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Lily turned away as the compartment door opened. Everyone was talking so loudly, yelling and calling to one another despite being trapped inside the same compartment. Whose voice was that? It was familiar. Her head pounded as she tried to figure it out. Lily pressed a hand to her forehead, attempting to ignore the pain as she worked on identifying the voice.
"Ugh," Emily groaned. "Not you." The sound of something smacking against skin.
Lily moaned, pressing the palms of her hands into her eyes. She forced herself to concentrate. A groan escaped her lips as she realized who had joined the three girls.
"Potter," she grunted. "Speak now or shut it forever and give me peace."
Sirius chuckled, nudging James.
"Are you okay?" James asked and Lily moaned. He had his answer and did not expect her to form a word.
"No," was all she said, in too much pain to think of a good insult for him. Lily's migraine had taken over her thinking power.
"What the bloody hell are you doing here anyhow?" Lily asked forcefully, prying her hands from her eyes to give him the glare of a lifetime.
"Prongs, maybe you should keep you your mouth shut now," Remus suggested before James could open his mouth and say something he would really regret.
"I don't think I've ever loved you more, Remus," Lily stated, breathing a sigh of relief. Later, she would regret these words, but now they were perfect.
"Er, thank you, Lily." There was an awkward pause.
"I've got to go," Lily muttered, standing up and stretching. Her head still pounded, but her duty was more important. "My meeting starts soon."
"Let us know who the Head Boy is!" Clare called as Lily walked out. James followed her, slipping out before she could turn around and close the door.
"Potter, don't follow me. Can we start this year on an all right note? For once?"
"I'm not here to torment you," James said.
"Oh yeah. Then why are you here?"
He pointed to the gold badge attached to his robes. "I'm Head Boy," he told her with a smirk.
"Oh good God, no." She put her hands on her head and spun in a circle. James Potter? Head Boy? No, no, no. "You're joking, right? This is Remus' badge and you're just trying to scare me." Lily saw his face, and knew that was not true. "Sweet Merlin, you're Head Boy."
"I'm Head Boy," he repeated.
"What the hell was Dumbledore thinking making you Head Boy? You've been nothing but an intelligent troublemaker all of your years at school," Lily ranted. James smiled when she called him 'intelligent'. Lily turned on him, her finger in the air. "How did you bri-- Ow, ow." She clutched her forehead above her left eye and leaned against the wall.
James reached out, a question poised on his lips. She waved him away. "Ah, ooh. Okay. How was I threatening you again?"
"Oh, never mind." She walked away, headed for the compartment at the head of the train. James blinked at the spot she had stood.
Impatiently, Lily turned to him. He was still standing, facing the spot on the wall she recently vacated. "Potter," she said shortly. He looked up suddenly. "If you're really Head Boy, you cannot miss the first meeting. This must be a mix-up, but if you wear the badge, you have to come to the meeting until we can sort this all out."
The meeting wasn't any better for James, but thankfully it wasn't any worse. Lily only looked at James in confusion, and talked the Prefects through the year. James stood by, looking curious and vaguely humble. Remus winked at him from the group, and James wondered when he had arrived.
After Lily dismissed the Prefects, she turned to James. "What the hell?" she murmured, staring at him with persistent confusion. She shook her head and walked away, a lost look in her eyes. Her migraine had deadened a bit, a dull roar but still alive.
"Are you all right, Evans?" James asked, coming up behind her. "That was an extremely unexpected reaction. I was almost looking forward to a scene."
"What does it matter? So I didn't yell and scream and remind you how much I dislike you. Shove off," she said, walking quickly away. James stood in the corridor, looking heartbroken.
"Prongsie! How'd it go?" Sirius only got a sad, confused look from James.
"Something's not right with her," Emily said.
"She didn't yell at me," James said in a small voice. "She wasn't angry. She was confused and sad."
"Good sweet Merlin," Clare whispered. "Was that really our Lily?"
James just shook his head dejectedly. He was so caught up in trying to figure out Lily. If she hadn't come back to the compartment, where did she go?
"I'm sorry, mate."
"What's wrong with her?" he muttered to himself.
As James sat down, he could hear pounding footsteps. Thinking it was Lily, he stood up. It wasn't her, so he sat back down and buried his head in his hands. It was puzzling to him, and he tried to figure it out.
The compartment door opened and Gary came in. He greeted everyone individually, and it was Lily's name that shocked everyone. When had she slipped in? It wasn't possible that everyone in the compartment missed her. Was it?
Her sad demeanor surprised him more than anything. Why would a girl so beautiful have anything to be sad about? Beautiful girls weren't supposed to be sad.
"Lily?" he asked suddenly. Jerking her head up, she looked slightly alarmed at being addressed.
"Y-yes?" It surprised James most of all when she didn't hex him. The sadness behind her eyes was nearly overpowering to such a happy person like James Potter. It didn't go unnoticed by the other occupants of the compartment either.
"Lils? You okay?" Clare asked.
"I'm fine, Clare. Just a little sad is all." Sighing slightly, she leaned back into the seat and closed her eyes. She didn't react when Emily pulled her into a hug or even when James put his hand on hers. It wasn't for a few minutes did anyone dare to breathe. They all expected Lily to realized who it was and freak out, to follow her usual patterns. When she didn't, her friends began to worry frantically.
Shortly following the breathing moment, everyone recognized that Lily Evans was soundly asleep. It was evident to all that she hadn't been sleeping very well. Why they could only begin to guess.
"You do know this is your last year, right?"
"So helpful, Padfoot."
"What? What'd I do?"
"What?!" Sirius yelled.
"Shut up! You'll wake her up!" James hissed. The entire conversation he hadn't looked away from Lily. Anyone with eyes could tell how much James loved Lily.
"Wouldn't want that, now would we?" Sirius mocked. "It would be very tragic, wouldn't it?"
"Sirius, James is right! If you want to die, by all means keep talking. Merlin knows it would be a well deserved break," Emily retorted. She had a very nasty temper, just like Lily. No wonder they were friends. Sometimes it amazed James how a short-tempered girl like Emily could end up with a quiet guy like Remus.
"Well said, Em." Clare gave her best friend a big smile. "We'll be there in a little while, so I better go find Gary. Give Lily my love when she wakes up."
Lily sighed gently in her sleep. It was hard to believe she could be so amazingly peaceful with James nearby. When they all realized she wasn’t waking up, they stood up and began to move around. James and Sirius shoved each other none too gently. Cackling madly twenty minutes later, they both collapsed in heaps on the seats.
James, recognizing a chance to try something he may never get to again, sat next to Lily and stretched his arm out after running a hand through his messy hair. He placed the arm around her shoulders and held his breath. Surprisingly enough, she leaned into him.
"Bloody hell! Prongs, there's a Lily sleeping on you!" Sirius exclaimed.
"Obviously Padfoot. We better hope she doesn't wake up," Remus said.
"Oh yeah," Emily agreed, lazily laying her head in his lap. Moments later, she was asleep and Remus was absentmindedly stroking her hair.
"Looks like I'm the only one free to move around," Sirius teased.
"All that means is that you don't have anyone to love," Moony teased right back.
"Gasp! How true that is!" James mocked. Wormtail, who was hiding in the corner, chuckled slightly in his sleep. "Scaring how easy he is to forget, eh?"
"I feel so left out," Sirius moaned. "Maybe I should trick Clare." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "Nah. Gary would kill me."
"Like hell," James agreed.
Lily moaned gently and pulled away from James, rubbing her eyes. Yawning, she asked an incomprehensible question.
"Huh?" Sirius asked.
"Potter, why was I sleeping on you?" she asked again.
Sirius cackled, and prepared to tell a story.
A/N: You are welcome to shoot me.
I am starting again. It is the same story, same point, written better. And a lot better timeline. Plus it makes me feel better to see "First Published: 22.09.2009" instead of "25.11.2007"
I hope you like it better. I'm sorry I deleted your reviews. Would you do me the kindness of rewriting them and boost my ego by telling me how much better this one is?
Adjusted and edited. I somehow missed the Head Dorm thing when I went through my rewrite, so here I am to take it out. -11 October
"You shouldn't have said that, mate," James reminded once again.
"Shut up, Prongs," Sirius growled. A very big black and blue bruise covered his left eye. He had said a not very wise thing to Lily about her feelings. A black eye was his reward.
The group walked into the Great Hall and tried to locate an area at the Gryffindor table large enough for them all.
Lily opened her mouth to say something to Sirius, but instead ran off.
"Scared her away with my amazing good looks," Sirius said, somehow managing to maintain his dignity and charm.
"She's talking to Dumbledore," James said and then amended, "Shit! She's talking to Dumbledore!" He moved to go after her, but seemed to think better of it and stood where he was.
"No, I promise Mr Potter is supposed to be Head Boy. It was no accident on my part, Miss Evans," Dumbledore was saying quietly.
"But, Professor, I just don't understand. Could you explain it to me?"
"Maybe you should let him show you," Dumbledore told her, a sparkle in his eye. Lily, never wanting to defy a teacher, nodded her head and walked away. It seemed as though what he had just said hit home with something in Lily's mind.
"That was the weirdest conversation of my life," Lily announced to Clare and Emily.
"About what?" Emily asked.
"James Potter," Lily replied.
"You talk about James Potter?" Clare asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Only to Dumbledore when James Potter is wearing the Head Boy badge."
Her two friends nodded in understanding.
The three sat down at the Gryffindor table as they awaited the Sorting. The Marauders decided they had nothing better to do but torment Lily Evans and her friends and sat down next to them.
"Potter," Lily growled.
"I promise I will leave you alone during the Sorting," he said, raising his right hand.
"Oh, all right," Lily huffed. "One toe out of line, and I will personally see to it you can never have children!"
James gulped, and adjusted his tie.
McGonagall led the First Years into the Great Hall. Lily seemed to sit up a little straighter. There was a fifty percent chance the first First Year Sorted into Gryffindor would sit next to her. She hoped she gave good reflection to the young students.
"Lily, breathe. They're not going to die of fright when they look at you," Clare said, reaching diagonally across the table to squeeze her hand.
"James, on the other hand," Emily said from directly across from Lily.
"Hey, hey. Watch it. Respect the badge," James said. Lily looked at him curiously, putting aside every bit of anger and malice she felt towards him. What did Dumbledore see?
"You okay, Lils?" he asked.
"Don't call me Lils," she snapped.
"Yeah, you're fine." James looked a little hurt, but covered it up and watched as McGonagall read the first student forward. She was sorted into Hufflepuff.
"There's something off with you," James breathed after half the group of First Years was seated with a House, leaning in toward Lily.
"There is not," she replied indignantly, lying through her teeth.
"You're lying," James mumbled.
"What makes you a Lily expert?" she asked scathingly, defensively.
"Years of careful observation." James grinned at her charmingly. It was a serious statement, covered and amended with a joke.
"More like stalking," Lily joked back.
"Okay, so stalking," he grinned cheekily. "But still. There's something wrong. I'm going to figure it out," he said.
"Good luck, then," Lily said, certain he'd never find out what was bothering her.
"Thanks," James replied, smiling kindly. He knew she had given him luck in order to shut him up, but James saw that her luck could be used to his advantage.
Lily rolled her eyes and turned back to the front as Dumbledore announced the beginning of the feast. Food appeared and she reached for her favorites. After a few moments, James said, "Your parents are splitting up."
Lily winced and then smiled slightly, as though this was a preferable tragedy to the one she faced. "Nope."
James snapped his fingers. "Damn."
"You want my parents to get divorced?" Lily asked incredulously.
"No, no, no, no, no! You've got it mixed up! I meant "Damn, that wasn't right"! I don't want your parents to split up!" James pleaded with his eyes.
Lily sighed, and looked away, unwilling to stare James Potter down. Could he see her secret if she looked at him for too long? She wasn't willing to chance it.
James stared in shock at the back of Lily's head. No fighting? No anger, no malice? Where to had Lily Evans disappeared?
"I'm going to walk with you to Gryffindor Tower," Dumbledore told the two Heads.
"All right, Professor," Lily said, nodding her head with as much respect as she could possible muster in the event of her tiredness and full stomach.
"I thought you wouldn't mind," he said with that usual twinkle. "And you, Mr Potter? What do you think?"
"Of course, sir."
Professor Dumbledore explained to them what was to be exactly expected of the two of them this year as they walked along.
"I could have called you to my office to do this, but I figured we could kill two birds with one stone. You could get to your dormitories and I could inform you of this year," Dumbledore began. "This year is more perilous than the previous. Lord Voldemort, as he wishes himself to be known, has begun to rise up at a greater, more frightening speed. Unfortunately, students at Hogwarts are on his side. The corridors are no longer safe at night, therefore you must patrol together. Never split up, no matter the reason. It could be possibly life-threatening, especially for you, Miss Evans."
The two Seventh Years nodded their agreement. Lily had the chills, thinking about students already signing up for a lifelong commitment to evil.
He explained other basic rules, including point deduction and broom-cupboard checking. He announced the password for them to the Fat Lady and walked into the common room with them.
"Good night to you both. Sleep well, be safe. Tomorrow I will require a full castle patrol after hours."
James and Lily bid goodnight to the headmaster.
Dumbledore put one foot out of the portrait and turned back to the two. "Miss Evans?"
"There is a first year in desperate need of your assistance," he said. Lily rushed out of the room after throwing her belongings across the floor and Dumbledore winked at James.
"Good night, James," Dumbledore said nodding, and left.
As James was walking toward the boys' stairs, he tripped over a little green book Lily must have thrown. Cursing fervently, he picked it up and stared at it, still on the ground.
"What the ruddy hell is this?" he demanded, flipping it open as he sat up.
Pages were filled with Lily's handwriting. Beautiful, and probably difficult to read. He watched the dates and came to a recent entry. James quickly glanced over his shoulder and leaned against the door frame. He knew what he was about to do was not right, but somehow he couldn't stop himself.
School begins again tomorrow.
I'm not ready.
I want to stay home forever, never face anyone again. It's still too early. I'm healing too slowly. It still hurts too much. I can't bear to face anyone who knows me.
I cannot handle, cannot manage, cannot survive another year of Potter. Merlin, please let him leave me alone. I need a break, a time of recovery. I am dying, and he will only make it quicker.
My heart has broken. I don't think it will ever be healed correctly.
Dad, why did you pick now to die? Why not five years from now? Why exactly one month before I left for my final year of school? I need you. I need you to send me off tomorrow with your tradition jokes and laughs and hugs. I need you to walk me down the aisle one day. I need you to be with me.
"Oh, dear sweet Lily Evans," he whispered and closed the book. This was not the secret he had been expecting.
He had invaded a world of her privacy he never should have.
Her voice was curious, not at all angry or confused. She asked, "Why are you on the ground?"
"A-a-accident," he stuttered.
"Potter," she growled. "Why are you holding my journal?"
"I-I-I, uh, here?" He handed it to her.
"What did you read?" Lily asked in a low voice.
"Just, just yesterday's."
Her eyebrows knitted together in confusion as she thought of what she wrote. And then Lily Evans was angry.
"That was too far, James Potter. You have crossed the line. That was my private book." Lily's green eyes flung anger and pain and betrayal at James. He cringed.
They stood meter apart. So close yet so very far. Entire universes apart. Her loathing of him and her hurting and his concern and compassion separated them in a way they never had done before.
"No," she muttered. Tears swelled. "You didn't. James, please say you didn't."
It was such a drastic change from the Lily who had been ready to throw him into the next millennium. James just gaped at her.
For the first time in as long as she could remember, Lily Evans ran away from James Potter. Instead of confronting the atrocity he had committed, Lily simply left the room, disreguarding the fact that five minutes earlier, Dumbledore had warned her about the corridors at night. James dropped the book and followed her a fraction of a second later.
James grasped her shoulder and held onto her. She tried desperately to free herself, but she was unsuccessful. Finally, Lily stopped fighting and slumped against James' chest.
"Why did you read it?" she asked quietly.
"It was a stupid mistake. I'm sorry I did that, betrayed you that way."
Lily just nodded, too tired to fight, to argue.
Peter came across the two of them, Lily shuddering a bit from repressed sobs and James looking forlorn and regretful. They didn't bother to ask what
"What happened, Lily?" Peter asked quietly, coming up near her face.
"Oh, Peter," she whispered. Her eyes carried the weight and the sadness of a million people.
"Help me, Pete," James breathed.
For a moment, James was sure Peter would refuse, stick to his normal comfort zone. Instead, Peter walked forward and wrapped his arms around Lily. He whispered quiet words into her ear, soothing her sorrow if only for a few minutes.
James picked Lily up and carried her back to the common room. Peter walked along and ran his fingers through her hair.
Together, the two friends left Lily Evans at the foot of the girls' stairs. They climbed to their dormitory and bid each other a good night.
Chapter Three: A Temporary Truce
"Good morning!" Professor Slughorn said cheerfully. "Welcome to your final year of Potions! Please turn and look at the person sharing your table." He paused while they did so.
Lily was shocked to see James. He gave her an apologetic look, whispering, "It was the only seat left. I'm sorry." She sighed deeply, rubbing her temples. First he reads her journal, then he sits next to her in Double Potions. What next? Inviting her to join the Quidditch team?
She knew she was being unfair. She was tired and frustrated and mad at him for violating her privacy and still so very morose. Lily just nodded, not willing to make a scene this morning. The scenes she avoided these first weeks would double in number in the following year, and Lily knew that. She just didn't care yet.
"This person shall be your partner for the year. Exchanges are unable to be made, Miss Evans. Oh, we'll start simple. Sleeping Draught, please!"
Slughorn sent them to work, laughing slightly at the disgusted and indignant expression on Lily's face.
"Will you please get the ingredients?" Lily asked in an exhausted tone, resigning to fight later. James just nodded, recognizing she was in no mood to fight for what she wanted. He knew to except a new partner for the next class, however. He set everything he'd retrieved between the two of them. She moved them slightly to make room for the cauldron.
Together, it didn't take long for them to complete the potion. They were efficient and cooperative workers when James wasn't being bigheaded and Lily wasn't being stubborn.
Lily poured some in a vial, instructing James to take it to the desk, and she waved her wand, emptying the cauldron of everything. He didn't mind taking orders from her. Actually, James knew very well that Lily was superb in Potions and what she said went. All of her previous partners knew, too.
While James had his back turned, a very surprising and slightly alarming event happened. A pair of Slytherins were messing around instead of making the actual potion (no surprise, really) and one had called over Slughorn to see what it was.
Professor Slughorn wasn't exactly thin. He made too much haste and bumped into the table with the unknown potion. Unfortunately for Lily, she sat at the table right in front of the Slytherins. Their potion was flung onto the front of her robes and into her face, resulting in some mixing with her saliva.
These Slytherin seventh years had made a Shrinking Solution by a small string of luck. They were awarded detention every night for a week and five points for sheer cheek. Lily was rewarded with a new height.
James Potter turned around just in time to hear a tiny scream and see a flash of red hair.
He ran to the area were Slughorn was bending down. In the palm of Slughorn's left hand stood Lily.
She was screaming and stomping and laughing and crying and having a right meltdown.
"Er, Professor?" James asked after an awkward silence.
"Can, er, who's going to take care of her when she's this tall until the potion wears off?"
"If you would, Mr Potter," Slughorn suggested. James nodded.
James looked relieved as Slughorn dropped the tiny Lily into his open hands.
She stopped and looked up at James. "What are you doing?"
"Taking care of you."
"Oh." Lily looked confused, indignant, and grateful. "Well, thank you."
James was so shocked, his reply was forced and barely existing.
Lily smiled slightly at him and turned around to grab her bag, forgetting she was now three inches tall.
"Are you bloody kidding me?"
"I'll carry it," he volunteered.
"Wow, thanks," she said, looking mildly impressed. It was a nice change from the depressed, frightening expression she had worn through breakfast and class.
"Comfy?" James asked awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck. He lifted her bag onto his shoulder and just about died. Two bags, one shoulder. What genius he had.
"Could be worse," she replied. "Are you all right? Should someone else help you with the bags?"
"No, no. It's okay. I've just got to get used to it, is all."
She raised an eyebrow skeptically.
"Are you sure?"
"Positive." James ground his teeth. Suddenly, he had a stroke of brilliance.
The bell was about to ring, so he stood and began to walk toward the door as he placed Lily on his shoulder and carried her back in his left hand. He was about to switch it all around when the bell rang. He decided it could be resolved in Transfiguration.
Lily fell backwards from the force of the sound and was lost in James' hood. He had no idea.
As he walked along the hallway, his best mates came up next to him.
"Poor Lily," Peter said, shaking his head.
"She'll be fine, Wormy," Sirius said, dismissing Peter more rudely than usual.
"Sirius," Remus warned.
"What? She will!"
"Oh good grief," Remus said, hitting his hand against his forehead.
"Hey, what've you got now?" James asked, mostly to Lily. When his mates responded, he figured he'd ask her in a bit.
"Yeah, I've got one, too."
"Me!" came a small voice which could only be Lily's.
"That makes all five of us! Let's go to the common room!" Sirius said, contemplating all the fun they could have this year.
"Library!" Lily squeaked. Her tiny voice left her overruled.
When James arrived in Transfiguration, he turned his head to ask Lily where she wanted to sit. She wasn't there. He had already forgotten about losing her in his hood after Potions and again after lunch. James hadn't yet realized that his system involving transporting Lily on his shoulder was just not going to work.
"James!" a tiny voice yelled. "Potter! JAMES POTTER!" He felt something poking in between his shoulder blades. When he reached into the hood, Lily grabbed his finger and held on for dear life.
"Lily?" James asked carefully, holding her in his hand like she was going to break at any moment.
"Yes?" She turned around to face him. His hazel eyes had such an intense, fearsome look to them. But they were so scared, so worried.
"Where do you want to sit?" he asked, catching her off guard. Lily was so focused on his eyes, trying to decipher everything in them she had forgotten he had said her name.
"Oh, anywhere, James. I don't care," Lily said with a smile and a wave of her hand.
James placed her and himself up front, so Lily could see what was going on. That was when James realized Lily's voice wasn't a squeak anymore, like it had been. It was normal sounding, just as loud as his was.
"How come your voice is so loud?"
He nodded, wondering how he didn't guess that before. Professor McGonagall chose that moment to walk up to the front of the room.
"Mr Potter, where are your friends? Surely you wouldn't sit up front alone," she said sharply.
"Lily is next to me, Minnie," James said. McGonagall winced at the nickname.
"I don't see her, Potter," she told him flatly.
"Here, professor!" Lily called, waving to her as she sat in the middle of the desk.
"Well, hello Miss Evans! Why are you so small, my dear?" McGonagall asked.
"Shrinking Solution some Slytherins made in Potions got spilled on me," Lily told her teacher.
McGonagall nodded and began the lesson. Stranger things had happened at Hogwarts.
Lily turned to James and opened her mouth. He was gazing at her carefully, watching her every move and she froze, forgetting what she was going to ask.
Lily felt a little uncomfortable and turned to watch the lesson, completely not realizing she was not taking notes for the first day in her entire school career. Soon, McGonagall instructed each of them to try the spell on their own. McGonagall shrunk Lily's object.
As soon as Transfiguration was over, James took Lily to Arithmacy and instructed Remus to take care of her.
"Yes, Prongs. Nothing will happen to her," Remus said, rolling his eyes. His friend was so set on poor Lily Evans. The girl had no idea what was in store for her.
After Divination (which is what James had with Sirius and Peter while Lily and Remus were in Arithmacy), he ran back to get Lily and took her to dinner.
For the first day in as long as Lily could remember, she and James were finally getting along. She wasn't daft enough to believe it would last. They had too much of a history for anything quite that miraculous to occur. But it was a day of laughter and easy conversation. She wouldn't mind a few more in the coming year.
It changed a bit of her view on James. She began to see, in subtle ways, why Dumbledore had chosen James as Head Boy.
James also had a bit of an attitude change toward the "perfect girl" he'd imagined Lily to be. He had always thought her to be extremely focused on school, to always do everything her teachers told her. In reality, that's not all of who she was.
James placed Lily on the table and added food onto her plate. He then overflowed his own.
Lily began to get larger as she ate. When she finished her tiny lump of potatoes, she was as tall as a fork. It wasn't long before she could no longer fit on the table.
"James!" she called.
He turned to her. "What?"
"Put me on the floor!"
James set her down, slightly confused at the request. And then, in a whoosh of air and a blink of an eye, Lily was her normal height again. She smiled, glad to be able to move around on her own in a fairly good amount of time.
She sat down between Clare and James and piled a bit more food onto her plate.
If Lily had thought about it, she would have turned to look at James. James was sort of disappointed. He liked taking care of her. Then again, now he could actually touch her without her falling over or breaking.
When Lily had finished eating, she saw James' empty plate. He wasn't reaching for more food, either. He was just staring at her.
Lily smiled vaguely at him, and then caught herself.
"Thank you, Potter. And I'll thank you to stop staring at me."
James smiled and shook his head, glad to have his Lily back.
A/N: Thanks for reading. I know the whole "whoosh of air, blink of an eye" nonsense is not exactly canon. But, c'mon. I'm not JK Rowling, therefore I have no way of knowing exactly what happens after a potion wears off.
Thanks again and please review.
Just so you know, I won't say 'fuck' very often. But I felt it necessary in the situation at the end.
Chapter Four: Head Duties
"I'm not trying to criticise you," Lily tried to tell James patiently, "I'm just trying to make sure you understand your badge comes with responsibilities."
"Then why are we even having this conversation, if not for you to criticise me?" James yelled.
"Please, can we not yell?" Lily snapped. "Can we not have a conversation without an angry word, for one bloody time?"
James crossed his arms, infuriated. He nodded, only willing to try this once.
After a moment of deep breathing, James asked in a forcedly polite tone, "What are you trying to say, Evans, if you are not criticising me?"
Lily forced a smile. "Potter, I'm simply saying that you patrol with me at night and are willing to have a meeting every week and we are capable of talking about the things we need to do, but during the day, you seem to forget you're supposed to enforce the rules, not break them yourself."
James raised his hand and opened his mouth in protest.
Lily cut him off fluidly with two head shakes. "I don't mean to say you aren't allowed to break a few rules here and there, because that would be hypocritical. But you should stop fights, not encourage them. You won't necessarily have to take points if you feel it inappropriate, but send them to their Head of House in order to have their punishment duly given instead of ignoring it all together."
Lily waited for James response, and James didn't realize right away she was done.
"You're criticising me," James announced after another moment for thought.
Lily flung her hands in the air in frustration. "Fine, whatever. I'm criticising you! Are you happy now?!"
"Can we not have a conversation without an angry word?" James mocked.
"Grow up!" Lily yelled. "I was hoping, since we have to work together all bloody year, we could express our opinions maturely without all of this nonsense!"
"Mr Potter!" McGonagall snapped. "Put your arm down this instant!"
James complied, clenching his fist as he did.
"Miss Evans, you wanted a non-angry environment, but you couldn't keep it calm yourself. This just is not going to work. One of you will have to be changed," McGonagall told the pair, quickly scribbling something on a piece of parchment. She handed it to Lily and said, "The two of you, go see Dumbledore right away. He'll want to help sort this out."
"This is all your fault!" Lily hissed.
"Mine!" James protested. "You wanted to talk with McGonagall about our inability to actually talk without getting angry two weeks into the term!"
"Because we were going to kill each other!" Lily protested.
"Now you're going to get my badge revoked!" James came back at her with.
"I am not. You will not loose your badge-- McGonagall's just angry at us for being unable to cooperate."
"That's only because you've had this freakish personality change all of a ruddy second!"
"Now you're making excuses," Lily replied. "You didn't even want to be Head Boy in the first place, so I don't know why you're upset. You can break all the rules you want now because there's no example for you to set anymore."
"You're making unfair, unjust assumptions," James retorted. "And you're talking like I'm going to be replaced."
"You said it first," Lily told him, raising her hands in defensive innocence.
"You don't have to repeat it!" he snapped. "Why are you suddenly so different?"
"There's nothing different," Lily replied, her brow furrowing in confusion.
"There's everything different!" James shouted. "You're eating right again, you look like you've been sleeping, you're arguing with me again, and you look like something is just eating you alive!"
"You know what happened," Lily said. "You read it in my diary!"
"But why have you suddenly switched from sullen and sad to active in your life?" James asked, pausing in the middle of the sentence to tell the gargoyle the password.
They walked up the stairs to Dumbledore's door. Pausing before knocking, Lily said, "I don't think that's any of your concern."
"Come in," Dumbledore called, halting James' response.
"Ah, Mr Potter, Miss Evans. What brings you here this fine afternoon when you could be outdoors?" Dumbledore asked, gesturing to the seats in front of his desk.
"Professor McGonagall sent us," Lily said, handing him the parchment.
"Sit down, sit down," Dumbledore said after a moment, looking up from McGonagall's notes. "I see that the two of you can't work together as well as I had hoped. Professor McGonagall has made her suggestions." He paused. "They are not in your favor, Mr Potter."
"I didn't expect so, sir," James said, ducking his head.
"I, however, don't feel your badge need be revoked to change this. Miss Evans," Dumbledore continued, turning to her. She looked absolutely frightened for a moment. "Oh, no fear, Miss Evans. You are in not question of your badge, either. I think we can work something out and still manage to keep the two of you working together."
They nodded, not looking at each other.
"From now on, the Heads' meetings will be conducted with me and we will see what can be done. For now, enjoy your weekend. I expect both of you to be here with reports about what's going on in the castle at ten o'clock sharp Saturday morning," Dumbledore said, looking at James specifically. "Until then."
The two were dismissed and they left, not bothering to say a word. Lily headed toward Gryffindor Tower and James went to the grounds, in search of a desperate change of mood.
"Prongsie!" Sirius yelled as James approached the lake. Emily's head was in Remus' lap, but Clare was nowhere in sight.
"Where's Clare?" he asked.
"Who knows?" Emily replied, staring at the clouds.
"Isn't she one of your best friends?" James asked, confused.
"Only as of this year." Emily sat up. "James, Lily and I only became friends because I started dating Remus. They were friends and it was remarkably easier to be friends with her than enduring being constantly out of the loop with their conversations. Sometimes, their intellectual talk can get a little over my head, but it would anyone's." She yawned. "Clare came with the package. It's not as though I don't love her, because I do very much, but Lily and Clare obviously weren't my first-choice friends." Emily laid back down and closed her eyes, contemplating an afternoon nap.
James nodded. Sirius pouted.
"I call your name and you only pay attention to Moony's girlfriend. I am insulted!"
"Hello to you, Padfoot," James said, rolling his eyes. He sat down next to his best mate.
"So what's going on?" Sirius asked. "Anything exciting with Miss Evans?"
James shoved him. "Ugh, don't remind me of her. Today was awful."
"That's a first," Peter said, climbing down from the tree. "He doesn't want anyone to say Lily's name."
James pulled his knees up to his chest and buried his face in them. "She practically accused me of abusing my privileges! And to boot she tried to get my badge revoked!"
"I think you need to rethink your view on what happened," Remus said. "Lily simply thinks you need to be as serious about your responsibilities during the day as you are at night. She doesn't want you to not be Head Boy anymore."
"And I think I need a really good prank. Something on Snivellius would be fine for me," James grumbled malevolently from his legs.
"I think that would be a terrible idea," Peter said after a few moments silence. It was the first time in the history they had been friends Peter had defied a prank request.
After blinking in awe, Sirius nodded. "Yeah, mate, I agree with Wormtail. You don't want to do anything else to piss off Evans."
"For once, Sirius is speaking sense. You cannot risk getting into any trouble. Dumbledore would replace you if you disregarded everything that happened today," Remus added.
"Oh, sod off," James mumbled, standing up and stalking away.
"Didn't he do that backwards?" Peter asked.
"Yep," Sirius said. "He's just that angry. Or maybe he's just going mad."
James muttered profanities under his breath as he stomped to Gryffindor Tower. He barked the password to the Fat Lady, who was disgruntled and irritated with him now. He threw himself down onto a couch over the back without checking to see if it was occupied. Unluckily, on top of a sleeping person.
"Oh, good sweet Merlin," a voice gasped from under him. James rolled to the ground and sat up. Lily was glaring at him. "Can't I have any peace from you?"
"Why must you always be where I want to?" he growled in return.
"I was sleeping here, fine and dandy, no one bothering me. Do you think it's funny to just leap over the backs of sofas onto someone's stomach? Does that make your day better?" Lily replied bitterly.
"God, you're so grumpy when you wake up!" James said, throwing his hands in the air. "Ugh, if I were your father, I would've died just to get away from you when you're woken up!"
He covered his mouth after the words were out, aware of what he just said.
"Fuck you, James Potter," Lily said darkly, her green eyes clouding. "Fuck you."
James sat there, hazel eyes wide, jaw agape, surprised at her language, surprised at how angry she was. He didn't mean to say it, but he had. He didn't bother to make a sexual comment or retort. He just watched as she stormed away.
The first three fourths is written in first person, present tense. When it changes back to normal, I'll have a series of symbols (--**--) to let you know. It's the only time I'll ever have those symbols in this story, or its sequels, without forewarning like this.
Chapter Five: Is This What You Want?
Remus can't be right, he doesn't understand. I don't know why he thinks life is slowly doling out my dues and why I can't bear to get along with James Potter. He's been my friend for so long, but what if he really doesn't know me the way I had hoped he did?
He thinks it's just my stubborn pride but he doesn't understand how much more than that it really is. I wish I could show him, I wish I could place him in my shoes and yell "This is why, Remus!" Even with magic I can't do that.
He assures me there is so much more to James Potter, but he doesn't know that I already figured that out. He's more than a pranking prat carrying a torch. He's a human being with emotions, and that scares me. It scares me a lot. Because I worry I am not.
I don't know how to tell Remus how I really feel. He doesn't get it, or maybe I just don't want him to get it. He's been my connection to the male world and I his to the female. But our separation in mindset makes it so I don't know how to talk to him about matters of the heart. However, it seems he knows how to talk to me.
Remus doesn't understand how hard I have to work to accept James Potter. It's not simply because he's different from me. Oh, if it were only that. It's because he lives in the throes of his emotions, letting himself follow where they lead. I haven't listened to my heart in so many years, I wouldn't know how even if I tried.
He insisted our differences were where we would connect. If there's one thing I have learned, it's that the commonalities that bring people together. What do James Potter and I have in common? Little, if anything.
And, besides, I can't forget that look on his face as he cut through to my heart. The first, and only, time. He will never reach me like that again, with such venom, bringing back my dead father. I will never forgive him for that.
How can I? He can't deserve it, he simply can't. He made a mistake, true, true. Whatever. He made a mistake that was bigger than any of his previous mistakes. He wants to work something out, fine. But he can't send Remus for him. I will not be made a fool of, I will not be hurt again. Not by James Potter, not by anyone.
Remus doesn't know, though, does he? James didn't say anything. Remus doesn't know what happened that afternoon. I couldn't tell him. James Potter doesn't deserve that.
Oh, Lily Evans.
Remus is insistent that you mean no harm, but how can't you? I have never seen such a passion in your eyes as you cursed me to an endless roundtrip to hell and back. You refuse to say a word to me, out of righteous anger. How can I earn your forgiveness?
Lily Evans, I made a mistake. I never meant to hurt you. I've been trying so hard not to, to keep my distance, to show you who I really am. I wronged you as soon as I could, didn't I?
You never told Remus, Lily Evans. Why haven't you told Remus? You talk to Remus more than you talk to anyone, it seems. Would he say something harsh to you, or to me? Who are you protecting?
If you're protecting me, why do you care? I have never seen such hate in all my life. I hope never to again. But help me to understand why you do these things.
He said I love you, Lily. I don't know, I just don't know. Is that what they call this, this torture? This maddening stream of sorrow and regret, this longing? Love?
Maybe he is right. But if he is right, what could I do? How could I prove it? Do I need to prove it? Do you know?
Wait, wait. Back up, James. Love? You? You're a reckless character, a figure of mischief, not of romantic devotion. Hold to yourself, mate. If you succumb to love, you have lost everything you stood for, all those years.
He said I do not love you, Lily Evans. Remus said I am so madly in love with you, it is a blind devotion, an endless well of emotion. That love comes not alone, but with anger and fear, happiness and sadness. That I could never say a word about love for what it is, because I don't know. I never bothered to watch myself with you, and that would be my downfall. He told me if I don't pay attention now, it will end badly.
Because you are watching as well.
Dear sweet Lily Evans. There isn't a night I don't close my eyes thinking of you, not a morning I don't wake up without first thinking your name. I dream of you, I wait for you to realize what Remus assures me could only be true.
But still, I must question myself before you. I can't say a word for your feelings until I know my own.
Am I in love you, Lily Evans?
Your very name makes me smile, and I can't resist acting like a fool in front of you. I say whatever comes to mind, and forget how it may make you feel. I forget you have feelings that I shouldn't ignore, because I'm so consumed with making you mine.
I am, Lily Evans, irrevocably, hopelessly, desperately, in love with you.
There is a piece I'm missing. Something neither will tell me, but is essential, imperative to understanding exactly what's happening between them. And the options are simple: Either one (or both) will tell me, or they must put it behind themselves. It can't be a roadblock forever. I refuse to let whatever it is stay in their way.
I don't know why I'm playing matchmaker now. It was Clare's job, but she relinquished it to me. Am I better at it? Happier at pulling two people meant to be closer and closer together?
No, I can't say that. I feel like I'm the evil one, the bad guy. If something goes wrong, both will fling the blame back on me. I don't want that. No one really wants that.
Did she give it to me because she knows I can take the blame, the anger, the pain, and she cannot?
Emily understands this so much more than I do. I've always been the peacemaker, not the matchmaker. I don't know how to do this job without causing suspicion or hate. Or both.
I asked both of them, separately of course, if this, what they have right now, is what they want. James gave me a straight answer. "Of course not, Moony. I've been waiting for Lily Evans to be mine for two years. Do you think this is where I want things to stay?"
Lily, on the other hand, was not so forthcoming in her answer. "Does anyone ever want what they have at the moment? Isn't everyone longing for something else?"
I worry for that girl sometimes. Her heart is locked away so tightly, I don't think anyone will ever be able to release it, especially herself.
A baby laughs and James smiles. The baby is right in front of him, a beautiful green-eyed boy. Those eyes are so familiar, but he can't place them yet.
He plays peek-a-boo with the baby, laughing as the baby gurgles in delight.
He feeds the baby when he gets hungry and burps him. James has no idea how he learned to do these things: he is an only child and never took care of an infant before. The baby pulls gently, lazily at his hair. The baby yawns and James suddenly knows his name.
"Harry," he whispers.
He tucks Harry into his basinet and curls up on the couch for a nap himself. Lily should be home soon.
James sits up and looks around the living room. On the mantle is a picture of Lily in wedding robes, standing next to a grinning James. He smiles in pleasant surprise and snuggles up on the cough again. He can hear Harry's gentle breathing and it soothes him into a tiny nap, just for a few minutes. He needs to be wake when Lily gets home…
"Wake up, James," a gentle voice calls. "James?"
He sat up quickly, flinging his books everywhere. Lily stood over him, shaking her head.
"Honestly, James. It's well past midnight. Get to bed." She gathered her belongings from across the room and hesitated a bit at the foot of the stairs. As James shook the dream of his consciousness, Lily called to him, "James?"
"Why were you muttering my name?"
James floundered for an answer, his mouth opening and closing uselessly. Lily cackled.
"Kidding!" she called back down the stairs as she raced up them.
James turned a gentle pink and rubbed the back of his neck, his mind still lost in the dream future.
Chapter Six: Horror on Halloween
Dessert hadn't even been served yet.
As the Great Hall glowed in the orange light, Lily stared in a petrified horror at the Slytherin table. Every student wearing a serpent emblem began to grow fur all over the place. Fur unique to each student's hair color peeked out of collars and socks. Fangs that were as big as a fist sprouted from their mouths. They hunched over and growled.
No one hooted in laughter. Disbelief echoed across the room. Only two boys seemed at all pleased with what occurred.
Dumbledore stood up and yelled, "Potter! Black! To my office!"
No one had ever heard him raise his voice and many students stared open-mouthed at the head table.
Lily realized what this was. Not an accident, or an unusual event. But rather a Marauder prank. A disgusting, awful, horrendous prank. Lily shielded her eyes to avoid what was happening not too far away.
Sirius and James walked with their heads hung appropriately low enough, but still high enough to know they had no remorse. Oh, Lily planned to change that.
He turned around, expecting another teacher's anger, but he didn't know the voice. Until he saw Lily's face. He cowered, that was his first reaction. He winced, cowered, dived. Her wand pointed straight for him, and he couldn't even imagine what curse she had pulled out of her mind to use on him.
"Miss Evans!" came a cry from behind her. McGonagall stood, looking equally abashed and furious. "My office." It was said gently, fearfully. The haunting emerald eyes were filled with a fury the professors didn't know if they could quench.
Lily stormed past Sirius and James, spitting venomously, "Malfoy has proven himself better than you." Malfoy was long out of school, but comparisons were still made to him. Even Sirius cringed.
James and Sirius trudged up to the gargoyle and muttered the password. Lily's venom hadn't shown itself all term until today. It used to appear every prank, but lately she had been letting them slide. Now that the prank was over and the fun had been drained, they began to wonder if it had been the right thing to do after all.
"I am extremely disappointed in you boys," Dumbledore said the moment he walked in his office. "I cannot imagine why you did this. I have never seen anything quite so low in all my years of teaching."
Dumbledore sighed as James and Sirius looked around in fear, looking at everything besides their headmaster's eyes.
"I am beyond surprised. I am disgusted."
Both boys looked to the headmaster with fear, and now seemed to be ashamed.
"Sirius, I would like you to wait in the hall just outside my door. I would like to speak to you one on one about this as I dole out your punishment."
Sirius hurriedly left, not sending a sympathetic glance backward.
"James, I wonder if you could tell me, is this a permanent condition?"
"Is what, sir?" he replied timidly.
"The growling and the hair. Is it permanent?"
"No, sir." James cleared his throat uncomfortably. "It'll wear off in about an hour."
Dumbledore sighed, rubbing his temples with two fingers. "I am terribly confused, Mr Potter. Why did you feel the need to do this? The year began to find a rhythm, your fights with Miss Evans have drastically decreased, your grades and class performance are excellent. You seem to be in a place you have been striving for since you first walked through the doors. I am dumbstruck trying to assume your reasoning."
"Let me rephrase, Mr Potter. Tell me why."
James took a deep breath and looked away from Professor Dumbledore to gather his wits. Why did he pull this prank? He wasn't even sure himself. He just woke up last week and knew he had to do something. Maybe the truth would be better…?
"Sir, I don't know why."
Dumbledore gazed at him skeptically from across the desk. "Forgive me for not believing you."
"You were right: my life is falling into place and everything is starting to follow my design. I was getting restless. I dunno, for some reason that really put me out. I didn't know how to respond. Going through the motions made me feel like I wasn't myself anymore. I had to do something."
"And you figured this was the way to do that, Mr Potter?"
"Yes, sir. I talked to Pa-Sirius about it. He was game, but Moo-Remus and Wor-Peter didn't want to be involved. Remus tried to talk us out of it, but I wouldn't hear it. Please, don't punish those two for not turning us in. They were hoping we'd get over it, move on."
"Mr Lupin and Mr Pettigrew are in no danger here, I assure you."
James heaved a sigh of relief. "It was my idea. Sirius just helped me research and create the spell."
"This was a spell?"
"Yes, sir. A very complicated one."
Against his will, Dumbledore blinked in admiration.
"You are a very intelligent boy, Mr Potter," Dumbledore said. He sighed. "I just wish you would use it in a better way."
James nodded, ducking his head.
"Mr Potter," Dumbledore began, and then stopped. He took a deep breath. "James, hand me your badge."
"Excuse me, sir?" James choked.
"Your privilege as Head Boy is now in question. Until I can decide what to do about this, you are not Head Boy. You may be reinstated, but for now I cannot say."
James coughed uncomfortably and slowly removed the badge from his shirt. He wordlessly handed it over and turned to leave.
"One more thing, Mr Potter," Dumbledore called. James turned, afraid. "I am requesting that you write an apology to Slytherin House to be delivered tomorrow evening at dinner."
"I am sorry it came to this, James," Dumbledore said. "Send Mr Black back in, please."
"Your turn," James muttered to Sirius.
"Wow, what happened, mate?" Sirius asked after seeing James' expression.
"He took my badge," James whispered, his back to Sirius.
"I can't say I blame him," James continued. "And I have to write an apology to the Slytherins. I took the fall for it."
"Mate," Sirius protested, and then sighed. It was no use reasoning with James, he knew.
"Maybe I'll write one to Lily as well. I think she deserves it," James wondered aloud in a dreamy sort of voice.
He didn't hear what Sirius said in response.
James drifted back to the dormitory, where he began to compose a bullshitted apology to the Slytherins. After he read through it, he burnt it, slowly, and began again. He tried to put feeling into it. He hadn't meant it to be so humiliating, so damaging. He just wanted to have a laugh.
After he managed to successfully complete one to be delivered in front of the entire student body, he pulled out another blank roll of parchment. He simply wrote, "Lily," at the top and began to work.
James had delivered his somewhat heartfelt apology to the Slytherins two days previous, but Lily was still steaming. Unbeknownst to Lily, James had persuaded Clare to leave a letter on her pillow. Well, he got down on his knees and begged. That was enough for Clare.
"I still can't believe he would do something so low!" Lily exclaimed to Emily as they climbed the girls' stairs.
"I know, Lily," Emily said wearily. "I heard you the first few million times."
Lily didn't hear her. "It's beyond me. Where would he have thought of anything so awful?"
"I have absolutely no idea."
Emily opened the door for the two and walked to her bed hurriedly.
"Hey, look Lily. There's something on your bed," Emily said suddenly.
"Oh," Lily replied and turned around. "So there is." She walked toward it curiously and picked it up. Who could have left it?
She unrolled it and sucked in a breath. There was no mistaking that handwriting. She read through it quickly, smiling. Abruptly, she changed into her night clothes and pulls back her curtains. Using Lumos, she read the letter to herself a few more times.
I know I made a mistake. I know I crossed a line. I find myself asking, 'Why d'you do it?', but I never give myself an answer. Maybe I was bored, maybe I was restless, maybe this, maybe that, maybe, maybe, maybe. I know for certain, though, it was wrong.
Dumbledore took my badge. I thought that would be punishment enough. He thought so, too, because he hasn't done anything else yet. But I've found the true penance to be in the looks you give me. I have wished every day for years for that venomous, painful look to disappear. For a two whole months this term, I hadn't seen it. Until I screwed up, again.
There are a million things I would rather endure than the sight of your anger, your distrust. I betrayed you, I realize now, and I wish I could take it back.
I am so sorry, for what I did to the Slytherins, and for what I did to you. I wish I could do something to change this.
I could never express to you how much I regret my decision. It's too late, however, and I want you to know I truly am sorry.
He left it simply as that. No confessions of undying love, no hidden passion. Just regret, real empathy for her.
But it wasn't me he hurt! she protested.
Oh, really? a voice in her mind replied. She sighed.
Yes, so he had hurt her, betrayed her trust, destroyed their friendship. But what did that matter? He turned an entire House into snarling creatures!
It matters, the same voice whispered.
She would ask Dumbledore to reinstate James as Head Boy. He had truly learned his lesson.
She clutched the parchment in her fist and gently drifted off to sleep.
Chapter 7: It's Deeper and More Complicated Than That
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Chapter Seven: It's Deeper and More Complicated Than That
Lily flung her covers back and groaned. She'd been trying to sleep for three hours and she was still staring at the top of her bed, the window across the room, and a closed curtain.
She felt around for her dressing gown and pulled on a pair of socks. She tip-toed across the room and slowly opened the door.
She walked down the stairs, frustrated she was still awake.
As she entered the common room, she saw someone sitting in a chair. It didn't matter at this point who it was; she went across the room and sat down on the couch a few feet away from them.
"Hello there, Lily," the person said.
Lily nodded, unsure who it was. They turned to face her.
"Oh! What are you doing out here at this hour?"
"I could ask you the same thing," he replied, smiling slightly. She smiled back.
"You first," she encouraged.
"I haven't been sleeping well; I'm stressed, I guess."
Lily's face softened with concern and Peter didn't know how to react. Concern, sympathy, and empathy were not usual aspects of his friendship with Remus, James, and Sirius.
"What are you stressed about?"
Peter looked everywhere in the common room but at Lily's eyes. His rat-like reflexes kept his eyes jumping from window to fireplace to tapestry to armor, to anything not emeralds shining concern.
"Peter," Lily said gently. "You know I'm not going to tell anyone. Sirius, especially, will never find out."
Peter sighed, grateful she knew why he was so nervous. Sirius always made fun of him for the silliest reasons. He couldn't bear if Sirius ever found a real reason.
"I have a really hard time with my schoolwork. I don't understand it most of the time and I'm embarrassed to admit it to Remus. I know he would help, but I couldn't imagine the consequences if Sirius found out." Peter glanced at Lily and then quickly away.
"I'd be willing to help, Peter," she said quietly. "I'm not afraid of Sirius, I'd defend you."
"D'you mean it? I would really appreciate it."
"Yeah, I do mean it."
Peter sighed and sat back in his chair, unaware that he had been leaning forward. He fantasized about receiving an assignment back from McGonagall with good marks instead of poor. He had barely scraped the required grade in his O.W.L.s to continue on in Transfiguration, he couldn't imagine how he would pass N.E.W.T.s.
"Lily?" Peter said hesitantly, looking away from her again.
"Can I--can I ask you something? Something a little…personal?"
"Certainly," she said, snuggling against the couch.
"Are you down here because of something that happened at home, before term started?" He whispered it, flung it across the room.
"What makes you think that?" Lily tried to keep her tone light, as flippant as before. But Peter could see something hidden, something that had been lurking beneath the surface, waiting to get out.
"You've been…different since we began the year. You aren't so Lily-y. You seem sadder, more afraid. I don't know; I've never seen you give up working in class on something. But today, you hadn't even figured out the spell in Transfiguration and you sat at the table with your head in your hands. I suppose McGonagall thought you'd got it, because she left you alone. I can't imagine anything could've happened at school to hold you back."
His concern chipped away some of her desire to hole her secrets within herself. James Potter was the only non-teacher in this school who knew exactly what had happened before she climbed on the Express. And maybe now was the time to change that.
"I mean," Peter continued, "you were sort of sad when school started. But I thought you just missed your mum or something. And then, all of a sudden, last week you were different. You seemed to be so…depressed."
Lily bit her lip, contemplating telling Peter everything. Would he use it against her? Was he that cruel?
"It was his birthday," she whispered. "Last Tuesday."
"And you didn't get him a present…?" Peter asked, slightly confused.
"You could say that," Lily said, turning her eyes to the ceiling and laughing sardonically.
Peter waited patiently for Lily to continue, his hands folded in his lap.
"He died in July, right before the letters came. A heart attack, a Muggle ailment more than magical. It was really sudden; one day he was out for his morning jog, the next he was in hospital."
"Lily, I'm really sorry."
"I know. Thanks," she replied gently, not looking at him. "It's just been so hard lately. My mum is so wrapped up in trying to move on and my sister has enviously loathed me since I got my Hogwarts letter and she didn't. Mum's always been a little wrapped up in something, I suppose. Dad was my closest companion, my best friend, the only one at home who didn't make me feel like a freak."
"Oh, Lily." Peter stood up and awkwardly patted Lily's shoulder. He didn't quite know if it would be appropriate to hug her or what to do.
"I-I'm sorry f-for this, P-Peter."
"It's okay, Lily. You probably just need a good cry." Peter wondered where that had come from.
Lily cried for a while, Peter wrapping her in an awkward but well-intentioned one-armed hug and patting her on the back, sort of how his mum had always done when he was upset as a boy.
It seemed almost as though Lily's sorrow was a river she was pouring out of a glass jar with how smoothly and continuously her tears flowed down her cheek. Peter attempted to wipe a few away.
"An-and to toh-top it off-ff, Ja-James re-read about-t it ih-in my di-diary."
"I bet you were upset about that," Peter mused.
"Why cah-can't he just b-be my fr-friend? Would ih-it real-ly kill hi-him?"
"No, I can't say it would," Peter admitted quietly.
Lily ranted a few more sentences about how stupid could James be and why couldn't he be her friend when she needed him and not when it suited him. Peter absent-mindedly agreed.
Slowly, Lily's breathing evened out and the tears stopped coursing down her cheeks. She awkward untangled herself from Peter's hug and wiped her eyes. She looked at him through damp eyelashes. She stood up.
"Thanks for listening, Peter," Lily said softly, heading up the girls' stairs.
"Thanks for agreeing to help me," he replied, curling up in his chair. He wasn't ready for sleep yet.
James smiled, leaning his head against the wall. He couldn't make his longing to comfort her disappear, but he knew someone else could be there for her. He felt slightly reassured about her well-being with the knowledge she was willing to let people in.
He had been in love with her so long, he'd forgotten how it felt to be struck with an arrow. But something in her tone with Peter, in her gentle fervor with her own pain made him feel like he had fallen in love with her all over again.
He realized he couldn't let her get away. Forget that it was November; forget he had time still. In a fairly short blink-of-the-eye, she'd be gone forever. And he couldn't let that happen. If nothing else, he couldn't let it happen without proving to her that he was serious, proving to her he truly loved her. If she still rejected him, fine. Maybe he would be better off if she couldn't see true love staring her in the face.
But James Potter had no doubts she would see the truth.
A/N: I apologize for how long it's taken me. I do hope you enjoyed it; I thought Peter had been thoroughly neglected in my story and deserved some spot-light.
Chapter Eight: It Can't Be True
"Lily, Lily, Lily!" James yelled, running through the common room in search of the most gorgeous redhead he had ever met.
"What?" Lily asked, her tone sharp but her mouth smiling. She seemed amused by him, instead of bemused, and James smiled widely in return, encouraged.
"I just got permission from Mum to ask you to come to my house for the holidays, so will you come?! I'd be so happy if you came, it would just amazing and it would make the Christmas tradition so much more fun because then it would be more than just me and Sirius dashing around the house, it would be you and your morning grumpiness, too! Please, please come, Lily! Will you? Can you?" James said quickly and loudly. He beamed widely at the completion, which slowly fell as a look of confusion passed over Lily's face.
"What?" she asked, shaking her head. "Please repeat that in English."
"Would you come to my house for the holidays?" he repeated slowly, hoping he sounded more like a gentleman.
"Uh…" Lily blinked at him, her face evidently surprised.
"Oh, please, Lily," James pleaded, pouting slightly.
"I'll…owl my mum," Lily said slowly, her eyebrows knitted together in confusion. James didn't care; he hardly noticed in fact.
He jumped around and then ran off, leaving Lily staring after him in twice as much confusion as before.
"What just happened?" she asked herself aloud slowly, her arms out in front of her and her palms facing the ground.
"James just ran off, looking giddy," Remus answered, coming through the portrait hole. "What did you do?"
"I honestly have no idea," Lily admitted, throwing her hands in the air. "He was jumping and pleading and something about Christmas with Sirius and my grumpiness and asking my mum and I don't know what just happened. Please explain it to me."
Remus laughed and shrugged his shoulders. "I haven't the foggiest either, Lily. Mind helping me with our Charms essay?"
"I'd love to, really Remus, but I'm supposed to meet James on the Quidditch pitch in an hour so we can talk about Head duties," Lily said. "And I need to get my notes ready."
"Could I borrow your Charms notes, then?" Remus asked, shrugging. "All the same, I suppose."
Lily dug her notes out of her bag and handed them over. "Good luck," she called over her shoulder.
"Thank you, dear," the Fat Lady said graciously. "Heaven knows I need it, guarding the Tower with those four hooligans in this House."
Lily smiled politely, not having the gall to tell the Fat Lady she hadn't been talking to her. Lily grimaced as she turned around and then scuttled to the library. She quickly put together everything she could think of in terms of the holiday ideas for the castle. James had already had the Prefects decorate the halls, but Lily had wanted something fun to do for the students who weren't going home for Christmas.
She realized the time and ran out of the library. She couldn't figure out why she was in such a hurry, it was only James after all. He wouldn't mind if she was late; he probably wasn't even done with practice yet.
She pulled her hair back and then yanked the ponytail holder out of her hair a few moments later, fluffing it with her fingers slightly. As she was about to pull it back up again, she stopped. Why did she even care?
The snow was a thin sheet on the ground as Lily hustled through it, creating a fog around her every breath she took. She covered her ears with her mittened hands and saw the Gryffindor team still in the air. James was explaining something to one of the Beaters, or that's what Lily assumed him to be doing, as she climbed up into the stands.
She pulled the parchment with her ideas out as she took a seat. It looked like the players were cold and tired and ready for a mutiny, so she predicted five more minutes. Her ears could tolerate five minutes of December bitter cold.
Lily simply couldn't resist the temptation to watch the team practice, her notes forgotten between her fingers. She smiled as her eyes followed James from one end to the other, sometimes stopping to help another player. A warm, funny feeling blossomed in her as she stared at James Potter. Her smile grew larger the more she watched and she laughed out loud when he was hit in the head by the Quaffle.
Was that the Quaffle? Or was it a Waffle? A Filaffle? Kaffle? It looked too big to be a Bludger, which she had had an unfortunate experience with during Third Year. James had shown off a Snitch before, so she was positive it wasn't that. Was it called a Quaffle, though? She could not remember.
When James turned around after she laughed, she waved, smiling brightly. Her stomach erupted in a fluttery feeling when he smiled and waved back. He held up five fingers. She assumed it meant five minutes.
He winked at her when she nodded. Lily felt her face heat up and glanced down at her papers.
The team dispersed and Lily waited a few minutes, studying what she had written, before standing up. Surely James would be ready by now.
She walked slowly down to the frost-bitten ground, taking an odd joy in watching the snow crunch under her shoes. Lily jumped when she heard a door and swiveled around.
"Hey," James said, smiling crookedly.
"Hey," Lily said automatically, a smiling spreading softly across her face.
"Ready?" he asked, ruffling his hair once. Lily noted that it seemed nearly frozen stiff.
"Sure, I've got the notes," she replied, attempting to be nonchalant. What was wrong with her?
"Great! How about we got to the kitchens? I could use some warm food," he suggested.
"Absolutely," Lily agreed. She would have agreed if he'd suggested the Forbidden Forest.
"So, what were you thinking?" James asked, looking sideways at her as they walked along. She purposefully stared down at her handwriting, to avoid blushing under his gaze.
"Well, I was thinking something in the Great Hall, a banquet. Not a ball, because of how few students usually stay. But a grand dinner and the professors still here acting silly, doing something unusual." It came out in a rush, and she took a deep gulp of air when finished. Lily bit her lip before glancing at James. "What do you think?
"I think maybe I want to say here to see what the professors do!" James laughed, shoving Lily's arm slightly. "It's a great idea. I'll see what I can get McGonagall to do if you talk to Dumbledore."
Lily laughed. "But McGonagall likes me so much better. Surely I should talk to her?"
"Nah, let me take a crack at it," he replied nonchalantly. He tickled the pear and said, "After you, mademoiselle." He continued while House Elves ran up to them, "Minnie needs to finally adjust to me as Head Boy, being responsible at all. Besides, if I say it's your idea, she'll do it."
Lily laughed full-heartedly as James asked for soup and hot chocolate. Lily was still laughing with the House Elf, Hixy, asked what she would like.
"Miss?" Hixy asked nervously. "Master James, what is wrong with Miss? Hixy is worried, sir."
"Ah, she's all right, Hixy," James replied. "Lily, you are all right, yes?"
Lily took a few deep breaths and nodded. "Sorry, Hixy. I'd like a piece of chocolate cake, please."
"Yes, Miss!" Hixy squeaked, happy to run off to find it.
As Lily ate her cake, James kept dripping soup onto his lap.
"Can't you eat?" she teased.
"Apparently not with you around," he joked back.
Lily laughed. She glanced at the time. "I have to run off, anyway," she lied smoothly. "I need to return a book to the library."
"You and that library," James joked lightly, smiling broadly. "It's like you're bloody married to the place."
"For all you know, I am," Lily said, dusting cake crumbs off her uniform. "Bye, James."
"Goodbye, Lily," he called after her.
When she was safely outside the kitchen, she leaned against the wall, holding her hand over her heart. "Oh, God, what's happening to me?"
Sirius walked up to her then. She jumped out of her skin when she realized he was leaning against the wall next to her.
"Ho-how long have you been there?" she stuttered, hoping she didn't seem hysterical.
"About ten seconds," he replied, laughing slightly. "What're you doing out here?"
"Thinking," she said shortly, hoping he got the message and would leave.
"About what?" he asked, smiling slightly.
"None of your business," she nearly snapped. Lily turned to leave, but Sirius put a hand on her shoulder. "What, Black?"
"I think you were thinking about Ja-ames," he sing-songed. Lily felt her face heat up and knew she had been caught. Sirius smiled widely. "And I think you should tell him."
"Tell him what," Lily demanded, facing Sirius and feeling righteously indignant.
"That you love him back," Sirius whispered, leaning close to her ear.
Lily gasped, but didn't deny it.
Sirius laughed gaily and wandered up to the portrait.
"Don't say anything to him," Lily warned him, "or you won't remember what year it is for the rest of your life."
Sirius tickled the pear and responded smoothly. "Of course not, love."
He disappeared inside, leaving Lily alone to worry he would spoil the secret she didn't know if she could admit to herself.
A/N: Just so you're aware, I have two chapters remaining in this section, and then I have a three-chapter sequel. It was originally posted as it's own story, pulled from this, but when I revamped the whole thing, I decided to make it a part. So, I should finish this story with the next few weeks.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it and, even if you didn't, please review. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.
Chapter 9: Avoiding James At All Possible Costs
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I'm sorry I haven't updated in a long time. I've had the series finished for a while, all the way through the final part of this trilogy, but I've just forgotten it's a work in progress. I'll get up the final chapter tomorrow, after this goes through the queue, but I've also got challenges to get up.
Lily knew she could not face James after this revelation, not if she had to spend all of Christmas with him. She did the only logical thing.
She hid from him.
When dawn peaked through her curtains, she pulled them tighter closed and pretended so be sleeping. Her friends didn't disturb her because she had claimed to be exhausted the night before when she had rushed into the dormitory. If she was still sleeping, they assumed she had been desperately tired.
Truth was, she had hardly slept at all. She could not get James Potter's face out of her head.
It was stuck behind her eyelids, making her blush as various scenarios played across her mind.
She realized she finally understood how he had felt all those years, and the difference was she could change it, she could eliminate these feelings. Lily felt that, maybe just a little bit, she deserved it, and she should have at least a few days of this feeling before destroying it. James deserved that much courtesy from her.
When the last giggling roommate had finally fled the dormitory, Lily opened her curtains. She sat in bed for a long while, wondering what she could do to stay out of his way. It would revolve around spending a lot of time in places he didn't go.
She pulled herself out of her bed and wandered slowly to her trunk. It dawned on her today was a Hogsmeade weekend. She had no reason to go, however, seeing as she had all of her gifts bought and wrapped. She could avoid James, because he would go with his friends. In fact, she would be able to spend plenty of time in the empty Common Room, enjoying the solitude.
She showered slowly, savoring the hot water as it pounded out the knots in her back. She wished everything could be simple, so she wouldn't have to hide from James.
In the end, she knew hiding would be fruitless. She was going to his house for the holidays and it hardly seemed likely she would be far from him during that time. In fact, he'd even mentioned a party his parents would be throwing that she'd need her newly-bought dress robes for.
Lily sighed as the steam around her became insufferable. She turned off the water and wrapped herself in a towel. The room above hers and her own were quiet, so she knew she'd been long enough that the students would be off to the village already.
"This isn't so bad," she said to herself. "I can avoid James for the weekend."
Lily dressed slowly, taking time to make sure she had on matching socks. Her sweater was warm and comforting, but also shaped her fairly well. If she'd woken up early enough to go the village with everyone else, she wouldn't have even bothered to pay attention to what shoes she was putting on, let alone if the sweater fit. Those things hardly bothered her, but if she was going to take extra time, every detail counted.
Lily flung her wet hair into a ponytail before remembering, as she did every morning, that she could do magic and didn't have to endure wet hair. She pulled out the scrunchie and pointed her wand at her head, focusing on the non-verbal spell.
Lily pulled out a book without looking at it and wandered shamelessly into the Common Room. Like she had anticipated, only a few of the First and Second Years were sitting around listlessly, probably longing for their adventures in Hogsmeade.
"It's really not all that exciting," she wanted to say to them. "I think it holds more heartbreak than anything else." But she knew they wouldn't understand and would probably just resent her. So she curled up in a chair by the fire and started to read. It was a book she'd purchased at Flourish and Blotts on a whim when she'd gone school shopping, one of about seven. It was a book her Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher would appreciate, because it was extremely descriptive and helpful.
Lily read away the hours and soon she was the only one in the Common Room. She stretched and realized it had to be dinner and soon everyone would be on their way back. With some quick thinking, she deduced the kitchens would be a safer bet. Sneaking back into the Common Room would be really hard, but she could perform a great Disillusionment Charm. Besides, she was hungry.
"Can Hixy help Miss?" a House-Elf asked as Lily walked into the kitchens.
"A cup of soup would be wonderful, Hixy," Lily said gently, sitting down quietly.
"Right away, Miss!"
Lily ate her soup in silence, watching as the House-Elves prepared for dinner. She glanced at her watch and realized she had a narrow window in which to make it back to the Common Room in order to pretend she'd had an early dinner.
She strode through the halls, glancing around at every turn. No one was about yet, and when she reached the Common Room, no one had arrived. She tucked her book under her arm and was headed back to her dormitory when a voice called to her.
"Hey, Emily," Lily said, smiling amiably to her as she stood on the third stair.
"Where are you going? We didn't see you at dinner."
"I ate early. I'm still really tired, so I was just going to go read it bed," Lily lied, coming up with her feigned tiredness on the spot.
"Are you okay?" Emily inquired, her brow furrowing in concern.
"I'm fine, Em," Lily said nonchalantly. "Too many late nights studying, I guess. They've caught up with me."
Emily paused, looking as if she shouldn't let Lily go, but after a moment, she reluctantly admitted, "You will need your sleep if we're spending the holidays with the Marauders."
"I knew you'd understand, Em. Night," Lily said, trying to remain calm and friendly. If she slipped up now, Emily would figure it out, and suddenly it would be all over.
"Night, Lily," Emily said, turning back around. Lily slowly trotted up the stairs to her dormitory. She changed into her pajamas and climbed into bed, propping open her book. She sat there for a moment before accepting how much of a lie it was. She untucked herself and made her way to the window sill. It had just enough room for one person to sit quietly alone, and that's just what Lily did.
Tomorrow, they were all leaving for the holidays. She would head to James Potter's house, and the game would be up. So for now, she stared across the grounds, thankful she could hide away for a little while longer.
So here it is. The final chapter of part one.
I started the original version five years ago, and here I am. This is far improved from what it had been, but this isn't a real representation of my current work.
Happy reading, and I'll see you again soon.
Lily Evans was a goner. She sat across from James Potter in a compartment, alone, as they waited for their friends to reappear. She nervously avoided his eyes, but she also tried to appear to be merely nostalgic for the years that had past.
"So, uh, Lily," James said, leaning forward. "Can I talk to you? About something, I mean."
"Well," Lily began, but she didn't have to answer. Peter and Sirius chose that moment to wander into the compartment. James looked put out, but Lily felt relieved. She had an idea of what he would say, and she didn't want to answer. Not yet.
Remus and Emily arrived, hand in hand, and sat across from each other, Emily next to Lily and Remus next to James.
The train began to move, and Emily lightly touched Lily's arm.
"I need to talk to you," Emily said, leaning close to Lily's ear.
"All right," Lily replied, nervously. She tucked her hair behind her ear, and folded her hands together.
"We'll be right back," Emily announced and pulled Lily up. "I need someone to go with me to the loo."
"Why do girls travel in packs?" Sirius asked, stretching his arms above his head sleepily.
"Beats me," Lily answered, "but since Clare's not here, that leaves me."
As soon as the compartment door closed, Emily turned on Lily. "I know why you didn't go to Hogsmeade yesterday, I know why you pretended to be tired, and I know why you look so uncomfortable in that compartment," she accused.
Lily gulped, waiting for it. She closed her eyes and whispered, "Say it."
"You like James Potter."
Lily inhaled sharply, afraid to admit it aloud. It was one thing to admit it quietly to herself late at night, but to her friend was another story entirely. She nodded, scrunching her eyes, before opening them to look at Emily.
"You need to tell him," Emily said simply.
"I know," Lily sighed. "I know."
Emily stared at her hard, before nodding. "I know you will. But now, I really do have to go to the loo. Come with me."
Lily rolled her eyes, but dutifully followed along. When they returned to the compartment, Emily refused to let Lily enter. She called for James, peeking her head inside, before entering herself. "Talk it out, you two," Emily suggested helpfully as she closed the door.
"Talk what out?" James asked, looking to Lily for the answer.
Lily, however, avoided his eyes. She stared intently at her shoes, convinced if she didn't meet his eyes, the problem would vanish.
"Lily?" He reached out and gently grasped her chin, pushing it back up. "What's going on?"
Lily closed her eyes again, and let the words escape. "I like you, James."
There was silence in the corridor as Lily stood in front of him, her eyes opening slowly. He grinned, hardly able to help it.
"Will you be my date for the party?" he asked quietly. Lily gazed into his hazel eyes and her whispered, fervent "Yes" fell from her lips only moments before they met with his.
To be Continued in The Christmas Celebration, coming soon