Chapter 1 : Speechless
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A/N: The first post-writer’s-block piece I’ve posted. It feels good. This is a new ship for me, so I hope you like it. :D
Lily and her mother were very different on nearly every possible level. While Lily preferred to wander the streets on summer evenings with the friends she rarely saw, buying ice cream and window shopping, Sharon found comfort in parties. Elaborate, high-stress parties. And one night in late August was one of them.
Lily and her sister were sweeping the back patio—“Wouldn’t a garden party just be delightful?”—when their mother came out, wearing an apron over her soft pink cocktail dress. “Petunia, won’t you go and fetch me some ice? We’ve run completely out, and our guests will want ice in the drinks.”
“I can’t,” Petunia replied, motioning to her younger sister, who was humming loudly and dancing with her broom. “Vernon is coming early, and I can’t have him left alone with Lily. You remember what happened last time.”
“I don’t like him,” Lily defended, placing a hand on her hip. “He’s peculiar.”
“That’s no excuse, Lily,” Sharon sighed, shaking her head. “It took the poor fellow ages to get that fishy smell out of his clothes.”
“He tried to grab my bum,” Lily argued. “I don’t have to take that.”
“He did not,” Petunia said, her tone sharp. “He wouldn’t go for someone like you.”
“Someone like me? What’s that supposed to mean? Someone with intelligence and a sense of humor and compassion?”
“You are about as far from intelli—”
“Girls!” Sharon cried, clapping her hands. Her daughters turned to look at her. “That’s quite enough. Petunia, you stay here and finish getting ready. Lily, you go down to the shop and pick up the ice, please.”
“Fine,” Lily snapped, dropping her broom onto the ground and marching into the house, while Petunia grinned. Lily nudged her mother’s Pekingese nightmare, Violet, out of the way, ignoring the dog’s high-pitched yelp.
“I thought Petunia was to go fetch the ice,” her father said from his chair, glancing over the top of the evening paper.
“She managed to throw it to me,” Lily told him crossly, hands on her hips again, searching for her shoes. “Have you seen my sandals, Daddy?”
“No, Lily Flower, I haven’t,” he answered, turning a page. “Don’t let your sister get to you, Angel. She just likes to rattle you.”
“Don’t I know it,” Lily muttered. “She’s probably tossed my shoes, too. She’d think that was—oh, there they are.” She pulled them out from under the sofa and yanked them onto her feet. “You know, I was supposed to go to Cynthia’s tonight, like I do every year.”
“Your mother likes her parties, Lily,” her father said, turning a page, “and she likes you to be here for them.”
“I bet she does.” Lily stood, pushing her red hair back from her face. “I need money, Daddy.”
“Of course, love,” her father agreed, shifting in his seat to pull out his wallet and hand it to her. “Get something for yourself too for being a good sport.”
Lily grinned, leaning down to kiss his cheek. “Thanks, Daddy.” Then she lowered her voice. “Vernon’s coming early.”
Her father groaned. “Run, Lily. Save yourself.”
She laughed, turning and heading for the door. She and her father were far more alike in many ways: they both hated grandiose events, Vernon, Violet, and shoes, for example, and loved watching soccer and scary movies. She had her father’s thick, dark red hair (though his had faded to white over the last few years—from raising two stubborn teenage daughters, he liked to tell people) and emerald eyes, his nose, his ears, his facial shape. The only similarities between her and her mother were in their shapely figures and creamy complexion.
It was a nice night, the perfect mixture of warmth and a cool breeze, and the sky was streaking crimson and indigo as the sun set over the roof of her house. Lily walked down the sidewalk unhurriedly, admiring the flowers in her neighbors’ yards, stopping to pet the Graves’s dogs, Salt and Pepper, humming an off-key version of her favorite song. She crossed two streets and took a right, entering the corner shop she and Petunia had been visiting since they were small.
“Good evening, Miss Evans,” the elderly grocer said as soon as she entered, glancing up from his ledger. “May I help you with anything?”
“No, thanks, Mr. Fairberry,” Lily answered, smiling. “I’ve just got to get a bag of ice for my mother, and then I’ll be off.”
“We’re running low recently,” he said. “I’ve put everything out that we have, but I don’t know how much of it is left.”
“Okay.” She turned down an aisle, headed for the chilled shelves, watching Mr. Fairberry over her shoulder. “I’m sure it’ll be fine, thanks.”
“Actually,” someone said from behind her, “I’m afraid that there was only one bag left, and I’ve taken it.”
Lily’s heart skipped a beat. That voice could not possibly belong to him, could it? He lived nowhere near her. She turned around, determined to grovel to this stranger—because it had to be a stranger—for that ice, but she felt her stomach drop when she did.
“You look lovely, Evans,” James greeted, his chocolate eyes meeting hers, sparkling in the way they did when he knew he’d succeeded in annoying her.
Lily narrowed her own eyes, unconsciously reaching up to push back a curl; she hadn’t bothered to straighten her hair that morning. “Potter,” she said, attempting to keep her voice level, “I need that ice. Like, really need it. So you can just hand it over now, okay?”
He shook his head, leaning against a shelf of tampons. “Lily, love, your hair looks beautiful tonight. You know how I like it curly.”
She ground her teeth, crossing her arms over her chest. “Please just give me the ice,” she said. “You have no idea what it’s like to have your parents tell you to do something, obviously. I know you’re spoiled.” Her eyes landed on the gold watch he’d received for his seventeenth birthday; it was embedded with jewels so nice that she hadn’t ever seen any in person until he got the thing and insisted on dangling it in front of her repeatedly in an attempt to hypnotize her into accepting a date to Hogsmeade. The ring her parents had gotten her for her birthday was nice, silver with a ruby, but it had nothing on his, and her parents weren’t exactly strapped for money either.
“I’ll give you the ice, baby,” James agreed; Lily waited for the catch, as there always was one with him.
“But?” she prompted, drumming her fingers against her crossed arms.
“But you must consent to accompany me to Hogsmeade as soon as school starts again.”
Sighing, Lily turned on her heel and marched for the door. It was either give up the ice or her dignity, and there was no way she was going out with James Potter, even if it would avoid a lecture from her mother. She did not bother to return Mr. Fairberry’s obliviously cheery farewell, and she rounded the corner before letting out a thunderous roar of anger, yanking out one of Mrs. Hanover’s daisies and ripping the petals to shreds.
By the time she threw her front door open, some of the guests had shown up. Lily took a deep breath and smiled at Mr. Hanover, deciding it was best to avoid raising suspicions about the desecrated daisy scattered across his lawn at that moment. “Hello,” she said politely, sliding her sandals off and moving around him.
“Hello, Lily,” he replied, unaware of her irritation. “I hope you’ll have time to watch our little Johnny before you head back to that school of yours.”
“Of course. I love watching Johnny,” she lied, pushing open the kitchen door. “He’s such a sweetheart.”
Mr. Hanover laughed. “He sure is a great kid.”
Faking a smile, she stepped inside the kitchen and let the door swing shut behind her. Her mother turned from the two women she was handing champagne flutes to and said, “Lily, dear, have you gotten that ice I asked for?”
“Mr. Fairberry was all out, Mum,” Lily explained, deciding a half-truth was the best solution. “I’m sorry.”
Her mother’s lips pressed together tightly, and she gave Lily a severe look with her blue eyes before turning back to her friends with a smile. “Oh, don’t worry about it, darling. Those things happen sometimes. Why don’t you go and say hello to Vernon? He’s just over there; I know how well you two get along.”
Lily felt the remark “See you in hell” would fit nicely after that statement, as she was a witch and therefore obviously condemned, and her mother was a better liar than anyone she’d ever met before, but her father tended to be displeased with her when she said that, so instead she smiled and moved toward her sister and the burly man by her with a moustache. Lily hated moustaches. They made her uncomfortable, although so did everything else about Vernon.
“. . . impressive resume for someone just out of school,” her father’s business partner, Langston Wallace, was praising Vernon. “In fact, I’d be prepared to offer you a job at our firm, if it was agreeable to George, of course.” He gestured toward Lily’s father, who was talking to Mrs. Hanover, a round little woman with a red face and a nasally voice.
“I appreciate the offer, sir,” Vernon replied, an arm around Petunia’s waist, “but I’ve been offered a position at Grunnings. Are you familiar with them?”
The doorbell rang, and Lily’s father excused himself hastily from Mrs. Hanover to answer it, pushing past several people in his desire to get away from her tirade about lawn gnomes degrading such a prominent and affluent neighborhood.
“I am, actually. The drill firm, is that it?”
“Yes, that’s the one,” Vernon confirmed. “It’s a—”
“Langie, honey, come here! You must hear Mr. Cawler’s story about his trip to Barbados!” Mrs. Wallace interrupted, appearing from somewhere to his left and pulling him by his starched shirtsleeve out onto the back patio.
Petunia turned to look at Lily. “What do you need?”
“Mum wanted me to stand here,” Lily replied shortly, "to make it look like we like each other.”
“We don’t,” Petunia said.
“I know that, idiot,” Lily snapped, rolling her eyes.
Then their mother’s voice called, “Petunia, love, come here for a moment. I’d like to have a private word with you.”
Sighing, Petunia handed her glass to Vernon. “I’ll be right back,” she told him. “Ignore Lily.”
As soon as she was far enough away, Lily leaned toward Vernon. “I don’t like you,” she told him. “In fact, I hate you. I think you’re a sleaze, and you don’t have my sister’s best interests at heart. I think you’re cruel and judgmental, and I think you should learn to respect women before you try to date them. And your hand had better not go anywhere near my arse again.”
Vernon’s little eyes were fixed on her, and his leering smile sent shivers down her spine. “And who’s going to keep my hand away?”
She had every intention of telling him that she would gouge out his eyeballs with rusty nails and shove them up his arse so far he’d need surgery to get them out, but her father entered the kitchen, announcing loudly, “Lily’s got a boyfriend.”
“What?” Vernon asked.
“What?” Lily’s mother repeated.
“What?” Petunia cried.
"What?!" Lily echoed.
“I’ve brought the ice; I found some at a store a few miles away. Apparently there’s a shortage of some kind.” James Potter followed her father into the room, holding up the bag he had held hostage from Lily a half hour previously.
“Well,” Lily’s mother said, slightly flustered as she accepted the ice, “thank you, young man. Lily, introduce us to your boyfriend.”
“He’s not—er, I mean, everyone, this is James Potter, my boyfriend,” Lily said, wondering why she was going along with him. “Thank you, James.”
“You’re welcome, love,” he replied, crossing the kitchen and wrapping an arm around her waist just as Vernon had done to Petunia. “Anything I could do to help, Lily.”
He smells nice, Lily thought. Then she mentally shook herself and smiled up at him from under her lashes as Petunia always did to Vernon when she wanted him to give her what she wanted. “James, why don’t we go outside? There’s much more room out there, after all.”
“Lily, where are your manners?’ her mother chided. “Offer your beau something to eat.”
Lily cringed, praying that her mother had not just said ‘beau’, but the look on James’s face told her that she had. Grinning, he hauled her toward the table, laden with hors d’oeurves, saying, “Thank you, Mrs. Evans. Everything looks delectable.”
“Oh, it’s just a little something,” Lily’s mother dismissed, waving a manicured hand. “Hardly anything at all.”
“Okay,” Lily said, frowning as he piled food onto his plate, “outside, James.”
“Of course, love,” he agreed, flashing his charming smile at the guests. “Whatever you like.”
“What I’d like,” she hissed from the corner of her mouth, fixing falsely-adoring eyes on his handsome face, “is for a thousand fleas to infest your groin and for your arms to be too short to scratch.”
“Your threats, angel,” he whispered, leading her down the step onto the patio, “are always so inventive. I love you.”
“Die,” she snarled, directing them toward a bench at the back of the garden surrounded by trees.
“Oh, how romantic.” He appraised the little area approvingly as she plopped down on the bench, motioning to the seat next to her.
“Sit,” she commanded. He sat. Lily had a very authoritative voice; James always told her how well she’d do at reprimanding their children. This usually earned him a fierce hexing, or at the very least a kick to his crotch. “We need to talk.”
“We certainly do,” he agreed. “You love me.”
Lily’s mouth fell open. She stared at him in shock. How dare he?
“How dare you?” she demanded, feeling her cheeks heating up. “How dare you have the audacity to come in here and tell me who the hell I love, Potter? Because—and I can say this with certainty—Slughorn will become a belly dancer before I love you.”
He grinned. “You could become a belly dancer. I wouldn’t mind.”
“Argh!” She shoved him off the bench and leapt to her feet, pacing in front of his new spot on the grass. ‘I hate you!”
“No, you don’t,” he countered, sitting up and dusting off his sleeves. “I have proof. You like that sort of thing, Lily—indisputable proof.”
Lily narrowed her eyes. “Oh, I bet you do,” she told him, her voice saturated with derision. “Git.”
“You went along with my boyfriend lie,” he said simply, a smug smirk plastered across his face.
Lily stopped pacing, placing her hands on her hips for the umpteenth time than evening. “What does that matter? I wanted to get the ice!”
He shook his head, his messy hair flopping slightly in the breeze. “I’d already given your mother the ice. You had no reason to agree to the whole thing. I’d actually expected you’d shove me right out the door, most likely adding a few colorful words in that way you do. But instead you just smiled and told everyone we were going out.”
“I . . .” Lily said, her hands slowly sliding from her hips. “Well . . . It’s just—that is to say, I mean . . . erm . . .”
Speechless. James Man-Whore Potter had left her speechless. No one left Lily Evans speechless.
His smirk grew to a ridiculous size. “I win.”
“But . . .” Lily protested as he stood up. “But—but that’s impossible.”
James shook his head, taking a step toward her. “Lily, it’s not. Logically, every human on the earth has a chance of finding someone he can love. It’s completely possible.”
She watched him, apprehensive, as he moved closer still and reached out a hand to cup her chin, tilting her head up, locking his eyes with hers. “I’m going to kiss you now,” he told her, his voice soft, as if someone would hear them. And then, gently, his lips were on hers. The tenderness in the kiss ignited a small spark deep in Lily’s chest, and suddenly her arms were thrown around him, her lips wrestling with his, her long legs wrapping around his waist. She lost track of the time; it had no meaning to her; she wanted nothing to do with it.
When James finally pulled away from her, she lifted her eyes to his, heart pounding. The feeling within her disturbed her; it was intense, it was burning, it was unfamiliar. She murmured, “Impossible,” again, and he smiled.
“It’s not impossible, Lily,” he said, using the hand that had been knotted in her hair to brush back a loose strand. “The idea of someone falling in love with a man as magnificent as I am is definitely possible.”
Lily shook her head at him. There was James Potter.
And yet, she kissed him again.
A/N: What did you think? Reviews are so wonderful, especially since I haven’t written a James/Lily before. This was fun. Thanks for reading!
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