Chapter 3 : Smooth Sailing or Rough Seas?
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"Back at school," he murmured to himself.
It all came rushing back: the train ride, Dumbledore’s office, the nearly massive argument with Lily. Boy, he definitely did not want it to ever come to that again this year. The last thing he wanted was an angry Lily Evans; and he wanted her ignoring him even less. This was his year to win her over, and he was confident that he could do it. He would do it. He was certain of that.
James sighed and looked around his new room. It really was something else. The glorious, rich Gryffindor coloured room had many nooks and crannies to place his beloved Quidditch items, as well as a walk-in wardrobe on the opposite side of the room that he imagined had been placed in there for the sake of keeping the Head rooms somewhat equal.
Sighing again, he pushed himself up and rolled out of bed. He figured if Lily was already up, then he should be too. He had a reputation to uphold now that he was Head Boy; he would not let Lily or Dumbledore down this year by appearing lazy or inattentive to his duties. He paced the room silently, waiting for the bathroom.
The sound of cascading water subsided. For decency’s sake, he waited five minutes before gently knocking on the door. There was a soft "I’m out" and he heard the closing of a door on the other side before he found fit to enter.
Walking into the bathroom, he was instantly bombarded by a sweet scent; the strong shampoo that Lily must have been using hung thickly in the steamy air. It smelled floral, but there was also something . . . something more elusive, that he couldn’t quite place. He stepped into the shower quickly; he already knew that if he didn’t hurry he would be late. Luckily, he didn’t require much time to bathe. Upon getting out, he dressed hastily and made his way out to the common room, where he was surprised to find Lily waiting for him by the portrait hole.
"I just thought it would be polite to wait for you and walk down together," she explained quickly, not meeting his eyes.
"Oh. Thank you," he replied, curious about the sudden gesture.
Once again they walked together in silence, only muttering a quick apology when their hands brushed as they clambered out of the portrait hole. Upon arriving at the Great Hall they split up to their respective groups, where they were finally able to escape the pressing awkwardness of each others' company.
James rushed to the end of the table where his fellow Marauders were sitting, planning to eat all he could before the first lesson of the day. Professor McGonagall was bustling around to all of the Gryffindor’s, handing out their schedules and seeing to any issues they had.
"Prongs mate! Blimey, I can’t believe that you get your own room with your gorgeous, unattainable, fiery redhead just meters away! Merlin knows I would not have enough will power to stay in my room for the allotted eight hours I’m meant to be sleeping," Sirius waggled his eyebrows to emphasis this point. Peter and Remus chuckled.
James sighed and put his head in his hands. "Padfoot please do not make the confusion in my head any worse. I know all too well that she is sleeping in the next room, and it took all my strength just to stay in my bed last night; and forget about getting any rest! I can’t imagine how the rest of the year will get on!"
"Probably not the best idea James. You know, to take advantage of a powerful, hot headed witch whilst they are sleeping in their bed," Remus said quietly whilst still keeping is eyes focused on the book he held in front of his face. His lips were quirked slightly, indicating his engagement in their conversation despite his distracted appearance.
They were interrupted by McGonagall handing them their timetables for the year. Sirius took one look at his and started banging his head on the table, groaning so low that it was resonating against the glasses.
"Care of Magical Creatures! For the love of Merlin, why was I given this ruddy class!? First Prongs leaves me, then I have to do a N.E.W.T in this damned subject! What did I do wrong?"
"You have to take that class, Mr Black, because the subject ‘The Study of the Female Anatomy: The Last Century and Beyond’ doesn’t seem to be on the curriculum this year. Actually, it has never been on the curriculum and never will be whilst I am alive. So I took it upon myself to assume that perhaps you would be satisfied with another type of study, one which incorporates beings with some known human intelligence," Professor McGonagall responded sternly, narrowing her eyes in his direction before walking to the next group of students.
The Marauders and those sitting close by howled with laughter, tears of mirth rolling down their faces.
James removed his glasses and wiped his eyes whilst giving Sirius an encouraging pat on the back. "In all of your existence, Pads, that has got to be one of your finest moments."
Sirius merely shook his head and pouted while looking down at his schedule. James then leaned over and studied theirs altogether.
"It seems the Marauders have most subjects together this year! That way we can help each other out with homework!" James grinned excitedly like a little kid on Christmas day.
"What I think you mean, Prongs, is that we can copy Moony’s notes when we don’t pay attention," Sirius corrected, waggling his finger at James, who merely grinned in response.
"Hey! Maybe this year I won’t hand over my notes so easily. What would you do then, eh?"
"Moony, Moony, Moony, you know you can’t resist us when we are in desperate need of your meticulous, detailed notes. What would we do without you?"
"Rot most likely. Or fail, and go back to first year," Remus muttered to himself, immersing himself once again in his book.
It was then that Peter saw that James was gazing at something down the length of the table.
"James, what are you staring at? Is there someone new down there?" Peter heaved himself up, trying to look over their tall frames with his watery eyes.
"Wormtail, I wouldn’t do anything strenuous mate. You might hurt yourself. Besides you should know by now that he only has eyes for his dearest Lily."
Sirius was right. James was staring at Lily. She was sitting with Aria and Ella; however, it didn’t appear as though she was paying attention to their conversation. Her long auburn hair, still wet from the shower, was slowly making a curtain between them as she moved gradually towards the paper she was furiously scribbling all over, while her other hand was hovering over her half eaten blueberry muffin. James was gazing as if it would be the last time he would get to see her again. Just as Sirius was going to hit James on the back of the head for being such a nancy, the bell rang loudly and Lily jumped up, picked up her bag and started out of the Great Hall without noticing the intent gaze of her fellow dorm mate burning into her back.
"Oh snap out of it, you girl! Moping around and gazing at her is not going to do you any good. You need to actually get off your arse and take action! Be a man! Seriously though, you are ruining the Marauder image!" Sirius protested hotly.
James sighed and ignored him. "She actually waited for me this morning though. Oh well. I suppose we should go to Charms, right?"
The Marauders got up and started to head towards the Charms corridor for their first lesson of the year. James was deep in thought whilst walking to his class. Sirius was right, taking action is exactly what needed to happen. God forbid that taking too much action would push her away; no, he needed just the right amount to start the cogs of their relationship turning. He walked in and headed towards his usual position at the back of the class, formulating another plan. Just as he was sitting down, he caught a glimpse of something red out of the corner of his eye and his heart fluttered - well as much a guy’s heart can flutter!
There she was, sitting a mere three rows in front of him talking animatedly to Aria and Ella. Could it be possible that she was taking his classes this year?
Sirius must have been thinking the same thing, as at that moment he yelled out across the classroom, obviously mistaking he and Lily for being at opposite ends of the Quidditch pitch.
"Excuse me, fellow Charms-ians, I just need a quick word with Lily Evans, if you don’t mind ceasing your chatter. Oh fairest one, are mine eyes deceived, or are you actually going to be in all of my classes this year?"
The radiant smile faded from her face and was replaced by a snarl. She gritted her teeth and responded, "Black, I’m sure it’s not any of your business, so shove it! And don't call me that!"
"Shall I take that as a yes, honey?" he smiled sweetly at her.
But, before she could respond by letting out a string of foul words, Professor Flitwick made his entrance, causing their conversation, which had all the signs of becoming a blazing row, to cease. "That will be enough Mr Black; I do not want to have to give you a detention on the very first day. Can we at least wait a week?"
The class hummed with low laughter as they all settled in to start their notes. The day went relatively quickly after that. It turned out that James and Lily had all the same classes together, along with Remus, Sirius, Aria and Ella. However, Remus, Ella and Lily had also chosen to take extra classes as well, on top of what they had.
It was around dinner time, when James sprung up and started doing a little happy dance and began singing something that resembled "She can’t resist me, she can’t resist me", that Sirius realised his best friend was truly losing it this year and all signs pointed to it having something to do with the unsolvable mystery that was Lily Evans.
"Look, I don’t want to entirely rain on your parade Prongs, but what the bloody hell are you doing? Not only have you convinced me that you may have a vagina, but some of the Ravenclaws over there seem to have been put off their food."
James didn’t look miffed what-so-ever and just smiled an even bigger ‘James Potter’ grin before sliding into his chair and helping himself to a second helping of turkey.
"You know Moony, you seemed to forget to mention that not only Prefects, but also the heads, get to walk together and do rounds of the castle each night."
Remus lowered his book and raised his eyebrows at the insinuation James was making. "Quite frankly Prongs, I didn’t think you were going to be too pleased. You have to be mature at all times, you need to keep your manners in check, as well as your temper, I might add, and you absolutely cannot take away points from Slytherins or give them a detention just for the heck of it. Aren’t you in the least bit a bit worried that these rounds might do more damage than good?"
"Moony, you worry too much mate! Your fury little problem is causing all types of unneeded motherly advice to proclaim itself. I will be fine. I have myself in check this year. I doubt I will do anything stupid."
Sirius gave a loud bark of laughter, "Ha! What I would give to see that actually happening ... James not doing anything stupid. The day you don’t do something stupid in front of Evans, Prongs, is the day Minnie realises that she actually has a thing for Slughorn."
They all shivered inwardly from the thought of their Head of House hitting it up with their Potions professor. How ugly that sight would be.
"Whatever guys, when I see you tomorrow at breakfast I will have a big smile on my face because I will have had a wonderful night with Lily and will be a step closer at winning my fair maiden over."
The Marauders were all busy snickering to themselves as James threw his legs over the chair and marched out of the Great Hall with his chin raised and his confidence high.
Sirius smirked watched him leave the Hall before turning back to the remaining Marauders. "I am really going to enjoy seeing Lily storm into breakfast tomorrow because James has ‘accidently’ groped her on the backside, or ‘forgotten’ that she doesn’t like to be kissed whilst pinned up against a wall by blokes she despises."
The rest of the evening seemed to go fairly slowly for James; anxious, not knowing what to expect from the rounds, he had found himself trying to flatten his hair in the mirror every five minutes. He knew how much she hated his hair, and especially when he ran his hands through it. Apparently the wind-blown Quidditch look didn’t exactly do the same for her as it did the other adoring fifteen year-old girls. She also didn’t know that he did it as a nervous habit, more than anything else. For as long as he liked Lily it seemed that his hand had been automatically trained to his hair. That teamed with a rude comment, or a proposal of marriage, seemed to frustrate Lily more than anything in this world. The bad thing was that James thrived on her attention. Even though he made her madder than anyone else in the whole school, he couldn’t resist provoking her just to see her brilliant emerald eyes flash with anger and her palms scrunch up beside her legs, her knuckles going white from the intense pressure. It was a beautiful sight. He sighed, reluctantly gave up his attempt at taming his hair, grabbed his wand and headed for the door, mentally preparing himself to think before he said anything to Lily.
Lily was reading by the fire, her eyes carefully studying the book that was propped up against her knees. James felt that familiar pang in his chest cavity, and tried to throw it off.
"Uh Lily, we have rounds right?" James said softly.
She jumped and her booked dropped to the ground. "Oh. Yeah. Sorry, I got carried away. Let’s go. I don’t want this to go on forever. I have a mountain of homework already. I still don’t understand why we need to do rounds as well; it’s not like we are lacking in prefects."
James tried to ignore her words, but he still felt the unrelenting pang in his chest, this one different from the one seconds earlier because this time it made him feel like absolute rubbish instead of hopefully serene. Sighing for what felt like the fiftieth time that day, he tucked his hands in his pockets and followed her out of the portrait hole. They were halfway along the transfiguration corridor when the silence was broken.
"So... uh... How was your day and that?" Lily questioned keeping her eyes in front of her and her wand tightly clutched in her right hand to her side.
He frowned, wondering why she was attempting conversation. She had never taken even the slightest interest in his life in the past six years. He didn’t know what had suddenly changed between them. Was she merely being polite or was she actually wondering about how his day had gone?
"Good, apart from the fact that Sirius isn’t letting up about getting my own room and sharing it with a girl. Uh, you being the girl, um, woman... lady?" He could feel the heat going to his face and silently thanked Merlin that it was dark. He heard her snicker and sigh.
"Yeah I got it Potter. I really can’t believe it though. Honestly, it isn’t like he is lacking in acquiring the ladies. That’s what he’s known for. I mean if he tried he could probably get up the girls staircase anyway, despite the boy repellent charm that is on them. You guys have found a way to get past it right? If it isn’t you Marauders that have been stealing our stuff for the last six years, I seriously don’t know what to think! Anyway . . . .Sirius Black has always been a woman-loving, prank-making git, and I sincerely doubt that will change in the future."
It was James turn to snicker this time. Back in second year they had snuck into the girls dormitory to steal back Sirius’ letters that Aria had taken, which had come from his present girlfriend. James most definitely would not forget the mental image of Lily, sleeping peacefully, eyelids flickering and a soft smile on her face from the dream she was having. It was the first time he consciously realised that he had a major crush on her and would give anything for a chance with her. And it wasn’t some stupid puppy love either. Sirius never stopped trying to tell him it was just a phase and that he would move on. But after almost six years of knowing Lily, he decided that what he felt for her was much more than a phase.
"You know, you should really give him a chance Evans. If you got to know Sirius you would see that he isn’t all that bad. He is the most loyal friend and he would do anything for us. That much I am sure of. And quite frankly, he really is the most companionable Black family member. That family... jeez..."
Lily frowned, not quite understanding what he meant about his family, but decided against pushing him further for answers, despite the fact that a hundred questions popped up in her head. She didn’t really need to know about the trials and tribulations in Black’s life. She heard him whinge enough during the day.
"No, no. I don’t believe it. From the moment I met Black he has been cruel, rude, and undeniably disturbing on too many different levels. I will never change my opinion of him. I don’t know why you are friends with him to be honest. Actually, I suppose you have some similar traits, so perhaps that’s why you get along so well."
"Excuse me?" James felt the anger rise inside of his chest.
"Well it’s true Potter. You both are arrogant gits. You make it your point to go out of your way to aggravate and provoke people, just for the fun of it. I mean, I may not condone everything the Slytherins do, but you don’t have to continually hex them and make them the targets of your endless pranks. Half of them are all right, really."
They had stopped in the middle of the corridor, now facing each other with defiant and dark looks spread over their faces.
"I don’t know how you can stick up for those wankers! All of the Slytherins – and I mean ALL of them – are a bunch of evil, blithering bastards who should go stick their faces where the sun don’t shine and never come out! How could you even say that, Lily?! You know they will take any chance they get at calling you," James flushed hotly and lowered his voice," a ‘you-know-what’!"
"Oh please, being called a mudblood is the least of my worries! At least with them I don’t have to put up constant pleas for dates – where, might I add, I am utterly embarrassed because you, Potter, have gotten up on a table and screamed it to the entire school. And not to mention I can never stick up for myself because you have already pranced around the corner and hexed them all for even looking in my direction! I’m not your toy, Potter, and I can protect myself!" she spat vehemently.
"Well Evans, I’m sorry! I won’t bother you with my presence any more then! Have a nice night!"
With that he walked angrily off in the opposite direction.
"We are meant to be on rounds Potter!" she yelled.
"Get stuffed Evans!" he yelled over his shoulder. "We’ll do it separately since apparently I’m such horrible prick!" He rounded the corner and was out of sight before Lily could wrap her mind around what had just happened.
She kicked the suit of armour that she was leaning on in anger and stubbed her toe; she swore under her breath at the pain. She took a moment for a deep breath and then continued along the transfiguration corridor.
"I knew it wasn’t going to be any different with him this year." she muttered into the darkness.
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