Chapter 6 : To court, or not to court?
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James sat nervously in a chair in the hospital wing as he tapped his foot against the cold ground, his hands in his lap. Fidgeting was the only way to keep calm. If he let himself focus on something, he would probably end up doing something stupid. This was by far the most nerve-racking experience of his whole entire life. Not even the most important quidditch match of the century could compare to his current anxiety.
He looked again to the door, then to the matron’s office, then to the bed that he was sitting next to, then at last to the occupant of that bed. In front of him lay the sole reason that had made him strive to be a better person. The lovely lady who had stolen James’ heart during their first week of first year. Her eyes were closed and her arms rested on her stomach. She had a large white patch over her right eye that almost covered half of her soft, delicate face. He’d decided that he was an idiot for not pushing her completely out of the way of harm. His Lily was seriously injured now, and he blamed himself completely for it. He would do anything to make this right again.
James sighed and looked out the window. The moon, high in the sky, shone brightly into the room. He guessed it to be around two o'clock in the morning. His nerves begun to seep back into him as he realised the long amount of time that Lily had been unconscious for. It was almost three days since the incident in transfiguration. He had been certain that she would of woken up before this! But Madame Pompfry had assured him that it would all be okay. The shard of glass had severed some nerve or artery, or something along those lines, in her right eye.
He thought back to the moment in transfiguration. She immediately dropped to the floor on the impact, out cold, blood shooting out of her eye and face. The amount of blood everywhere didn't faze him. All he had cared about was making sure she was okay. Without waiting for instruction, he bent down, picked her up as gently as he could and walked swiftly out of the room towards the hospital wing. He blocked the commotion out, not hearing a thing that was going on around him.
It felt like a decade had past before he reached hospital wing. Madame Pompfry had heard the noise and rushed out as soon as he strode through the doors. She remembered him putting her down so softly on the nearest bed that she thought James must have been carrying a china doll.
James shuddered at the memory. He almost thought he had lost her. A slight over reaction, but it was glass and it was near her eye, which was near her brain. Anything could have happened! He then heard a slight moan come from her and his head immediately shot back to her form. Her left brow puckered slightly and she shifted on the bed. She looked like she was in pain. James frowned. To see her in such pain killed him.
He pulled himself up, out of his seated position. She was waking up, and as much as he would like to stay and know for certain that she was okay, he knew that it would probably make her feel awkward for him to be there.
He moved closer and reached out to gently touch her face. At his touch, her face smoothed. Her skin was so soft. He pulled away after he gently stoked her face for a moment longer. Boy would he get it if she found out that he had touched her.
Putting his hands in his pockets he turned and walked towards the door, carrying with him his invisibility cloak. At the door he stopped and glanced at her one last time. Her head was now turned in his direction and her eyes were half open. He smiled and swung the cloak over himself, covering himself completely from her vision.
Lily heard movement. She tried to open her eyes, but it was extremely painful. She frowned in response and shifted, trying to become more comfortable. After a moment she felt a warm something against the skin of her face. It relaxed her immediately. She felt all the contours on her face smooth. Then it went away. She turned her head towards where the noise was leaving and opened her eye, the little that she could manage. She saw a tall, blurry figure standing near the door of the hospital wing, looking back at her. She opened her eyes a little more to see if she could tell who it was, but before she knew it, the figure vanished from sight. Lily felt confused. Perhaps she had imagined it? Exhaling heavily she moved her head back and shut her eyes, settling back into the covers before sleep converged on her once again.
Day had broken. Lily could tell from the bright light seeping through her left eyelid. Her vision in her right eye was still completely black and she could feel a little throb whenever she made any facial movements. She stopped moving to try and lessen the pain. She thought about the rough night she had had. She remembered waking up again and again due to the pain and the fact that she was in a different bed. Lily also had the distinct feeling that there was someone with her last night. She was certain that someone had touched her face and when she faced the door, she could swear there was someone standing there. However, she decided not to voice these suspicions aloud. Ella and Aria would most likely overreact anyway.
Wondering what time it was, she opened her left eye slowly and looked around. There was someone sitting in the chair next to her but she couldn't tilt her head far enough without feeling a horrendous amount of pain.
"Oh, Evans, you’ve finally graced me with consciousness."
Lily knew the low drawl of Sirius Black like the back of her hand, so her reaction time wasn’t too long. She shut her eyes hastily, and leant away from him, pretending to go back to sleep.
He gave a bark of laughter before she heard him move out of his chair and take a seat on her bed beside her.
"Come on Evans, I'm not that bad am I? I mean, I'm the one that is actually with you right now, so I can't be entirely horrible."
Lily kept her eyes shut tightly and took a deep breath as she considered her words carefully. "As much as I appreciate you finding some small amount of kindness in your heart to come visit me, it still doesn’t dwindle any of my suspicious thoughts on why you are actually here. Black, you haven't ever willingly talked to me unless you wanted something. And that something is usually a girl, food, homework notes – or else James has bribed you. And if James had bribed you it’s usually because he wants a girl, food, or homework notes. I don't think you can blame me for being a little sceptical."
"I resent that."
"Oh please! You resent it because it's true! Come on Black. Give up the pretence. Why are you actually here?"
"Choose whether to believe me or not, dear Lily, but I'm here because I was seeing if you were okay."
Lily attempted to narrow her eyes, resulting in only her left eye becoming narrowed. She pursed her lips and she tried to judge whether he was lying or not, through the analysis of his facial expressions and emotion in his eyes.
"So out of the blue you gain some freakish liking for me and decide that you just NEED to come and see me?"
"That’s right, Lily."
"Stop calling me Lily."
"My apologies Lily, it wont happen again."
An involuntary growl came from the back of Lily's throat. Sirius, in response, lifted his eyebrows, accompanied by a smirk that washed over his face in amusement.
"Evans, was that a growl? Did you just growl at me because I called you Lily?! James is going to flip when I tell him about this! It's a good thing I don't like you, Evans, because I'm sure James would hit me again if he found out you were growling at me!"
Lily scowled at him and turned away. "You're sick, Black."
"Nope, just blatantly honest, Evans."
"Moving on from the innuendos," Lily changed the subject forcefully, "what day is it? How long was I unconscious for? In fact, what actually happened? All I remember is the glass coming towards me, someone pushing me and then everything going black."
"Well, Poppy tells me that the glass hit some important nerve in your eye and so she gave you this extra potion to keep you unconscious til she knew that there was no risk of you going blind. And today is Friday."
Lily sat up immediately, ignoring any pain. "FRIDAY! I've been out for three days! I've missed so much work!"
Sirius looked at Lily for a moment before he burst out laughing, clutching his sides whilst trying to remain on the chair. "You're easily the brightest witch in the whole school and you are worried that you missed three days worth of classes? That glass must have got your brain. You're mental, Evans."
Lily scowled again. "Black! This is actually important! If I don't pass my N.E.W.Ts then I won’t be able to become an Auror!"
Sirius stopped laughing abruptly. "You want to be an Auror?"
"Of course I do," Lily replied with a glint of defiance in her uninjured eye. "I'm Muggleborn, remember? I have always been shunned because apparently I don't have pure enough blood. You can't expect me to just sit around quietly and wait for all this fighting to be over. They need people and I'm more than willing to fight for what I believe in. This stupid blood nonsense is pathetic. As if anyone is any better or worse because of their blood!"
Sirius stared at the girl sitting in front of him. She was certainly not letting up. He could tell that she really believed in this, in this cause. Her left eye flashed with strong emotion and even though she had a patch on, he could tell that the other eye was probably just the same. No wonder James loved this girl. She never backed down from what she believed in, despite the danger that was in store for her. Even though Sirius had nothing to do with his stupid pureblood family anymore, he still knew first hand what would happen to Muggleborns. It was disgusting, sick and completely unjust. No one deserved that kind of persecution. "I couldn't have said it better myself Evans, and I could not agree with you more."
This stopped Lily in her tracks. "You're agreeing with me?"
"Of course I am. I think it's utterly disgusting how some pureblood families go prancing around thinking they are so much better than everyone else, simply because of their blood. It just isn't right. And plus, I have always wanted to become an Auror." Sirius then smiled at her. "Plus, there is no fun in just sitting at home while all the action is taking place elsewhere."
Lily now stared at Sirius. She saw for the first time that he wasn't such a bad guy. "James was right about you. You aren't too bad."
Sirius chuckled lightly, looking away. "Good man, that James. Always sticking up for his friends.”
"Don't get me wrong, Black. I still think you are a right prick for hexing all those Slytherins, but I suppose you are getting better."
At that point the hospital door banged open. The surprise of the noise caused them to both jump lightly. They looked over to see Aria and Ella running across the room to where Lily's bed was located.
"Thank Merlin Lily, you're awake! We literally thought you were just going to lie there for weeks!" Aria exclaimed, jumping on the bed and pushing Sirius out of the way to wrap her arms tightly around Lily's body.
Ella, who was running slightly behind Aria, ran around the other side of the bed and hugged her just as tightly. "We seriously thought that they were going to have to transfer you to St Mungos! The whole school is talking about it! I mean, can you imagine what would have happened if James hadn't pushed you out of the way? It could have hit your head and gone into your brain or something! I'm so glad he was watching and has quick reflexes.
Lily stopped and turned to Ella looking confused. "Wait, what did you say? Who pushed me out of the way?"
"You know Aria, Ella, you probably shouldn't come charging in here like this, she is still recovering, you know!" Black jumped in quickly, giving Ella and Aria meaningful glares.
"No! Stop glaring at them Sirius, I want to know what happened! Did you say James pushed me out of the way?"
Ella, who had a defeated look on her face, turned to Aria, who just sighed and shook her head. They turned to Sirius, who scowled and shrugged his shoulders, before turning back to face Lily. "Well, I don't know if you felt it, but James pushed you out of the way of most of the glass that was coming your way, which meant it hit him instead. So then you obviously fell down and were unfortunately hit by a rogue piece. He tried to shield himself above you but he didn't get there in time so you go hit by it. You were immediately out cold and blood started to rush out of your head. I don't think I have ever seen a larger amount of blood in my life! What happened next is all a bit blurry as we were all in a state of shock, but James, I think, just picked you up and ran out of the room."
Lily was frozen. James had risked himself for her? Of course it wasn't really a life or death situation, not for wizards and witches like themselves, but it was still quite a big deal for him to do that for her especially after their fight a couple weeks prior and the fact that she acted like such a snob at breakfast. She turned to Sirius, who was still looking away with a scowl on his face. "Was he hurt?"
Sirius' scowl vanished and his head turned to look at her face curiously. "Other than a few cuts here and there, he was fine. It's not the worst situation I've seen him in."
Lily sighed with relief and relaxed into her pillows, closing her eyes. Aria, Ella and Sirius looked at one another with curious and slightly amused looks on their faces before looking at Lily again.
"Um Lily, were you worried about James for a moment there?" Aria asked with a small smirk.
Lily's eye shot open and glared at Aria. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Aria shook her head and waved her hands back and forth, her smirk still present. "I'm not accusing you of anything Lily, I was just curious. Forget I ever asked. I'm just glad you are okay."
Lily nodded. "Does anyone know when I'm allowed out of here?"
"I'm pretty sure Madame Pompfry said that you were probably fine to go once you were awake and she has checked that you are okay. I’ll go and get her now." Ella ran off in the direction of the matron’s office, leaving Aria and Sirius at Lily’s side.
"I know you probably don't want to hear this Evans, but I think it's only right if you go and thank James for what he did for you after you get out of here, especially after the other morning," Sirius said whilst getting up and putting his hands in his pockets.
Lily frowned. "Why would you think that I wouldn't thank Potter?"
"Well Evans, you have always shown abhorrence for him and I thought perhaps you might not think it necessary as you were unconscious for it . . . or something along those lines."
Lily clenched her fists on the bed. "Black are you suggesting that I'm some kind of foul toad that doesn't appreciate the things people do for me? Especially when they risk their well-being for me?"
"I never said that, Evans."
"Well you suggested it! Just so you know Black, even without your suggestion, I was going to go find him as soon as I got out of here in order to thank him. Despite what you think, I'm not such a selfish cow! I think what James did was really selfless and if it wasn't for him I could be much worse off than I am now. I am very grateful!"
Sirius merely smirked at Lily before nodding at Aria. He walked towards the exit of the hospital wing. "Glad to see you are up and about Evans. It really wasn't the same without you." Then he was gone.
Lily groaned angrily pushing her head back against the pillows.
"Are you aware that you just stuck up for James and actually used his first name, all in the same sentence?" Aria asked, smiling at Lily.
Lily just groaned once again, shutting her eyes and waited for Madame Pompfry to give her the all clear.
James sat at the Gryffindor table for dinner that night, jiggling slightly in his seat. Sirius had come back to the dormitory that afternoon and told him everything that had happened with Lily in the hospital wing. He was just as surprised as Sirius to hear that she had stuck up for him. It was certainly a rarity. He hadn't seen her all afternoon and was nervous about what to say to her if she did come up. Yes, he was still having issues with coherency when it came to conversations with Lily Evans. He began to wonder if it was ever going to get any better.
"Um James? I was wondering if you could stop wiggling; it’s making me get motion sickness," Peter said beside James, his voice cracking slightly at the end.
"Oh sorry Wormtail. I'm not quite with it," James said whilst looking over to the entrance to the Great Hall again.
"Okay, that's it! James, look at me," Remus demanded from the opposite side of James, as he put down his quill on the parchment that he had been writing on.
James looked to him, startled by his outburst. Remus wasn't one to get this frustrated very quickly.
Remus leaned in a little closer. "You have got to stop this James. Look at you! You are a nervous wreck all because you have been warned that Lily may be coming up to you and saying something nice to you for once in her life. This is getting ridiculous, mate. And look at this way, she owes you more than one apology after the way she has been acting the last couple weeks. I know you have stopped asking her out, and have made some small improvements this year, but you really need to start taking a different approach to court her. That is, if you still want her."
"Of course I do!" James shouted, making the people sitting around him turn and look curiously.
"Right. Good to hear. To be honest mate, the small improvements you have made this year have been going well, but it’s going at a very slow pace and you really only have this year to show her the real you. I think you can still do exactly what you are doing right now, showing her the real you, which will eventually sway her decision, but I think you should add something else to help her open her eyes, so to speak."
James leaned in even closer. "What did you have in mind?"
"I think you should show her what she is missing out on."
James gaped and exclaimed loudly, "show her what she is missing out on?! Merlin Remus." A few people around them snickered at his outburst. He finally shut his mouth and looked at Remus with narrowed eyes.
"I don't know if that is a very good idea, Moony."
"Why isn't it James? She clearly doesn't harbour any feelings for you at the moment. Well, not that we know of anyway. Why not move on a little, begin showing her what the real you is like, and I personally believe her opinion of you will begin to sway."
James remained silent for a moment before questioning, "What do you mean, 'move on a little'?"
"Take an interest in another girl for the time being. I'm not saying you have to love the girl, but just have some fun. When was the last time you had some fun with a girl? And no, I don't mean kinky fun, I mean fun as in hung out and had a good time, laughed and what not?"
James sighed and thought. He seriously hadn't really given anyone a chance, other than Chloe that is. Chloe was alright. She was fairly annoying and rude at times, but she was pretty and usually always made for an interesting date. The night he saw her up at the astronomy tower was a bit of a bore, but he thought he might be able to give it another shot. "I guess I could give it a try."
Remus smiled and leant back. "That's all I'm suggesting James, is for you to try. Everyone has to have fun every once in a while. And you never know, at the end of all this, the jealousy thing might work and you may get your Lily."
James smiled at the thought of getting 'his Lily'. He turned to the entrance of the Great Hall and saw Sirius walking in with a smirk on his face. He took a seat next to Remus, opposite Peter and started to pile his plate with food.
"Where have you been exactly Padfoot?" James enquired.
"A broom closet."
"And why is it that you have been in a broom closet?"
"I was lavishing some Hufflepuff girl with gifts." Sirius looked up from his food and winked at his fellow Marauders, "No wait, I mean ravished. Yes, definitely mean ravish. And the gift is me."
They all threw back their heads and laughed.
After they all finished dinner quickly they walked out of the Great Hall in the direction of the heads common room. Once having bid Peter farewell in the Entrance Hall, as he had detention down in the dungeons with Slughorn for drooling on the desk whilst sleeping, they made their way up the staircases, pranking each other on the way. They had just reached the third floor corridor when a sixth year Ravenclaw girl was walking towards them. Remus recognised her. He had seen her in the library a couple of times and he had had his eye on her for quite some time. James and Sirius, knowing of Remus' little crush on her, fell back and walked behind him.
As she was about to walk past him, she looked up and he winked at her. She smiled and tilted her head to the side but kept walking in the direction they had come from. Remus walked a few more steps before making up his mind. He turned around quickly and murmured, "See ya later fellas", before walking after the girl.
James and Sirius gave them a few wolf whistles before Remus turned around and gave them a not so friendly hand gesture. They laughed spiritedly before resuming their way back to the Head’s common room.
Lily sat in front of the fire finishing off overdue homework in the heads common room and surrounded by Ella and Aria. They were interrupted when Sirius and James burst in, laughing their heads off. She looked up startled for a second before realising that they were just laughing and not screaming. She put her quill down and decided to get it over and done with. She shouldn't carry on without thanking him forever. The longer she put it off, the more awkward it would probably be. She sucked in a breath and turned around to look at James.
He obviously sensed that she wanted to talk to him for he stopped laughing and turned to her with a friendly smile on his face.
"Um James. I just wanted to thank you for pushing me out of the way in transfiguration. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn't have my right eye now." She smiled slightly, gesturing to the white patch on her face.
"No problem, Lily. I would have done the same for anyone. Having your retina slashed up is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy."
With that he turned to Sirius and proceeded to drag him into his room, mentioning something about a new formation for quidditch tryouts. James was the captain of the Gryffindor team again this year.
"Oh wait James! When are quidditch tryouts by the way?" Aria quickly questioned before they disappeared.
"Next Wednesday night. I'm going to go put up a sign in the Gryffindor common room tonight. I'll let you know when I want the team there. It will probably be a bit earlier."
She nodded and turned back to her homework and James went in his room and shut the door. Lily tried to go back to her homework but was distracted by James' response. It had been so blasé, like he didn't really care. This was a side to James she wasn't used to seeing. He was always so over friendly normally, and went out of his way to let her know why he did such and such for her.
This was practically the biggest thing he had ever done for her and now he was acting like it wasn't anything special. She frowned. Perhaps this year was going to be different with him. He hadn't asked her out yet this year and he certainly was spending less time nagging her. In fact she only ever saw him in class or on rounds. Perhaps he was finally moving on? Lily frowned again. She should be feeling elated! She was finally free from his attempts to court her. She could maybe even date someone else! But the truth of the matter was that she was feeling a little empty. She had no idea what had brought this on, but decided it was because of all the potions Madame Pompfry had made her take before leaving the wing.
Lily got up and piled her books into a neat stack.
"I'm going to shower and go to bed, guys. I'm not feeling too good. You're welcome to stay as long as you like."
They smiled and nodded, wishing her goodnight. Lily walked into her room and flopped down onto her bed. She looked up at the canopy of her bed and put a hand to her forehead. Man they must have been some trippy potions if they made her feel like this. She picked up her towel and pyjamas headed for the bathroom, hoping a hot shower might help her come to her senses. If she started worrying how Potter was behaving, she didn't want to even think what might happen next.
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Fabulous chapter image by .bliss @ TDA.
Anyone else love Remus as much as I do? Tell me what you reckon!
On a side note, this chapter is dedicated to my Nan who past away last Friday [February 09]. She always loved to hear that I loved to write and she strongly encouraged me to keep doing it! I love you and I will miss you Nan! :(
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