Chapter 4 : Of Barbarians and Chivalry
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Of Barbarians and Chivalry
Once James had woken up, the infirmary became extremely unbearable. Lily tried to avoid James’ room as much as possible, but he kept calling her in to complain about not being able to sleep or hunger. Every now and then he would throw in a comment about all the pain and how amazing his dive was.
“Why didn’t you come to the match?” James asked Lily the next morning, a Sunday, while she was bringing in his breakfast.
“Because I was waiting in the wing for idiots like yourself to come hobbling in. Or, in your case, hovered in on a stretcher. Oh, and that’s not pumpkin juice, it’s a painkiller and de-swell potion, in case you were wondering,” Lily replied while James spat out a mouthful of orange liquid onto the sheets. Lily lazily siphoned off the juice with her wand and stared at James, who was coughing and sputtering.
“You must have mixed up the painkiller and the piss! Blimey if that’s not the most disgusting thing I’d ever had this displeasure to taste!”
Lily rolled her eyes at James’ immaturity. “You wouldn’t even be here if you had the sense to pull out of the dive,” she grumbled, forcing the mixture upon James’ lips once more. His jaw was tightly clenched shut and he was shaking his head.
“Must you really be so immature?” Lily said exasperatedly.
James nodded, half smiling, with his impervious lips still sealed shut.
“Just—take it like a man. Do you think an auror who won’t even swallow a foul substance will amount to much? I mean, really, “ Lily leaned in close to James and whispered, “do you want a vulnerary potion to ruin your career?”
“Only for you, Lily.” James said, picking up the glass, plugging his nose, and chugging the liquid. After he finished, it seemed it was all he could do to hold down the drink, “Cor, you’d think they would find a way to make a painkiller less agonizing to drink! Are you sure there isn’t any way to make this thing taste better?"
“Oh, of course there is, “ Lily interrupted casually while scribbling a note in the patients log.
“You have got to be kidding me. So there’s a way to make that taste better, but you didn’t do it?”
“Nope. I guess I forgot it,” Lily replied kindly, and walked out of the room, leaving James dumfounded and scandalized, yet smiling.
“Madam Bowne?” Lily asked as she came out of James’ room. Madam Bowne was tending methodically to a jelly-legs victim.
“Yes, Miss Evans?” She said tonelessly.
“Potter drank his potion and he’s got his breakfast, so I don’t expect him to need me anymore until dinner. Is there anything you need me to do before I go?”
“No, Miss Evans, you can go ahead, but make sure you get here promptly before dinner,” Madam Bowne barely looked up as she spoke.
Lily nodded in thanks and ambled out the door. She climbed the steps to the seventh floor and walked along the corridor until she reached the Fat Lady. She muttered the password and entered the common room, to find that it was completely deserted. Sun poured softly through the windows, as it was only slightly cloudy outside.
Lily peered out the window towards the courtyard, looking down upon the students talking and reading lazily under trees and on benches. Seven Slytherins were gliding through the air on broomsticks as several students looked on from the stands.
“Evans!” A voice said from behind her as she stared out the window. Lily turned around to see that Sirius and Remus had just come down the steps from the boys’ dormitories. Because Remus never called her Evans, she knew that it had been Sirius who talked.
“Hello,” Lily replied monotonously.
“How’s James?” Remus inquired.
“Fine. He’ll be out soon,” Lily informed them. Sirius nodded.
“Well, we’re just going down to see him. Want to come?” Remus asked.
“I’ve had enough of him, thanks.”
“—and then she said that ‘oh yeah, of course there’s a way to make it taste better.’ And she left!” James told Remus and Sirius.
“Mate, I’m telling you, she’s feisty,” Sirius said.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” James joked.
“So I take it your relationship has gone absolutely nowhere?” Remus asked.
“Well,” James pondered, “I guess it hasn’t. Oy, but that doesn’t mean it never will, mind you. I’m completely capable of winning Lily over!”
“And this has been your mantra for how many years now, Prongs?” Sirius teased.
“Don’t be a cynic, Padfoot.” James grumbled.
It was almost 6 P.M. and Lily was writing the last lines of a Charms essay. Only after she had written the last word did she look out the window to see that the sky was growing steadily darker. Remembering with distaste the fact that she was to report to the Hospital Wing by now, she shoved her roll of parchment into her book-bag and sprinted up the steps to her dormitory to put on her nursing uniform.
The stairs were hard to navigate in a hurry, and Lily tripped hard on the sixth flight, banging her chin severely on the winding rail. She breathed in sharply and continued, more cautiously, up the steps and into her room. She grabbed her uniform and slipped it on quickly, gathering her messy hair haphazardly into a ponytail, seizing her wand, and racing back down the steps, rubbing her chin.
Lily got to the Hospital Wing quite out of breath, straightening her skirt and acknowledging a disgruntled Madam Bowne, who was mumbling about time being of the essence, before gaiting into James’ room.
“There you are.” James said, smiling devilishly. He was healing quite well, his bruises fading and his arm set comfortably in a sling. “How’s life outside the ward?”
Lily raised an eyebrow and shrugged, "Fine.” she said, examining James’ injuries. “It looks like you’ll need more de-swelling potion.”
James’ eyes popped and his mouth hung half open. “You wouldn’t.”
“Well, yeah, I would.”
“Then at least make it taste better. Pleeeaase?” James pleaded, sticking out his lower lip. Lily shook her head.
“Potter, you’re going to get some kind of revolting potion anyways, no matter how much you plead. Now, would you rather I give you the de-swelling potion, or perhaps, the skele-grow?” Lily grinned evilly, remembering fondly one of James’ third year pranks that had gone awry and caused him to lose all the bones in his left foot. She had walked into the Hospital Wing that day to treat a rather painful headache, only to find James Potter writhing on his bed in sheer agony, sweating and cursing the potion.
It seemed that James remembered the incident well, because after Lily’s reminder he seemed to quite like de-swelling potion. But, just to bug him, when Lily returned with his dinner, she put the bottle of skele-grow next to his drink. He raised the glass apprehensively, plugged his nose, and took a sip.
“What the hell? It tastes fine!” James exclaimed, staring incredulously at Lily. “Does this mean you like me or something?”
Lily pushed a stray piece of hair behind her ear and shrugged. “Someone had already fixed it for you. It was all I could do to restrain myself from putting in some skele-grow. But then I assumed I’d get in trouble if Madam Bowne found you twisting and moaning all night.” James raised his eyebrows suggestively. “Okay, bad choice of words. I bet you have a million retorts that you’d love to spit out, but don’t you dare say any of them.”
“Wasn’t going to.”
“Of course you weren’t,” Lily said sarcastically, then began to walk out the door.
“What?” Lily snapped, turning around.
James motioned towards the ground. “I dropped my fork.”
“Eat with your hands.”
“I can only use one hand.”
“Eat with your hand.”
“How can I eat bangers and mash with a hand? I’m not that barbaric, you know.”
“Fine. I’ll get your ruddy fork.”
Lily walked over to James’ bed, picked up the fork, and handed it to him. “Content now, are we?” she said, and at James’ nod walked out the door.
“Mister Potter? Mister Potter?” a soft voice said. James opened his eyes (he didn’t really recall them being closed), to see Madam Bowne. James looked down and saw that his dinner was half finished. “Mister Potter, now, if you would just sit up please, I’d like to check if you’re ready to be discharged tonight. “
James nodded, sat up straight, and let Madam Bowne examine all his injuries extensively. She prodded at his bruises, which made him wince, and pressed quite hard against his ribs, making James yelp involuntarily. Madam Bowne adjusted her thick-rimmed spectacles and stood up. She scribbled something in a notebook and pursed her lips.
“Well, It appears that you’re free to go,” she said, and James threw his legs over the side of the bed. “However, I stress that you not participate in quidditch for at least two weeks or run about. If you do, no doubt you’ll end up hurting your ribs and’ll have to come back here for a bit to down some revolting potions, understand? Now, any bad pain and I expect you to come tottering over. Off with you, then.”
James thanked Madam Bowne and ambled out of the Hospital Wing. The walk up to the Gryffindor tower seemed a lot harder than usual, and he found himself clinging dearly to the stair rail, his ribs and legs throbbing. The stairway was deserted, as it was past curfew, and James’ legs were giving out. He shuffled up the steps slowly, the seventh floor only a flight away.
“Potter?” James looked up. Lily was standing in the corridor, her wand lit at the point, flashing light in James’ direction. “Have you escaped the Wing?”
“No, no, I was discharged,” James said, his voice raspy from discomfort.
“Oh really,” Lily said incredulously. James shrugged.
“Madam Whatserface let me out.” he had stopped on the stairs, wincing.
“Did she?” James nodded.
“Oy, and you can’t go docking points or giving me detention, remember? I’m Head Boy. I can stay out as long as I’d like.”
“Regretfully, this is true.”
“’ey, Who’re you patrolling with?”
“It was supposed to be you, so I got the night to myself. But I’d like to keep it that way, thanks.”
“Well, I can’t have you traipsing around the castle alone at this hour,” James said, smirking. Lily rolled her eyes as James climbed up to her side, whipped out his wand, illuminated it, and began to walk.
“You know,” Lily said, “I would have thought that very gentlemanly had I ever believed that you had the capacity to be one.”
“You kidding me? Of course I have the capacity to be a gentleman. Mind you, sometimes I don’t fulfill it.”
“Oh, all right. So I’m barely ever a gentleman. I’m a dumb, self-confident, muddy quidditch player with a head for pranks. And you love it.”
“I guess it’s true that chivalry is dead,” Lily sighed as they climbed the steps to the seventh floor. It was almost ten o’ clock, the time when patrollers could retreat to their dormitories.
“Chivalry dead? Of course not! If someone hurled a killing curse at you, you know I’d jump in front of it.”
“I have reason to doubt that.”
“All right. A Cruciatus curse. Or Sectumsempra. Or just a really big spider,” James joked. He turned his head to Lily to see that she was actually smiling to herself.
“Well,” said Lily, “it’s good to know that if a very large spider comes darting in my direction, someone will jump in front of me. Now I can sleep nights, thanks to you.”
“My gallantry isn’t just limited to spiders, you know,” James said. By this time they had reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. James said the password and the picture swung open. To make a point, James took Lily’s hand as she began to climb through the portrait, nodding downward when she looked at him dubiously.
“What’s this?” Lily said, raising her eyebrows.
“Shut up, m’lady. I’m being gallant, so I advise you go the fuck along with it!” James joked, putting on a very posh accent and standing up to his full height, at least a half foot taller than her. Lily nodded to him.
“Oh, it is but such a rarity to find a man with such high-quality language.” Lily said, and then walked through the portrait. James followed behind, finding that the common room was already empty. Lily waved good night quickly and walked towards her dormitory steps as he turned and walked up his own.
James ambled into the dormitory to find that it was almost completely silent. This was unnatural because his dorm mates were notorious for loud and irregular snoring.
“Prongs? You back?” Sirius’ voice whispered.
“Yeah, what’re you all up for?”
“A random epidemic of insomnia,” Remus’ voice answered. Peter could be heard giggling from the other side of the room.
“Right. Well, I ran into Lily on the way back up here,” James informed them.
“You’re serious?” Remus inquired.
“And…” Sirius said.
“I patrolled with her. It was actually very fun,” James said. “Now, my insomniacs, I’ll be going to bed.”
A/N Well...major case of writers block right after the part where Sirius and Remus come in. I sat here for hours trying to think of what to do with this empty space in the chapter. The result? One painfully short chapter. But I'd drop the -ly, personally. Comments, criticism, ideas and rants appreciated!
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