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Chapter 1 : The Turning-Point.
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For the second time that night, James felt as though he was being followed. Swiftly turning round, as if to catch his unsuspecting pursuer, he scanned the dark corridor behind him and, finding nothing out of the ordinary, continued with his patrol. He turned into the final corridor on the seventh floor and froze.
He could hear whispering, and shallow breathing coming from around the next corner. Slowly he crept towards the noise, hoping that it was only a pair of lost first-years or a couple needing a little privacy. Something told him he wasn’t going to be pleased with what he found. As he neared the corner he heard voices, two of them, both familiar. Cold dread had somehow seeped into the pit of his stomach, replacing his usual confidence. He felt very alone.
Footsteps signalled their movement towards him as James searched for a place to hide. He did not want to have to fight these two, not tonight, not again. He still had bruises from the last duel. He wished for Sirius. As the figures turned the corner James, (who was, by this point, becoming a little desperate) resigned himself to attempting to wedge himself behind a suit of armour; if he couldn’t hide he could at least have the element of surprise. He jumped; hearing someone behind him mutter “Oh please” and dislodged an entire limb from the armour- watching it clatter to the floor.
The couple who had just rounded the corner froze and slowly drew their wands. Turning round, James saw a flash of red hair as a tapestry to his immediate left was wrenched back and he was thrust through the hole behind it onto the cold, stone floor. The tapestry fell back to its original place, hiding them from view and shielding them from the light of the curses being hurled at them from the corridor.
Looking up in the dim, dusty light he could see her green eyes staring at him as he tried to regain his breath. Standing up and dusting himself off, he gave her a look of complete incredulity.
“Evans! What are you-” She stopped him in a single movement, putting her index finger to his lips and giving him a look that told him, quite plainly, to shut-up if he valued his life.
“I’m rescuing you.” She whispered, simply.
Satisfied that he would remain quiet, and somewhat dazed, for the next few minutes, she turned her attention once more to the entrance to the hallway they were standing in, covered by the tapestry. Whipping out her wand, she began whispering incantations towards the cover of their hide-out in an attempt to prevent the two in the corridor from finding them.
A teasing, melodic voice found its way down the hall.
“Potterrr. We know you’re here, Potter. And your little girlfriend.” It sang.
Lily winced. Bellatrix Black; the one person she had hoped not to find tonight, and by the sounds of the loud, shallow breathing and hasty steps she was so familiar with, Black was accompanied by her newly-formed friend; Severus Snape.
“You can’t hide your mudblood friend from us forever,” she sang. “You know, I’ve got a feeling things are going to be changing around here, Mudblood. And your kind will be the first to go. As for you, Potter, you’re nothing more than a traitor. A blood traitor. It seems you won’t be far behind your precious, muggle filth.”
James moved instinctively towards the opening, drawing his wand as he did so, his anger bubbling inside of him. Lily saw the warning signs and took hold of his wrists with her small, pale hands and with surprising strength, held him back.
Lucky she did, as at that moment the pair in the hallway passed the tapestry, Snape whispering to Bellatrix that they should wait for the right time to act. “Heaven knows what could happen if we brought attention to ourselves now,” he said urgently. “Can you imagine how angry he’d be?” There was a pause, and slowly the voices in the hallway trailed off, Black muttering protestations to Snape, who seemed to be persuading her to not curse Lily (and James, he supposed) into oblivion.
Black shrieked one last threat to the pair behind the tapestry before storming down the staircase. Finally the corridor was returned to its usual, eerie quiet.
James glanced down at Lily, who was still holding onto his wrists with her cold hands. She was trembling. A small smile played around his lips, as he contemplated what it felt like to finally be trapped in a deserted corridor with Lily Evans. It felt good, he decided.
Lily opened her eyes, and grew accustomed to the darkness. Her bravery had been short-lived and she was left feeling weak and slightly terrified. Releasing her grip on James’s forearms she whispered an apology and slid down the wall to mask the fact that her legs could barely hold her up. He sat down next to her, without a word, waiting for her to begin explaining. She took a deep breath and began talking very fast. She knew she was the last person he had expected to see tonight, especially following him.
“I know you’re probably really confused as to why I’m here and I’m really sorry I interrupted your patrol but I heard the Slytherins talking this morning outside of Charms and I knew they were going to be out tonight, and that they hoped they’d meet you on your patrol and I was just worried. I was going to tell you, but, but…” She trailed off.
He nodded. Their fight. Incredibly public, absolutely his fault, completely humiliating for her. It was understandable that she didn’t want to talk to him.
“So, you followed me?” He asked, surprised, raising an eyebrow at her.
Fortunately, she couldn’t see more than a few inches in the dim light and merely ploughed on with her rambled explanation.
“I thought I would just make sure you were okay, but then I saw you shoving yourself behind that suit of armour and decided I needed to help you out.” She giggled a little at the memory of James’s face when he saw her.
Something was definitely wrong here. Lily Evans had hated him this morning. There was nothing unusual about their argument, that was a fairly common occurrence, but now she was worried about him? He eyed her suspiciously. “When do you ever help me out? Are you drunk? Why are you giggling?”
“I am not drunk, Potter,” she said, her usual icy demeanour returning, “and I was not giggling.” She sighed. “I think maybe if we tried to help each other out this Head Boy/Head Girl thing wouldn’t be so bad, you know.”
There was a pause.
“Friends?” She said, holding out her hand. His smile stretched wider. In response he jumped up and pulled her to her feet, dipping into a deep bow over her outstretched hand and kissing it gently. “Of course.” He said, locking his eyes with hers.
They stood staring at each other for a minute or so, silent, just taking each other in, surprised by the intensity of the other’s gaze. Lily swallowed. She knew what was coming, he tried this every week, but this time she didn’t move away. James inched closer, his controlled breathing masking his nerves. Lily started to protest but found her mouth so dry she couldn’t utter a sound. She stepped back, pressing up against the wall. She looked down to break their gaze, but somehow found her hands reaching for him, interlocking her fingers between his. James moved closer still, aware of the tingling sensation spreading up his arms from her fingertips and looked once more into her clear, green eyes.
She was still shaking. He brought one hand up to her neck, tracing her jaw line with his thumb and touched his forehead to hers, exhaling. Lily closed her eyes and tried to ignore the fluttering in her stomach. He brushed his nose against her own, which made it worse.
“You don’t have to do this.” He whispered, hoarsely. He was so good. She answered him by gently brushing her bottom lip against his, all thoughts of friendship forgotten. He moved his hands down to her waist, holding her tight and slowly kissed her. All at once Lily’s mind went blank, her body moving closer to his all on its own. His grip on her loosened as he brought a hand up to her hair, running his fingers through it and pushing her back against the wall.
Minutes passed, although it could have been hours, and the pair finally broke apart, out of breath, their lips bruised. James brushed her cheek with his thumb and gently kissed her neck as she rested her head on his shoulder, exhausted. They stayed like this for what seemed like an age, before Lily raised her head and broke their embrace, shocked at finding herself in such a position, as though she had been asleep for the past few minutes.
She looked away from his gaze, embarrassed. A pink flush spread to her cheeks and she bit her lip, bending down to retrieve her wand from the floor. He cleared his throat and reached for her hand, looking at her purposefully.
“Look at me, Lily. Look at me.” He said, still holding onto her delicate fingers. She raised her eyes and saw relief behind the hazel ones that stared back at her.
“I can’t believe you haven’t run away yet.” James whispered. He gave a short, disbelieving laugh. She looked at him, her eyes brimming with emotion and shook her head.
“James, don’t do this now.” She pleaded. “If you carry on talking I’m not going to be able to think. I’m already struggling. If you say what you’re about to say I think I might explode. So, please, don’t.”
He didn’t listen, and carried on. Bowing his head to hers he whispered, “Go out with me, Lily. You can’t kiss me like that and pretend to feel nothing. Come on, Lils.”
But she was already pulling away, shaking her head. “I can’t James, you know that. I can’t get hurt again. I don’t understand why you can’t just ask someone else. You know there are enough girls out there dying to say yes. Why me?” She rambled, trying to drown out the beating of her heart. His eyes widened.
“Why you?” He said, disbelieving. “Why you? Because you’re…different. You make me feel different. I don’t know. I…uh. It’s just you, Lils. It’s always been you.”
He looked at her with a question in his eyes, and she felt as though she was drowning. It was James Potter. The boy who had teased her and made her life hell for the past six years, the boy who had multiple girlfriends and still found the time to harass her on her way to class. This was the boy who had systematically ruined all of her relationships with his huge ego and unscrupulous pranking of her crushes. She couldn’t say yes. She suddenly felt claustrophobic, and had to get out of that small hallway in case she did something she would regret. Reluctantly, and hating herself for it, she shook her head and whispered, “I’m sorry, James. I can’t.” She turned and ran, wiping away her enchantments from the doorway as she went.
James stood there in the darkness, stunned at her abrupt exit. He listened to the sound of her retreating footsteps down the corridor and put his head in his hands, a feeling of loss enveloping him. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. He’d lost her, again.
I understand it's an odd place to start a story...but bear with me, please?
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