A/N: I can't stop myself from posting. Everything is stressing me out lately and it made me post this chapter...and write several more WIPs. Merlin. What am I doing? I don't feel like I'm a law student anymore. Anyway, for those who want some happiness for our characters in this story...please wait a bit longer. I'm so sorry!
Disclaimer: I'm not as problematic as You-Know-Her. I'm just a struggling student. I'm not versed in socializing with other people. I want to write fluff but it's quite challenging. OH. What am I supposed to write here again?
Familia Supra Omnia
28 November 1979
Lily Potter awoke on an air mattress in the middle of the ocean.
She could hear nothing, save for the whispers of the wind as it gently held her face in its embrace. As it receded, it skimmed her form, like water, and outlined her body in its wake.
She sighed and relaxed further, letting her arms fall by her sides. Her fingertips touched the surface below her and it promptly responded as little tendrils of water tickled her fingers, arousing her to gasp in delight.
She didn't even know it was possible to be ticklish in that area.
The sudden harsh note of a snort seemed to resonate in the waters below. She opened her eyes, her bright, emerald orbs meeting stormy, grey ones. She merely smiled, careful not to bare any teeth, for how could she not smile when she was facing a dragon— a dragon guarding an apple tree?
Lily now had to keep herself from positively grinning. Surely if she were a dragon, she would've chosen something more important to guard over than a silly tree. Unless those apples could grant her wishes or happiness…
As if sensing her temptation to pluck the nearest fruit in her grasp, the stormy-eyed dragon exhaled into the waters—bringing forth currents that pushed her rapidly away, supposedly to her destination.
Where was she heading exactly?
As if expecting the question, someone whispered, "The End."
And so Lily left it at that.
She let her head drop back onto the comfortable mattress and stared into the inky, black sky. There weren't a lot of stars tonight—rain was to be expected—but the visible ones looked beautiful. It was almost as if they had been carefully painted on a canvass by a tender hand.
Recalling her Astronomy lessons, Lily tried to discern each individual one, but the dog star kept blinding her vision. It almost felt like it was anchoring her—making sure she wouldn't lose her way—as she languidly let herself be carried away by the soft ripplings on the surface of the water.
A bubble of laughter burst out of her mouth as the star blinded her once again. Figures. Even as the twinkling celestial version, he was trying to show-off, and be the centre of attention. She missed its namesake in their lives.
But she missed James even more.
She couldn't help but wish that he was named after a star as well so that she could stare at him while she floated towards nothingness. A sigh escaped her mouth before she could stop it.
The reaction of the scenery was immediate. The stars blended into the sky, leaving behind silver trails in the most unartistic way as possible. It marred its beauty, sketched with a graceless brushing technique, and the sky released yet another colour— one that sent chills down her spine.
As if tasting her fear, it fell from the sky like raindrops, followed by a huge gush of water that burned her lungs and choked her and she tried and tried and tried to breathe—but she couldn't erase the taste from her tongue.
It tasted metallic...like blood. She loathed it.
Promptly, a thunderstorm came rolling in and each boom and thud that shook the night gnawed at her heart, threatening to pop her ears and making it that little bit harder for her to breathe.
She wished harder for the footsteps to just go away.
"Have a safe trip, Vernon."
With a jolt, Lily sat up in her transfigured bed as she struggled to slow her breathing.
'Calm down, Evans,' she wanted to say but her mind was still reeling from the dream she had just had. But the memory was already hazy and beginning to slip away, and as the minutes went by she forgot about the hauntingly beautiful inky black sky, and its stars, and the dragon guarding the tree.
Instead, Lily remembered she was inside a cupboard.
To be exact— Tuney's cupboard in 4 Private Drive, Little Whinging.
"I know you're up, Lily!"
Determinedly ignoring her sister as she would when they were younger, she cracked her neck before casting a quick Tempus charm. As soon as the number 'six' entered her eyesight, she groaned and dropped back into her bed. "It's too early!"
"Oh stop being such a child!" the voice said right outside the tiny cupboard door. Next thing she knew, light had flooded her vision and she groaned louder as she felt sunlight graze her skin.
"Hurry up or I won't leave you any food!"
Right on cue, her stomach growled and she glared at it. Traitor. Choosing food over sleep, it really needed to sort out its priorities. Stumbling on her feet, Lily was hastily leaving the cupboard to claim the awaiting breakfast when she accidentally stubbed her toe on the corner of the wall.
"Flying Flitwick!" she cried out.
Lily saw Petunia peek out from her position and snorting at her pain. "I guess even witches like you can feel pain, eh?"
Scoffing at the comment, she hurriedly sat down beside her sister. "I'm not a bloody Flintstone!"
Petunia passed her a plate of beans. "Is that some sort of wizard joke?"
"Actually, it isn't," Lily said after uttering a quick thanks. "You do remember my letters about the Gifted, right? That there are certain families that inherit a special Gift? Well, there's a line of wizards that can turn their skin into stone. And their family name is called Flint."
"That's hideous, innit?" Petunia commented. She let out a laugh as she answered herself, "Yeah, definitely hideous."
Lily grinned at her sister before taking a piece of bread from the basket. She chewed thoughtfully before speaking, "Now that I think of it, yeah, it is. They also have hideous teeth to boot! Still, they're kind of prized in the wizarding world, Tuney."
Petunia regarded her with pity and understanding in her eyes. "Is that why you call them Flintstones? You poor thing, I'm sure nobody understood your joke." Although it happened a lot, Lily couldn't stop herself from pouting. It was true. She'd only ever gotten weird looks in response.
"Still baffles me as to why they get these Gifts, and you don't," Petunia added.
"I don't think anyone really knows," Lily said in a wistful tone. She stared at her tea, wishing it were pumpkin juice instead. "There's a child's tale about Merlin and Morgana...they apparently fought each other for centuries. When they died, a huge burst of magic blessed certain lands and families with Gifts."
Petunia snorted. "That's a child's tale?" She shook her head at the absurdity of it. "Another reason why those wizards are such freaks—they're off their trolleys, I tell you!"
"Might be," Lily mumbled to herself. She didn't bother mentioning that she was married to one of those freaks she pertained to. Besides, she was part of it all herself and there was no use denying it. The wizarding world was certainly eccentric if she was honest about it. She loved a lot of things about her world, but there were factors that she hated with all her heart.
She hated their old, derogatory ways and most of all—their old laws. Specifically, the one she was running away from.
"You had a hard time, didn't you? Fitting into their world?"
"You have no idea, Tuney," Lily tearfully confessed to her sister, "You have no idea, my kind is treated like dirt. The worst part is that it doesn't even end with my kind! Oh poor Remus… Even some of my old schoolmates act as if I've stolen magic from their families. Tuney, I almost died."
"Fifth Year? When you didn't write for almost a month?"
"Yes," Lily affirmed as she shed a few tears. Wiping them away, she added, "If it weren't for James and the guys, I would have been a goner." She flinched at the way Petunia dropped her cutlery on her plate.
"Why did you stay then? Why didn't you leave?" Petunia asked, and Lily couldn't stop her shoulders from shaking further at Petunia's accusations. She heard her sister sigh. "I'm sorry. I...You left me, Lily. Then mum and dad followed after that hideous accident."
Shaking her head, Lily allowed her to continue. "No, you're right." She swiped at her tears as she willed them to go away. "You're right and I made my decision to stay. I don't think I could've left, Tuney. It's Magic—it's me."
Petunia seemed to accept her answer as they ate together in silence. Lily hated the silence. Seven years of being in the same school with the Marauders made that discomfort of hers a little less noticeable. Suddenly, Petunia pushed herself away from the table and Lily jumped out of her thoughts with a jolt.
"I'm going out. I'll be heading to the grocer's for a bit of–"
"No, let me buy it," Lily cut her off by placing both their plates in the sink with a flick of her wand. "You're pregnant, Tuney. Let me help."
She wanted a breather anyway. A good walk would remove her gloomy thoughts.
"If you insist," Petunia simply acquiesced, not even showing any signs of acknowledgment on the magic she had committed. Passing her a piece of paper, she added, "Give me the receipt so I can pay you later."
"Sure, Tuney," Lily said, grinning to herself. Before her sister could make her promise anything else, she hurriedly grabbed her cloak and headed straight for the door.
"Lily?" she heard Petunia call out.
With a bit of hesitation, Lily paused and looked at her sister. "Yeah?"
"The Potter boy's Gift. I never asked you what it was?"
Although she was out of her sister's vision, she shook her head and answered, "He's an Adopter, Tuney. He can Borrow Gifts."
Charlus Potter had never envisioned a day where he would willingly stash a huge amount of money and ask his son to go into hiding. Yet here he was doing exactly what he was afraid of doing...with two of his sons this time around.
"You're getting all of this information, James?"
James continued to sift through the huge pile of Muggle money on his desk as he answered. "Yeah, dad. Is this really necessary?" He watched as James paused to look at him with uncertainty and gestured at the money on the table. "I don't think things will get worse than this."
Feeling a bit lost himself, he rubbed a hand across his face. He had never felt this lost in his entire life. Perhaps when his father had died or the time when he had been thinking of ways to ask Dorea and her house for her hand in marriage...and never had he been as lost as when he had descended into fatherhood.
As he drank in the sight of his sons, who were hovering beside the table and their mother just behind them, silently guiding them over the plan, he reckoned these people were the reason that he never felt he had lost his way in life as a father.
When the two boys—men, he reluctantly corrected himself, were raised at the ends of the political spectrum, it baffled the wizarding community on how these two ended up as friends and subsequently, as brothers. It was most certainly puzzling when he woke up and found an additional head sitting at his table.
"Hey, dad. Sirius can stay here, yeah?"
Charlus was sure that this Sirius was a Black, having found the trademark black hair, pale skin, and grey eyes in this young boy, but as he had looked to Dorea for guidance—she had given him a subtle nod—he had thrown away all of the political repercussions swimming in his mind as he answered, "Yes, of course."
"Carleigh makes the best scalloped potatoes in the entire world. She'd be devastated if you didn't try them. The chicken is wonderful as well." With amusement, Charlus watched Dorea subtly move plates of dishes in the poor boy's direction. He chuckled when frightened grey eyes met sharp grey eyes, and the former ended up giving a meek, helpless nod instead.
"Mum, you're frightening him!" James protested.
"Come on, James, your mother has always wanted another son." He turned to the sleek raven-haired boy and spoke with faux sternness, "And you, young man, should prepare for dessert. We're sick of treacle tart, but we don't have the heart to say no to James," he finished with a wink.
Startled grey eyes met his own hazel ones before Sirius dashed off the room. Confusion marred his face as he tried to reassess what he had just done. "Did I do something wrong?"
"You were too nice, dad," James chided before muttering an apology as he left to look for Sirius.
That same night, Dorea informed him that Walburga had officially disowned Sirius.
Jolted out of his thoughts, he found himself meeting Sirius' concerned grey eyes. He smiled sheepishly and said, "By Godric! I am getting old, aren't I?"
"You look absolutely divine, father. Nothing to worry about," James uttered in the poshest accent he could muster.
"Young boy, surely I do not sound like that!" Charlus chided lightheartedly. Ever since James had entered Hogwarts, he had learnt that not everyone spoke like his parents. It was a shocker when his little son arrived home one summer, trying to speak like a delightful banshee—as what Dorea called him when James tried to speak like a fool with his mouth full.
"And of course, it's necessary. Both of you know that politics is bloody when they deem it to be. I want both of my sons out of harm's way." He watched them giving each other a look before agreeing to his sentiments.
"Alright," James conceded. "We'll follow your plan: hide in one of the summer houses, bring Lily, and wait for your update."
"Where's that damned old litigator?" Sirius asked.
Charlus let out a bark of a laugh. "That 'damned old' litigator, who is going to save your brother's arse." He paused to relish the various reactions he had gotten. A grin from James, a snicker from Sirius, and an affectionate eye-roll from Dorea and then he continued, "will be waiting at Le Pur."
"Augusta's going to be there in a while," Dorea informed the men around her. "We'll take our leave now." She kissed both of her sons on both cheeks with a reminder, "Be good."
Grinning, he waited for Dorea to reach his side. Dorea Potter née Black, his wonderful wife. Everyone claimed he was the lucky one in their relationship. After a handful of decades spent as her other half, he could proudly say that it was true.
Dorea Potter, best of wives and best of women.
"They're our sons, Dorea. They're always good," Charlus assured her with a wink before Disapparating them out of the room.
Looking at the list with unconcealed distaste, Lily muttered to herself as she pushed the shopping trolley under her grasp. "Are they bloody drunkards or something? These are all expensive too."
She continued to proceed towards the liquor section when she suddenly halted in her steps. Petunia was pregnant. Why was she drinking then?
Perhaps they were for Vernon. He wasn't abusive, was he?
"Godric," she muttered to herself, absentmindedly grabbing the bottles of liquor. "I'm overthinking this. They could be œnophiles for all I care." She grabbed two more bottles indicated at the bottom of the list. Apart from her usual senseless worrying over Tuney, idling between the aisles was a nice way of forgetting things, though she knew she had overstayed at her sister's.
As she made her way to the checkout, she passed by the poultry section and moved quickly past it as soon as the potent smell drifted into her nose. Cursing her extremely sensitive sense of smell, she muttered, "I guess the meat isn't fresh," and quickly covered her mouth as she gagged further. She willed herself to take several deep breaths before regaining her composure.
After paying for her goods, she hid in an alleyway and shrunk the bags to fit inside her pocket. It wasn't necessary, but she had always made it a point to show her sister some magic after reaching the legal age. Not that using underage magic stopped her, but that's another cauldron. Once the shrunken bags were tucked inside her pocket, she strode forward and proceeded to walk to Petunia's house.
"I'm gaining a lot of weight," she observed and patted her stomach for a good measure. "Guess I should use this opportunity then." She took slow steps and bigger steps as if to exercise.
"I have to ask James what he does to stay in shape. He's very six pack...y," she muttered to herself then blushed when she remembered the night before. It definitely wasn't their first, yet it was the most intimate one they'd had.
"Lily Potter," she said a bit louder this time. "Potter!" She laughed herself silly thinking back on how she hated girls who became all giggly after getting their boyfriends.
"You're a hypocrite, Evans." She pursed her lips before muttering, "Potter" again and again as she skipped, seemingly forgetting her lunges in order to arrive faster at Tuney's house. Lily had a lot to tell her sister.
Lily poised to knock on the door—always six knocks—when she felt something poking her back.
"Lily Evans…Potter," the voice said as if wanting to spit on it, "The Ministry demands your presence. Any resistance will be immediately met by a grievous response."
"Urgent news: There has been an attack in Hogsmeade just a few minutes ago. Attack was concentrated in well-known establishments such as Le Pur, Three Broomsticks. Government has yet to classify if it was a terrorist attack. Students from Hogwarts were advised to be sent home."
"Urgent news: No students casualties reported. Just in! Oh, Merlin's beard!...apologies. Among casualties are Lady Dowager Augusta Longbottom, Lord Charlus Potter, Lady Dorea Potter–"
James Potter froze in his seat as he tried to take in what he had just heard. Barely aware of Sirius' cries and ramblings, he sat there frozen as he tried to think of something plausible aside from the gobshite he had just heard.
It was just a prank by Sirius, right? One gone way too much?
"No, no, no, no, no," Sirius muttered beside him that were like stabs to his heart. Why was Sirius acting like this? This was only a joke, right? Some big, cosmic joke and Sirius had somehow enlisted the reporter's, parents', and even scary auntie Augusta's aid.
No matter how hard he tried to convince himself, he knew that Sirius would never go this far.
Sirius was openly wailing now and James, for the first time, wanted Sirius to just go away. Maybe if he closed his ears, he wouldn't hear Sirius' cries? If he did, it wouldn't be true, right?
"No, not them! James!" Sirius was in front of him now, piercing him with anguished grey eyes. This was different from the Sirius the world has accustomed to, but a slightly familiar sight to James. The last time he had seen him like this was when Arcturus - one of his only allies in the Black family - suddenly died.
James felt the world spinning around him and it took him a few moments to realize that his brother was shaking him by the shoulders. "This is a joke, right?" James could only look at helplessly before encasing Sirius in a hug. Although Charlus and Dorea were his blood parents, he knew, deep in his heart, that Sirius ended up loving, cherishing, and adoring them just as much as he did.
"We're going to find out what happened," James tried to comfort his brother. Even to his own ears, he could hear how lifeless it sounded. Suddenly, Sirius ripped himself from his arms.
"I'm going to kill them, James! Whoever did this, I'm going to kill them!"
James knew he had to stop Sirius from getting any ideas, but he didn't have the energy to do so. He knew it was wrong, but he wanted to kill the ones who had caused their deaths. Mum and Dad...Merlin, please, this must be a joke, right? A cruel prank? Surely no one hated him that much. Anything was better than this.
"No one's going to kill anyone."
Feeling thankful for another presence to stop Sirius, he turned slowly to face Frank, who looked like he was in Auror mode with his gear on. "Their...bodies have been dispatched to Saint Mungo's. I'll escort both of you there."
He saw a blur pass him. Sirius was clamping on Frank's shoulders this time, desperately shaking them, as he pleaded, "Please tell me they're not dead. Please, Frank. I'm begging you."
It broke James' heart when Frank; the one they had always looked up to while they were still students merely closed his eyes and grabbed both of them by the shoulders to Apparate them to Saint Mungo's.
As soon as they landed, James fell to his knees, absentmindedly noting that the feeling of nothingness from Apparition was still there, and heaved the breakfast he had this morning. The last one he had with his parents. That's when his tears started to fall. He heaved further as he tried to empty the contents of his stomach, willing for it to take the sadness away.
He gripped harder on his knees as Alice rubbed circles on his back.
He wished Lily were here instead.
"Would you like to see them?" she asked.
"Where's Pads?" James asked instead of answering. He wanted to see them, but he didn't know if he was ready. Would he ever be ready?
"Frank brought him inside for less exposure. There's a couple of journalists waiting around the corner." Alice cast a Scourgify on his clothes and one on the ground. "I'm sorry, Jamie."
James refused to look at her, adamant on not accepting it yet. Not yet.
"We have to go now."
As soon as they entered the room, they were met by a wave of Padfoot's whimpers. James found Sirius' Animagus form sitting in one corner, covering its nose with its paws as it continued to whimper as if in terrible pain. For a second, he yearned to transform into his Animagus form as well in order to escape, but he needed to speak in order to get answers.
James forced himself to walk towards the bed where his parents were laid beside each other. They looked like they were merely sleeping, a familiar sight for a kid who always snuck into his parents' room. He crept towards their bed as if he were to nick a piece of sweet from Mum's bedside table, enact a prank against Dad, or simply slide between them because he couldn't sleep.
This time it was different. No matter how loud he proceeded, they wouldn't wake. They wouldn't wake because they were dead.
"How did it…" he found himself unable to continue as he stared at Charlus and Dorea's faces. The Healers must have fixed them up and given them temporary glamours because he could barely see any difference since the last time he saw them. There weren't any signs of suffering from an explosion.
"Happen?" Alice supplied for him. She transfigured three chairs for them to sit on. Sirius ignored the offer by staying in his dog form. "The Ministry has deemed their cases to be confidential so I don't know much of the details...or if they even have any. There were multiple areas of explosions. Frank and I aren't sure if this was intentional or not."
"Of course it is," Sirius spoke, finally returning to his body.
"Sirius, there aren't any clues pertaining to that yet," Alice reminded him lightly.
"It's too much of a coincidence! Explosions happening a few hours before a Wizengamot session?" Sirius pointed out.
"I know it might be, Sirius, but these are just all speculations. I wouldn't want to accuse anyone without having any evidence against them," Alice said.
"If this could happen to the Potters, I'm certain they'll be throwing people in Azkaban without a trial next!"
Before Sirius could continue with his exclamations, the door opened to reveal a grey-haired woman wearing a huge white coat with a tiny monocle on her face. It was Amelia Bones, a long-time friend of his mother. Apart from being a famous Auror, she was also a Healer for special cases. This was a common ground for the family having the Gift of Healing. James figured if someone had the ability to erase their wounds and scars in a short matter of time, it must've been someone with the Gift.
"James, Sirius, Alice," she greeted somberly. "Alice, dear, I think it would be best if you visit Frank. He needs you."
Alice looked at them apologetically and James felt guilt rush through him. He had been holding Alice here, not even thinking about how Frank was faring.
"I'll check up on both of you later," Alice muttered before leaving the room.
"Was it painful?" he finally asked. The silence was deafening.
Amelia looked at them in uncertainty, her gaze on Sirius lingering a little longer. She removed her lens to rub her eyes and finally answered them, "No, it wasn't. The blast ended them right on the spot. Dorea's core showed that she wasn't even able to absorb it, nor was Augusta able to utilize her Gift."
Sirius let out an anguished cry, but James was glad it hadn't been painful for them at least. "Are their cores still active?"
"Yes," Amelia said, "For fifteen minutes. I have to check on the other patients. I'll leave you to it." She rose slowly as if wanting to say something else. "I…"
"Would you like me to give you one as well? I'm sure they would have wanted to," he offered.
"That...I...I'd be honoured," she managed to answer with a quivering voice. James averted his gaze to give her some respect. "I do have to check on the other patients. I'll see both of you later."
Sirius, stuck in a daze, merely nodded in response, while James forced himself to croak out a "Thank you."
"Both of you take care. They...wanted both of you safe." She stood up, kissed both of their cheeks, and left them to their mourning.
James wanted to do nothing besides moping from the loss of his parents, but he knew that he had to harvest their Gifts before the time limit was up.
Acquiring Gifts from the dead was a sacred routine for a Gifted family. Gifts were a manifestation of a family's magical prowess, more so than the usual magic itself. And so from the first of their families, up until now, members of the House (it was ideal that the Heir commit the action) harvest the Gift swirling along with the dead's magical cores.
It was a tedious task, emotional even, for the harvester to pull the Gift from their fallen one for the last time. The harvester has to exert his focus and energy into the being of the person. Sometimes, the harvester becomes stuck in the persona of the dead, and other times, the harvester cannot simply do it.
However, it was much easier if the harvester and the dead have the same Gift, for it made the connection much easier than normal. Not easy, just easier than the usual struggle.
Luckily for James, their family was blessed by Lady Magic to make this task much simpler. The Potters were the Borrowers, able to manipulate the Gift as if it were their own—even for a short period of time.
"Will you let me keep one of their stones?"
A voice broke him out of his thoughts. Despite the situation, James had to roll his eyes at Sirius' ridiculousness.
If the harvesting of stones were sacred, even more for the act of receiving stones. Aside from keeping one stone for the family records, a couple of stones were usually handed out to family members and loved ones. With that being said, Sirius was part of their family, blood be damned.
"Of course, Pads. We wouldn't want mum to haunt us forever, right?" They shared a quiet laugh before turning sombre again.
Not wanting to waste more time, James stood up and laid a hand on Charlus' stomach. Effortlessly, a familiar stone, not bigger than a galleon, materialized in his other hand. Without looking at it, he handed Sirius the stone for his safekeeping.
As he repeated the process for a couple more times, he thought of how warm the stones felt in his hand. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it was unusual. He had practice with Borrowing his father's Gift as soon as his own materialized. The stone was always a mixture of transparent and opaque white stones, unsmooth and cold to the touch. Every stone was cold to his touch.
How come it was warm this time? Was this his father's way of saying he's still here?
Crushing any emotional thoughts, he moved to head beside his mother in order to repeat the same action. As soon as he felt the warm, smooth stone in his other hand, he passed it to Sirius without a second thought.
It was warm as well. Several stones appeared in his hand again and soon he understood the feeling it emitted. The stones felt like the hearth...the symbol of home. A sob escaped from his mouth and he willed himself to think straight. He might accidentally absorb these stones in a blink and it won't be alright if Dorea's core died already.
He laid his mum's inky, black stones beside his dad's white ones on the bedside table before doing a mental count on the recipients: a pair to be kept in the family collection, a pair for him and Lily, a pair for Sirius, a pair for Amelia, and the last pair for Carleigh.
"Carleigh," James called out softly for the house-elf. An audible pop followed by an anguished cry was immediately heard. "I'm sorry for not calling you immediately, Carleigh." He reached down to hand her the stones. His eyes met wide, thankful hazel orbs and James forced himself to hold his tears. Here was Carleigh, the Potter house-elf who raised his father to be the man he was today.
"Will you stay and watch?" he asked.
After receiving a shaky nod, he fixed his robes and gave a nod to Sirius. He returned to Charlus' side while Sirius and Carleigh stayed beside Dorea's. Both men gingerly placed the warm stones on their parents' foreheads—Dorea's stone on Charlus' forehead, Charlus' stone on Dorea's forehead—and kissed both of their cheeks.
"Familia Supra Omnia," James whispered and closed his eyes as Sirius and Carleigh echoed Dorea's favoured words.
"We'll be good, mum...like father. We will," he promised out loud, receiving a shaky grin and a loud sniffling in response.
"I'm going to offer help to Frank. It might take him a while," James informed both of them. It was the least he could for bringing Augusta into this mess. As soon as he moved to step out of the room, Frank came barging in with the most distressed look James has ever seen on the distinguished Auror's face.
"Frank, I was just about to–"
"James, they have Lily! She's being questioned right now."