A Night Time Stroll
Chapter 3 - Hitting first and last
The Gryffindor common room was an explosion of noise, every house mate smiling with victory - except one. Lily Evans sat in a corner, holding her head in her hands. She was terrified that if she somehow caught the eye of her enemy he would know how confused she was feeling. Had he really been the stag, her rescuer?
Across the room, James Potter was the toast of the gathering, distributing enough Butterbeer to get anyone suspicious. He wouldn't notice her, as if that was possible! Lily felt her lip trembling as she looked up almost expectantly. She didn't notice the milling crowds around her and the fireplace, just the handsome face of Potter. But that didn't mean he was just as nice inside...
His brown eyes suddenly met hers and she blushed, looking down at her knees embarrassedly. He was probably already plotting how to use it to his advantage, the jerk. Lily jumped to her feet and hurried past the whirl of sound and colour, escaping into her dormitory. Sun shone through the windows and onto her pillow, lighting up the lilies there.
If he had such dire motives, would he have left flowers? She collected them into her hand and smiled faintly, smoothing the petals gently. Well, she wasn't going to hang around and let James Potter tease her about it. She was going to hit first.
Strangled yells woke up the entire tower the next morning, the time on a Sunday most wished they could sleep in. Lily smiled guiltily to herself as she threw open the curtains of her four poster and hurried down with the rest of her dorm mates. She had to stifle a giggle when she saw Potter and his cronies each sporting fluro coloured hair.
The rest of the house laughed and someone called out, "Looks like you boys got pranked!"
The lanky one, Sirius, looked upset at this declaration and vowed vengeance to whoever it was. Lily smirked from the back of the collection of Gryffindors, loving every minute of it. With any luck, no one would suspect Lily "bookworm" Evans. And this wasn't the end - no, it was the beginning. The jerks were about to get their comeuppance big time.
By the next morning, the spell had worn off and the much disgruntled pranksters went to the Great Hall like the rest of the school for breakfast. Lily had the next one set up, watching them avidly and with a twisted smile. By chance, the four ended up opposite her, arguing amongst themselves on how to get back on an anonymous prankster.
Lily shifted her eyes back down to her plate immediately and out of habit. Shaking off her discomfort, she lashed out with her foot hard and by the pained expression on Potter's face, struck home. It was stupid to do, she reflected, seeing as she was about to prank them again. She expected him to challenge her but all he did was merely shrug. So much for stirring him up.
She waited for most of the school to file in before she got ready to set it off. Just as she was about to, the loud cluttering at the windows signalled the arrival of the owls. Startled, she lost her grip on the wand and had to dive under the table to get it. Lily sat back up and her eyes slid over Potter's mail. Her breath caught in her throat.
It was a black letter, sent by the Ministry. It always meant one thing; the Dark Lord had attacked again. She saw many, too many, black letters being delivered. James opened his quickly, then reading it, his shoulders sagged. One landed in front of Sirius but he only gave it a contemptuous glance before burning it to ashes with his wand. This wouldn't be the time to hit them with another prank.
Lily stood up suddenly and hurried from the Great Hall, not wanting to hang around. She couldn't stand the palpable atmosphere in there, the way hopelessness drifted around from table to table. Even a couple of Slytherins looked subdued. Outside, she rested her forehead on the wall and asked quietly, "Why? Why can't we stop him?"
"Because we let him get away with it," said a soft voice behind her.
She spun and bit hard onto her lip until it bled to keep herself from making a sound. It was him, that Potter jerk, but without his cronies.
Lily's eyes must have betrayed some of the old fear because he put his hands up in a peaceful gesture. "There is nothing waiting behind corners this moment, I promise. You asked why we can't stop Voldemort - " He didn't even pause over the name. " - I gave you what I thought. Most of my family are in the Ministry, even more of a portion of that are Aurors. Even though we can't, as you say, stop him, we at least try. Don't let..." James looked over into the Great Hall. "Don't let that crowd get to you."
With that, he disappeared back into the hall to join his friends. Lily Evans stood there, frozen with surprise until the impact of what he had said hit her. "We at least try" struck something within her that no book or poem could ever do. While there were still people on their side, they could continue fighting the Dark Lord and his minions.
They must at least try.