear escaping. Lily knew that Sirius wouldn’t lie to her, but she couldn’t believe his words until she saw Harry with her own eyes.

Throughout the morning, Sirius didn’t try to engage Lily in conversation and she was glad; Lily was sure that she wouldn’t be able keep her mind focused on what they were talking about. Occasionally Lily would say something, usually when her thoughts became too hard to bear.

“How come you’ve been allowed in when it’s not visiting times?” Lily asked at one of these times.

“We kept bothering the Healers until they let one of us stay.”

Lily thought about this for a moment.

“I didn’t think you would have wanted to stay with me.”

“I think I might have overreacted before,” Sirius sighed. “I’ve not really been coping very well.”

Lily understood that that was the closest to an apology Sirius could give anyone, and she accepted it. Not wanting to push that line of topic too far, Lily said, “I thought Remus would have stayed.”

“He was ready to fight me for it, if he hadn’t nearly fainted from exhaustion. He’s fine,” Sirius added in a rush after seeing Lily’s face. “He needed a proper rest more than me, so I’m the one who got to sleep in the chair all night.”

Nodding, Lily returned to her thoughts.

She was beginning to grow anxious by the time lunch was over, even though it wasn’t visiting hours yet. Lily curled up on one side so that she was facing the door and Sirius couldn’t see her face. Lily didn’t take her eyes off the door, and she waited.

At last, Lily saw a familiar face enter the ward and she sat up straight away. Remus looked relieved that she was awake but Lily barely glanced at his face before staring at the toddler he was carrying.

Harry looked perfectly happy and healthy as he looked around the ward and its inhabitants. When he spotted Lily, his face seemed to light up and he took his arms from around Remus, to try to reach out to her.

“Mummy!”

Remus didn’t have to be asked to hand Harry over to Lily. It was the first thing he did and Lily pulled Harry into a hug, holding him close to her. She couldn’t believe that she had got him back, he was here – safe – and didn’t even seem fazed by what had happened.

“Thank you,” Lily muttered into Harry’s hair, glancing at her two friends. Remus had settled into a chair next to Sirius. “I don’t know what I could ever do to make it up to you.”

“Lily, we’re you’re friends. You don’t owe us anything.”

“Unless you fancy cleaning out the kitchen and hallway, it got trashed pretty –”

Sirius stopped suddenly and frowned in Remus’ direction. Lily guessed he had kicked Sirius in the shin; she smiled.

“He really missed you,” Remus said, nodding towards Harry, who was playing with Lily’s hair. Lily didn’t have the heart to make him stop, she was too glad that he was here with her.

“How long was I out for?” asked Lily, suddenly realising that months could have passed and she wouldn’t have known.

“Only overnight. You still gave us a scare.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.” From Sirius’ tone, Lily knew perfectly well who he was blaming, and he wouldn’t be likely to live much longer if he saw Sirius again. That was if he was still alive. Lily didn’t know what had happened to him, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to know whether he had died or taken into custody. Lily didn’t ask, and neither Sirius nor Remus brought it up.

Lily was surprised at how comfortable Sirius and Remus were with each other, considering that twenty-four hours ago Sirius hadn’t been on talking terms with Remus or Lily. They talked and teased each other as if the events following Remus’ birthday hadn’t happened. Lily didn’t pay them much attention though – she was too busy watching Harry play with the toys that Remus had had the foresight to bring. Unfortunately, he had brought the toy Sirius had got Harry for Christmas, and the ward was full of the sound of howling, barking and grunting. It attracted the attention of many of the other patients and their visitors, as well as a stern looking Healer who stood at the door and glared in the direction of Lily’s bed, but didn’t say anything.

Remus and Sirius stayed until they were kicked out by the Healer in charge of the ward. Lily was reluctant to let Harry go, but she knew he couldn’t stay with her and that he’d be just as safe with Remus and Sirius looking after him than if she was.

They weren’t parted for long, however. Remus and Sirius returned with Harry during the evening’s visiting hours, much to the annoyance of the Healers. While they were talking about nothing in particular, one of the Healers came over to see how Lily was doing. After Lily had put up with the quick examination, the Healer said, “You seem fine. We’ll keep you in for observation overnight but you should be able to go in the morning.”

“I bet they’re only letting me go so they get rid of you two as well, “Lily said as the Healer walked away.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lily,” said Sirius. “Everyone loves us. Especially Harry, actually. He had an audience before.”

“I know. I was talking to one of the Healers before about Harry. Although he seemed to think Harry was your son.”

“Well, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that night we had nine months before Harry was born…”

“Don’t lie, Sirius, it makes me want to hex you.”

“Come on, you can’t deny you’ve thought about me and you.” Sirius winked at Lily; Remus pretended to vomit, and Lily had trouble stopping a smile from showing on her face.

“No, you’re right. Except the thought of it made me want to kill myself.”

Sirius feigned an insulted expression while Lily and Remus laughed.

“You two can laugh, but I was voted ‘rear of the year’ at school.”

“What?!” Lily said. She hadn’t heard of this particular episode of the Marauder’s before.

“Who actually voted in that?” asked Remus.

“I don’t know, it was anonymous, wasn’t it?”

“How do I not know what this was?” Lily interrupted.

“Sirius and James were arguing over who had the better butt, so they put a box in the common room and tried to get votes,” Remus explained briefly.

“Oh, that’s what that was. None of us knew why it appeared.”

“Hold on,” Remus said, and he looked like he was thinking. “So you didn’t vote?”

“No.”

“And you don’t know anyone who did?”

“I can’t remember anyone.”

Remus looked at Sirius.

“How many votes did you forge?”

“More than James managed to.” Sirius grinned, as if being able to forge more votes still meant he was the winner. Lily and Remus just looked at each other, shaking their heads and trying not to laugh.

The next day, Lily was discharged with no problems. Remus came on his own to pick her up, and they walked through the hospital only speaking occasionally. When Lily gave her discharge papers to the welcome witch, she remembered that she didn’t have a wand.

“Did you find my wand in the kitchen?” asked Lily as they joined the queue to use the fireplace.

“We had a look, but nearly everything in there is ash. Sorry.”

“It’s alright. I’ll have to buy a new one.” Lily felt lost without her wand, but she shrugged the feeling off. They’d go to Diagon Alley tomorrow, it wasn’t the end of the world.

“That makes two of us.” Remus looked worried, as if he was mentally working out how much money he had in his Gringott’s account.

“You’ve been using a wand, haven’t you?” Lily was confused, she distinctly remembered him using a wand while he had been visiting her.

“It’s Peter’s, and it doesn’t work for me very well.” He still looked worried.

“If you’re worrying about it then I’ll give you the money.”

“I don’t need charity.”

“Then I’ll buy it for you and you can think of it as a present.”

Remus shook his head, but Lily could see his lips twitching up into a smile.

“It’s just been my birthday, and Christmas is months away.”

“What did I get you for your birthday?”

“I can’t remember – books?”

“Probably, and that’s a rubbish present. I’ll buy you a wand.”

“You really don’t have to.”

Their argument was interrupted by it being Lily’s turn to use the fireplace. She stepped in and, seconds later, she exited into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place.

Or what used to be the kitchen, because now it resembled nothing more than a room filled with blackened furniture. Lily stared around at the room and stepped out of the fireplace just in time as Remus appeared in it a moment later.

“You weren’t joking when you said this place was trashed.”

Remus shook his head. “Upstairs is worse.”

Lily wondered what could be worse than the charred lumps that used to be the counter and the half table that was left. She hesitantly climbed the staircase, not trusting that it wasn’t going to collapse, and holding onto the wall where the banister had burned. She pushed open the door to the hallway.

The first thing Lily noticed was the blackened wallpaper that had holes where the wallpaper had been burnt completely off. Portraits that had been hung on the wall lay on the floor, their occupants grumbling despite most of them managing to have escaped relatively unscathed. That was in contrast to the portrait at the foot of the stairs leading up to the other floors, which was a blackened mess.

“What happened to that?”

A door that had a hole burnt through it so you could see directly through it opened, and Sirius walked into the hall, carrying Harry.

“Hi, I thought I heard voices.”

“Those were probably the ones in your head. What did you do to this place?” Lily said, still staring at what used to be the portrait of Walburga Black.

“Most of it was Harry. Good lad.” Sirius ruffled Harry’s hair.

“Harry set the place on fire?” Lily could hardly believe what she was hearing. She had seen him do little bits of magic, but nothing on this scale, and it was hard for her to think of her one-year-old son – who pulled on hair and ate wrapping paper – causing this much damage.

“Yep, you better do what he wants in future. It’s going to take long enough fixing all of this up as it is.” Sirius passed Harry over to Lily and they followed Sirius into the parlour, where they spent the rest of the day talking and playing with Harry and teasing each other. It felt as if everything had gone back to normal, until Lily came down that evening from putting Harry to bed.

As she walked back into the parlour, Lily met Sirius in the doorway.

“Where are you going?” Lily asked.

“Upstairs for an early night.”

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.”

Sirius let Lily pass and she went to sit down in one of the armchairs. Sirius left the room, with Remus frowning after him. They could hear Sirius’ footsteps as he slowly made his way up the stairs.

“He went to bed early last night as well. It’s not like him.”

“Maybe he wants to be alone,” Lily said after a moment’s thought.

“Since when has Sirius ever wanted to be alone?”

“I don’t know.”

They sat in a silence that Lily spent wondering what was wrong with Sirius. She checked the time, and a sudden thought struck her. Remus must have noticed a change of expression on her face because he asked, “What is it?”

“Didn’t Sirius always start bringing out the alcohol around this time?”

“Maybe. Why?”

“I think,” Lily spoke quietly, “he might be grieving.” Remus looked confused so she carried on. “He got rid of all the wine and Firewhiskey so now he doesn’t have anything to take his mind off it and wants to be on his own.”

“He got rid of all the alcohol?”

“When he was drunk, I think.”

Remus didn’t say anything more and they fell into another silence. Lily tried to distract herself from her own grief that had resurfaced since Harry had nearly been taken from her. This proved easy enough to do, as, out of the corner of her eye, Lily could see Remus shooting furtive looks in her direction, so instead of grief, Lily felt guilt.

When he had been doing this for ten minutes, Lily couldn’t stand it much longer. She sighed.

“Remus…” Lily started, but Remus interrupted her.

“I’m sorry. I know I put you in a bad position, and you were confused and didn’t know what to do and I have no right to know what you think about it, or me for –” He spoke in a rush, forcing the words out before he lost the confidence to say them, and cutting himself off, as if by not saying the next words they were less true. “I can cope with whatever you say, I’ve dealt with worse. You can tell me. I shouldn’t have even said or done anything.” Remus wasn’t looking at her, but at his hands in his lap.

Lily wished she had never brought up the subject, because she knew that she could not handle being the one to hurt him, as she knew the truth would.

“I can’t, Remus, I’m sorry.” She truly was, and she had to blink away tears. But Lily had known the truth when she had thought of James before she fell unconscious and believed that she was going to die. “I still love James. I can’t help it, I still do. You’re my best friend, I couldn’t – it’s bad enough telling you this and seeing it hurt you – I could never lead you on while I love someone else.”

Lily wiped away the wetness from her eyes. Remus had his head down and Lily thought his eyes were closed. He didn’t say anything, and after a minute, Lily began to worry.

“Remus? Talk to me.”

“What do you want me to say?”

“Say you’ll still be my friend.”

This caused Remus to look up and meet Lily’s eyes.

“I’m still your friend. And I won’t make this awkward for you. Just friends.”

Lily heard the subtle traces of pain and bitterness in his voice and they made her want to take back everything she had said. She didn’t, though. She whispered a thank you that made Remus look down again.

Neither of them said another word that evening. Remus went up not long afterwards, but Lily stayed in the parlour.

She knew that the normality that had been present the last two days had gone now and wouldn’t return no matter how hard they tried. Maybe it hadn’t really been there in the first place, or it had been a façade. It didn’t matter what they pretended, everything had changed, Lily’s entire life had changed and the world around them was changing – it was no use pretending that it wasn’t.

Lily felt as if they had been kidding themselves the past few months, trying to make it seem like everything was the same, when the opposite was true. Despite what Lily had said to Sirius, both of them were stuck in the past to some extent, and being like that had meant that they hadn’t been living. Somehow, only Remus had managed to avoid that, though that might have been because he already had his own troubles to struggle through.

They would have to get used to the changing and their new lives, then they would be able to live again.
___________________________________________

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Old September 16th, 2011, 8:05 pm
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gelowo93  Female.gif gelowo93 is offline
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Re: Learning to Live Again

Well, this is it. It has officially taken me a year to write this as tomorrow is the anniversary of me posting the first chapter Thank you so so so so so much to everyone who has ever left feedback, I think I would have given up halfway through if you hadn't and you all deserve massive hugs and free trips to WWoHP, but I can't afford to do that so you'll have to do without Also, this chapter is being dedicated to SopophorousBean because she has put up with a lot of my whinging about everything in existence over the past few months, and when you've finished reading this you should totally check out her fic because it's awesome and this is my attempt to guilt her into updating more

Enjoy!

Epilogue

Sometimes it’s possible to know when something within you has changed. Not by feeling it happen, but by recognising the subtle differences in your actions and words.

Lily knew that something had changed the day she couldn’t help but look at Remus Lupin.

It made no sense to Lily why her eyes were drawn in his direction no matter what she was doing. When Remus was trying to teach her and Sirius how to cook, when she was reading to Harry, when she was brewing the Wolfsbane potion – even when the three adults were having a perfectly normal conversation – Lily caught herself staring and had to consciously look away. The whole thing was beyond irritating, especially when Lily was supposed to be concentrating but would become distracted by the peculiar way Remus said the word “rain” (or a number of other astoundingly average words) that she had never noticed before and she would look over to where he was and have to force her eyes away moments later when she realised what she was doing.

Whenever this happened, Lily spent the following minutes chastising herself and poking and prodding at her own feelings trying to figure out why she was behaving as she was. Lily didn’t come to any firm conclusions this way and instead tried to remember if anything had happened in the previous days that could explain it.

There was nothing. They had been ordinary days in Grimmauld Place with Harry, Remus and Sirius.

What Lily truly thought would help was talking to Remus about it. However, with a three-year-old to look after and Sirius always around, the chances of being able to have a private conversation with him were slim. The best Lily could hope for was that no one noticed her staring.

As it happened, the chance for Lily to talk to Remus privately presented itself that evening.

Lily, Remus, Sirius and Harry were in the parlour; Sirius was sat on the floor with Harry, both surrounded by toys, Lily had her knees up on the sofa and Remus occupied on of the big old armchairs. They had fallen into a lull in the conversation in which Lily watched Sirius and Harry play together and she only glanced up at Remus occasionally, as it appeared he had fallen asleep.

Not long into whatever game he was playing with Sirius (it was quite impossible to understand for Lily, who hadn’t been listening when Sirius explained it) Harry yawned.

“Bedtime,” said Lily.

“Aww, come on. It’s not that late,” Sirius moaned.

“I didn’t say it was your bedtime. Harry needs his sleep or he’ll be grouchy in the morning, won’t you Harry?”

“No, want to play!” Harry cried from the floor.

“You can play in the morning.” Lily got to her feet and picked Harry up.

“Now!”

“No.”

“Yes!”

“No, and if you don’t do as I say I’ll take your teddies off you and you won’t be able to sleep with them.”

Harry was quiet except for a mumbled “mine” into Lily’s shoulder.

Lily allowed for Sirius to kiss Harry goodnight and she headed for the door. She had just reached it when Sirius spoke and, despite his words not being aimed at her, Lily stopped .

“Hey, Remus. Are you okay?”

Lily watched Remus jerk awake and look around for a second as he became fully aware of where he was.

“Are you okay?” Sirius repeated.

“Yes, sorry. I’m tired.”

“The moon getting to you?”

“Probably.” Remus rubbed his eyes with a hand. “I’ll go up. No point in staying down here if I’m just going to fall asleep.”

He stood up slowly and joined Lily and Harry at the door. Sirius called “goodnight” after them as they started to walk down the hallway.

Now that Lily was as good as alone with Remus, she didn’t know what to say to him and her earlier problem appeared to have been cured; she could no longer look at him for fear of her face turning a colour similar to a tomato’s.

They walked in a silence that was only broken when they reached the second floor and Remus said goodnight to Lily and Harry before carrying on up the stairs. Lily watched him ascend, mentally cursing herself for not saying anything, and then went to put Harry to bed.

It didn’t take Lily long to dress Harry in his pyjamas and to read him a bedtime story. Sirius had found his old copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard and had given it to Lily to read to Harry. Lily had been shocked at some of the stories in it, but did allow some to be read to Harry.

After silently closing the door to Harry’s room once he was fast asleep, Lily hesitated on the lading. She knew she should go back downstairs to where Sirius was probably waiting for her, but something – someone – was calling her towards the upper floor, and it was this instinct Lily eventually chose to follow.

When Lily arrived at Remus’ bedroom door, she paused, debating whether or not she should knock. She felt like a twelve-year-old about to talk to a boy that she fancied. It was stupid how she could feel like this – she was an adult, she had been through plenty of things worse than knocking on someone’s bedroom door.

With that in mind, Lily raised her hand and knocked three times.

It took Remus a while to answer, making Lily feel guilty about getting him up when he’d said he didn’t feel well. At last, the door opened.

The first thing Lily noticed was that he was tall. she had to crane her neck just to look into his eyes, especially at these close quarters. It sounded ridiculous, even to Lily, but she had never paid much attention to something as simple as Remus’ height before.

“Lily.” Remus sounded confused. “Is everything alright?”

Lily didn’t reply. She was frowning slightly and looking up into Remus’ face. She stayed like that for what felt like a long time, following every crease in his face with her eyes, as if she had been told to memorise it. All the time, Remus’ eyes were fixed on Lily’s face.

“Lily, are you okay?”

“No.” Lily felt her lips form the word but was focusing more on her heart, which appeared to have jumped into her throat and was pounding louder than ever.

“What’s the matter?”

“I think I need to do something.”

This made Remus look more confused than before. His eyes were searching Lily’s face, presumably looking for any clue as to why she had turned up outside his door.

“What is it?” Remus’ voice cracked, as if he had guessed what Lily was going to do next.

In answer, Lily kissed him.

She had to stand on her tip toes and put one hand in his hair to bring his head down to that they were on the same level. Remus stood frozen at first, but he soon relaxed and tentatively put his hands on Lily’s waist, not to pull her closer, just to hold her.

After a minute, Lily pulled away. She glanced at Remus to see him watching her and she felt her face burning.

“Is that going to get an explanation, or do I have to accept it and move on?”

Remus’ voice had a hard edge to it, causing Lily to look up at him in shock. Sure enough, his face was expressionless and he was staring straight at her – he had put his guard up.

Lily wanted to say something about him knowing the best way to kiss someone and leave without an explanation, but kept her mouth shut. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

When she opened them again, Remus had dropped his guard.

“Sorry,” he said, “knee jerk reaction. Even if I thought you did want to mess me around there would be no reason to start now.”

“Forget it. I probably should have actually said something beforehand.”

“You could say something now. It might – err – help people understand what happened.”

Lily sighed. “I don’t think I understand. Today, I was – you saw.” Lily had looked up in time to see Remus trying to suppress a smile.

“I’m sorry if I wasn’t supposed to.” He pulled her into a hug, speaking into her hair,” Tell me when you do understand.”

With that, Remus released Lily and went back into his room, closing the door behind him with a snap. Lily was left on the landing, only slightly less confused now than she had been before.

A week later, Lily was awoken from her sleep by the sound of footsteps on the landing. Knowing immediately who it was, and with her intestines feeling as if they had been tied into knots, Lily jumped out of bed and had crossed her bedroom to the door in seconds.

There was no one on the landing, but Lily only had to look up the staircase that led to the upper floors to see a figure half crouched and holding onto the banister with both hands.

“Remus?”

Remus turned around to look at Lily in the faint morning light. He looked haggard after the full moon; his face was pale with dark circles around his eyes and Lily was surprised that he had made it this far because he looked as if another step would kill him.

Lily hurried up the stairs to meet him, and he sank to sit down on the steps as she did so. Sitting beside him, Lily quickly checked his hands and face for any cuts. Her intestines slowly began to untie themselves as she brushed aside a piece of his hair that had fallen out of place.

“I understand.”
__________________________________________

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Last edited by gelowo93; September 24th, 2011 at 1:56 pm.
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