2 – They Call It Respect
I had promised myself that this year would be different. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t let James piss me off every other second. I had promised myself that I’d be in control of my temper. It all came out in the wash.
The day with football proved that, so did the day after where I snapped no less than three times, all of them ending with attempt to or actual mild violence. All in twenty-four hours. I had to cut down.
I tapped my finger annoyed at the ball in my arms. Half my team was missing. Or, well, two players were missing. James ‘I’m-a-pro-at-everything’ Potter and Sirius ‘I’m-king-of-the-world’ Black. Ten minutes so far, and I’d already put the rest of the team to dribble with the ball. A thing I’d soon discovered was very necessary to practise. My eyes were narrowed and locked at the corner the guys would have to turn when they had to enter the court. For each second my temper raised to new heights.
Just then Sirius came running around the corner, looking to be out of breath. He stopped in front of me, “Sorry I’m late, Evans. I hurried all I could.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Let it be the last time, Black. Is Potter on his way?”
“Yes, James is on his way,” he said, correcting me. I didn’t care.
“Onto the field, Black,” I just sighed.
He smirked at me and trudged to the court where he grabbed a ball and let it roll in front of him, running beside Megan. I turned back and kept my eye on the corner again. That James had the nerve to show up so late! It was nearly a quarter-hour. Even though he was good at this, he needed to be here. After all it was class. Just because the teacher barely said anything didn’t it mean he could come at the time he liked to show his face.
Finally he came strolling around the corner with slow and relaxed steps and his shoes thrown over his shoulder. He didn’t look at all bothered that he was fifteen minutes late. With crossed arms I marched to him, making him stop.
“So?” I demanded, raising my eyebrows. “So?”
“So what?” he asked without looking at me.
“Have you got a watch, Potter?”
He dropped his shoes to the ground. “No, why?”
“You’re fifteen minutes late.”
I took a deep breath. He was just trying to make me angry. “Is ‘okay’ all you’ve got to say?” He shrugged. “Okay then, why are you late?”
He shrugged again. “I just am.”
“Is that really all you’ve got to say? No sorry?”
He looked up. “Why would I?”
And I snapped. “Next time, Potter,” I hissed poking his chest for each word, “you will bloody be here on time!”
He stepped back, snarling. “Oh, shut it Evans! You’re not the boss of me!”
“I am captain of this team and I do not tolerate people being late!”
He snorted, “Oh, who are you kidding? You can barely kick a ball without falling over it. You’re very untalented and don’t for a second think you’ve gained my respect!”
His blows were very hard, but I decided not to let it show. I took a deep breath. “Get onto the court, Potter!” I hissed through clenched teeth. “NOW!” I yelled. “I’m fucking tired of you and your arrogance. Do as I tell you to and nothing else!”
He raised an eyebrow at me. “You’re not to decide over me… I’m still to tie my shoes. Go annoy someone else, I’m really not in the mood to listen to you.”
And I snapped. I clenched my teeth hardly and aimed a flat hand straight for his face.
That was the first time.
Pain exploded in my hand the next second as my wrist collided with his which he’d amazingly fast raised to prevent me from hitting him. He smirked triumphantly at me. I took a deep breath and slowly lowered my hand and placed a finger in his chest.
“I’m the captain,” I said with a certain air of arrogance. “You need to do what I say, which means listen to me, you need to respect what I say, respect my decisions, and respect me.”
He pushed me hardly away. “Get away from me. I don’t need to take orders from a girl who doesn’t even know how to play the game. Evans, face it, you’re trying to bite more than you can chew. I don’t even know why you’re trying.” He laughed bitterly. “And the strange part is… well, this is your field – the muggle area – and yet I’m outrunning you. I’m better than you. Again. You’re putting up a play, and it’s pathetic. Therefore I don’t respect you. I don’t give you the respect you want and you won’t ever get it. And you know why you’re not getting it? Because you’re demanding it, you haven’t earned it.”
Each word he said, was a perfect well aimed blow right in my pride and confidence. He knew what he did, and he did it till perfection. I hated him for it. I was so wrong in even trying to keep this treaty. James Potter and I would never be able to act civil towards each other.
I blinked away the tears I had only then realised was gathering in the corners of my eyes. “Get onto the court now, Potter,” I said without any feeling at all, “and don’t get in my face again.”
As he walked into the court it was with a perfectly relaxed sauntering. He had no idea how hard and perfect his words had hit. Or maybe he did, but just didn’t care. Was there anything that boy couldn’t do till perfection?
I crossed my arms over my chest and slowly moved to the side of the court. My mouth was a thin line and my teeth were clenched so it hurt.
Megan was suddenly at my side, having left Sirius. “Anything wrong, Lily?”
“Potter is what’s wrong,” I muttered angrily.
She sighed. “Won’t you two ever learn how to get along? I really believed in you two after September 1st. I guess I was wrong.”
“Yeah, I guess so too.”
“Oh, gosh! Duck!”
All of a sudden Megan pushed me down onto the grass. Next a ball flew through the air right where I’d been seconds before. I looked the way the ball had come from and wasn’t much surprised to see James laughing his ass off next to Sirius who looked mildly apologetic. I grinded my teeth so hard and loud Megan looked at me.
“Gee, Lily,” she sighed. “Relax.”
“Relax?” I repeated. “Relax?! The idiot just kicked a ball after me.”
She put a hand on each side of my face and forced my gaze away from James so I looked at her. She raised both her eyebrows. “There, there, Lily.” She smirked and a teasing glint appeared in her dark brown eyes. “He’s just like small boys in playschool, trying to get the attention of the girl he’s having a crush on.”
I slapped her hands away. “Oh, shut up! And I’m pretty sure I made sure to burst that theory last January.”
“Is that the sound of regret I’m hearing?” she asked.
“No!” I said and studied the players again. “I was just saying it.”
I shoved her softly and raised a finger. “Do not start that again!” I hissed. “Go onto the court and do what you’re told to!”
She grinned at me before running onto the court towards James and Sirius; the latter had his back at her. As she was a metre away from him she jumped onto his back. Sirius yelped and just caught her legs. I smiled before I slowly followed, eyeing some of the players.
“A little more enthusiasm, Angela!” I called.
She looked at me and smiled apologizing, “Sure, Lily.”
I stopped in front of James and Sirius, who still had Megan sitting on his back. I crossed my arms, “So aren’t you to get started?”
James rolled his eyes. “We have started.”
“Oh, I see… With what?”
“Team work,” he said matter-of-factly, “We need to know each other and how we play. That makes our game more flowing.”
I raised an eyebrow. “You’ve known each other for more than six years. I think talk is unnecessary.”
He narrowed his eyes at me before grabbing the back of Sirius’ t-shirt. “Come on, Padfoot. My slag sensor is going crazy. I bet it’s not as bad at the other end of the court.”
Megan grabbed the hem of my t-shirt as I was about to follow James with raised fists, “Killing him won’t do you any good.” It annoyed me that she was cool enough to not even use very much strength to hold me back.
“I’ll feel better while doing it,” I muttered and stopped fighting. “Besides… I’d only hurt him.”
“Deep breathing, Lily, deep breathing.”
I followed her advice. “Good,” I said and took another deep breathing. “Let’s try to get this ball moving.” I placed my foot on it and passed it to her. “Megan?”
“Yes, Lily, dear?” She passed it back.
“Who am I trying to kid, really? I suck at this!”
“Oh, Lily,” she sighed. “I can’t disagree with you… but you know why I think you’ll make it?”
I shook my head. “Tell me.”
She smiled. “Because you’re a leader. I mean, look at you! You’re Head Girl and two years ago you were voted as head of the Charms Club too. And you were a fifth year! I think you have the right competences for this. Yes, you might not have the talent, but that’s the challenge this time!” She passed the ball.
“Oh, you’re making it sound so much easier,” I groaned.
She smiled. “It’s all a question about willpower. If you want something to succeed, you need to fight for it. Lily, this is your battle! Win this, and you can do anything.”
Megan was right. She always was. If I wanted to show James what I was made of and show my team I was a perfect leader I needed to fight for it. I needed to grow into this task. I had done that with every other big position I’d gotten through my time at Hogwarts, but this was so much more than before. I had no idea how to lead a team, less in a sport I barely knew how to play, and I was leading and conducting people who I was actually friends with, not troublemakers in the hall or small second years. No, my own classmates and people my age, with my knowledge. Yes, I had given detentions to people older than me during my two previous years as prefect, but this was so different.
The ball fell onto the grass. My eyes were on the goal at one end as I started dribbling the ball down the court. They were much taller and a lot more intimidating now than in classes. Maybe it was because it was only me and it now, not my classmates like before the same day.
Nearing the goals I gathered all of my strength and put it all into the kick. The ball flew fast and hard but missing the goal. I grinded my teeth shortly before running after the ball. I picked it up and threw it back in front of the goal, thinking I’d be much better at handball or something where no footwork was necessary.
I took a run-up, the ball lying still and then kicked to it again, hard as I could. It went straight into the goal. I smiled to myself and went to pick up the ball. If just James knew I was working on it. He’d get pissed, scared maybe that I was even trying it.
Third time the ball hit the posts and went into the opposite corner. I smiled to myself. I was about to go get the ball when someone clapped behind me. I spun around, startled. My eyes narrowed at the sight of him standing with a superior attitude and clapping.
“Wow, Evans,” he said. “That’s just great.”
I clenched my teeth. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Practising,” he said with a smirk. “I see you try the same.”
“Well, I was finished anyhow,” I said and went to pick up the ball. I hold it firmly in my hands, trying to keep them there as I would feel bad if I had suddenly hit him or anything. A thing I did easily.
“Why leave now?” he grinned as I passed him. “I love seeing you make a fool out of yourself.”
I looked at him but couldn’t come up with anything smart to say. His grin annoyed me. He was intentionally trying to provoke me and he did a great job. Just his presence could do it.
“Oh, come on, Evans!” he called as I turned to walk away again. “One game! One on one. I’ll go easy on you.”
“Why are you so annoying?” I asked, not walking anymore.
“It’s part of my charm,” he said. I could hear the smirk in his voice. “Come on. What’s a bit training without trying to play the sport you’re supposed to be good at?”
I spun around. “I don’t know! But would you? Because you’re just perfect at everything. So tell me, do your parents only love you because you’re a natural at everything or is it true love for the son?”
Oh, the low blows.
His eyes narrowed and he snarled. “So how do your parents react to having brought a skanky bitch into the world?”
Before I knew what I had done I thrown the ball right at his head. It bounced off and landed safely in the grass. Then I took a step forward and placed two hands in his chest. He tumbled backwards, landing in the grass with a look of pure astonishment.
That was the second time.
“I hate you,” I hissed looking at him. “And you’re one big idiot of a jackass. Go to hell!” And I stormed away.
And then there was the third time.
Astronomy class was dragging out as clouds were hiding the stars and it was hard to place them correctly. James had already twice pushed my telescope so I had to go back and start finding the particular star again from the beginning.
“Oi!” I exclaimed and shot up as someone bumped into me and my telescope. I spun around finding James again. “Oh, grow up,” I muttered irritated and turned again. I had long decided that I wouldn’t lose my temper once again.
He continued without listening. I turned back to Thea who was chuckling next to me. As I looked at her she looked up, smirking. I raised an eyebrow.
“What?” she asked.
She shrugged and leaned closer to me. “Lily, isn’t that obvious? He’s so crazy about you?”
I sniffed. “Oh, shut up. We both know what’s not true.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said. “You flipped on him last winter, said some bad things and now he hates you too… But really, Lily. Don’t you think that’s stupid?”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “No, in fact I don’t.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, relax, Lily. I’m not saying you like him, just that he likes you.”
I started adjusting my telescope again. Thea was a girl who knew boys well. She knew their signs and ways of acting when feeling and thinking such things. Usually I’d give her right. Not today. The thought of James still liking me was absurd. Maybe it was because I’d lived the last six months getting my feelings for him returned. I liked it that way and would hate it if it changed.
“I know you think so, Thea,” I mumbled, “and I don’t like it.”
She chuckled. “Didn’t think so either.”
I turned and looked into the telescope again. Just then someone bumped into me again. Before I had even turned I knew who it was. Our eyes locked and I placed a finger in his chest.
“Why don’t you just cut it out?” I hissed.
He slapped my hand away. “Your big arse was in the way.”
I clenched my teeth and then pushed him away. “What the fuck is the matter with you? I don’t even try to not bother you, but you just can’t stop acting like an idiot, can you?!”
He looked away absentminded. “No, what’s the fun about that?” He looked at his nails.
“James Potter, please look at me!” I said through clenched teeth. “I am talking to you.”
He sighed. “You’re talking, but I’m not really listening.”
Before I had known what had happened I had placed two hands in his chest and violently pushed him into the wall behind him.
“Why are you acting like that?”
He pushed me. “Why are you? You’re the one always yelling and pushing.”
I slapped him. “You forgot slapping,” I hissed.
“And you say I’m childish,” he muttered. “Just fuck off.”
He walked away before I could response, muttering something along the lines, “the respect again, Evans.” I watched him a few seconds before turning. Thea was watching me with that look of hers.
“What?” I snapped.
“Love,” she sighed.
“Lily, you’ve got to look on it differently. You’re always at each other’s necks and fighting. Really, it’s like small children in kindergarten, fancying each other.”
I looked towards James who stood next to Remus, studying the night sky. He didn’t look at all bothered by the run-in we’d had only seconds before. He was leaning back against the wall of the tower. Relaxed till perfection as always.
“Asshole… Both of you actually.”