James had no idea what was going on with Lily that week. After Hogsmeade, he had noticed that while she still rambled a whole lot, she just didn’t seem to be as happy. When he had mentioned to her about going somewhere with the Marauders on Thursday night and asked if she would be ok to patrol by herself that night, she didn’t even look fazed and said she wouldn’t mind. He had been expecting to have to give her a good reason, but she surprised him by not caring either way.
After that moment, he began watching her more closely, not that he didn’t always watch her already. He quickly noticed that she rarely smiled anymore, and she looked rather depressed about something. Most of her magic was still on point, although he found that she still hadn’t gotten the hang of Transfiguration or some of the Herbology stuff. Well, no one really understood Herbology, but still.
On Thursday, he handed her the Marauders’ Map while she was reading quietly on the couch, and he was actually rewarded with the tiniest of smiles. “Thanks.”
James nodded, his own grin appearing at seeing her first smile in days. “I don’t know what time I’ll be back so I guess I’ll see you later.”
She just waved at him as he left. James pulled out his invisibility cloak from his pocket and kept it handy. He didn’t think he would need it yet, as it was still early in the evening, but once he reached the guys, they would be putting it on. Sirius and Peter were waiting by a secret passage that would take them out of the castle and onto the grounds, but they were standing there like they were just talking. When James walked up, they threw on the cloak and made their way outside together. It was just beginning to get dark out so they knew Remus would already be in the Shrieking Shack. As they approached the Whomping Willow, Peter immediately transformed into a rat and ran up to push the knot on the side of the tree for them. James hid his invisibility cloak where he usually did, in a small hole near the entrance of the Whomping Willow, and they made their way quickly into the tunnel. They walked along and upon reaching the trapdoor to the Shrieking Shack, James magically unlocked it. James pulled his way up, as did Sirius, holding Peter in his rat form. James magically sealed the trapdoor once more and called out tentatively, “Moony?”
They barely heard his reply and hurried up the stairs. Remus looked worse for wear, as he rested tiredly on the rickety cot in the corner of the room. He was really pale, exhausted, and his breathing had slowed. He usually looked that way before a full moon. His blue eyes, now tinted with amber, instantly turned to them when they had arrived, but they darkened upon noticing James and Sirius still in their human forms. “You both better change. I don’t know when it’s gonna happen.”
James and Sirius nodded and shifted into their animagi, a great white stag and a large black dog respectively. It wasn’t long before Remus started to howl in pain as the painful transformation overcame him. The stag, the black dog, and the rat looked on sorrowfully, for they hated watching Remus go through the horrible change. All too soon, the werewolf, upon finishing his transformation, began howling and wanted to attack. The werewolf attacked James first so he lowered his antlers immediately. James noticed Sirius jump up on the werewolf to get him to back off. When the two of them had subdued him a bit, Sirius wagged his tail and led them to the door of the Shrieking Shack. Peter had made his way onto Sirius’ back so James, Sirius, and the werewolf began romping through the Forbidden Forest.
James and Sirius were usually able to keep the werewolf under some semblance of control during their outings, but at one point during that night, James was watching in amusement as Sirius attempted to climb a tree as a dog and the werewolf suddenly attacked him, leaving a large, paw print-like gash on his back. Sirius immediately reacted when he head the stag’s strangled cry. James backed a way for a minute, but then used his antlers to help control the werewolf. When the werewolf finally backed off, Sirius immediately looked over at James, probably to ask if they should go back, but James pushed forward.
It was near the early morning when the full moon started to set. The Marauders eventually guided the werewolf back to the Shrieking Shack before he turned back into Remus. When the three of them had watched the werewolf begin to lie off in the corner, they made their way down the stairs. Sirius changed back cautiously while the other two remained animals just in case the werewolf decided to descend because he could smell Sirius. He magically unlocked the door and jumped through, followed by a human James and Peter. Sirius and Peter started through the tunnel quickly as James magically locked the trapdoor once more. They hurried on their way, knowing that Madam Pomfrey would soon come to collect Remus. James grabbed the invisibility cloak and wrapped it around the three of them, and they made their way up to the castle. He dropped them off at the Gryffindor portrait first before heading to the Heads’ Dorm.
When he made his way inside, he instantly tried to be quiet. Lying on the far right armchair, sleeping peacefully, was Lily Evans. He couldn’t help but smile at how adorable she looked when she slept. He walked over towards her hesitantly and carefully grabbed the book she had been reading out of her hands and placed it on the coffee table. He then conjured a blanket and placed it on her. She sighed in her sleep, but didn’t wake up. James finally made his way to his own bed. They had class in the morning in about three hours. He immediately set a personal alarm charm for 8:30am, tore off his shirt, and just fell into his bed to sleep.
When Lily woke up the next morning, she was surprised to find herself in the armchair in the Heads’ common room. She remembered reading the night before, but not falling asleep. She also did not remember grabbing a blanket either. Finally, she could discern the reason she had woken up in the first place. It was Sirius shouting outside the Heads’ Dorm for his little Jamesie to wake up.
She walked over to the entry way, but didn’t open it. She remembered what James had said about Sirius waking him up. “Sirius, what do you want? I’m not supposed to let you in here.”
Sirius just laughed. “I need James. Tell him to get his sleepy ass out of bed, or I will come in there and do it for him.”
Lily smirked and looked down at her watch. “Sirius, it’s 7am. You guys were out late last night, and you want me to go wake him up?”
Sirius just sounded practically gleeful. “Yep!”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Alright, just a second.”
Lily made her way over to James’ room. She had never been in there before, but she also didn’t want to let Sirius inside the Heads’ Dorm, as James had told her not to. She cautiously opened the door to his room and saw him sleeping with no shirt on. If that wasn’t enough of a wake up call for her, he also had five deep gashes on his back that looked fresh. She covered her mouth with her hand. She slowly entered into his room and nudged him gently in the arm with her hand. “James? James, wake up.”
He mumbled something incoherently before opening his eyes slowly and focusing on her. “Lily? What’s going on? Is something wrong?”
Lily shook her head, biting her lip to keep from sighing at how adorable he looked as he struggled to wake up. “Other than Sirius banging on the sphinx gargoyle and shouting that you have to get up, nothing’s wrong.”
He grabbed his glasses before looking over at the clock and groaning. “That asshole.”
Lily just smirked and tried not to look at his bare chest as he got up. It was obvious the boy worked out. She knew she must be blushing, but as long as James didn’t comment on this, she could handle looking a little flushed. “Umm, by the way, did you know you have five deep gashes on your back?”
James looked at her like she was crazy for a minute, before frowning and remembering something. “Oh yeah, that. I can take care of that. Tell Sirius, I’ll be ten minutes. You can let him in if you can handle him.”
He immediately started grabbing stuff around his room so she got up to walk out. She closed his door and made her way over to the entry way to let Sirius in. Once the sphinx moved aside, Sirius took off towards James’ room. When he was about ¾ of the way there, he was suddenly immobilized and was levitating to the couch. His eyes widened as he saw Lily with her wand on him. She released the immobilization when he was lying on the couch, and he immediately started moving and making furious comments. She didn’t hesitate and jabbed her wand, silencing him. With her wand still on him, she began to speak, “No, you listen. James warned me about all your tricks you like to play. Now, you are not to enter either of our rooms. If you do, I will be forced to use whatever charm I see fit to detain you, and I will make sure it lasts for more than a few hours. Instead, you are going to sit here calmly waiting for James to get done showering and what not. He said he’ll be about ten minutes. Got that?”
She eyed him and saw him gulp and quickly nod in agreement with wide eyes. She removed the silencing charm, and he moved as far away from her as possible on the couch. She plopped down on the armchair she had slept in and picked up the book she had been reading the night before, before adding irritably, “Thanks to you, I am up insanely early. You know, not all girls take forever to get ready.”
Sirius just nodded mutely, almost afraid to answer her verbally. He picked up the ancient book on transfiguration that James had been reading and poured over it a bit. After a couple of minutes, James came out of his room dressed and ready to go, and Sirius flew up from the couch. “Can we go now, James? And quickly?”
James was immediately curious as to Sirius’ odd behavior. He looked between Lily and Sirius, and he swore he saw Lily grin evilly while she was reading her book. “Sure.”
Sirius simply nodded at his response and began shooing the both of them to the door, with his eyes on Lily. James suddenly started to laugh, and his eyes began to sparkle and look like he had just gotten the best present of his life. “Wait, Padfoot, are you SCARED of Lily?”
Sirius vehemently shook his head in the negative, but he still tried to push James toward the sphinx. Lily just arched her eyebrows at Sirius and asked sweetly, “What? Going so soon, Sirius?”
Sirius blanched. “That woman is evil, James. Absolutely evil!”
James was laughing so hard, tears were almost coming out. “Thanks, Lily. I’m not sure for what, but it must’ve been great.”
Lily just smiled into her book. James was relieved to see her looking almost normal for once. “You’re welcome. See you boys later.”
Lily was going crazy inside. Ever since she had seen James without his shirt on, suddenly she began noticing that everything he wore fit him extremely well. Now, not only was she obsessing about his sweet personality and his companionship, but she liked his body a whole lot more too. It didn’t help that she found herself paired with him all of the time. First, they lived together and did nightly patrol together. In Potions, they had walked in late together because they had been doing some Head duties so they were told to just pair up for the next couple of potion assignments that everyone else had already been paired up for. Dumbledore had asked them to help maintain order at the Halloween feast, and they both had been forced to stand together just outside the entrance to the Great Hall, making sure kids didn’t get too rowdy with the candy as they left to go back to their dorms, although she had been happy to be with an almost hysterical James when all of the Slytherins were somehow charmed to sing and dance madly to a muggle song called ‘Celebration’ in the Great Hall that night.
There were times where she caught him eyeing her with interest, but she had no idea what to do about it. It felt like they were playing a game of cat and mouse, but no one was going after anyone. She sighed. Now, she was heading to the Heads’ Dorm to hopefully get her studying done. However, as soon as she entered the Heads’ common room, she wasn’t sure how much studying she was going to be able to do. James was sitting in the far right armchair reading Herbology with his legs stretched out on the coffee table, wearing the usual Gryffindor uniform. That wouldn’t have been too bad, except he had the sleeves of his white dress shirt rolled up to his elbows with the shirt un-tucked, his tie was pulled down slightly, his hair was a bit more disheveled than usual, and the whole reckless look on him was extremely hot. He glanced up as she entered, a tiny grin gracing his handsome features. “Hey, Lily.”
She breathed out a soft reply, as that was all she could really say at the moment, “Hey.”
Lily walked over to the table on the far right side of the room and plopped herself down in one of the two chairs. She picked that spot so she would be sitting behind the armchair James was sitting in and wouldn’t be able to see him clearly, if at all. However, James sat up, turned, and looked over at her from the top of the armchair, a bit concerned. “Are you alright? You look a little…frazzled.”
Lily shook her head and forced a smile to show him everything was just fine. God, he was even being sweet too. He had no idea how sexy he could be. And did he have to tilt his head like that? “I’m fine, just lots to do.”
He nodded a bit, looking her over carefully before getting comfortable again in the armchair. Lily sighed and sat down, pulling out all of her books. She was just about to start doing her Transfiguration homework when she saw James cautiously approaching the table with his Herbology book, parchment, and a quill. She had been so focused that she hadn’t heard him get up. She froze slightly when he spoke to her, “Umm, you don’t mind, do you? I can’t write this essay over there; it’s easier on the table. I was almost done reading and outlining when you came in…”
Of course, she minded. She wouldn’t be able to learn a thing now, especially in Transfiguration. “Umm, no. Go ahead.”
He sat down next to her and didn’t hesitate in starting his Herbology essay. She noticed his Herbology book had quill marks at certain spots of the text, probably stuff he was planning on using in the essay. She had done that essay yesterday, and it hadn’t been too bad. She tried focusing on Transfiguration, as she had to do an essay to determine what she was doing wrong with the ‘mutatio’ spell. About half the class had to do this essay, and she was one of them. She had no idea what she was doing wrong so needless to say, it was going to take a while. On top of that spell, they had continued learning more complex transfiguration spells she was nowhere near ready to even try. She thought about asking James, but he was busy at the moment; not to mention, she was trying to avoid him so she wouldn’t focus on how much she liked him. When she glanced at him again out of the corner of her eye, she noticed he had already written about a third of his essay.
When James heard her sigh for a fourth time at her reading, he looked over at her, once again concerned. “Are you sure you’re ok?”
She looked up at him, and she almost looked sad, although he didn’t know why she would be. Lily just tried to think of anything to take her mind off of James sitting next to her. “Ok, it’s Transfiguration. I have to do that essay, and I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong. The reading doesn’t help at all.”
James smiled. This was at least something he could help her with. “Well, you have the best tutor at your disposal. Let me see you do the spell. Use the coffee table or something.”
She hesitantly got up and walked over to the coffee table. She was more than a little nervous to have James’ eyes on her, but she waved her wand as required, stating clearly, “Mus Mutatio.”
The coffee table shrunk into a slimy green looking thing. It wasn’t pretty. James waved his wand, and the coffee table returned to normal. He was frowning as he looked at her. “Lily, have you ever studied wards before?”
Lily shook her head and looked at him curiously, “Not really. Just a few basic ones, why?”
James sighed. “It’s your wand movement that’s the problem. You see, with wards, you have to have highly intricate wand movements while saying the spells and incantations at specific moments. Transfiguration is similar, just less complicated. The wand movement for Transfiguration also has to be perfect, and the timing when you say the spell is also important. From here, it looked like you’re not confident when you move your wand, probably because you don’t like Transfiguration all that much. You need to have better control of your wand movement for the spell to execute correctly. Also, it looked like you’re missing the slight upward flick before you bring your wand down. Like this.”
Lily watched him move his wand carefully in front of him, and she noticed the slight upward flick he was talking about, although she had no idea how to do it like he did. She supposed if she had been listening carefully rather than staring at him a bit, she might have understood everything better. “Uhh, right.”
She gave it a try again, this time with an upward flick of some kind, and the coffee table turned into a slug. She frowned. “At least it’s an animal.”
James laughed at her cynicism, as he waved his wand to restore the coffee table once more. “Here, let me show you a different way. It’s still not exactly right.”
She felt James come up to stand behind her, slightly to her right side. He reached out his right arm, stretching it along with hers, and grasped her hand as it grasped her wand. “Now, relax your arm and watch closely.”
Lily could barely move, and if James had let go of her hand just then, it probably would have dropped at her sides from her being unable to hold it up. She could feel his breath in her hair and his presence right next to her. Her eyes focused as she felt James move her wand in a particular way. She noticed immediately what she had been doing wrong. Just as suddenly, James moved away from her. Lily frowned, both at him leaving and at knowing her mistake. “Oh. I get what you mean now.”
James sat back down at the table. Being that close to Lily, close enough to smell the sweet scent of her hair, was too much for him. He watched as she now did the spell with the proper twirl, the slight upward flick, and the downward flick. The coffee table immediately became a mouse when she said the spell. He smiled as she looked delighted. “See? Now, try something bigger like a cat.”
Lily nodded, returned the table back to normal, and did the spell again, but this time she said, “Cattus Mutatio.”
The coffee table instantly became a cat. Lily smiled happily. “Yes! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
James smiled at her excitement and waved his wand to restore the coffee table for the last time. “You’re welcome. Now, with all of the load of bull I mentioned regarding wards and such, you should be able to write the essay no problem. No reading involved.”
Lily nodded, even though she could barely remember anything he had said about wards. “Right.”
She sat back down next to him. Lily glanced over and noticed he appeared to be in better spirits after helping her and seeing her so happy. She didn’t know how much more of this she could take. A few minutes went by with the two of them sitting and writing quietly next to each other. Lily kept looking over at him as she worked, and finally, she noticed he was almost done with his Herbology essay and would probably leave in a minute or so. She needed to find courage somewhere. She was a Gryffindor after all. She could do this. “Umm, James?”
He glanced up at her leisurely. “Hmm?”
He didn’t have time to ask questions because suddenly Lily’s lips were on his, making him feel sparks at the mere contact. He was surprised at first, but didn’t hesitate to kiss her back or reach his hand into her hair. When they both pulled back a few seconds later, he looked at her curiously and found his voice, “What was that for?”
Lily blushed and looked anywhere but at him. “I, well— Ok, I like you. A lot.”
James just grinned slowly. So was this the reason she had been acting all different for a while now? “Really?”
She was now not looking at him at all, but she nodded at his question. James couldn’t stop grinning. “Hey, Evans?”
She looked back at him warily. “Yes?”
“Would you go out with me?”
She glared at him playfully, but he could tell she was happy by the sparkle in her eyes. “If you ask me nicely.”
He tentatively grabbed her hand and kissed it before looking up at her, “Lily, would you do me the honor of going out with me?”
Lily slowly smiled at him. “Well, maybe.”
James leapt back from her, and he looked mildly outraged. “Maybe!”
Lily laughed at him. “I’m just kidding. Yes, James, I would love to.”
James grinned and leaned in closer to her. “May I kiss you again?”
When Lily nodded slowly, still smiling, he leaned over. This time they were both more prepared for it, and the kiss was far better than the first. He kissed her slowly and sweetly before eventually pulling away, almost unwillingly. “Damn. How am I going to concentrate on anything now?”
Lily merely nodded in agreement, feeling his plight. “Tell me about it. I can’t remember a single thing you said about wards.”
James looked over at her with a wicked grin, surprised yet incredibly amused by her words. “Well, I guess I’ll have to help you again then, won’t I?”
Lily rolled her eyes, although she was still smiling. “You have to finish your Herbology essay first. You’re almost done anyway.”
James nodded and turned back toward his Herbology essay somewhat grudgingly. They both were quiet as they continued to do their homework together, although if anyone would have walked in just then, they would have seen two very happy individuals, smiling like they hadn’t smiled in a long time.