Emme had slept in that morning, having gone to bed earlier the night before because of a headache, and had found the next morning that she still felt like crap. She’d been debating the pros and cons of getting up and getting some crisp fresh air when Lily had burst back into their dorm, positively fuming over James’ latest attempt. She may not have seen James’ presentation of the poem, but she’d winced at Lily’s retelling, both in embarassment for James and the volume at which the tale was told. She decided then and there that she’d rather lay back down in bed and avoid loud crowds. Emme had only been planning on going with friends who’d be fine without her, and her stash of chocolate was freshly stocked from her father’s last package.
It seemed that Emme always managed to miss the majority of Lily and James drama, and she wasn’t quite sure how. She was surely the only person who got to hear a double sided retelling of events, and was the best caught up person in Hogwarts it seemed, specifically when Lily was inclined to vent and James was partial to sharing. She sometimes liked to imagine that one day they’d both just team up together and fill her in at the same time, both voices steadily rising as they fought over who would tell what. She never could imagine who’d win that shouting contest, but then again once they finally had each other she doubted they’d need her input. James and Lily together would be a spectacle.
She’d eventually gotten out of bed and migrated down to the common room, book in hand. Breakfast and lunch having been missed, but she’d found that her headache worked wonders on her sudden inability to care about her stomach and her laziness when it came to moving. Lounged in her chair, picking at a chocolate bar she’d brought down with her, she was content to ignore it and enjoy the warmth from the fire.
Fighting through her headache, she eventually got far enough into her book where it seemed she’d forgotten the pain. Of course, just as she remembered this she felt that pounding return, and just a few moments later it seemed someone was calling her name. Shutting her book, Emme turned around and threw James a wince of a smile before she caught the way his own faltered. Oh no, she thought, shoving the book and chocolate off of her lap and onto the table beside her chair. He didn’t look to be taking things too well. There were varying degrees to the way James seemed to deal with what Emme privately deemed his “Lily problems”. There was the brush off, the almost Sirius like/induced way that he tried to joke things off, wincing all the while. He’d talk to her but he wouldn’t say much, and she’d try and nod along and go with his attitude.
Then there was the brooding. The angry at Evans but more angry at myself James who didn’t like talking and just needed someone to vent his frustrations at. There was this James, the embarassed and reluctant but willing to talk about his feelings bloke who found it hard to admit just how much he was hurting. And then there was the James she’d found that first time, the culmination of all of these things and more. It was surreal sometimes, to know Lily and then to know just how much James felt for her. To hear Lily’s side of things and then hear them retold by the one who’d seemingly instigated things. Emme it seemed instinctively tried to defend the other in both conversations. She knew when to shut up when the other party really didn’t need to hear what she had to say in the other’s defense, but that didn’t stop her from reacting that way. They were, after all, both her friends.
He wasn’t so far gone today, but he looked far too much like he’d spent the morning trying to avoid talking about it. “Of course we can,” she started, waiting for him to take a seat near her. They had the common room all to themselves for once, which was a nice change from quiet corridors and stone floors for seats. “I heard about this morning,” she started softly, hoping to save him from finding a way to reintroduce the source of his feelings.
Only Sirius would chime in when he did, as tactlessly as he did, and seemingly get away with it. He’d managed to make James smile, and Hes had even begun to laugh although with genuine amusement she wasn’t sure. The laughter wasn’t terse or forced, but nevertheless it was almost…too much. Emme found it hard to let herself be amused by his antics, too aware at that moment to gravity of the situation, and she went back to staring at her plate.
A warm hand brushed and settled on her knee, and she immediately felt her face grow warm. Sneaking a glance over at Remus, she let her lips twitch for a moment into a grateful smile at his comfort. She could tell he was tense, could sense the way he sat rigid in his seat and she was sorry. She’d thought to avoid meeting the glares of Slytherins by sitting with her back to them. She hadn’t thought what that would do to him, how it would make him feel. She wouldn’t make that mistake again, and as her hand dropped down to his, and her thumb dragged across his knuckles in a caress, she hoped to reciprocate some of his comfort. He was stronger than her. From what she’d witnessed in the last week alone, she knew that.
She’d been distracted with Remus, so that when Lily spoke it took her a moment to catch what she’d muttered. As her friend’s voice grew stronger, Emme sat up straighter. She was right, so right and strong too. They were all strong. In the way they all chose to handle their losses, whether through death or divergence, through change or pain. They were a strong group who’d faced terrible things. And now terrible times were upon them, and they had to be strong together.
In that moment all Emme wanted to do was reach out across the table to take Lily’s hand. That wasn’t her job, and she knew James was ready to do that. Turning to Hes, she offered her up a smile at her words. She spoke softly, lightly, before admitting the terror she had more right than most of them to feel. She’d lost both of her parents. Both. She had sisters to look after. Emme knew the pain of losing one parent, and she couldn’t imagine it being multiplied. Remembering James and Remus, she felt that heaviness in her heart return. She still had her dad. And she’d had years of comfort. Their wounds were still fresh. How many more of her friends would be subject to pain? Physical, as poor Mary had been subject to, emotional? When would the fighting and the killing end?
Remus took over the conversation then, and she let his voice wash over her. His hand still rested on her knee, although her hand had left his to return to sit on the table, and as a discussion began she felt him give her another squeeze. Even in the midst of such serious conversation, she still found the will (or lack thereof) to blush. Giving up on her runny breakfast, she went back to resting against his side, eyes drifting shut as she let her friends’ voices fill her up. They were strong. They’d figure this out together.
Emmeline had gone to bed like normal. She’d brushed her teeth, laid her clothes out and crawled into bed. The only difference had been that she’d decided to shower before bed instead of the next morning. While it didn’t help her curls if she went to bed with wet hair, she found it a bit more manageable if she braided it back. So spending an extra minute or so pulling her hair back, she got herself ready, pulled the blankets up and drifted into a dreamless sleep. At one point in the night she thought she heard Lily come in. No surprise, as she’d been out with James. With a sleepy smile she’d settled easily back into sleep.
Again, she woke up normally enough. Everyone else seemed to be up already, minus Lily who still slept under the covers. Taking her hair from its braid and tossing the waves around her shoulders, she got dressed and headed down into the common room. She’d somehow managed to beat Marlene and Mary down there, even though they’d been getting ready before her, and she felt her heart pound at the sight waiting for her.
Remus stood just off to the side of the stairs, his back to her. It had only been a few days since their final talk in the hospital wing, and it seemed she’d never been happier. Taking a moment to herself, she felt the smile slip easily onto her lips. A few pieces of hair stood up at the back of his head and her fingers itched to smooth them down. Skipping down the last few steps, she went to him and instead linked her fingers with his as she was now allowed to do freely. “Morning,” she chimed, smiling until she noticed his grim expression.
Brow furrowing, she frowned. “Remus, what’s wrong?” When he paused, she took a moment to take in their surroundings. It was then that she recognized the offness in the room. There was too much hushed whispering, even if it was the morning. Every time the portrait door opened, it seemed like people held their breath. It wasn’t just Remus, and as he went on to explain the controversy from the previous night she felt her own tension mount.
"Oh God," she murmured, bringing a hand up to her lips at the horror of it all. Who would do such a horrible thing? They just couldn’t have brought the war to Hogwarts. The school was the one place they were all supposed to feel safe. They were supposed to have until the summer to live their lives freely before the war claimed the rest of it. And to specifically name and target her own friends? Emme felt queasy, and she grabbed onto Remus’ arm. Lily had been out last night with James when they’d found it. Her best friend had come up to bed and Emme hadn’t even known to be worried. Hestia and Lily. It wasn’t fair.
She hardly heard his softly murmured words of comfort before they started to make their way to the Great Hall with the rest of the students. Everywhere, everyone seemed to be whispering about the list. Even the Great Hall, by the time they’d made it there, was filled with that same odd tension. Sitting with her back to the Slytherin table, she took her spot next to Remus and began to pick at a plate of eggs and bacon. The tension only seemed worse in closer range of the people at the table, and she sat leaning into his side. She felt silly, seeking comfort when she wasn’t the one being outright targeted. Still, it was a shock, to wake up one morning to find the war staring oneself straight in the face. She hoped she wouldn’t have to see the list. Seeing it would make it too real. Seeing Lily and Hestia’s names would be too terrible.
Lily’s arrival at the table brought another wave of tension. The redhead seemed to be doing her best to brush things off, and Emme ached to reach out and hug her. Of course, the girl’s nonchalance hinted at a definitewe’re not to speak of this right nowattitude. So she went along with Lily, like she always did, and tried to give her best friend a smile. “The eggs are a bit runny today,” she commented, twirling her fork around the edge of the plate. Yep. That was certainly a way of ignoring the unmentionable.
They’d been half out of their chairs when the moment was interupted. Emme froze when she heard his voice, calling out to Hes. She tried to ignore that he’d called the other woman’s name instead of her own, and instead steeled herself for the encounter. At least she hadn’t cringed, merely frozen in surprise at his sudden appearance. He didn’t need any visual clues as to just how painful it was to be around him when she didn’t have her guard up. Sucking in a breath, she looked up.
Remus was standing in the doorway, looking just as awkward as she felt. At least that was some comfort, and when he eventually said her name she let the breath go. “Fine, considering…” Emme answered a moment later with a slight non-commital shrug of her shoulders. He looked like a little kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, embarassed and apologetic, and she wondered how long he’d been standing outside the door. Not that they’d revealed anything he didn’t already know, although she didn’t know how Hes would react given she’d been the one who was initially upset.
At his offering of tea, Emme started, murmuring a quick, “Oh,” before shaking her head and turning to look at Hestia. Tea actually sounded great, but she felt the sudden urge to just…flee. She wanted to stay and make sure Hes was alright, but she couldn’t deal with this just now. All of the things they’d just discussed, all of the old, painful feelings she’d never fully resolved, had arisen and suddenly seeing Remus was just too much.
Memories of being together, of times curled up together drinking tea. They way he’d offer one, insisting on a “cuppa”, the way he’d put a cooling charm on her cup without ever being prompted because he just knew she didn’t like it too hot. Even one of their first outings in the kitchens had been to sit and drink tea, and she felt a blush rise as she forced herself to avoid Remus’ gaze. She was acting childish, blushing and acting ridiculous over tea. It was tea for Chrissakes. She had at least one cup every day. She didn’t go blushing over it those days, but suddenly just the thought made her feel tense. He didn’t need to know she was remembering the times that had been, the times that would never be again.
So instead Emme did what she’d been doing since she’d started seeing Remus again on a regular basis. She attempted and failed to ignore the history between them and instead focused on anyone but him. In this case, the person who did need her. Hestia.
A soft breath whooshed from Emme’s lips when Hestia finally agreed. She didn’t smile, but a feeling of reassurance washed over her. Hes would go with them. She would go. “Thank you,” she whispered, grateful for her friend’s consent, realizing Hes understood all of her reasons.
When Hes next spoke, Emme internally cringed at her own hesitance. She couldn’t promise that. Hes knew she couldn’t promise that. Neither of them could. If they were caught in the crossfire, either of the pair would be struck down. But rational, logical conversation was rarely a good thing in times of war. Logical reasoning had taken a back seat the first time, hadn’t it? Not until the very end, when things had become too serious to ignore. When smiles and encouragement, hope and happiness had to be pushed aside for graver matters. So many losses, so much death. Looking back, she’d never felt closure from the war. Never felt like it had actually been over. Sure, she’d lived her life since then. She’d left Magical Law Enforcement and finished her Healer training. She’d made a few friends of her colleagues, saved a few lives. But the friendship she truly craved, the friendships she missed were the ones she hadn’t been able to save. She hadn’t saved them then, and that had always stayed with her.
So even though Emme hesitated for a second, she turned her hand to squeeze Hestia’s. “I promise. You won’t lose me. We’ll stick together.” She’d never understand why her life had been spared when so many others hadn’t. But on the cusp of this great task, preparing herself to fight for Harry, she was filled with a renewed purpose. She’d protect him with her dying breath. For her friends. She’d fight to stay alive, for his sake and for Hestia’s. The other woman didn’t deserve anymore loss. Neither of them did.
She could tell she’d caught Hestia off guard with her question, and after her initial reply she didn’t expect another answer. When Hestia elaborated, Emme felt herself get instantly defensive. “Right for the job?” she asked, brows furrowing. She shifted in her seat, almost leaning towards Hes as she watched her. Her naturally blonde hair had been dyed recently, a rich dark brown just a shade darker than the colour it had been at graduation, and it fell slightly into her face with the movement. It almost startled her for a moment before she remembered it was attached to her head.
"Of course you’re right for the job!" She continued, "This is practically what you were trained to do." It would be both wonderful and painful to finally meet Harry. Wonderful to finally see the grown up little boy of James and Lily. Horrible to see James’ exact replica and Lily’s eyes, horrible to be reminded that they were gone and that they’d never gotten to see their own child. But nevertheless, it would be something she had to do. Something they all had to do.
"Who better to do the job than the people who love…d James and Lily?" It was still hard to accept that they were gone. Fourteen years. Fourteen years since she’d heard James laugh, or shared records with Lily. Fourteen years since she’d listened to Dancing Queen. There were certain records she’d had to put in a box under her bed. Certain records she wouldn’t be able to listen to without painful memories being stirred up. That ABBA song was off limits. Practically half of her Beatles collection was off limits. Her life was a lot quieter now.
She couldn’t imagine going without her. Even without Remus. She couldn’t go without the ones she learned to survive with. It was a necessity that they went together. For James and Lily and Harry’s sake. And to be selfish, for her own. She needed Hes with her. She knew Remus would go, that would be no question. She wouldn’t have it any other way, but still. She needed a friend with her. A friend that wasn’t just Remus. She needed someone to keep her sane.
"It’s going to hurt so much to see him. But I think we owe it…" She trailed off. Hes knew what she meant. "We survived for a reason. We survived for this." At this, she placed her finger on the table, as if to pinpoint the word.
An Advance Guard was being formed to escort Harry from his Aunt and Walrus’ home in Little Whinging to Headquarters. About bloody time, Emme fumed silently, sitting cross legged in her chair at the table while Dumbledore and Moody went on to explain the task. Apparently it only took a Dementors’ attack to get things moving along. Her head was turned left to watch the pair where they stood at the head of the table. Well, Moody stood, staff in hand, while Dumbledore sat tired in his chair. The eight of them, Moody making nine, had been called together to make up this guard.
She’d always questioned Dumbledore’s sanity when it came to Harry. She now somewhat understood why he’d left him with his horrid aunt and uncle, but hated that she’d never gotten to know Lily and James’ little boy. He’d been stolen from her, just like his parents had been. He’d been stolen from them all. She’d promised herself she’d look after him if the worst were to befall her friends, and all she’d ever been able to do was watch him from a far, through Dumbledore and her own sources.
"We’ll give you all a day to decide. After that we’ll meet to plan our attack, and then we’ll be off." Nodding to herself, Emme turned to look at the people seated at the table. Remus was a few chairs away to the left on the opposite side, seated next to the young and effervescent Tonks. Doge and Diggle sat directly across from her, both men’s faces turned towards the head of the table, their expressions serious. Kingsley was seated to her left, and to his left sat Podmore, his expression unreadable as Kingsley blocked her view. To her right, opposite of the head sat a conflicted looking Hestia.
She’d meant to only flicker over to check Hestia’s expression, but the look she found their made her pause. As the seats around them pushed back in reaction to their dismissal, Emme stayed put, willing Hestia with her eyes to do the same. Soon enough, everyone had cleared the room, minus the the two former dormmates.
"What’s wrong?" Emme asked, legs uncrossed now as she turned in her seat. "Hes?"
She realized she wanted to help people, not cause more destruction. She was halfway through her Hit Wizard training, and fully ready to make the switch to Healer when the unthinkable happened. With Lily and James’ death, and the end of the war, she was crushed. Sirius’ arrest was the final nail in the coffin. Emme became a Healer, something her best friend would never be able to do. She became a Healer and worked in Lily’s memory.
When the time came to escort Harry to 12 Grimmauld Place, she was doubly qualified as a guard, both defensively and medically.
"Well, it’s a brilliant idea." Emme repeated, when Lily finally answered her question. She couldn’t miss the hint of pride in Lily’s voice when she explained how it was James’ idea, and with that admission she let a knowing grin slip onto her lips. When James then proceeded to steal a frog and Remus began to comment on it, she turned to look at him, grin growing more amused at his light complaints. She squeezed his hand a second, still looking at him, before turning her attention back to a now suddenly emphatic Lily.
"Orientation?" she questioned, brows furrowing in light worry. There was something off about Lily’s smile, something hidden that Remus seemed to pick up on, and she turned to look back at him. However before she could ask anything, he was responding to Lily’s comment. Articles and by-laws? Weren’t they just supposed to worry about catching students out of bed, and blatantly breaking the rules? Surely the pair were joking. James didn’t seem at all concerned, but Emme couldn’t help her knack for worrying. She half convinced herself they were kidding when she spotted their grins, and all other worry fled when Remus’ squeezed her hand and dropped a kiss on her cheek. The skin there immediately flared into a blush, and the frown seemed to melt away.
She bit back a sudden laugh when she looked up to see James dragging Lily off without any warning. “Sure,” she murmured in response to Remus’ proposition, although the prospect of having him all to herself certainly wasn’t an issue, and she was sure the smile forming on her lips proved that. Remus seemed momentarily distracted by his mate’s disappearance, but quickly chased it away with his hand in hers. She almost laughed again at the way their hands swung between them. They’d held hands before it all, but there was definitely a lightness now. A freedom to do so whenever they wanted, no questions hanging in the air.
It was from these thoughts she was brought out of when James’ piped up from behind them. Hogsmeade? Now? She’d already gotten used to the idea of a nice, private tea with Remus, but she guessed a tea in Hogsmeade with their best friends wouldn’t be so bad. And who was to say they wouldn’t have some alone time later? James and Lily would certainly sneak off at some point, leaving Remus all to her.
"Sounds lovely." She replied, grinning now, heart pumping. They’d turned around to catch back up to Lily and James, with Remus leading her along. Turning slightly, she tugged on his arm, reaching her other hand to pull down on his shoulder. Her body was curled towards his, and she was still grinning. Leaning up, she began to whisper, "Although I’m sure we’ll find a way to lose them later for a private tea," A mischeivous grin lingered on her lips and before pulling away she planted a soft, teasing kiss on the corner of his lips. Falling back into step she let him pull her along. "To Hogsmeade!" she called, a lightness in her step.
Lily was smooth and efficient, as always, going through the schedules. She couldn’t help a glance every now and then in Remus’ direction, and the boy’s smile just kept getting bigger and bigger. In response she couldn’t help one of her own from spreading across her lips, as she all the while tried to keep it in check. She’d been doing that a lot lately. Smiling for no reason. Walking down the halls on her way to class, smile. Sitting down at breakfast, feeling an arm wrap around her shoulders, smile. She was in a meeting. An official meeting, listening to her best friend go on about schedules and she couldn’t stop smiling. And all for the boy sitting with his arm around her. When had she turned into such a cheeseball?
As Lily made her rounds Emme watched quietly as James prepared himself. Of course she blushed when Lily neared and teased them, but leave it to Remus to come to the rescue. She grinned, ever the proud girlfriend for having a boyfriend with quick comebacks when she had none, and said nothing, but the blush didn’t really die down until the redhead had walked away. Remembering James, she looked up again and tuned in.
He was talking about the first years, those two lonely first years she sometimes saw around the castle. His comment on making sure they knew that they belonged really struck a chord with Emme, and she remembered a time when she hadn’t felt like she belonged. There’d been a time, a long time ago when she hadn’t felt like a Gryffindor. Being a half-blood, and a quiet, shy one at that hadn’t exactly filled her with the firm belief that she belonged in brave, courageous Gryffindor. James had been the one to come to her rescue when a group of second and third year students tormented her on her insecurities. He’d reminded her that she did in fact belong. So it was no surprise to her that today he chose to speak up on that issue, and she couldn’t help the proud smile that formed at his words and her own memory.
She listened on, until finally she felt her mouth drop open just slightly at his mention of a Duelling Club. It was an absolutely brilliant idea, almost an obvious one given the circumstances in and outside the castle walls, but a brilliant idea nonetheless. She could hear her surprise being echoed in the murmurs that followed the announcement, and in the way that one look at Remus confirmed he was taken just as off-guard. How long had the pair been planning this?
Of course just the sight of chocolate had Remus rearing to go, and she let out a light laugh at his tugging on her hand. His words made her roll her eyes lightly, amused, before she got up and let him pull her along. “Mental, you’re absolutely mental,” she mumbled just loud enough for him, although her tone gave away her own endearment. Letting him grab his fill, she proceeded to switch places with him and drag him along behind her. “C’mon then, you,” she ordered, pulling him along behind her, a woman on a mission. James and Lily had already left the room, and she wanted to ask them about their club.
When she turned and saw Remus with a chocolate frog half sticking out of his mouth, she laughed. “How many did you grab?” she teased, shaking her head and giggling softly, before turning away and dragging him the last few feet to their friends. Finally caught up, she lightened her grip on Remus but continued to hold his hand.
"Oi, you two. Firstly, brilliantly done, I think the meeting went well. Secondly, when’d you lot come up with this? It’s absolutely brilliant!"