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Chapter 3: Day Three
My Lips Are Sealed
The next morning, James found himself walking alone to breakfast. It was day three, and sleeping had begun to trouble him—he was probably anxious to know the outcome of the bet—and he had therefore gone to breakfast early while his friends slept in. Despite his nervousness, though he was fairly pleased with how things were going. His interaction with Lily after his first apology note was very positive, and he was doubtful that she had ever spoken so civilly to him. Yes, things were finally looking up.
To make things even better, he heard Evelyn’s voice ring out behind him. He turned around and saw the girl hurrying to catch up to him. He waited and as she finally approached, she nodded cordially.
“Potter,” she acknowledged, offering a smile.
“Hey there,” he responded with a smile in return. “What can I do for you?” he asked with a questioning raised eyebrow.
“I just wanted to let you know…” She paused for a moment, perhaps contemplating whether or not she should continue. Finally, she did. “I wanted to tell you that Lily liked your note.” It was somewhat reluctant, but she seemed relieved to say it.
“She did?” James said softly, his jaw dropping somewhat in shock. His mind was already reeling with excitement and he had suddenly lost his breath.
“Yes,” she continued with the same averseness. “But you can’t say a thing to her about it because she’ll absolutely kill me for telling you,” she informed him rapidly, a concerned look passing over her face.
“Oh… Yes…” James muttered as he looked down to the ground, but he appeared to be only half listening.
“I’m supposed to be on her side, after all,” she continued in an incredibly unsure tone.
“Her side?” he persisted, looking back up at her quickly.
“Well, I think she might see something different in you,” she said carefully, somewhat unwilling to meet his eyes. “But she won’t admit it and I’m supposed to believe her when she says that she feels no differently about you.” He didn’t speak for several moments which prompted her to continue. “Don’t get the impression that she’s going to fall at your feet tomorrow or something, but… She definitely softening.” She paused for a moment and then resumed speaking quickly. “But please don’t tell her I said anything because she would absolutely split me in two for even muttering a word.”
As she looked at him desperately, he smiled and nodded. “Mum’s the word,” he told her solemnly, to which she returned his nod and turned to walk away. As she was leaving, she stopped in mid turn, though, and faced him once more.
“By the way, James,” she said quietly, as if she were passing on some additional secret. “I’ve been rooting for you all along…Even though it may not seem like it.” She offered a warm smile—perhaps an encouragement of some kind. “And I really hope this bet works out for you. Just—…”
James interrupted her. “Don’t tell Lily,” he finished for her, chuckling. “Your secrets are safe with me. Thanks, Evelyn.” As she walked away, he turned once more to head to the Great Hall, unable to keep the bright and goofy grin off of his face.
After classes, the Marauders had taken refuge outside under a rather large oak tree. There was Remus with a book in hand as per usual, Sirius with a Quidditch magazine, Peter looking anxiously between the two of them, and James sitting several feet above them with arms crossed on the lowest branch of the tree.
“You know you look pretty silly brooding up there,” Sirius said without looking up to his friend.
“I’m not brooding,” James said simply, glancing down at his friends. “Just thinking.”
“Right, brooding,” Sirius said with a grin, licking his finger and lazily turning the page of the magazine.
“You know, Evelyn found me and talked to me this morning while you were all asleep,” James continued nonchalantly as he scanned the grounds.
“And what did she say?” Remus asked, eyes trained on the text of his book.
“That Lily likes the letters that I send her.”
“They’re not really letters,” Sirius protested with a snort. “They’re more like little scraps of paper with really small handwriting on them.”
“Okay, fine. She liked those. That’s not the point, though. She liked my letters,” he said, glimmers of hope lacing his tone.
“Your little scraps of—…” Sirius began, but Remus elbowed him.
“That’s great, Prongs,” Peter told him as he strained his neck to look up at his friend.
They sat in silence for some time before James pointed wildly to a point across the grass. “Look! There’s Lily and her friends!” he exclaimed before promptly losing his balance and sliding off of the branch. He caught himself though, just barely missing Sirius’ head with his foot, and found himself hanging from the tree branch as he watched in horror as Madeleine pointed over at him. He scrambled back up onto the branch and dusted off his clothes as gallantly as he could, clearing his throat. Nonetheless, he could see Lily and her two friends laughing openly at his clumsiness.
“I should go over there,” James said, preparing himself to jump off of the branch.
“You just got back up there!” Sirius pointed out, rolling his eyes.
“No,” Remus said quickly, barely stopping James before he slid off the branch. “Sit,” he ordered, looking up at James.
“But why!” James whined, looking back over at Lily who had ceased laughing and was now talking to her friends.
“You’re on her good side with these…” He paused and glanced at Sirius before continuing. “These little scraps of paper. You don’t want to go over there and do something stupid to make her forget that she likes something you did.”
“But what if I don’t do something stupid,” James pointed out quickly and rather desperately.
“You will,” Sirius offered, smiling sweetly up at his friend. “It’s you, after all.”
“Sirius is right,” Remus said, much to James’ dismay. “Let her think about these nice little notes that you sent for a day. It’ll give you a leg up. Tomorrow you can do something stupid again,” he conceded and went back to his book. “Besides, if you’re lucky, she may wonder why you didn’t talk to her today. She’ll find you all mysterious and such. If you’re lucky.”
“You could write her a note tonight!” Peter suggested quite excitedly, elbowing Remus for approval. Remus paused for a moment before finally shrugging and nodding in somewhat reluctant consent. Peter clapped his hands once, looking back up at James. “I can’t wait for you two to get married because then I can say that I was part of the reason!”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Sirius mumbled, narrowing his eyes as he looked at Peter and then returned to his magazine.
“Are they looking over here?” James asked quietly, widening his eyes in nervousness. Peter began to look wildly over at the girls but James threw a stick down onto his head.
“Hey hey! Don’t throw that! You could poke someone’s eye out!” Sirius said as he tossed the stick away from them.
“Yeah, like you’ve ever cared about the safety of others,” Remus scoffed.
“I like my eyes very much, thank you,” Sirius replied dignifiedly, crossing his arms.
James hadn’t heard a word, though, and continued as if none of them had spoken. “Don’t look! They’ll see you looking and know we’re looking.” He spoke quickly and stealthily, attempting to look as debonair as possible on the tree.
“You’re a woman, Prongs,” Sirius told him, shaking his head as he went back to his magazine once again.
“Okay, now I say we offhandedly walk back up to the castle and I’ll smile at Lily really charmingly and such, and she’ll swoon and it’ll be perfect.”
“I’m not even going to grace that comment with a response,” Sirius muttered.
“C’mon, everyone stand up so I can jump down all daring like,” James said hurriedly.
Reluctantly, Remus, Peter, and Sirius got up, all looking quite bored. “She’s looking so don’t—…” As Remus spoke, he saw James slip from the tree once more, flailing wildly until he hit the ground ungracefully with a thud. “—fall…”
James stood up quickly, tidying himself up with a clear of his throat. “Note to self, don’t sit on that branch…It’s slippery.”
“Or you’re just clumsy, but who’s really counting?” Sirius asked as he began to walk up to the castle, Peter following close behind.
As they walked nearer to Lily, Remus began muttering under his breath to James. “Now, you have to smile nicely. No grin. No hand through hair. No wink. Nothing like that. Just a nice smile.”
“A wave?” James asked under his breath.
“Too desperate. Okay. Look over casually…” James did so and locked eyes with Lily. “And smile…” Remus continued in a murmur. James delivered this “nice smile” beautifully and almost shrieked when he saw Lily offer a half-smile in return. “Be calm,” Remus muttered just in time and James continued up towards the castle, using all he had in him to contain his excitement until they reached the Entrance Hall. “Good work,” Remus commended, patting James on the back.
“Did he just fall out of that tree?” Evelyn asked in concern, her eyebrows furrowing suddenly.
“For the second time? Yes,” Lily replied, the ghost of a smile passing over her lips.
“No, the first time he was just hanging from the branch,” Madeleine pointed out simply.
“That looked like it hurt…” Evelyn muttered, shaking her head slightly.
“What, do you have a soft side for him now or something?” Lily asked suddenly, sending a sharp look over to her friend.
“No,” Evelyn protested, confusion passing over her features. “If anyone fell from a tree, I would be worried that they were hurt.”
Lily didn’t say anything, but simply looked back over at James, expressionless.
“Did you think I liked him or something?” Evelyn ventured carefully, glancing at James as well.
“No,” Lily replied quickly, not averting her eyes from James. “He’s not coming over here, is he?”
“No, it looks like he’s not,” Madeleine replied. “Do you want him to? I can call him on over if you want,” she continued slyly, opening her mouth to call out his name.
“No,” Lily repeated just as rapidly. Remus was talking to him and they were far too distant for her to hear a word they said. Had he even seen her? The question was answered when he looked over at her casually and smiled warmly. The smile that she returned was completely involuntary—she couldn’t help it!
“Are you smiling back?” Evelyn asked quietly, not wanting James and Remus to hear her.
“Was I?” Lily asked, turning to her friends slowly after watching Remus and James retreat for a few moments.
“Yes, you did,” Madeleine said with a smirk. “And you’re still smiling. If you wanted to know.”
“Oh…” Was all that Lily said.
“Not denying it?” Madeleine asked with raised eyebrows.
“I suppose not.” She paused for a moment, contemplating something, before continuing. “Why didn’t James talk to me today?” she asked suddenly.
“He’s not allowed to talk to you, remember?” Evelyn said, chuckling lightly.
“I meant, why isn’t he trying to talk to me?”
“Why do you care?” Evelyn asked jovially, her eyes glittering with mirth.
“I was just wondering,” Lily said with a shrug.
“Well, you didn’t have any classes with him today,” Madeleine pointed out. “And this is the first time you’ve seen him today. And he was with his friends when you did see him. And every other interaction has been a disaster. He probably saw no reason.”
“Oh…” Lily murmured again, watching their faraway figures as they finally entered the castle.
“Why, do you want him to talk to you?” Evelyn asked. “Or try to, I mean.”
“No, I suppose not,” Lily said, finally looking back at her two friends. “It’s starting to get dark—shall we head in?”
Madeleine looked at Evelyn with a smirk before replying. “Sure thing,” she said. “And we’re not going in because James just went in, right?”
“No, it’s just getting dark,” Lily said calmly, standing up. “That’s all.”
“Right…” Madeleine replied slowly, standing up as well.
The girls stopped at the Great Hall for dinner before heading up to the Gryffindor tower. Curiously, there were no Marauders in sight in the Great Hall or the Common Room, but Lily chose not to point this out to her friends. When they reached the girls’ dorm, though, they saw a letter sitting at the bottom of the stairs with Lily’s name written in fancy lettering on the envelope.
“What’s this?” she asked, picking up the letter slowly, quite confused by the object. They hurried up to the dorm to open and read the letter, quite anxious to see where it had come from. Lily sat down on her bed quickly and Evelyn and Madeleine sat on either edge, restlessly awaiting Lily’s reaction.
“Dear Lily,” she read slowly, her stomach knotting in anticipation. “Since I wrote you letters for the first two days of our bet, I decided to keep the tradition going and send you another one. Except for this time I’m not apologizing because I don’t think I did anything wrong today. I don’t think… Well, in any case, if I did something wrong, I apologize. The only I time I saw you was outside this evening, though (you looked quite nice today, by the way) and I all I did was fall out of that tree. Which was on purpose because I have excellent balancing skills. Okay, perhaps it wasn’t on purpose, but it made you laugh so I think I can live with the bruise. I miss talking to you (even if you are probably reveling in the peace and quiet from me) and even if I don’t win this bet, I look forward to being able to talk to you. If I don’t win this bet, I hope I can talk to you at least as a friend. But I can only hope for that much. I’ll see you tomorrow in Potions. Sleep well. James.”
Lily was silent for several moments as she read over the letter once more while Madeleine and Evelyn looked at each other, unsure. Finally, Lily spoke.
“Well, that was nice,” she said pleasantly, folding the paper and putting it back into the envelope neatly.
“Lily, you really just have to admit it,” Evelyn said after an instant as she stood up to move to her own bed.
“Admit what?” she asked innocently.
“That you don’t hate him anymore,” Madeleine offered, letting out a low and weary sigh, raising an eyebrow.
Lily waited, glancing down at the letter once more. “Fine, I don’t hate him,” she conceded, unable to look at her friends.
“And why do you look as if the world just ended?” Evelyn asked as she observed the worried look on Lily’s face.
“Because it means I was wrong!” she exclaimed quickly, looking up suddenly. “It means that he has changed and that could eventually lead to me liking him which I just can’t do!”
“Why can’t you? What’s wrong with liking him?” Madeleine asked softly.
“Because I don’t like being wrong. I don’t like having to admit that I made a mistake or that I’ve changed my mind. I’m stubborn! I like things to stay how they were and if I like him, then I lost and everybody will know!”
“It’s not a game, Lily,” Evelyn told her with a shake of her head. “Besides, he’s not the same person he once was. It’s okay to change your mind now. No one will think any less of you if you’re friends with him or if you date him or if you marry him even.”
“It is a game,” Lily said slowly, looking back down. “And I like winning.”
“You could be missing out on something so big here,” Evelyn continued. “Did you ever think of that?”
“Well, my pride is more important to me.” Lily’s tone was decided and firm, and every trace of the smile that had adorned her lips earlier had all but disappeared.
“This isn’t pride, Lily,” Madeleine suddenly snapped, standing up. “This is close-mindedness. This is obstinacy! This is you being completely unwilling to change! He changed! And yet you still can’t give him a chance because you’re too narrow-minded. You know that makes him the better person, right?”
“I’m not narrow-minded. I’m right,” Lily mumbled under her breath, still looking down at the letter.
“No you’re not,” Madeleine argued. “This time, you’re wrong.” With that, she moved to the door, opening it aggressively. She paused as she stood at the threshold of the door for only a moment, before finally passing through and slamming the door shut.
There was silence throughout the room before Evelyn finally spoke. “She’ll be back. Don’t worry.”
“I know…” Lily murmured, staring at the closed door, her stomach twisting in anxiousness and dismay.
Another chapter! Anywho, I hope you enjoyed this one. Drop me a review and let me know what you think.
Until next time,