Chapter Two: When Monday Comes
It was Christmas break in her third year at Hogwarts. Lily was hunched over her desk in her room. The desk's mahogany surface was buried underneath scattered papers and books as a result of Lily working on her schoolwork. That mess on her desk never bothered Lily though. There was no rhyme or reason to the placement of each parchment or book on her desk. It was rather an effective system in her own eyes. To organize it would cause chaos; Lily would have no idea where anything was. In conclusion, Lily was a messy person, but that is how she liked it and functioned.
Lily's eyebrows furrowed as she poured all her concentration into the paper right in front of her. The white feather ink pen in her right hand was scribbling madly to catch up with her pace of thought. The sentences flowed on to her paper over the topic of how to make a sleeping potion and for the reasons it was necessary. Five inches in length were needed for the completion of the assignment and she was only a mere inch and a half away when her father crossed the threshold of her bedroom door. Lily looked up to see her father in a giddy state. His pudgy face was beaming at her.
"Lily?" Her father asked enthusiastically with a hint of mischief in his voice.
"Yes…" Lily drawled out, waiting for him to continue.
"As you know, your Mom and Petunia already left to visit Aunt Marge for the next couple of days…How about we head on over to the grocery store?" He regarded Lily with a hesitant smile awaiting her answer. He was not sure if she would be thrilled with the idea like she used to be or would remark with disapproval.
It took Lily a minute to process his question. But once she strolled down memory lane, her neutral face broke out into a full fledge grin. She enthusiastically shouted a yes as she grabbed her coat to leave with her dad.
Later that night, the two enjoyed a special moment of eating a bowl of Reese's Pieces Cereal with chocolate milk in each other's company. They would shortly have to throw away the evidence of indulging in such treats before Lily's mother and sister returned. They were only allowed to eat healthy food in their household. But in that moment for the father and daughter, life could get no sweeter than the quality time they spent together over a bowl of sugary sweet cereal.
Lily recalled that memory as clear as so many other happy memories with her father. How could he be gone, she thought to herself? Her body laid crumpled up in her bed due to her broken spirit, her broken heart, and her newfound meaningless existence. She latched onto the pillow that was once behind her head and buried her face into it as her pain consumed her. Her memories all seemed so real to her. As if her father was there with her in that very moment. How could someone seem so real and be remembered to the very last detail, but be gone she wanted to know. He was supposed to be around until he was old, always cheering on Lily and witnessing all her major accomplishments in life. He was never supposed to leave her when she was 16. She was still a kid, a kid who needed her father.
Lily's preoccupied mind was faintly aware of the conversation buzzing around her.
"It's not healthy for her to still be like this, right Doctor Reed? It has been seven days and it is as if she's been glued to that bed. I barely got her out of it for his funeral, and then she went right back to this state. This is not normal, right? Right?!" Mrs. Evans asked the doctor frantically. Mrs. Evans and Doctor Reed were discussing Lily's condition a few feet away from her in her bedroom. Lily began to register the conversation on a subconscious level.
Doctor Reed analyzed Lily's broken state, processed her condition in his mind, and made a rough sigh before breaking the news to Mrs. Evans. "Lily seems to be suffering from a severe form of depression, which should seem normal considering the circumstances. But if her current condition continues for… let's say around three more days, give me a call and we will admit her in a psychiatric ward to undergo extensive counseling."
Mrs. Evans puckered her lips after hearing his diagnosis. Light brown eyes revealed her conflict of nervousness, but her voice did not echo that concern when she calmly agreed with him.
Lily's muddled mind took in every word spoken, but she could not recall most of that conversation if she was asked to. If she could have responded, she would note that it would be impossible for her mother to take her to the psycho ward because she would worry too much about what the neighbors would think of their family. No response was spoken though. Lily was lost to the darker part of her mind that Monday morning.
James let out a loud grunt as he sat in the blue foldable chair that was offered to all the new trainees. Only him of the three trainees seemed to be unenthusiastic to be there. James sat with his two fellow comrades in still silence as they watched the clock above the podium in front of them slowly tick away. They all waited for the big hand to come across the 12 and the little hand to perfectly match with the number nine. Finally, 9 o'clock came, and a new person entered the room.
It was a meekly looking woman standing barely over 5'3". She was a plain looking character carrying three books. Quietly she made her way over to the boys and handed them each a thin book titled "Training Manual". She next headed to the podium, stood behind it, and softly spoke to all the boys.
"Hello, I am Isabelle Reyes. Please read these, and when you feel confident enough to give it a shot, the room next to the right is where you'll be working. Don't be afraid to answer a phone, granted the most calls we get around here seem to be five or six a day. I guess people are often too afraid to speak on their feelings. But there are some that do want to and they are who we are here for. We do have projections the call volume will increase well into the summer. I would say the most time you need to spend reading these manuals will be about…45 minutes past nine. But you are welcome to begin your shift earlier, if you like. All of your shifts will last until 3 o'clock. If you have any questions, I'll be in the room outside to the left. Well… good luck, and remember, our goal is to give people the hope to cope with their losses." She flashed an uncertain smile before abandoning the podium to head to her office.
James was surprised the amount of trust they were all being granted. He was blown away him and the other trainees were just allowed to go in and start answering calls after 45-minutes spent on reading material. He wondered how there could be no competency quiz or role play to ensure they knew how to treat a caller. None of those questions he was asking himself needed answers from Isabelle though. He just had one burning question to ask. James thrust his hand in the air and called out Isabelle's name.
Isabelle turned to look at James in the middle of the doorway. She almost had made her escape with no questions asked. Isabelle exhaled and said, "Yes?"
"Why telephones? Isn't that just a muggle contraption?" Isabelle blinked at him. He must have saw one of the phones before sitting in this room. She knew it was a fair question for him to ask. Most wizards and witches were not familiar with muggle communication systems such as telephones. "Page seven in the book in front of you will have your answer. All three of you, read first. Then come to me with questions. I am confident everything you need to perform this job is laid out for you in the reading material provided."
The three boys looked each other than shrugged before engaging in the books before them. Immediately James flipped to page seven.
"The muggle telephone is used…"
James' curiosity was satisfied upon finishing page seven. He flipped to the front to start the training from the beginning. James stifled a few laughs throughout his reading session; some of the suggestions for helping those who called seemed to be outlandishly ridiculous. A first year at Hogwarts could feed the same lines to someone dealing with the loss of a loved one that they offered in the manual. To him, this program seemed like a bogus operation, just to make the creators of it look caring and sympathetic.
About 20 minutes after nine, James watched one of the volunteers scamper off to the workroom. Or the "healing room" as it was referred to in the manual. James shook his head as he continued to read the suggestion advice to help a caller.
Ten minutes later, James was the last one left in the room reading. He was attempting to use the 45 minutes he was allotted to the fullest before it was necessary for him to transition to the "healing room". Page after page James grew more bored of the contents in the training manual. It may have been worse than reading A History of Magic he thought to himself. And that was saying a lot from James Potter. He took a break to look up to the clock, it showed five minutes remaining before he had to leave. Right as he was about to resume his reading material, the workroom's door was forcefully flung open as the heavier of the new trainees heaved before pointing a finger at James.
"Hey! Are you James Potter?" The chubby boy questioned James in a disapproving tone.
"So, what if I am?" James give the boy a chilled look.
"Someone has requested to talk to you… her name is Stacy?" James eyebrows knitted together in confusion. He could not understand why someone would call for him when he had not even started the role yet. The only people who knew of his punishment were Peter, Remus, and Sirius.
"SIRIUS!" James exclaimed to himself in frustration. He took his fists and beat his head. Why on earth had he told Sirius, he berated to himself.
That Monday Hope to Cope received more calls in a single day then they have had received at their operation in two months' time. Ninety-three calls in total to be exact. All of the callers turned out to be girl's part of the "James Potter" fan club wishing to have their chance to talk to him. James was highly embarrassed and frustrated about all the attention he received. On the other hand, though, he had hoped it would work to his advantage in getting him to serve his community service elsewhere for the summer. Unfortunately, James' father had other ideas when he heard about what had happened that Monday.
Author's Note: I'll elaborate more on the telephone explanation in a later chapter. I want to save the reveal for when Lily is involved in the explanation.