You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com
View Online | Printer Friendly Version of Entire Story
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
“You’re not concentrating, Evans.”
“Stop saying that! How do you know if I’m concentrating or not?”
Lily and James had been partnered up in Transfiguration, much to Lily’s chagrin and James’ delight.
“For your information,” James said airily, “you, Lily Evans, have a tell.”
She scowled and swished her wand at the kitten they were supposed to be transfiguring into a marble statuette. The kitten blinked innocently back at her, completely unchanged. James huffed impatiently.
“What are you trying to do, kill the damn thing?” He nudged her aside.
“Think of it like you think of charm-work, okay? It’s in the wrist.” Delicately, he brought his wand up, flicking it downward in a complicated pattern.
The kitten froze, fur solidified into glossy black marble.
“Very good, Potter,” McGonagall said. “Ten points to Gryffindor.”
“Show-off,” Lily muttered.
Class ended shortly after, but James wasn’t ready to let her go just yet.
“Don’t you want to know what your tell is?”
She sighed deeply, dropping Advanced Transfiguration into her book bag and looking around for Alice and Emmeline, who appeared to have darted out the door the second the bell rang. Traitors.
“Enlighten me, Potter.”
James smiled, pleased with himself.
“When you are really, truly focused,” he said softly, staring at her in a way that made her skin break out into goose bumps. He paused, still staring.
“Yes?” she prompted, forgetting for the second time that day that she was supposed to be concentrating on disliking him.
“You go a little cross-eyed,” he said simply, turning briskly on his heel and walking away. The words took a moment to process, but once they did, she was furious. Of course, James had already made it halfway down the corridor.
“Oi! Potter!” She took off after him at a jog, dodging third years just getting out of History of Magic.
He stopped in his tracks, smiling.
“Come around already, Evans?” he started to say, but before he could finish the sentence he was hit with a Jelly-Legs jinx. His knees started to wobble uncontrollably.
“I wonder if my eyes went cross-eyed just then,” Lily mused, hurrying past. “I suppose we’ll never know.”
James collapsed on the floor, knees giving out from under him. He cursed, struggling to remember the counter-jinx.
“Oh, and Potter?” Lily said sweetly. “Clear your schedule for tomorrow evening after supper. We need to talk scheduling and Heads’ duties, and the monthly Prefects’ meeting is Saturday morning.”
She sashayed away, looking very pleased with herself.
“Need a little help, mate?” Remus came up behind him, chuckling at the sight. James’ legs were still quivering, tangled up underneath him.
“What’s the counter-jinx?” James asked, a little exasperated but also clearly amused.
“You know, I’m starting to think that you’re just rubbish at dueling.” Remus performed the spell and helped James to his feet.
“That hurts, Moony.”
“Sometimes the truth does, I’m told.”
His knees buckled, and Remus caught him. “You should have seen her. She’s even prettier when she’s angry.” He steadied himself and let go of Remus’ shoulder slowly.
Remus sighed. “You’re hopeless, Prongs.”
James shrugged, and the two started toward Gryffindor tower. They both had a break until after lunch, when they would go to the dungeons for double Potions. “We’re supposed to meet to talk about our duties tomorrow night. I’m thinking it’s my chance.”
Remus stopped walking abruptly. James continued on a few steps before realizing that he had left his friend behind.
“What’s up, Moony?”
Remus shook his head slowly. “James, I’m going to tell you something, and I want you to listen carefully.”
“This sounds serious.”
“Lily’s smart, driven, brave, and good looking. You’re not the first bloke to try to get her attention, and you won’t be the last.”
“And…?” James looked lost, then his eyes flashed. “You better not be telling me that you’re interested in Evans, because Remus, I love you like a brother, but—“
“Nothing like that!” Remus was horrified. “I just…I see you trying so hard with her, and I just don’t know that you’ve thought through your approach.”
“What’s to think through? I know we haven’t gotten along well in the past, but we’re working together this year, and she’ll come around.”
Remus sighed. “James, James, James.” He clapped a hand on the other boy’s shoulder and led him toward their common room. “You have a lot to learn about women.”
Lily’s day kept getting worse. Thinking to get a jump on her meeting with James, she went in search of the Heads’ office, only to find that the previous years Head Boy and Head Girl had left it a disaster area.
Gideon Prewett was not known for his tidiness and organization, but Lily was a little shocked Dorotea Brooks had put up with that in their office. After a bit of nosing around, she realized that it was unlikely that Tee had ever done any work there. It was practically a second dormitory, with bits of parchment, scribbled class notes, and half filled out patrol schedules filling every nook and cranny. There was even a pillow and a blanket stashed under the desk. This explains why Tee spent so much time in the Library, thought Lily grimly, before rolling up her sleeves and diving headfirst into the mess.
She spent her entire morning break cleaning out the office and organizing it, looking in vain for anything that would help her figure out the best way to do her job. She could have used magic, but there was something incredibly cathartic about getting her hands dirty and doing things the Muggle way.
She barely had time to grab a quick bite at lunch before it was time for double Potions.
All the seventh year Gryffindors were in Advanced Potions, despite the fact that Peter and Emmeline had barely scraped together an OWL apiece in the subject. In fact, it was the only subject required for Auror training that Emmeline struggled with, a fact that greatly annoyed her should anyone bring it up.
The Gryffindors sat in a group toward the back of the dungeon, and when Lily walked in, Emmeline, Frank, and James were deep in conversation.
“Is it true there’s a practical exam to go along with your application?” Emmeline was saying.
“Dad says its really informal, more of an interview with a few demonstrations thrown in than anything,” James replied. “And you’d have to do an interview for any job.”
“It’s more than just a job though, innit?” Frank said longingly. “All I’ve ever wanted to be is an Auror.”
Lily dropped her bag with a loud thud on the table next to Alice, who was watching Frank with undisguised interest. Alice jumped.
“Want to be partners, Alice?” Lily cast a sidelong glance at James, who was still engrossed in conversation. “I don’t want to take my chances.”
Before Alice could answer, Professor Slughorn strolled in, arms full of battered spellbooks.
“Settle down, settle down.” Slughorn’s jovial voice swept over the murmuring students, but no one paid much attention.
“That’s quite enough,” he tried again. A few scattered students stopped talking, but James and Frank were too wrapped up in their conversation to notice.
“Today, we will be discussing advanced antidotes as part of our—oh for heaven’s sake!”
Slughorn, exasperated, pulled his wand from his voluminous robes. “Silencio.”
The dungeon fell silent. James’ mouth kept moving for several more seconds before he realized that no sound was coming out.
“I expect more from the Head Boy, Mr. Potter,” Slughorn said reprovingly. He smoothed his mustache carefully. “As I was saying...as part of our exploration of the most intricate depths of potion-making, we will be starting our year off with a deep discussion of antidotes. You will recall your basic antidotes principles from fourth year...”
The first half of the lesson seemed to drag on, and by the time an hour had passed Lily’s parchment was covered with a series of complicated equations and diagrams that looked more like notes for Arithmancy than Potions.
“We’ll only begin putting what we’ve learned about Llewellyn’s Fourth Principle of Transubstantiation to work today, but as this project will extend for several weeks, I’ll be pairing you up according to skill level.”
Lily scooted a little closer to Alice, who she knew was fairly accomplished when it came to potion-brewing. Surely, Professor Slughorn wouldn’t have a problem with their partnering up.
“Let’s see,” he mused, as he stared around the room. “Mr. Potter and Mr. Black, don’t make me regret this.”
The boys grinned at each other and high-fived under their table.
“Mr. Longbottom, why don’t you pair with Miss Fetescue?”
Alice’s face turned the color of a ripe gurdyroot, and she gave Lily an apologetic smile.
“Miss Vance and Mr. Pettigrew, you’ll work together. Mr. Lupin and Miss Meadows. Miss McKinnon and Miss MacDonald.”
As Professor Slughorn paired off the students, Lily’s stomach sank further and further. This project would last weeks, and all the Gryffindors were already taken. Professor Slughorn continued to list off pairs, moving onto the seventh year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs.
“Miss Evans...let’s see.”
There were only four students left now: Lily, Mycroft Nott, Tom Avery, and...
“Miss Evans and Mr. Snape, there’s a winning combination.”
Slughorn grinned as if he had just given Lily a bag of her favorite sweets. Potter suddenly looked murderous. Snape’s expression could only be described as calculating.
“So that leaves Mr. Nott and Mr. Avery. Excellent, excellent. Please find a seat next to your partner so I can pass out the poisons you’ll be working with over the next several weeks.”
Lily got through the rest of Potions by not initiating any conversation that didn’t directly have to do with the antidote they were trying to brew. Because they had been given an unknown poison to work with, they had to start by identifying the various ingredients at play.
Working with Severus was easier than she thought it would be. He seemed just as determined to avoid any uncomfortable conversation, although Lily caught him staring at her once or twice, apparently deep in thought. She wondered if he ever regretted that day two years ago when their friendship had ended.
To her great relief, James appeared to be avoiding her after Potions as well, so she was free to spend the rest of that day and all of the next getting acclimated to being back at school and socializing with her friends. She was in a very good mood indeed when she arrived at the Heads’ office the night of her meeting with James. To her great surprise, he was already there waiting.
“Evans,” he said coolly. “Have a seat.”
He nodded at the squashy armchair across from him and on the other side of the desk. Lily grimaced, thinking that the arrangement would feel more like she was a student and Potter the teacher. She flicked her wand and moved the chair to the side of the desk where Potter sat.
“Obstinate,” he muttered.
“Pushy,” she shot back.
Instead of responding, he pulled out a couple of butterbeers from somewhere under the desk. She looked at him suspiciously.
“It isn’t poison,” he sighed, exasperated. “Just take it. It’s a peace offering, okay? I think we got the year started on the wrong foot, and I want you to know that this job is just as important to me as it is to you.”
She cracked open the bottle and took a cautious sip. “Where did you get this?”
He smiled mysteriously and shook his head. “Ah, ah, Evans, let’s not go asking each other questions that cannot be answered. Just take the peace offering and let’s get down to business, shall we?”
“All right,” she said slowly, taking another swallow of butterbeer before rifling through her book bag. “I got started on the Prefect schedule, but...”
“So did I,” James said quickly. “Actually, Gideon gave me some great pointers on the best way to tackle scheduling.”
He pulled out a rolled up bit of parchment covered with boyish scrawls and tossed it to Lily. “His penmanship is atrocious, but there you are. What did Dorotea say in your letter?”
“I didn’t get one.” Lily frowned. “Where did you find yours?”
“Secret panel in the desk.” James pounded his fist down on the top of the desk once, and a drawer that Lily had never seen popped open.
“How on earth did you find that? I was in here all morning the other day and didn’t see it!”
James shrugged and smiled, reaching a hand up to tousle his hair. “I have a talent for seeing things that other people overlook.”
They stared at each other for the space of several long seconds before Lily hastily grabbed Gideon’s letter. “Okay, well, until I figure out if Tee left me any advice, I’m going to take a gander at this.”
Future Head Boy,
It’s become a bit of a tradition for the outgoing Heads to leave words of wisdom for the next year’s poor, unfortunate victims. You may be wondering why this letter was hidden—well, that’s part of the tradition, too. With any luck, you’ll discover this letter early in the year, but mine didn’t surface until after Halloween! I’m not sure where my lovely counterpart is hiding hers, but the new Head Girl should probably spend some time investigating the Library...and maybe that unused Charms classroom on the fifth floor.
And speaking of your better half...It can be tempting to try to do this job on your own, but trust me when I say that there are two Heads for a reason. If you don’t know the Head Girl already, get to know her. The sooner the better. Tee and I weren’t very close when we started this gig, but I know the girl better than my own sister now. It’s the nature of the beast that you’ll spend most of your free time either directly coordinating with each other or passing the torch so that your partner can go off and get some schoolwork done. Best explain that to your mates and your girlfriend now, or it’s going to lead to some rather irritating rows as the year goes on.
Lily smirked at the thought of Head duties ever taking precedence over time with the Marauders.
Gideon continued with a brief description of their scheduling methods, along with a few sample schedules for illustration. There were some notes and observations about the Prefects from the year before—strengths and weaknesses, that kind of thing—that Lily found particularly interesting.
Lily Evans is a hard worker but can be a bit prickly. She’s a first rate disciplinarian and a good mate to have on your side. She does have a rather long memory for being wronged, though, so it’s best to keep on her good side.
She shook her head and looked up to find James staring at her, a bit of a smile on his face.
“Did you get to the part where he calls you prickly?” He grinned. “That was my favorite part. Old Gideon had no idea what he was talking about. I find you sweet and docile as a lamb.”
Lily sent a quill whizzing toward his head, which he only just deflected in time.
“See, that’s just what I mean,” he laughed. “Positively gentle.”