A/N: All characters and settings belong to JKR; James’ theory on sympathy is
mine. I like to believe that this is what actually happened to the parents of
James and Lily. Yolanda deserves three hundred gold stickers and a huge tankard
of Butterbeer for being such a ROXin beta-reader by kindly pointing out all
my grammar mistakes and de-Americanizing James’ speech. She ROX to the millionth!
James started to walk down the path toward the lake. Sometimes Sirius just
didn’t understand things, such as the meaning of the phrase, “I want to be alone!”
But that was Sirius for you. He thought the best way to cheer a person up was
to spend all your time with them, prattling on about that bloody Marauders’
Today marked the tenth anniversary of his father’s death. James had been five
at the time. All he remembered of his dad, really, was the way that he used
to swing James around in his arms, and James used to imagine that he was flying
on his very own Silver Arrow. He also remembered the funeral, but mostly his
All of a sudden, James noticed he wasn’t alone. Underneath one of the willow
trees -not the Whomping Willow, just an ordinary one- a small redheaded figure
crouched, quietly sobbing. James knew only one person with hair that bright
in the entire school. It had to be Lily Evans, a quiet, studious, Muggle-born
Gryffindor a year younger than he. James really didn’t know her that well, but
he went over anyway to see if he could help.
As he went over, Lily raised her head, wiping the tears from her face by the
sleeve of her robe. “Who’s there?” she called, sounding extremely suspicious.
“James Potter,” he called back.
“Oh. Ok, then. I thought that you might be Margaret- my friend Margaret Sohaff-coming
to try to cheer me up again.”
James rolled his eyes. “Don’t you just hate when people try to do that?”
“Yeah. If you didn’t come to cheer me up, then why’ve you come?”
He shrugged. “I heard you crying. Came over to find out why.”
Lily regarded him warily, and then seemed to decide that he was trustworthy.
“Here.” She handed him a piece of parchment. It was rather hard to read; as
most of the ink was blurred by wet splotches that he assumed must have been
May 20th, 1975
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Dear Miss Evans,
We regret to inform you that your parents, Robert and Monica Evans were found
among the deceased in the train wreck outside of Bristol yesterday. Your legal
guardian has been dispatched and your sister, Miss Petunia Evans, has been the
recipient of both a Calming Charm and a Silencing Spell for her hysterics. No
Memory Charm appeared to be needed because she has obviously known about the
existence of witchcraft for quite some time. By the end of your term you shall
be able to return to your former home. We wish to extend you the most heartfelt
Department of Muggle Relations
British Ministry of Magic
Bristol…Yesterday…What had happened yesterday in Bristol? Something in wizarding
news. The Dark Lord had risen there… there were Muggle attacks… Suddenly it
dawned on him. “Merlin, Lily!”
“ You can spare me the pity,” she muttered, looking down at the ground where
her tears had been falling.
“Pity? Who wants pity? The one thing I’ve discovered, Lily, is that Misery
hates company. Why the hell should I care about your problems when I’ve
got my own? Even if all I’ve got is this lousy paper cut, and you lost your
job, your children are dying, and you broke your leg. Maybe my paper cut hurts
more than all of your problems combined!” Lily looked at him strangely, and
James realized he had been venting his anger out on her. “Er-sorry. I just meant
to say that I won’t give you any pity, because I know you don’t want it. But
if you want to talk, I’m listening.” He handed her the parchment, and then sat
down beside her.
Lily sighed. “It…It’s not even the fact that they’re dead -though that hurts
like anything- it’s the who and why and how of their death. You-Know-Who killed
them, and he is a wizard. They were so proud of me, of having a witch
in the family, that I never got the nerve to tell them that things- that people-
can go really, really wrong… So they never even knew it was coming.
“And then there’s my sister. She’ll be out to get me as soon as I come back.
Petunia’s been mad at me ever since I got my letter. I don’t know if it’s jealousy,
or bigotry, or fear, or hatred, or a nasty combination of all of the above.
But it doesn’t seem to matter, because there is no way she will let this go,
especially since I never warned the family. I can just hear Petunia now, ‘It’s
all your bloody fault, Lillian Evans!’-as if I didn’t know that already!
“Last of all, there’s my legal guardian. That’d be my aunt Charlotte,
who’s my father’s older sister. And I mean old! She’s at least ten years older
than he is-er, was. It says I’ll be able to return to the house at the end of
the term, so that means she must be coming to stay at our house. Petunia will
be livid. She’s always hated Aunt Charlotte, and she’ll be stuck with her way
more than I will, because Petunia’s school is so close, she doesn’t bother to
dorm…” Lily sighed again, then glanced out of the corner of her eye at James,
who seemed as if he hadn’t moved since she began talking. “Well, aren’t you
going to say something?” she demanded.
“You never gave me the chance, rambling on like that,” he teased. “Besides,
I told you, I’m not big on pity. Seems to me that what you really needed was
a chance to vent that anger, not my stupid comments, am I right?”
“Yeah, actually,” Lily said in surprise.
“Potter knows.” James nodded sagely.
Lily grinned in spite of herself. “You know, I think you’d make a heck of
“Heck? Girl, why can’t you learn to curse well? Say ‘hell’, there’s no professor
around to spot you,” James said, grinning, ignoring her other comment.
“I prefer to stay on the safe side of trouble, unlike some people I know,”
Lily said pointedly.
“Ah, yes, the typical female kiss-arse. That’ll get you points for Gryffindor,
“Oh, shut your trap.”
James applied a veneer of shock to his face. “Well, the lady can curse. Slight,
and kindly, but it is still an insult. Who knew?”
“You prat!” Lily stuck out her tongue. Cockily, James stuck out his. Then
Lily started to giggle. Soon both were laughing uncontrollably. After a bit
when she had calmed down, Lily looked over at him. “Hey, James?”
“Thanks. For-for everything.”
“Anyway, to get back to the point, if there ever was one, I’ve seen you play
for Gryffindor. You’re quite good, actually.”
“Why, thank you.” James made a mock bow. “I’d love to return the compliment,
but unfortunately, I don’t really know you that well at all.” Mistake, James.
Look at what you’ve been missing. Are her eyes always that intense? Always that
Lily was silent. She couldn’t think of a reply that didn’t sound cheeky, or
slutty, or just plain stupid, and so she just stared out at the lake. Was this
really the James Potter? The one who Margaret fawned over constantly?
He was really sweet and funny, forgetting all of Margaret’s I-can-see-into-his-soul
kinds of things. Lots of boys would have just kept walking, unless they wanted
something. But he didn’t… Did he? “Hey, James, why were you out here? And how
did you know I just wanted to talk, not get pity?”
James looked away. Finally he said, “My dad died ten years ago today. That’s
why I was out here. Some people just don’t understand about cheering up.” He
managed a weak smile.
“Oh.” Lily wondered if she could be calm about yesterday in ten years. Once
again she looked over to the ever-still lake by the school. “Hey, James…” But
he was gone, disappeared the minute she had turned her head.
Lily got up, gathered her belongings, and began heading back toward the castle.
She passed a handsome white stag on her way. Strange, she had never noticed
any deer around Hogwarts before. But before this, she hadn’t noticed a lot of
things, always so intent on making it to the next class in time, and getting
all her homework done. Lily needed to relax a bit. Time moved by so quickly.
People would be here, then gone in a flash. What made James so knowledgeable,
so easy to talk to, and Margaret so clueless? Lily had never tried to talk to
him before, after all, he had seemed to be on a ‘higher level’, him being a
year older and handsome and an amazing Quidditch player and… But why, then,
had he come to talk to her? Did he see something that she was missing?
Lily entered the Great Hall, her brow wrinkled in thought. She was so busy
concentrating; she didn’t notice a dark-haired boy slip quietly past her, his
brow wrinkled in a similar fashion. He too was pondering the mysteries of a
particular person, a beautiful and kind person of the other gender. Together,
yet each unknowing of the other, they made a silent pact to get to know the
other a little better, to help unravel the mysteries that made up their lives.