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Chapter 1: A Light That Never Goes Out
Thanks to la.paz @TDA for the CI!
Lily sat on her stool in greenhouse 6 and looked up morosely at the sky. When the 7th years had been released from Herbology, most of them had braved the rain and run back to the castle. She had decided to try and wait it out.
She was now regretting that decision. The rain had only gotten heavier, and she was tired of reading her book. The other holdouts had given up nearly half an hour ago, and she was beginning to wish she’d gone with them.
Or just remembered to bring an umbrella.
There were charms that repelled water, of course, but charming her entire body was too tedious to be worthwhile.
She sighed and stowed the book in her bag. Thankfully, that, at least, was waterproof.
When she reached the door to the greenhouse, she hesitated. The protective cover of the trees shielded the area just in front of the greenhouse from most of the rain, but beyond them, she could see it coming down in sheets. She looked back at the empty greenhouse and decided that no matter how wet she got, she couldn’t stand to sit here any more.
Lily stepped out and wrinkled her nose as her foot sank into the mud. The water dripping through the canopy of trees hit her head, and she felt a trickle of cold water run down her back. Just as she was about to step out of the cover the trees offered, she heard someone call her name. When she turned, she saw James Potter jogging up the hill toward her, shielded underneath a red umbrella.
Her heart skipped a beat.
“Hey,” he said when he reached her, breathing a little heavily. “Want to share my umbrella?”
She stepped under it gratefully. “Thank you,” she said, smiling at him. His cheeks got a little pink as he smiled back, and despite the rain, she suddenly felt her spirits lift.
For the first few years of their time at Hogwarts, Lily had heartily disliked James, but over the last year, he’d definitely grown on her. She’d been surprised over the summer to find that she actually missed him, and more surprised still at how pleased she’d been when she’d bumped into him and Remus in Diagon Alley and ended up spending the afternoon with them.
So pleased, in fact, that when she’d gotten home that evening, Petunia had asked her what she was so happy about.
Unfortunately, like an idiot, when James had asked her out a week into the year, she’d immediately said no out of habit. He’d cheerfully accepted it and turned away before she could take it back.
“Are you coming from Quidditch practice?” she asked as they started to walk, trying to distract herself from the jolt that went through her every time their elbows or hands brushed together.
She immediately wanted to kick herself. He had his broom in his hand. Of course he was coming from Quidditch practice.
James didn’t bother to point out how stupid her question was. “Yeah.” He frowned. “Didn’t Herbology end over an hour ago? Peter’s always back long before now.”
She sighed. “I decided to wait out the rain,” she said gloomily, pushing the strands of hair plastered to her cheeks behind her ears. “It didn’t work.”
“Why didn’t you just summon your umbrella?” he asked curiously.
Lily stared at him, not sure why she hadn’t thought of it. Consequently, she tripped over her own feet when her right shoe stuck in the mud and nearly fell on her face. “I didn’t think of it,” she said after she’d regained her balance.
The corner of his mouth twitched, but he refrained from commenting.
They walked in silence for a moment as Lily gathered up her courage.
“James,” she said suddenly. He looked at her, still grinning. “Do you want to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?”
His eyes widened a little, and the smile slid off his face so quickly she felt herself begin to get nervous. “Sorry?”
Before her nervousness could take over and tie her tongue, she repeated, “I said, do you want to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?”
He stopped dead in his tracks and actually dropped the umbrella. By the time she’d caught it, the heavy rain had plastered his hair to his forehead and absolutely drenched his robes. She hurried back to him and held the umbrella over his head again, but he was already soaked.
He did not appear to notice. He was still staring at her, uncomprehending.
“James?” she asked tentatively.
“Are you asking me out?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head uncertainly.
She hesitated, afraid that after all of this he was going to say no, but made herself nod. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. His face broke into a smile, and she breathed a sigh of relief.
“I don’t know,” he said, pretending to consider. “I’ll have to check my schedule.”
Lily turned away, hiding a smile of her own. “Oh, well, if—”
“Checked,” he said quickly. “I’m free.”
They began walking again. When she glanced over at him, his eyes were shining, and he looked very pleased with himself.
“Where do you want to go?” she asked, feeling a little giddy. That really wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as she’d been afraid it would be.
He shrugged easily. “I don’t care. Wherever you like.”
“How about Madam Puddifoot’s?” she suggested. He gave her a horrified look, and she laughed. “I’m joking.”
He stretched his arms over his head and twisted his neck from side to side, working out the stiffness he’d acquired after spending several hours on a broom. “Sure you are,” he teased. “Admit it. You love anything as long as it’s frilly and pink.”
“You caught me.” She put her free hand over her heart. “It’s true. I love frilly pink things.” A thought occurred to her, and she added, “That must be why I like you.”
James gave a very exaggerated wince and brushed his hair back from his forehead. For once, he did not appear to be intentionally trying to mess it up. “Ouch. That hurts.” After a moment, however, he grinned. “But you are admitting that you like me,” he said triumphantly.
“I just asked you out, didn’t I?”
Now he was messing up his hair on purpose. She couldn’t remember why she’d found the habit so annoying before; now she found it vaguely endearing. “So you secretly like Madam Puddifoot’s,” he said. “I knew you had some skeleton hidden in your closet, but I never thought it would be that bad.” He shrugged. “Well, nobody’s perfect.” He put his free arm around her shoulder. “It’s okay. I won’t hold it against you.” She glanced up at him, and he pulled his arm away hurriedly. “Sorry—”
“It’s fine,” she said quickly. As he stuffed the offending hand in the pocket of his robes, she added, “No, I mean, it’s fine for you to have your arm there.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Seriously?” She nodded, and he pulled his hand back out of his pocket. Instead of putting his arm back around her shoulders, however, he slid it around her waist. “Is this fine?” he asked slyly, and she laughed.
“That’s fine, too.” He began to slide his hand lower. “James!”
He grinned and returned it to her waist. “It was worth a try,” he said cheerfully.
Lily rolled her eyes. “You are the limit,” she told him, but she couldn't help but laugh. A warm feeling that she quite enjoyed had begun to spread through her when he'd touched her again.
“I know.” She glanced up at his face again as they sloshed through the mud and the rain beat down on the umbrella. Despite the hair that had fallen back across his forehead and was now dripping water down his face, he wore a large grin. On impulse, she reached up to push his hair back.
If he had looked surprised before, it was nothing to how he looked now.
“Are you feeling all right?” he asked, the grin momentarily fading into a look of bemusement.
“Of course,” she said. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well…” he hesitated for a moment. “I thought I might have a chance, but when I asked you out about a week and a half ago, you said no.”
Lily felt her face get hot. “It was just out of habit,” she said carefully, avoiding meeting his gaze by staring into the Forbidden Forest. Though they were walking slowly, she noticed with dismay that they were much closer to the castle than she’d thought.
This conversation had made it so that she barely even noticed the rain still falling around them and thundering onto the umbrella that she was still holding.
James laughed out loud. “What, you’re just so used to turning me down that you didn’t even stop to think?” She nodded, still not looking at him, and he pulled her closer to him. Her heart skipped a beat. She didn’t even mind the fact that his grip was tight enough that the water on his robes was seeping through the back of hers and onto her shirt. “Why didn’t you say something?”
She made herself look into his hazel eyes. “I just did, didn’t I?”
His grin took on a slightly cocky air. “I knew you’d fall for me,” he said. “It was only a matter of time.”
Lily snorted, though she wasn’t entirely sure at this point that he wasn’t right. He’d needed to reign in his ego – badly – but once he’d started to mature a bit in their sixth year… maybe it had just been a matter of time.
“It’s the hair, isn’t it?” he asked. “And my amazing Quidditch skills.”
He laughed again.
Lily had also found, in the last year, that James Potter’s laugh was really quite infectious. She smiled with him.
“You couldn’t even wait for me to ask you out again,” he continued.
“That might have been months from now!” Lily exclaimed. It was very difficult to judge with James. He’d probably asked her out three or four times in the week and a half leading up to Christmas the year before, twice in January, and then hadn’t mentioned anything about it again until April.
The idea of sitting around waiting for him to get around to asking her again was not one that she’d relished.
“Exactly,” he said. “You just couldn’t wait to get your hands all over me.”
“Damn, now you know all my secrets. Madam Puddifoot’s, and now this.” Lily put a hand up to her forehead and said, in her most dramatic voice, “Oh, James, I’m so desperately in love with you. I just couldn’t contain myself any longer.”
“And who could blame you?” His voice suddenly became a little more unsure. “You really are serious?”
Lily sighed. Two years of rejections were definitely coming back to haunt her. “Yes, I’m serious.”
“And I’m not dreaming?” he asked as they began to climb the steps to the castle. She shook her head. “Huh.”
When they reached the top, she turned toward him, rose up on her tiptoes, and kissed him softly.
James stared at her, speechless, and the thought occurred to her that if she’d started going out with him back when he was really obnoxious, she’d probably have had a lot more success at shutting him up than she’d experienced otherwise.
“Thanks for your umbrella, James,” she said.
He shook himself out of his shock. “Thanks for the kiss,” he replied, his eyes sparkling. As they opened the heavy door and squelched inside, he couldn’t help but add, “And just for the record? I'm pretty much a hero. I saved you from the rain and everything.”
She reached out to grab his hand. “I know you did,” she said as they made their way upstairs, their wet shoes squeaking on the stone floor.
A/N: This story is going to be made up of a collection of one- or two-shots from Lily and James's seventh year.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it! This is actually my first James/Lily, and they're one of my favourite ships, so I'd love feedback on how I did. :)