Chapter 1 : Amoretti
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image by Antiquity!
It started as the worst day of my life. Well, it actually started the day before during Quidditch practice when the bludger hit me in the arm and I fell off my broom. Unfortunately, there weren’t any Slytherins in the stands at the time, thus rendering it nearly impossible to blame them for my most ungraceful plummet to the ground. It would have been very pleasant to chase Snivelly around the school, hexing him over and over and over... But, alas, that was not the case. The bludger had hit me at the very moment Lily Evans had walked past the Quidditch grounds. You can’t really blame my eyes for being automatically attracted to her presence. Her red hair is very bright, especially when the sun shines on it...
But I can’t think of her. It’s best for me not to. Sirius complains enough about me being distracted by her beauty whenever she walks past. The others aren’t much help either. Remus sticks his nose in a book, pretending not to hear and Peter just smiles and nods no matter what I say. They all know that my obsession is just that, an obsession. It’s not like she’s ever going to like me, I’ve learned that the hard way.
Getting back to my most terrible day ever, not only had I been abandoned by my friends, but there was also a Quidditch game. Of course it just happened to be the one against Slytherin, a game that I’d been anticipating for the past three months. Sirius, Remus, and Peter had all gone, not wanting to miss the action. They promised to tell me everything about the game because I couldn’t bear to go and see that triumphant look in Snivelly’s eyes when he saw me in the stands and not on my broom. I couldn’t bear to watch the team lose without me. They’d forget the special formation or what the weakness of the Slytherin team was. No one would even tell me who my replacement was. All the other Gryffindors had given me pitying looks when they’d left for the game. Damn them all.
I was lying on a couch in front of the fire surrounded by what seemed to be every cushion in the bloody common room. My wand arm was heavily bandaged, resting beside me unnaturally rigid. Madam Pomfrey had said that it was fractured in three places and not even magic would heal it right away. She’d said I’d need at least three days of doing nothing before it would be possible to remove the bandages. The poor woman had been extremely offended at the string of curse words I’d replied with. Oh well. Surely she’d understand my frustration; I couldn’t play Quidditch, which was my life, my favourite thing in the world.
The noise that intruded my thoughts of torture and despair was entirely unexpected. I thought that I was the only person in the school who hadn’t gone to the game, but it seemed that I was wrong. That didn’t happen very often. Taking a peek over the top of the couch, I spied a figure sitting by the window, a book in her hands.
Merlin, it was Lily! She was sitting as far away as she could from where I was. That was nothing out of the ordinary. The light from the window made both her hair and skin glow like that of a goddess. I honestly wondered why my friends couldn’t understand why I liked her so much. Surely they could see her for what she was.
She was a hell of a fast reader, too. What was she reading, anyway? I couldn’t see the title from where I was sitting and asking her probably wouldn’t get very far, but hey, I still tried. When it came to Lily, I was high in the effort category. The success category, on the other hand, was a very different story, but lets not go there.
“Hey - uh - Lily.” Oh yes, that was a great way to start.
The glare I received in return was at the level of extreme hatred. “What, Potter?”
“What’re you reading?”
I put my head back down on the pile of cushions, mentally kicking myself over and over. What a bloody idiot I was! It was like I became a complete coward when she spoke that way to me and I couldn’t do anything but mumble some mundane comment before running back to my cave of safety (often known as my bed with the curtains shut). It wasn’t right; I was James Potter, fearless wizard and a damn good Quidditch player. Unfortunately, that last bit wasn’t in my favour at the moment. One can’t be a good Quidditch player if one’s forbidden from playing during a very important match that could make or break the year for the team.
I was rambling again. The day was only getting worse. It wasn’t a good sign when I started rambling. It was no wonder my friends had abandoned me to the clutches of this couch that just happened to be in the same room as the girl I adored who happened to hate me and who wished I had never been born. Definitely not a good day.
That noise was going to drive me crazy, I swear it.
“Hey Evans,” I said peevishly. “Do you think you could turn the pages a little quieter? I’m trying to sleep over here.”
“This is a common room, Potter,” came the cool reply. “If you wanted peace and quiet, maybe you should have stayed in bed.”
How long had that been? Less than a minute? Was she trying to set a speed reading record or something?
“Why are you reading so fast, anyway?” I asked. “Can’t you just enjoy the poems slowly?”
“I’ll read them at whatever speed I wish.”
I wasn’t going to just let her beat me twice in this verbal duel.
“Are you skipping some of the poems then?”
“Does it matter?”
Did she have a quick response to everything I said to her? And it wasn’t like she was stopping her page-flipping to talk to me, she just kept right going.
“Why didn’t you go to the game?”
She didn’t reply at first, forcing me to peek over the top of the couch once again to see if she was still there.
“I have a headache.” The way she said it implied that I wasn’t helping matters any by annoying her.
“Sorry about that. Guess I won’t bother you anymore then.”
“Thanks, Potter.” Oh yes, she was very sincere with that thanks. I could just hear the sarcasm dripping from her words. This was not going well, but that was no surprise. It was far nicer to talk to a stone wall. At least it wouldn’t bite back.
There it was again, that dreaded sound. I was beginning to hate it more than Snivelly, which would have shocked even Sirius. And, just so you know, he does not get shocked very easily. Either he’s seen it all, or he simply has an immunity to surprises.
I laid my head back down on the cushions a trifle too violently, causing pain to shoot up my arm. Swearing under my breath, I lay there mumbling to myself, listening to the distant cheers of the crowd. What was that they were yelling? Was it the Gryffindor chant? Could the team actually be winning without me? Merlin, that’d certainly be something.
Would it ever stop?
“What sort of poems are you reading, Evans?” The words poured out of my mouth before I was conscious of even thinking them.
“Spencer. You’ve probably never heard of him.”
“You’d be right.” A muggle poet, I guessed. Not that I was the poetry type...
When she actually continued talking to me, I wasn’t expecting it at all.
“He wrote a series of love poems to his wife that chronicle the time they met to the time they got married. They’re really very pretty.”
I’d been looking for her weakness for so long; something, just anything, that she had a great liking for. I wasn’t going to count a school subject, they weren’t specific enough. She wasn’t a Quidditch fan, she didn’t like practical jokes, nor Wizard’s Chess, not even Exploding Snap. No, Lily Evans liked poetry. Who knew?
“That’s - uh - nice,” I said lamely. “I didn’t know you liked poetry.”
I could almost hear the scowl on her face. That’s how big it must have been.
“You don’t know much about me, Potter.”
That was when I realised that she hadn’t been flipping pages for a full three-and-a-half minutes. What was she doing then? I thought it best not to look, just in case she had her wand out, ready to hex me to the moon and back.
It was time to be charming. Lets see if she’d fall for my charm this time, since there was a first time for everything.
“You could always tell me, Evans. The only thing you usually do to me is frown.”
Okay, so maybe that wasn’t so charming, but it was honest. Surely that would count for something, right?
“Do you not think I have a good reason to?”
Ouch. There was an insult if I ever heard one.
“Is that a rhetorical question?”
She said nothing in reply. She was probably as tired as I was of that silly argument, which was heading nowhere and would probably only make us both ready to strangle each other. With a sigh, I relaxed once more, stretching out my legs, watching with amusement as the couch lengthened itself so that my feet wouldn’t hang over the edge. If only they did that at home. It was quite a convenient feature.
Great. She was back at it again.
Then I realised that the noise from outside had stopped. There wasn’t anymore cheering. The game must have been over then. Any minute now, the rest of my housemates will trudge into the common room, begging at my feet to get better so that we’d have a chance at winning the House Cup...
The door flew open and the room exploded in noise.
“...Slytherins didn’t have a chance...” someone was saying.
My ears perked up. So perhaps it wasn’t as bad of a defeat as I’d believed?
In the flurry of movement by the door, someone strode in wearing an oddly familiar set of Quidditch robes. Bloody hell! They could have at least asked before borrowing mine, especially if they’d lent it to some stupid third year.
But it wasn’t a stupid third year. Not even a pudgy fourth year. It was my best friend, Sirius Black, who was wearing my robes and being cheered at for scoring fifty points on his own.
My day went from bad to worse. That this was the worst day of my life was perhaps the greatest understatement known to wizard-kind.
Sitting up among the cushions, I snuck a glance over at Evans to see what she thought about the whole thing. She had this funny little smile on her face as though she knew exactly what I was thinking. The poetry book sat neatly in her lap as she watched everyone surround Sirius, giving him pats on the back and loudly cheering his name. For that moment, she and I were looking straight at each other, her emerald eyes staring into mine like they’d never done before. When she turned away, I fancied that her cheeks were a little pinker than usual, as though she’d been blushing. What had I done to get that sort of response? I’d just been looking at her.
Suddenly, the day didn’t seem so bad. Wow. That had been quite a turn-around.
Maybe I wouldn’t kill Sirius as thoroughly as I’d been thinking. A good firecracker in his morning cereal would do the trick perfectly, but I’d wait until tomorrow. First, however, we’d have to talk about him borrowing my robes. I hope he hadn’t borrowed my broom, too. It had this little quirk that only I knew how to handle...
Grinning, I found a way to get up from the couch and crossed the room to where Lily had been sitting. Somehow in the last minute, she’d disappeared, but she had left something behind. I picked up the book and flipped through the pages (quite a feat with one hand, I must say).
Spencer. It couldn’t hurt, could it?
This story was inspired by Edmund Spencer's "Amoretti", namely the first sonnet of the sequence.