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Chapter 5 : Five
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A ray of dim, gray sunlight slowly cast upon his eyelids. Lazily, they flickered open as James awoke, the golden specks in his hazel eyes glimmering. He focused upon the ceiling that stretched above him and his four poster bed, listening to Peter’s dim snores and Remus’ gentle grunts and twitches. After a moment, James sat up with a huge yawn and stretched his arms above his head. He parted the crimson hangings of his four-poster just enough to see the face of the clock that resided upon his bedside cupboard.
"Too early", James groggily complained to himself.
He wondered why he had woken so early; he was considerably exhausted from last night’s mischief-making. He let the curtain fall back into place then chanced a glance down and saw that he was lying there, on top of his comforter, still in his robes from the day before. Candy wrappers, Bertie Bott's Every-Flavor Beans, butterbeer bottles, and crumbs were scattered about the bed everywhere. James sighed and plopped his head back down onto his pillow.
He was just about to drift into a light sleep, when he heard a rustling not too far off to his left. Sirius Black was awakening. James heard his friend stretch and yawn, then there was a sigh, followed by the plop of Sirius’ head returning to his pillow as well. Obviously, Padfoot didn’t want to get up so early either. James listened silently and soon heard Sirius’ breathing slow, again in slumber.
James closed his eyes once more, but now the sunlight that had slipped its way through the seams of James’ hangings beckoned him, shining even brighter.
Fine, he thought. Maybe a nice cold shower will do the trick.
He sat up, pushing the dark red curtains apart and set his feet to the cool stone floor. At least he remembered to take off his shoes, he laughed to himself. He stood up and dazedly made his way to his cubbyhole of a wardrobe, where he selected his lightweight crimson robes and a pair of black trousers that were especially roomy (perfect for broomstick riding). He then headed out to the boy’s lavatory to awaken his senses and tame his butterbeer breath.
Once James stepped out of the bathroom, he pondered where to go to next. He decided he’d head down to the common room to see if anyone else was up so ridiculously early this fine Sunday morning.
He stepped down the last stone stair just in time to see the portrait hole opening. Lily Evans, of all people, stepped through and into the common room. To James’ pleasant surprise, she was wearing her lavender bathrobe, her long hair limp with water. She looked up wide-eyed at James and almost dropped her bundle of toiletries when she met his broad smile.
James couldn’t help but to think of how lovely Lily looked just then. She didn’t have any make-up on and her dark-red hair was sticking to her rosy cheeks—just pure, natural Lily Evans.
“Hey,” was all he could muster.
“Hey,” Lily blushed, looking down at her robe nervously. “I’m just coming back from the Prefect’s bathroom.” They stared to one another for a few bumbling moments, before she glanced towards the entryway to the girl’s dorm rooms. “I’d better get dressed,” she said quickly, blushing even more.
With that, she quickly shuffled up the stairs; James stood there, motionless. He closed his eyes so he could see her like that a bit longer.
Lily made her way up the spiral staircase and got to her dorm room, which was on the third level of their tower. She made sure she was quiet so as to allow the other sixth-years, Alice, Abby, and Marlene their beauty sleep. Lily quietly sat upon her four poster and dried her hair with her wand, then changed into her muggle clothes. She primped a bit in front of her lightly snoring mirror then made for the stairwell again.
She wasn’t sure why she found herself hoping that James was still down in the common room alone, but she ignored her confusion and made it to the bottom of the stairs in record time. She saw James sitting on the big scarlet couch in the sitting area, spinning a throw pillow on a finger. She let out the breath she found she had been holding and saw the pillow fall from his finger once he heard her approach.
“You’re up early,” Lily said, her voice more confident now that she was properly dressed.
“You are too,” James smiled, noticing that she was wearing muggle clothes and her hair was pulled up into a high ponytail.
Shall we, er, get some breakfast?” she asked, leaning onto an armrest.
“Sure.” He answered, closing his eyes as he regretted the dullness of his reply.
They climbed through the portrait hole and made their way through the corridors in silence. Was he just tired, or was James Potter lost for words? The only noise he made during the entire journey consisted of a snort and chuckle when they were on the third floor landing. Lily was tempted to investigate, noticing that the nearest corridor was emitting a hazy pink and green smoke, but her stomach urged her forward to the Great Hall.
Soon enough, they entered the Great Hall, the ceiling enchanted to look like the dewy, white morning sky. There were a few other students dotting the other tables already, most of them seventh years reading the Sunday paper over a mug of coffee. A few teachers also sat at the top of the hall, chatting in low, quiet voices. No one bothered to look up upon James and Lily’s arrival.
The two lone Gryffindors took their seats next to each other at their table and began to fill their plates. Lily reached for a simple bowl of porridge, but James couldn’t decide what he wanted, so he took a bit of just about everything.
They ate and chatted for a while, till more students began to trickle into the Great Hall as well. Remus was the first to join James and Lily and seated himself across from the two. He smiled down at them and cast a quick wink to James as Lily looked about.
“You two were up bright and early,” Remus said, making small talk as he reached for a piece of toast. “Eager to start the day?”
James and Lily glanced at each other when Sirius came bustling up, little Peter Pettigrew right at his heels.
“Did you check out the bulletin board this morning?” asked Sirius, quite out of breath.
Lily shrunk down in her seat, biting her lip, but James and Remus looked curiously to Sirius, waiting for him to get on with it.
“We’re having a Halloween Ball this year!” Sirius announced. “Open to all students fourth-year and up.”
"Oh?" inquired Remus. "Why didn't Dumbledore mention it at the start-of-term feast?"
"Who cares?" shrugged Sirius impatiently. "We're having a Ball! I need to find a date!"
“Er,” James stuttered, nervously looking to Remus and Sirius pleadingly with a pointed avoidance of Lily's eyes.
They fell to sudden, awkward silence. Lily, sitting right next to James, could feel him fidget a bit under the table. Sirius frowned down at his friends. That wasn’t quite the reaction he had expected. Then he realized the tension between James and Lily.
“Uh, we can talk about it later you guys,” Sirius stuttered as he sat down on the other side of James.
Peter scurried around the table and sat beside Remus, eyeing everyone curiously in turn.
Awkward, uncomfortable silence.
To Lily’s relief, she saw her girls bustling into the Great Hall. Alice was peering down the table, obviously looking for her.
"Um, excuse me,” Lily politely said as she quickly stood up. She almost tripped getting out from under the table in her rush.
Alice absolutely beamed and grabbed Lily’s arms when they met at the end of the table. “Did you read the—”
“Yes, I did, Alice. Oh-my-God!” Lily breathed. “I was sitting there, with James. And, and-“
“Lily, let’s sit down.”
* * *
Later that day, was Open Flying at the Quidditch pitch, just as James had said. Lily and Alice, both not owning their own broomsticks, got to the broomshed early to get the first choice over school brooms. They made their way onto the Quidditch field, and students who owned their own broomsticks (mostly Quidditch players) were already flying all around them. Lily was also carrying her football, which she set down in the grass.
Frank Longbottom swooped down to them as they mounted their broomsticks.
“Hello there! It’s great that you decided to come out today,” he said encouragingly, knowing that they weren’t accustomed flyers. “Come fly with me. I’ll show you around the pitch.”
Frank steered his broom back into the air as Lily and Alice kicked off the ground with a bit of uncertainty. He led them around the pitch, gradually building in altitude. Soon they were as high as the Quidditch hoops, rather enjoying themselves.
James was right. The wind felt wonderful.
Lily soon left Frank and Alice to peruse the field and allow the two lovebirds to fly alone. She stopped in the middle of the pitch, where she’s seen James, as Gryffindor’s prized Seeker, position himself during so many Quidditch games. It was quite the view. She looked around at the spectator boxes, rising high into the air (but still far below where Lily hovered). She spotted four boys sitting in the highest box, the one reserved for officials and other important people. After her eyes focused to the distance, she realized that it was James, Remus, Sirius, and Peter. Lily couldn’t help laugh, because as a prefect, she knew that particular spectator’s box was usually off limits to students. Besides, the stairwell was always locked.
* * *
Sirius prodded James with his elbow, “Hey, there’s Evans.”
James quickly turned to where Sirius was pointing and saw her hovering at his favorite stakeout. He laughed, rumpling his messy black hair.
“Well, go out to her, Prongs!” Remus said.
“Er, I can’t,” mumbled James.
“What?” barked Sirius. “You invited her in the first place!”
“Yeah," James huffed. "But that was before you came blundering up to us about that Ball-thing!”
Sirius snorted. “So what? Go out to her. You’re in your element, Prongs!”
“You’ll be fine,” urged Remus.
James still didn't move.
“I can’t believe James Potter’s got cold feet!” laughed Peter.
“Fine,” James sighed, standing up. “Padfoot, Moony, Wormtail, if I don’t make it—”
“I get your Comet one-eighty-five!” blurted Sirius.
“What! You got his last Comet!” sniggered Remus.
“Well, then,” said Peter. “I claim Sirius’ one-eighty!”
They all laughed as James jumped over the rail of the spectator’s box and slid onto his broom, all in one graceful move.
Lily was about to make her descend back to the grass when James came up with a SWOOSH.
“Hi,” smiled Lily, grabbing tightly onto her broomstick.
“Hi, Lily. Enjoying yourself?”
“Yeah, this was a great idea. Thanks for getting me to come out today, James.”
“No prob. Hey, do you want to head to the ground and kick around the football?”
“Sure,” Lily smiled.
James led the way, corkscrewing along. Lily tried to follow, but she descended in more of a zigzagging pattern. They touched down next to her football, and brought their brooms to the edge of the field. They began to kick the ball between themselves.
Lily was as graceful and skillful here as James was in the air. She never missed the ball and her movements followed through as effortlessly as James on a broomstick.
“Wait, just a minute,” said Lily as she darted off the field. She returned moments later, levitating a spare Quidditch hoop. She shrunk the hoop a bit with her wand then charmed it to levitate above the ground between herself and James.
“Alright, then,” she said, tucking away her wand. “Kick it to me through the hoop.”
So they passed the ball back and forth, James trying for the target, Lily never missing a shot.
How wonderfully she moved, James thought. Her reflexes were so toned and oh! her grace!
“You should try out for Chaser, Lily!” James beamed.
“Well, I’d first need to learn how to stand on a moving broomstick, James,” Lily laughed, again putting the ball straight through the center of the hoop. “How else could I kick the Quaffle through the hoops?”
He smiled at Lily, his breath catching at the bottom of his throat. He was tempted to go over and ask her to the Halloween Ball then and there, but he hesitated. He didn’t want to put on another foolish spectacle that Remus had so warned him against.
Just then, more students began descending around them, watching the football. Lily kicked the ball one last time to James then looked around at the other students.
“You want to make a game of it then?” she asked everyone.
With that, she darted to the side of the field and under the bleachers, returning with another spare hoop. She set it a bit of a distance away from the first hoop, shrinking and levitating it as well.
A few runaway strands of dark-red hair fell over Lily’s green eyes as she turned back to them and stuffed her wand away. James couldn’t have been filled with any more wonderment towards Lily Evans. He never knew she was this wonderful—this talented. What else did she have up her sleeves? James could barely contain himself, wanting so desperately to run into her arms.
Some of the younger students looked at the hoops in awe. “She’s really good at charms!” they whispered. “Yeah, she doesn’t even have to concentrate to keep them in the air…”
“Two teams,” Lily called.
“Boys against girls?” asked Reth Jordan, a Gryffindor seventh-year and house Beater.
Sirius smirked as he touched down to join the crowd. “Yeah, boys’ll be Shirts, girls will be S—”
James and Remus smacked Sirius before he could finish.
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