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Following the Footsteps by Violet Gryfindor
Format: Short story collection
Chapter 2: Prongs
I am in love. Disbelieve it if you have to, but this time it's for real. I, the fearless Chaser, the mischievous prankster, the most popular boy in school, am in love with, not my broomstick, but a girl.
And not any regular girl either. She's absolutely beautiful, with flaming red hair and sparkling green eyes. I can't help but think of her day in and day out. Her image is always in my head.
There's just one minor problem: she hates my guts.
Hopefully, we'll be able to get past this little roadblock before Christmas. At the Yule Ball, I want the most beautiful girl at school as my date.
All I have to do is convince her that I'm not a complete conceited ass, that maybe there's more to me than looking good and playing Quidditch.
Luckily, the Yule Ball is still months away. I've got a lot to work on before then...
This amazingly strange thing happened yesterday between classes. Professor McGonagall kept me late after Transfiguration (I think she suspects that I'm an Animagus, best steer clear of her for a bit). So, I had to make my way to old Binn's class alone. Who else should I meet in the hall but Lily Evans, walking in front of me towards the history room.
For a bit, I just followed her, watching the way she walked so gracefully and the way her hair shone in the afternoon sun. Then I noticed that her book-bag, weighed down with textbooks (which I rarely ever carried), was ripping at the seam.
"Hey Evans!" I called to her. "Your bag - "
She turned at the sound of her name, the movement causing the rip to grow, spilling her books and parchment across the floor.
With a dark glare at me, she knelt down to pick up her belongings. I bent down beside her to help, but before I knew it, her wand was under my nose. I stumbled back, surprised.
"No magic in the halls, remember Evans?" I said, trying to keep my voice light. "I was only going to help you."
Her green eyes were glaring at me with such menace that I was nearly afraid of what she would do to me.
“How do I know that you didn’t cause my bag to rip on purpose so that you would have another excuse to talk to me, Potter?,” she asked, her voice harsh and biting. “For the past five years, you’ve pestered me, it’s time for you to stop.”
I was, for the first time in my life, speechless. No one had ever told me what to do before; I had always done what I’d wanted.
“Well, are you going to answer me, or are you just going to stand there looking stupid?” she inquired with great impatience.
“In case you haven’t noticed, Evans,” I managed to say. “But I haven’t asked you out for nearly a month now. I was simply walking down the hallway behind you and saw that your bag was about to rip, so I called out to tell you.”
She lowered her wand, but her eyes still showed no sign of belief.
“You were trying to be nice to someone? I thought the only one you cared about was yourself,” she stated bluntly.
How could I tell her that I would easily care for her if she let me? I had been a damned fool in thinking that she would like my showing off. She clearly hated me for it.
“If you knew me better, Lily, then you’d see that what you say isn’t true,” I said, calling her by given name for the first time. “I care about my friends more than you could ever imagine.”
Anger flowed through my veins, though I wasn’t completely sure if it was directed at her or at myself. Without looking at her, I strode down the hall to the history classroom and entered quietly, not that I needed to as Binns never noticed anything.
I may act like a jerk most of the time, boasting of my Quidditch skills and picking on Snape (he does deserve it, I won’t change that part of me), but really, can’t she see the way that I look after Wormtail, making sure that no one beats him up, or the way that I helped make Moony more sociable and less afraid of what people thought of him? I’m a lot deeper than she thinks I am.
I just have to prove it to her.
My plan is in full motion now. For the past couple weeks, I’ve practically ignored Snape, to the point where Padfoot was shocked when I refused to play another trick on him. In classes, I’ve become more serious and studious, making Moony raise his eyebrows when I answered a question in Potions without a hint of sarcasm. There’s one thing I won’t do though, and that’s play down Quidditch. It’s the best sport ever created and I’m not about to deny it anytime soon.
The Yule Ball is in two weeks and I know for sure that Lily hasn’t accepted anyone’s invitation to go with her. A couple of times, I could have sworn that Moony was about to ask her, but he would look up at the sky and turn away. I knew what he was thinking about: the moon, his greatest enemy, and his lie to Dumbledore.
I think that the only people going alone to the Yule Ball right now are Lily and us Marauders, and of course Snape, but he doesn’t count.
Last night, Padfoot, Moony, Wormtail, and I met in the Shrieking Shack to talk. The full moon wasn’t for another couple of days, so Moony was safe, but he was still slightly pale.
Padfoot lounged on the windowsill, somehow looking comfortable in the least comfortable of places. “So what’s going on, Prongs? Are you going to get Lily to go with you or are you going stag like the rest of us?”
I ignored his pun and leaned against the wall I was standing beside.
“I can’t do it alone, guys,” I admitted. “I need your help.”
Wormtail looked surprised. “But what can we do? You’ve completely changed your style, yet she’s done nothing about it.”
“Why don’t you just tell her how you feel, James?” Moony suggested. “Lily will like you better if you tell her the truth rather than just asking her to go out with you again. Goodness knows that doesn’t work.”
Padfoot snickered. “That’s the Moony way, for sure.” Then his face went serious. “Prongs, you should just be yourself. You’re not as much of a prig as you pretend to be. We know that you’re smart, courageous, and willing to do what’s right, but she doesn’t.”
“But that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the past month!” I exclaimed. “And where has that gotten me? I’m probably the laughingstock of the school now because I, James Potter, can’t get a girl to like me!”
“No, that’s my job,” Sirius said with a grin. “Tomorrow, go up to her at breakfast and ask her to go to the ball with you. Tell her that you really like her and would be honoured if she accepted you. That should do the trick.”
“I can’t talk like that!”
“Well, maybe you should. Girls like that sort of poetic romantic crap.”
Exasperated, I turned and kicked the wall, making dust fly up in a huge cloud. None of the others spoke, but I was sure they were having a silent conversation behind me.
I turned back to face them. “Fine then! I will ask her tomorrow, just you see.”
“Bloody hell,” I muttered to myself this morning while trying to comb my hair. Nothing seemed to make it sit flat, not even globs of grease. From my trunk, I carefully chose my cleanest set of robes and my lucky socks. I would need all the luck I could get.
The four of us walked down to breakfast that morning, Wormtail gleefully leading with Padfoot and Moony practically dragging me down to the Great Hall.
“Maybe this isn’t such a great idea,” I ranted. “In front of all those people...my reputation will be ruined when I start spouting off poetry.”
“Now, now James,” Moony said cheerfully. His face was so full of amusement that I could have jinxed him then and there. “Since when have you, of all people, been afraid of doing something? You run with a werewolf once a month without hesitation, yet you can’t even ask a girl to go to a dance with you.”
“Exactly,” Padfoot agreed. “It will not ruin your reputation, it can only make it better. ‘What a nice guy that James Potter is’, they will say.”
“What if I don’t want to be a ‘nice guy’?” I asked incredulously.
Padfoot merely laughed and pushed me into the Great Hall.
It was full of people, all talking and laughing and eating breakfast. Right away, I saw Lily near the front with all her friends. She was so beautiful with the morning sun shining on her hair and face. Hell, she was always beautiful.
I had to do this. If it didn’t work, then I would quit the Quidditch team.
My head held high, I walked down the length of Gryffindor table, closely followed by my friends. While they sat down not too far from where Lily sat, I went right up to her.
“Lily, could I talk to you for a moment.” It ended up being more of a statement than a question, but I didn’t care.
She looked up at me, surprise evident in her expression; I hadn’t said a thing to her in quite a while. What she saw in my face must have been good enough to make her excuse herself from her friends and stand.
“Of course, Potter. What seems to be the problem?”
I felt the blood rise in my cheeks and saw the eyes of her friends and my own staring at the two of us.
“Could we, um, talk somewhere a little quieter?”
She raised an eyebrow. “Not really, Professor McGonagall asked me to meet her in her class at nine to talk about my Transfiguration project and it’s ten to nine right now.”
“Oh,” I said, probably sounding like the biggest idiot in the world.
“Well, Potter, are you going to tell me or just stand there looking at me?”
“You’re nice to look at, though,” I burst out, hearing Padfoot’s snicker from down the table.
Lily looked shocked. “What did you say?”
Oh well, I thought, might as well keep digging this hole deeper.
“I said that you’re nice to look at and that you’re the smartest girl I know,” I said, not pausing so that no one would interrupt me. “And I really like you; I have for a while now. I know I act like a total jerk sometimes, but I’m not one all the time. And if you come with me to the Yule Ball, you’ll make me the happiest guy at this school, probably in the world too.”
Conversation at the Gryffindor table had all but stopped and I knew that everyone was staring at us. My friends, especially Padfoot, were grinning widely. The entire time I had spoken to Lily, I had barely looked at her, unwilling to meet her eyes, but now I looked up and saw that she was blushing.
“If you say it that way...” she began.
Now Padfoot stopped grinning and his jaw dropped. He must have expected her to say no right away, as she always had done. I would get him back for setting me up like this. Maybe I would bring a leash next time we went in the Forbidden Forest, he had always hated being captive...
Then it hit me. She hadn’t said no.
“You mean that...” I said, utterly overcome with amazement.
“Yes,” she replied quietly. “I do.”
Now it was my turn to grin. And I did as our fellow Gryffindors applauded. Maybe that romantic stuff wasn’t too bad after all.
A/N: this part is very different from the first, partly because it’s from the point of view of another character, and also because it’s just the way it came out when I wrote it. When researching the Marauders, I couldn’t find any major conflict with James except for those with Snape and Lily. However, it just seemed to me that his hatred of Snape is not very complex, it’s rather similar to that between Harry and Draco, they simply hate each other. In OotP, Harry expressed his amazement that his mother could have ever liked his father, and wondered if the relationship had been forced. Hopefully, I have disproved that.
Anyway, this was a really fun piece to write. Please review with any comments or suggestions that you may have. :-)