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Chapter 4 : An Unwanted Arrival
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A week had passed, and still Lily and James had not spoken one word to each other; they were skirting around each other as if they had some rare deadly disease. Everyone expected this behaviour from Lily, but James was a different matter altogether; he, the one that always had time for Lily, and always took her harsh words on the sleeve, seemed to have finally had enough. What made matters worse was that no one knew why there had been a sudden change of heart on his part: it seemed as if the two had just been starting to get along, and now this.
"So, I’m getting a little tired of this nonsense. This is their last year, and they’re ignoring each other. That wasn’t supposed to happen! Is there anything that we can do?" said Ella, peering around the room whilst throwing down her lunch in annoyance.
"I really don’t think there is. Perhaps time is the only way," Remus answered her, with soft apologetic eyes.
Ella had taken the situation particularly hard. She was the one that had always encouraged Lily to give James a chance. Ella knew that James would be the only one that would make Lily happy in the end. Unfortunately, this current feud was making it hard for her to justify her reasons.
"To be honest, I think they just need a little push," said Aria whilst focusing on pushing around her rice with her fork.
"Well that sounds interesting. I can almost hear her brain turning over from where I sit. I definitely want to know more," Sirius said, eyes lighting up at the prospect of a plan to get their two friends together.
"But we have been giving them a push for the last six years! What makes you think that it’s going to work this time?" Ella cried out crankily.
"Okay, calm down, calm down! Perhaps all we need to do is point James in the right direction. Perhaps if he acts as if he has moved on, then we might get results. I mean look at what has happened already. James has been ignoring Lily like she is the plague for only a week, and she is about have an aneurism. Can you imagine what she will be like after a month? I think we will get positive results for sure," Aria whispered, leaning in towards her classmates.
"I’m liking the sound of this, we need to discuss it more. But James is headed this way, and I don’t think he would enjoy knowing that we are devising a plan to make his poor Lily squirm," Sirius said, looking towards the entry of the Great Hall.
James was walking towards them, hands in his pockets and head bowed. Over the past week he certainly hadn’t acted like his pain-in-the-arse self. It seemed like he had almost no enthusiasm to even get up in the morning. He tried to keep this from them, they could tell, but he definitely didn’t like ignoring Lily. His eyes were still trained to his feet when he reached them and sat down next to Sirius, silently helping himself to toast.
"Hi James, how are you this morning?" Ella smiled brightly in his direction.
He merely grunted in response before taking another bite of the toast held in front of his face. His friends looked around at each other in annoyance before returning to their food. Just as they were about to ask James another question in hopes of brightening his mood, Lily arrived. She hadn’t been herself either over the course of the last week. Her normally beautiful, curly waves sat flat against her back, and she wasn’t answering questions in class either, which was something the teachers had also begun to notice. Glancing up in her direction, they saw that she also looked like she was in a horrible mood, but upon seeing James she narrowed her eyes and straightened her back, with her chin held high.
"Hi everyone, how are you all doing today?" She smiled somewhat brightly, but everyone saw that the joy didn’t reach her eyes. They still remained dark and sad. She looked amongst her friends but ignored James’ presence altogether.
They each responded quietly and politely before continuing with their food once again, trying to keep the situation from worsening between the feuding Heads. Everything was awkward for five minutes as the youths continued eating in silence, and then suddenly they heard a screech coming from the Hufflepuff table. Their heads whipped around simultaneously to pinpoint the source of the ungodly noise.
"Oh my God! Is that you James Potter, because you are seriously in trouble for not coming to see me earlier?!"
Everyone physically tensed upon hearing the voice. It was Chloe Dubois, the Hufflepuff drama queen and notorious Hogwarts blonde bombshell, who for the past five years had had an intense infatuation for James, but never seemed to quite grasp that he just didn’t hold any interest in her. She had bleach blonde, beauty pageant-styled hair that was never out of place, and extremely pale blue eyes that, when pissed off, could shoot daggers at you. Chloe strutted her way over to the Gryffindor table and planted herself behind a seated James. She threw her arms around his neck and lowered her mouth to his ear, giving him a kiss that made Sirius, Remus, Ella, and Aria grimace with distaste.
James took one look up at her and continued eating his fourth slice of toast, disinterested.
"Jamsie, are you ignoring me? I thought this year was going to be better for us!" she whined in his ear, her lips set in a pout.
"I just haven’t seen you Chloe; you know I have a lot of work on my plate this year."
Lily snorted, but still kept her eyes trained on anything but James.
James turned his head sharply towards the noise and narrowed his eyes in her direction. Chloe didn’t even seem to register Lily’s scoff or James apparent dislike towards Lily, but continued to direct all her attention on James whilst rubbing her fingers along James’ chest and neck.
"You know Jamsie, it’s Friday today, so that makes it the weekend tomorrow. How about we do something tonight? For old times’ sake, just you and me."
"I guess we could go up to the astronomy tower or something. Take a walk around the lake?" James responded whilst still looking toward Lily for her reaction.
Lily snorted again and muttered under her breath, "Trust."
James’ eyes went to slits, trained on Lily, before he turned around and gave Chloe a short kiss on the cheek. "Okay good. I can’t wait Chloe. See you at eight in the Entrance Hall."
With that he detached himself from Chloe’s hands, picked up his bag and left the Great Hall. Chloe watched his back all the way out of the Great Hall before turning to look at the friends he was sitting with; she smiled at them scornfully before marching back over to the Hufflepuff table with her chin held high, like she had some sort of power over them.
Lily was the first to speak. "Typical really, I expected that much from him. He hasn’t changed one bit. Rounds are on tonight and it looks like he’s skipping them for that dumbleweed. This has only further confirmed what I already knew: He is still the insufferable toad that he was five years ago, who, I might add, never takes responsibility."
"It just sounds like a platonic walk Lily, I’m sure he will do his rounds after they return," Remus said quietly.
"Ha! I highly doubt that. He will probably spend the whole night with that idiot of a girl and get her pregnant or something. Whatever, I don’t really care. He can do whatever he likes." She took a swig from her glass, and then slammed it down before hopping up and leaving the same way James did.
"Well this doesn’t look too great. And since when does she think that James is a player? Yeah, he has kissed a few girls now and then, but getting them pregnant . . . that’s a bit of an overreaction, yeah?" Sirius said, looking around for a second opinion.
"I agree. I don’t think we will get James to do anything against Lily. He is way too mad at her at the moment. In all my sixteen years in knowing James, I don’t think I have ever seen his eyes turn to slits like that before. It was a little frightening! And I definitely agree with Sirius, James has treated every girl he has been with, with the utmost respect! I think I’m going to have to have a word with her," Aria joined in, biting her lip.
They were silent again, trying to sift through their thoughts on the current matter. It didn’t seem like it was ever going to get better between the two at the moment. They hated the thought of this silly situation breaking the two of them up for good; surely it wouldn’t come to that, would it?
"I reckon it’s pretty funny though. I have never seen Lily this passionate about something James has done before." Sirius smiled to himself.
"Oh yeah, you can fully tell that she certainly does care that he is going out with Chloe tonight. It’s almost as if she is a little jealous at the recent circumstances," Remus chimed in.
"How about we make this a little more interesting?" Aria smiled mischievously around at her companions.
"What did you have in mind?" Ella questioned, narrowing her eyes in Aria’s direction, her interest peaking.
"Well I thought perhaps we all could make a little bet on how long it will take Lily and James to get together this year. I know at the moment the situation isn’t looking the best, but surely that won’t affect them in the long run. After Lily’s reaction, I’m willing to bet that she will crack eventually, especially if James continues to see other girls. Did you see how much she squirmed when Chloe was over? It was great! As much as I hate to say it, we could certainly use this to our advantage," Aria exclaimed in a conspiratorial whisper.
Sirius smiled wryly in her direction. It was the first time he noticed this competitive and cunning streak in her; he found that he rather liked it.
"Oh, I don’t know guys; this could turn out incredibly bad. Imagine if they found out! Lily would hit the roof, and James will probably take it the wrong way and think that we did this because we don’t think he has a chance in hell!" Ella worried, with concern slathered across her face.
"I agree with Ella, this could turn out for the worst if they find out. However, if we handle it correctly, I agree with Aria. It’s going to happen eventually, we might as well make a little money out of it," Remus put in thoughtfully.
They all looked to Sirius for his opinion on the matter. "Well, I don’t think I have heard a more tempting offer since I arrived this year!"
"Uh Sirius, you have only been here a week," Remus pointed out.
"Well yes, that may be true Remus, but I think this is bloody fantastic. Come on Ella, just bet a little. Please!"
Ella pondered the thought for a moment, mentally weighing the possibilities of Lily and James finding out against the fun they’d all have observing the situation as it progressed. She had to concede that it was an interesting bet. "Okay, I’m in. What are we doing?"
Sirius let out a loud whoop that made all the students in the Great Hall turn around curiously and stare in his direction.
"Well, let’s all bet on when we think Lily and James will get together," Aria explained. "And no cheating. You can’t physically tell them or try to help them out in any way."
"Ohhh, very interesting," Sirius exclaimed.
Remus looked concerned. "So there is no helping out in any way. We can’t even say anything to James to help him out? I don’t want to sound self-centred, but I think if I leave James to his own devices he will never do the right thing when it comes to Lily."
Aria looked troubled for a moment. "Okay, I agree. If James doesn’t get any relationship advice, he will definitely crumble. You can push James in the right direction with his choices, but you can’t push him to Lily. Lily must not be the focus. That goes with Lily as well. James must not be the focus."
Remus and Ella nodded whilst Sirius bounced up and down in his seat with delight.
"Not only will I get money out of this little bet, but James will get his dearest Lily!" Sirius said joyously. "It’s the perfect situation!”
Aria recorded on a piece of parchment the details of each bet. She tucked the note into her pocket just as the bell was going for their first class.
Ella bid Aria goodbye and left with Remus. They walked out of the hall for their first class, Ancient Runes, which they had together with Lily. She looked around for Sirius so they could walk to class together but couldn’t see him anywhere. She sighed, picked up her bag, slung it over her shoulder and began to walk out of the hall.
She jumped a mile and felt a shiver go down her spine when she heard a low, soft growl in her left ear. "Looking for me?" it said.
She looked and saw Sirius next to her with his regular smirk plastered on his face. "Oh Merlin, you scared me half to death Sirius. Don’t do that to me!"
"But you were looking for me, weren’t you?" he probed.
Aria walked in direction of her class. Sirius followed with ease.
"Well we do have Arithmancy first, so I was wondering where you had disappeared to," she explained, looking a little annoyed and flustered.
Sirius merely smirked even more, but nodded in understanding. They walked in silence until Sirius stopped abruptly; Aria turned around, unsure of why he had stopped. He had his hands in his pockets and he still had his smirk plastered on his face.
Aria placed her hands on her hips. "Yes Sirius? Why are we stopped?"
He grinned at her and took a step forward. "I was just doing a little thinking."
"Well at least you are starting to think for yourself for the first time in your life. What are you planning?" She narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously, wondering what he was up to.
He barked a short laugh, before shaking his head. "Why do you immediately suspect I’m planning something?"
"Because I can tell by the look in your eyes. It’s like they almost sparkle with anticipation," she said as she pointed in the direction of his gray eyes.
Did his eyes really sparkle? Sirius was caught off guard for a moment. A split second later he realised she was still standing in front of him, a questioning look upon her face. He composed himself again.
"Well? What is it that you are planning?"
"Well, Miss Slater, how about we make this even a little more interesting, just between us this time."
She furrowed her eyebrows. "What did you have in mind?"
"From knowing James over the past six years, I’ve become accustomed to his ways. From viewing the current situation between our mutual friends for the majority of those six years, but more particularly this past week, I’ve come to the decision that I don’t think James will initiate the relationship between them. I think our fiery, red-headed beauty will fall for James’ charm and initiate the relationship herself," he explained with a knowing smile on his face.
"You have got to be kidding me!" Aria said with disbelief.
"Why my love, I don’t believe I am."
"Why on earth would you think that? Maybe you don’t remember, but I have known James ten more years than you, making me more accustomed to his ways, and there is no way in hell that would happen. Even if you do examine only the past six years, there is still no way you could come to that conclusion! Just look at what the poor boy has done! He has only just been able to hold back his pleas for marriage!"
"That may be so, but I still hold firm to my belief that Evans will be the instigator."
Aria looked at him, slightly frustrated at his arrogant statements. "So, you want to bet on it, I imagine?"
"Yes," he agreed, nodding, "I do. Except there is no money this time."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Hmm, how about you tell me," he said smiling again, and this time suggestively.
She thought for a moment. "Okay, if you lose, you have to jump in the lake naked."
He gave another bark of laugh. "Naked Aria? I didn’t know you wanted to see that, otherwise I would have invited you to witness it way before now. Perhaps you’d like to take a shower with me tonight?"
"Ha-ha Sirius. The bet still applies, and I’ll be fine with my own shower tonight thank you. What’s your side of the bet?"
"I think I’ll decide what you will be doing when I win," he said, the smirk reappearing on his face.
They started to make their way down the corridor again, towards their classroom, both pondering the connotations of the bet they had just instigated.
"As much as I think that is a poor deal, I don’t think you will be the one winning, so I’m not going to bother arguing with you."
"Good, it’s much easier when you don’t argue. But you aren’t going to win."
She scoffed and turned the corner just before the door of their classroom.
"Shall we shake on it?" Sirius questioned, sticking his hand out towards hers.
"It’s a deal," she confirmed. She placed her hand in his and gave a firm shake.
They broke apart and looked at each other with narrowed eyes, trying to tell if the other was bluffing. Sirius was the one broke their gaze and started for the door, and pulled the handle to open it.
"After you love," he drawled in a low voice, gesturing towards the entrance.
She walked towards the door and elbowed him quickly in the stomach before continuing inside.
"Ouch! What was that for?" he whined, walking into the classroom after her and holding his stomach gingerly.
"I’m not your ‘love’, Black. Call me that again and I’ll aim lower next time."
He chuckled and followed her towards their seats at the back of the classroom. He did love girls with spunk.
"And then, and I'm not even kidding Prongs, the stupid Slytherin came running after me with a bloody wooden bat in his hands! I wasn't to know that I accidentally kissed the girl he had his sights on for months! It was a simple mistake! I mean he could have mentioned something... it's not like I kissed her on the lips - just on the cheek, I swear" Sirius finished whispering loudly to look at James for a response.
James grunted, still keeping his eyes ahead, checking quickly between corridors to see if anyone was coming. He had finished his rounds relatively early after going for his stroll around the lake with Chloe so, he had gone in search for Sirius to go down to the kitchens for a late night snack.
"Don't you think that it was totally uncalled for?" Sirius said louder, trying to get his friend's attention.
James sighed, "I suppose". If James were being honest, Sirius had it coming. It was those antics that landed Sirius in the infirmary way too often. He needed to learn to be more careful and to just stay away from so many girls. He was a thrill-seaker and it was going to bite him on the arse one day.
"But come on James, just listen! He had a WOODEN BAT in his hands and he literally chased after me up three flights of stairs! What a mental case!" Sirius said loudly.
James kept walking, ignoring his friends comments. He was in a sour mood and he didn't care for his friends stories at the moment. Lily's comments from breakfast that morning were still playing on his mind. Since when did she care what he did?! He could talk to anyone he wanted. She had no right.
Sirius looked at his friend, annoyed that he wasn't listening. "Prongs, if this mood of yours is about Lily, it has to stop. She is making you miserable. It's not worth your worry or time. Move on man, she isn't even that great anyway."
James snapped. "Sirius, shut the hell up." And with that, he punched him in the face and then turned the corner and walked quickly up the corridor.
I hope hope hope that you are all enjoying it. What do you think about the bet?
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