Lily was relieved that summer was over and today she was starting her seventh and final year at Hogwarts. It was amazing how six years of her life had flown by and though it saddened her that she would be leaving Hogwarts soon, she would also soon be starting a new exciting chapter of her life.
It had been a tense summer with her older sister Petunia (Muggle to the bone) planning her engagement party. In Petunia’s eyes there was nothing worse than being a witch. Her sister had always strayed from anything abnormal; anything that was not considered the status quo. Lily suspected Petunia only involved her in the wedding plans because of their parents’ pleas.
Lily’s parents had just dropped her off at King’s Cross and she wheeled her trolley casually toward platform nine and three-quarters. Glancing around to make sure she hadn’t caught the attention of any Muggles, she slipped through the barrier easily, bracing herself for the usual hustle and bustle of the platform. Instead an entirely different atmosphere greeted her and Lily abruptly came to a stop. It was a sad and depressing sight to see that Voldemort’s rise had finally touched Hogwarts.
A little first year with a massive head of curls was clutching her mother with tears running down her cheeks. Her mother was muttering, “You’ll be fine! We’ll write every day and before you know it, we’ll see you at Christmas.”
These were similar words parents for generations had promised their frightened first years, but in these dark times they took on a whole new meaning. No one knew who would be the Death Eater’s next victim and even the older students, who were usually keen to get away from their parents’ rein, lingered longer and huddled in small groups; glancing behind suspiciously at any sudden movement or loud noise.
Various students greeted Lily, but she was still focused on the first year. She wanted to help her and Lily realized she could; she was Head Girl after all, and helping first years surely would be on the list of duties.
She approached the girl with a comforting smile. “Hi, I’m Lily Evans and I’m the Head Girl. If you would like, I can help your daughter onto the train and get settled.”
The mother did not return Lily’s smile, instead she looked at her suspiciously. Then suddenly a burly seventh year Slytherin boy by the name of Evan Rosier stood behind the woman, smirking at her in an alarming manner. “I see you’ve met my family, Evans. How is your Muggle family?” Though technically Rosier hadn’t said anything wrong, the amount of menace he put in the word Muggle brought a chill to her body.
“Right. I hope you have a great year,” Lily said addressing the young girl whose mother had grabbed protectively to her breast the moment she heard the word Muggle.
Walking away with her head up high, Lily chastised herself for not expecting something like this. The wizard world was at war over blood and being Muggle-born, her rights and existence were on the forefront of the battle.
Deciding it was time she went on the train, Lily straightened her robes and entered the Hogwarts Express. She knew it was going to be a tough year, but Dumbledore had appointed her, so he believed she could handle the job and she wasn’t about to disappoint him. Instead of searching for her friends, Lily headed in the direction of the Head’s Compartment unconsciously touching her pin.
She began musing about the likely candidate for Head Boy, but none came to her mind. As long as it wasn’t a Slytherin, Lily was sure she could work with anyone. Perhaps Michael Power from Ravenclaw would be a good choice. He had a strong head on his shoulders even though he was very boring to talk to.
Pushing the sliding door open, Lily looked into the large compartment. There were red silky drapes on the windows, four House banners hung on the side walls, and in the center was the Hogwarts School Emblem. There were two red couches and on top of one of them James Potter was snogging Jocelyn Edwards senseless. His body was pressed against Jocelyn’s firmly and they were so engrossed neither of them had heard her enter.
“A-hem!” Lily coughed, ignoring the question on the forefront of her mind, which was if Potter was as good a kisser as the rumors claimed. The couple broke apart hastily; Potter looked surprised and sheepish, Jocelyn flushed and pleased.
“What are you doing?!” Lily crossed her arms in what she hoped was an imposing manner. Potter smirked at her question. Obviously Lily knew what they were doing, so she quickly amended her question. “I mean – why are you in here? This compartment is only for Heads. I should put you both in detention.”
“James has every right to be in here,” Jocelyn’s girlish voice informed her. She was a Gryffindor sixth year that Lily knew vaguely. Jocelyn was the shallow sort; rich and beautiful with no worry of the future. Lily instantly disliked her.
“That would mean-” Lily couldn’t finish the sentence.
“That James is Head Boy?” Jocelyn offered snidely.
“That is not something to joke about!” Lily retorted searching the room hopelessly for the real Head Boy to appear. Perhaps Potter had hid him? Maybe there was a hidden compartment in the couch?
“Unfortunately, Evans,” Potter began, standing up. Merlin when had he grown so tall? “This is not a joke.”
Not only was James taller, but his features had hardened so that he looked older and more mature. His black hair, messy as ever, served to remind Lily that this was still the same adolescent boy that had pestered her for the past few years to go out with him. Nothing had changed.
“Good lord,” Lily muttered turning away from Potter’s piercing hazel eyes. The school was done for. There would be no law and order with a Marauder in charge. What was the Headmaster thinking? Had the Professors’ lost their minds? This was the same boy who last year had boasted about his rule-breaking career.
“I was surprised as you.” James looked apologetic. “Sirius reckons Dumbledore had a bit too much firewhiskey that day…”
He was grinning, and Lily met his eyes with a scowl. This was not at all funny.
“I don’t think it was a mistake,” a sweet voice interrupted their staring contest. “You’ll make a great Head Boy.”
It seemed to take James effort to rip his eyes away from Lily and back to his girlfriend, Jocelyn.
“It’s probably time you left, Jocelyn. Evans and I have to get on with our duties. I’ll see you after the feast.”
“The feast?” Jocelyn pouted. “Come visit me after your meeting.”
“I can’t. I promised my mates I’d find them,” James said easily. Though Lily felt intimated by the cloudy look that passed over the girl’s pretty features, James didn’t look worried. Jocelyn, as she brushed by James, whispered huskily, “If you come visit me sooner, I’ll make it worth your while.”
Before leaving she met Lily’s green eyes with her own blue ones – it was a look one might give to a competitor – the prize being James. Jocelyn had nothing to worry about; she was welcome to have the arrogant prat. Potter watched her leave, her hips swaying most provocatively and he ran a hand through his hair, ruffling his black locks even more. As he turned back toward Lily, he dropped his hand instantly at the sight of her narrowed eyes. Lily had always hated that nervous habit of his.
“How long have you been seeing Jocelyn?” The question was out of her mouth before she could stop it. It wasn’t really any of her business, but Potter didn’t seem to mind.
“Not long. We met up about two weeks ago in Hogsmeade, grabbed a few butterbeers, and things progressed from there.”
“Oh really?” Lily said trying to sound uninterested as she rifled through the papers that she had been sent over the summer about Head duties.
“You don’t approve?” Potter’s voice was light and friendly.
“You are free to date who you want…it’s just I never pictured you with a girl like that.”
“I’m not marrying her and why are you so interested anyway?” James was watching her with a slight smirk; the same smirk that made him quite a catch in many female students’ eyes, and smile that Lily had always deterred with a scowl, yet suddenly her heart was pounding wildly. It was just nervousness from being Head, she reasoned.
“I’m not interested. I was just trying to make conversation.”
Potter laughed and it filled the compartment easing the tension; a smile tugged on Lily’s lips.
“So how was your summer, Evans?”
“Oh…it was all right. My family’s Muggle so they don’t really know what’s going on here, so in a way it was a nice break from all the worry.”
“You haven’t told them?” He sounded surprised; his deep voice resonated with concern. “Muggle attacks are at an all time high.”
“I didn’t want them to worry,” Lily defended. “Ok, so maybe it was partly for selfish reasons, I was worried they wouldn’t let me return to Hogwarts. I’d go crazy if I had to be home all year.”
“What’s so horrible about home?” James had sat back down lounging back on the couch.
“Sister problems.” Lily didn’t elaborate. It wasn’t something she talked about often.
“Pad- Sirius, would know something about that. His younger brother will probably be joining Voldemort’s ranks soon as he’s out of Hogwarts.”
Lily was surprised by how carelessly Potter used Voldemort’s name in conversation. Those few brave enough to utter it usually whispered it or said it quickly.
“I don’t have it nearly as bad. I mean I wouldn’t run away from home…”
“Yeah, he’s had it rough. He hides it well though.”
“He’s lucky to have you.”
“Sorry?” James was looking at her strangely. Well no wonder, it was probably the first time she had complimented him.
“Somewhere to go,” she added as explanation.
“Right,” James murmured and the silence widened the distance between them.
“I know I’m new to all this, but don’t we have a Prefect meeting to begin?”
Lily turned scarlet. How had she been the one to forget that? She glanced at her watch. The meeting should have begun two minutes ago. Lily paused to grab some of the notes she had written down to say to the Prefects. She was glad to have them, needing the reassurance that she was in charge, especially now that her world was turning upside down.
James shifted in the cushioned chair inside the Headmaster’s office. It wasn’t that the chair was uncomfortable; it was the whole strange situation. He was Head Boy! The idea still surprised him.
James had been in this room and chair before, almost always because McGonagall or one of the other Professors felt he and his friends had crossed the invisible line that meant the offense was important enough to alert Dumbledore. What was Dumbledore thinking? James admitted he knew nothing about keeping order. He only knew the rules because he had broken most of them.
Each of his mates had reacted differently to the news. Padfoot had fallen to the floor in laughter, unable to believe that it was a legitimate letter. Then he spent the rest of the time teasing him that he wasn’t going to be any fun anymore, but James knew it was all in jest.
Moony had congratulated him, and hinted that this was a large step toward winning Evan’s affections. James knew he was happy for him, hiding the slight disappointment that he hadn’t been selected. James had a feeling Remus would blame it on his monthly transformations into a werewolf. In a way, Moony used this as a crutch, a scapegoat when things didn’t go his way. James did all he could do to convince him he was a regular person – calling it Remus’ furry little problem in polite company. It was hard to really get Remus to believe it because in the real world, outside their circle of friendship, there were prejudices and once out of school Remus would have to register in a record that would be available to the public.
Wormtail’s reaction had been the best; if you wanted your ego boosted he was always the one to go to. Peter was always ready with praise, never lecturing any of them on their actions or pointing out their faults.
James glanced at Lily Evans who was drumming her fingers and making an effort to ignore him. He had tried his hardest all summer to get over her, but if it was at all possible, he was even more in love with her now. He couldn’t pinpoint what it was about her. Here she sat next to him, so sure of her position as Head Girl; ready to catch the troublemakers of the school.
All she had was contempt for him; and she was waiting for James to mess up, to step one toe out of line, so she could shout to the school all his faults and how she was right about him. James sighed audibly running a hand for the fourth time through his hair. He knew Lily hated that, but right now he didn’t care.
Dumbledore finally appeared, gliding down the steps that led to his bed chamber, his grey beard flowing behind him and blue eyes watchful.
“Good evening, Mr. Potter and Ms. Evans. Congratulations are in order! Your parents must be very proud.”
“More like shocked, Professor,” James admitted.
“You’ve both earned it in your – er – own way. Now I must implore to you the need for us as a school to stand united. House rivalries must be brought to a minimum. You two must work together and stand strong. If ever we needed strong leadership, it is this year.”
“We’ll do what we can,” Lily replied earnestly.
“The school Governors have been very busy over the summer coming up with rules they feel will protect the students. One of them I’m afraid dealt with Quidditch, games and practices included and there was conversation about canceling it all together for this year.”
“They can’t do that!” James spat angrily.
“Sit down, Mr. Potter. It was only conversation. I spoke to the Governors and explained we’d have a student mutiny if such drastic changes were taken. We came to an agreement that all practices will be held in the daylight hours and with a teacher present. I do not think that precaution unreasonable and I do realize that Captains have the tendency to schedule practices at all times of the day and night, but that will have to stop. I need you, Mr. Potter, on my side on this ruling.”
“Your first responsibility is the school and second to the Quidditch team, Mr. Potter. Even these restrictions will upset students so you need to show your approval. Students will follow your lead. If you cannot do this, perhaps it is best you step down.”
James faltered. He hadn’t expected Dumbledore to be so frank about this and he was vehemently against the new rules. Part of the reason he loved Quidditch was the freedom. Out on the pitch, it was just you and the broomstick. Lily was looking at him with an unreadable expression. Did she think he’d step down? Was that the proper thing to do? No matter how he spun the choice in his head, quitting now was cowardly and James never backed down when a challenge arose.
“I don’t want to step down, Professor. I’ll do my best to convince the other students of the necessity, but in my heart I don’t think it’s the right course of action.”
“Good to hear, Mr. Potter.” Dumbledore’s eyes were twinkling. He obviously hadn’t expected James to step down. “Now let us go over what you two need to cover in the next few Prefect meetings…”
James was only half listening because Evans was smiling at him. Her radiant smile brought warmth to the room and for the first time since he’d been appointed this role, James felt more confident about it.
Lily was exhausted and she wanted to be left alone. According to her friends, she had been acting different since the first day back and they all wanted to know what was wrong. They wanted to help fix her problem, but Lily wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong. It was her last year of Hogwarts and instead of everything being like it had the last six years, nothing seemed the same. Head duties took a lot of her time and all her class work and now with the news she’d just received…
Going back to the Gryffindor Common room was out of the question, so she chose another sanctuary. Lily pushed open the doors that led outside and walked swiftly across the frosted ground. Her tears mixed with the winter rain and the wind whipped at her cloak, yet she welcomed the numbness. She could barely see two feet in front of her and as she neared to the Quidditch pitch, she saw three figures darting around on brooms. Who in their right mind was out flying in the weather past curfew? Besides her of course and she was currently not in her right mind.
Lily almost turned to go in the other direction. She had no way of knowing who was out there, but her curiosity and duty to enforce the rules overcame her. Now one of the figures landed and by the sound of the footsteps was headed right at her.
“Who’s there?” she called out bravely and whispered Lumos to light her wand.
“Evans?” The voice was surprised, male and very familiar.
“Potter?” Lily lifted her wand and the light illuminated James Potter’s face. He looked cross and not at all pleased to have run into her.
“What are you doing out here? You aren’t allowed!” Lily scolded.
“Neither are you, Evans. At least I’m smart enough not to come out here alone. These are dangerous times.”
The other two figures that had landed, standing in the distance watching their conversation, were Sirius and Peter. Potter crossed his arms looking at her carefully and Lily choked on a sob. She wasn’t usually this emotional…well not in this way. Why couldn’t Potter act as he always had? By now he should have asked her out at least a dozen times, but he seemed to have gotten over her. Well he did have Jocelyn and with her sophistication and polish, they were a perfect match.
“Are you all right?” James turned pale having finally noticed her tear-streaked cheeks.
“Those Muggles – they weren’t…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence.
“No, no,” Lily assured him quickly. The Daily Prophet’s front page news story that morning had reported that six Muggles had been murdered in their homes in one night and they all had Muggle-born wizards somewhere in their family. Two of the six Muggles had been under the age of five and the news had hit Hogwarts hard.
“Stay here,” James commanded and Lily picked her head up. James said a few quick words to his friends; the words cloak and map were mentioned a few times.
“Let’s get you out of the rain. We can’t have the Head Girl sick.” She allowed James to take her ice cold hand and lead her to the Quidditch team changing room. He produced a key and ushered her inside. The room smelled musty and moldy, the smell of sweat still lingered, but it was dry and warm. James performed a drying spell on her clothes then his own.
“Warm enough?” His gaze was on her, concerned and friendly.
“Yes. Thank you,” she muttered. It was strange being here alone with James and she felt completely vulnerable. She hadn’t wanted her friends to see her like this, yet now Potter had gotten involved.
“What’s wrong, Evans?” James took a seat, a respectful distance away from her. He’d been acting so responsible lately with completing his Head Duties and not hexing students in the hallway, that Lily sometimes felt she should slack off just to keep the world in balance.
“I doubt that.”
“My…my…my dog died.”
“Your dog?” James looked as if he expected anything else, but that.
“I told you. Now go off and tell your mates and you can all have a good laugh about it.”
James looked shocked by her words and hesitantly said, “I would never…Merlin you really do see me as a horrible person, don’t you?”
“I didn’t mean…” Though she had…she wanted to think the worst of James because then it was easy to bury all those other thoughts that had been hiding ever since fifth year. As long as he was a prat, it didn’t matter what her feelings were, she could never be with someone like that. It was simple logic and it hadn’t failed her until this year. “I’m a mess.”
“A mess? I don’t think I’ve ever know someone who appeared so – so together.”
“You’re the one with the perfect life.”
“Me?” He laughed hollowly. “My life is far from perfect.”
“Everyone loves you!”
“Everyone thinks I’m a joke.” There was pain in his words. “Troublemaker turned Head Boy. No one takes me seriously and some of them even expect me to join in when I catch them in the act. They just laugh off my threats of detention. At least the school takes your appointment seriously. No one believes I deserve this badge,” he finished disgustedly.
His hazel eyes stared straight through hers. He always kept steady eye contact when he talked to her. He was still holding her gaze, and she felt breathless and a blush creeping up her neck from such intimate contact.
“Dumbledore does, and well so do I. Maybe not at first, but students will listen to you. They will follow your lead. Everyone just needs to get used to the new Potter; the more responsible version.”
“Now I know you must really be upset; you’re complimenting me.”
Lily smiled despite herself. “I guess I have been harsh on you at times.”
“I did deserve it usually…though you could have turned me down more gently.”
“I have a small request.” The idea had just popped into the head –it was a crazy, very un-Lily like idea, but it excited her.
“I think the school could use a good laugh. With all the murders, everyone’s mood needs a bit lightening up. I know I’m going to regret this, but perhaps the Marauders could do something about that…”
James’ mouth had dropped open and he was completely speechless.
“It must be harmless and not directed at any particular House, mind you.”
“Evans, you’re insane!” James laughed. “Completely and utterly mental.”
“So is that a yes?” There was playfulness in her voice that she didn’t recognize.
“Sirius is going to love you. He’s been itching to do something. I’ve only just barely stopped him.”
Lily felt her mood improve. It was nice having a normal conversation with James.
“Sorry about your dog,” James said quietly. “What was his name?”
“Tucker…I’ve had him since I was five. Even while I was away at school, he’d sleep each night on my bed.”
“What was that?”
“Oh, nothing…” James ruffled his hair and though the gesture was still annoying, it didn’t irk her as it used to. The windswept-look made Potter look more boyish and vulnerable.
“Why were you out in the rain?” Lily asked. She realized her question was nosy, but she couldn’t help wanting to know.
“I just needed some fresh air…it can get so stuffy inside at times. Out there, I feel alive, not at all useless.”
“Are you feeling ok?”
Perhaps there was something in the pumpkin juice to explain all this strange behavior. Where was the cocky confident boy that strutted around the castle?
“It was a rough summer…”
“You did meet Jocelyn.” The words were out before she could stop them. Even she couldn’t ignore the fact that she sounded jealous. It was completely inappropriate comment, especially since Lily didn’t want to date Potter.
James ignored her comment wisely. “My father is ill.” James paused. “He’s got Dragon Pox and the doctors fear my mother was also infected. There’s a cure, but he has a really resistant strand of the disease and so far the cure hasn’t worked for him. The doctors aren’t sure why. And my father is elderly and the amount of stress he’s been under. Well it was rough…”
“I had no idea…” Lily hadn’t imagined something like this could be plaguing Potter. She had expected him to perhaps complain that his Quidditch team had lost in the World Cup.
“And there’s nothing I can do. My father’s dying and I’m useless.”
“I’m sorry.” The words were inadequate, but she couldn’t think of what to say. There really wasn’t a proper or right thing to say.
She barely recognized the boy in front of her. She almost wanted him to smirk and ask her out; telling her this whole pretending to care was just a way, a ploy, to win her heart.
“I’m dealing with it…” James stood up glancing at the clock in the room. The two large hands were broomsticks and the second hand was a Snitch. “It’s late. We should probably get back.”
“If we get caught…together…after curfew…”
“A lecture and a detention won’t kill you, Evans,” James joked, sounding more like himself, flirtatious and in command of the situation.
“I know that!” Lily snapped irritably. “My record isn’t that flawless.”
“If anyone should be really worried, it’s me.” He grinned cheekily. “I’m the one with the girlfriend. Imagine the rumors…” He whistled.
“This is not funny.” She paused. “Well it won’t be funny if we are caught. We are supposed to be setting an example.”
“I wondered when you’d start lecturing,” Potter interjected jokingly. She could tell he didn’t care; perhaps he too was glad that she wasn’t so upset anymore.
“You don’t seem so worried about what Jocelyn will think…”
“If she doesn’t believe me that nothing happened between us, then I’d rather not be with her.” He stood up, leaning casually on the wall.
“She’s not a bad person, Evans. And she does have two things going for her, she’s very pretty and more importantly, she actually likes me, which is quite an improvement from my usual female pursuits.”
She knew immediately he was referring to her. “I don’t hate you…”
“You just – irritate me.”
“You sure know how to praise a guy.”
“I’d like us to be friends.”
Potter’s face was a mixture of amazement and hope. “Friends, eh?”
“It should make working together easier, less formal. We have been in the same house since first year.”
“I’d like that Evans.”
“I don’t know.” Despite trying to appear serious, a smile was breaking through. “Aren’t we moving a bit fast? Being friends and on a first name basis on the same day.”
“James!” She laughed and her mood changed, feeling uplifted and she’d forgotten for awhile about all her problems. She realized James had that effect on people, whether it was a stirring speech before a Quidditch match or easing the tension in the classroom – James brought light to the room. He made you want to do the impossible.
“Lily.” She liked the way James said her name. She could tell by the ring of the word that he cared about her. Perhaps that wasn’t such a bad thing after all. There was enough dislike and hatred in the world right now.
Lily wasn’t sure what she wanted, but friendship seemed like a proper start. It wasn’t fair to lead James on. The way he was staring at her with so much longing, it scared Lily. She’d never been one to like change and this change was overwhelming. Dare she open her heart to James Potter?
“About the getting caught part, that won’t happen.” The magic that had encased them had broken and James was unfolding a silvery object.
“You have an invisibility cloak?”
“Yes, family heirloom.”
“Well no wonder you’ve gotten away with so much…”
“This Lily is only ONE of the many Marauder secrets,” he answered mysteriously.
“I don’t suppose you’ll tell me the others?” she asked hopefully.
“Maybe one day. Come on, it is getting late.”
They had to crowd under the cloak and James placed a loose arm around her – bending slightly so they were completely covered. And she didn’t mind the least being this close to Potter, his warmth and smell were making her dizzy, but it was comforting and with all the discord in the world…his steadiness was welcoming.
As they parted in the empty Common room, Lily floated up to her bed with the other seventh year girls and slipped quietly into a restful slumber.
Author’s note: Thank you for reading and please take time to review!