Chapter 4 : The Promise.
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Lily walked into the Great Hall, pulling down the hood of her cloak and shaking her red hair out of its knot. She was just as amazed by the room now as she had been in her first year. Making her way over to the Gryffindor table she caught the eye of Dumbledore, the headmaster, and she could have sworn he gave her a swift smile before turning back to Professor Slughorn, the potions master.
She sat down next to Darcy Brown and April Heaney: her two best friends. It looked as though April had cut all her beautiful hair off over the summer, and it didn’t surprise Lily in the slightest. That was just April. She still managed to look like a supermodel though. Bah.
Lily’s stomach rumbled. It had been a long day and she’d missed lunch because of the prefect meeting. The sorting passed in a blur of midgets and clapping, and in what seemed like no time at all, Lily heard her name being announced along with Potter’s. Standing up, she smiled awkwardly and caught James’s eye. He looked far too comfortable with the attention he was getting and this infuriated her. She glared at him and sat down, looking moody.
Finally the food arrived, and as the conversation slowed she found herself feeling drowsy and wishing for her bed. Sure enough, Dumbledore signalled for the prefects to lead the students to their dormitories and the crowd began to filter out of the hall.
“Come on then, Evans. I know you’ve been dying to get me on my own.” An annoying voice came from behind her. Turning round, she eyed him suspiciously; her lethargy being replaced by vague irritation.
“What do you mean, Potter?” She said.
“We have new dorms this year. Didn’t you read your letter? They’re up in the West tower. Pretty cool, huh?” He said, grinning as though Christmas had come early.
She hadn’t really read her letter, no. She’d just seen the words “Head Girl” and become very excitable. The prospect of spending an entire year in the same space as Potter was not in any way appealing to her, but she was so tired she allowed herself to be led out of the hall and, before she could argue, a hand took hers and began to pull her up the staircase.
They stopped in front of an extraordinary portrait of a woman. She was sitting down, with her hands placed in her lap, looking out at the viewer. She was ordinary to look at, but something in the way she smiled gave the painting a beauty that was difficult to describe. It was as though the artist had loved her, and had painted his own emotions into the portrait.
Lily had never seen this painting before; even though she had classes in the West tower in fifth year, and she had a feeling it was one of those secrets about Hogwarts that were better to just accept than question.
“Sugar Quill,” said James. The woman in the painting looked at them, nodded serenely and the painting swung inwards to let them through.
The room inside was breathtaking. It was circular and high-ceilinged, with huge arched windows and a large marble fireplace. The floor was a deep hardwood and the two staircases that ran up each side of the room to doors in the middle of the walls were the same colour. There were paintings lining the walls and a large, squishy sofa in front of the fire. Leather chairs were placed around the room, the tables next to them filled with books. Lily gasped as she walked in. The pair stood in silence for a moment, before James ran up one of the staircases to read the little, gold plaque on the door.
“This one’s yours.” He said, leaning over the banister and smiling at her. “This place is quite something, isn’t it?”
Lily nodded, open-mouthed, and continued to stare around the room, fully aware of how ridiculous she looked, but oblivious to the fact that James had not stopped staring at her nonetheless. She followed him up the staircase, telling him to go into the room.
Once again, she was speechless. The room was beautiful, and decorated in green and gold. A single, white lily had been left on the four-poster bed in the centre of the room, and Lily saw her trunk had already been unpacked and stowed in the corner.
“Ok. This is amazing.” She whispered.
James smiled. “Yeah. It is. Goodnight,” he said, swiftly pecking her on the cheek before walking out and down the stairs to his own room.
Lily swatted the air around her head in annoyance as he walked away and wandered over to the window. She looked out over the lake, sighing. This was completely incredible. She heard her name being shouted from downstairs and poked her head out of her room.
"What?” She said, irritated. James was standing in the doorway of his room opposite her. He smiled.
“My room…is incredible.” He said.
She grinned. “I can’t believe this.”
“Me either. This year is going to be so good.”
“As long as we don’t kill each other.”
“Haha, on the contrary. You can fall in love with me if you like.” He offered.
She frowned. “You see? We were almost being civil, and you had to ruin it.” He just grinned wider, watching her get annoyed.
“Urgh. What is wrong with you?” She fumed.
“Nothing. You’re lovely when you’re angry.”
“James Potter! Stop that. Stop that now. I am not angry. But do not make the mistake of thinking I will be like every other girl in the school and fall into bed with you at the drop of a hat.”
“I didn’t say that, Lils.” He reasoned, looking a little confused. “And I certainly don’t think that you would. I’ve liked you for long enough to understand you don’t want me back.”
She pursed her lips, looking for a dignified comeback. She couldn’t find one. Not when he was being so nice. She took a deep breath and settled for a mature, “Whatever,” before turning back into her room. She stopped and looked back at him. He was still there, a small smile playing around his lips.
“I was just saying, Lils. We’re going to be together a lot this year. You might realise how loveable I am after all. And then what? We’d be ‘Head Boy and Head Girl: a veritable crime-fighting machine’.”
“Well, no-one wants that. So I’ll make this easy. I promise,” she said, opening her eyes wide and speaking slowly so that he understood, “that I will not fall in love with you, James. Now go to bed.” And with that, she closed her door.
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