Orpheus flew in the open kitchen window the next morning just as Petunia was putting the kettle on for tea. She was so startled she nearly knocked over the mug she was placing the tea bag into, even though she had been expecting the owl to show up sometime that day with James’s note.
“Oh, goodness!” she exclaimed as the owl landed neatly upon the counter, his heart-shaped face swiveled directly at her. “You are such an adorable bird!” she crooned, and reached out to scratch his head.
Orpheus allowed her to stroke him, he loved attention, then he stuck out his leg for her to remove the message attached to it. She gently undid the cylinder and then fed him some bacon she had cooked just before he arrived. He took the treat daintily from her fingers, hooted softly, and allowed her to stroke him again.
“Thank you, Orpheus. Will you wait while I write an answer?”
The barn owl bobbed his head and settled down on the counter, waiting patiently while Petunia read James’s note and scribbled a reply.
My dear Lady Petunia,
I hope you have thought about me as much as I have you these past days. I find myself doing ordinary things about my house, like playing Exploding Snap or chess with my father and wondering if you would like to learn how to play too. There are so many things I would like to show you about my world, but one of the best is a Quidditch match.
I have box seats for my favorite team, the Montrose Magpies, they’re playing the Wimbourne Wasps today and I was wondering if you would like to go see it? They’ll have refreshments and everything, it’s at 11:00AM. I hope you will, it’s a lot of fun, and I’ll explain the game before so you’re not confused. If you don’t, that’s all right, we’ll do whatever you want.
Write back and let me know, I’ll be by to pick you up at 10:30 if you want to go see the match.
Petunia could hardly suppress a squeal of glee, in spite of the fact that she was eighteen and this was hardly her first date with a guy. But it felt oddly enough like it was her first time going out with a boy. Though she didn’t really like sports, Vernon had dragged her to a rugby match once and she had hated it, she decided to give James the benefit of the doubt and go and see this Quidditch game. Lily had said it was fun to watch, so maybe it wasn’t like rugby at all. Besides, I do owe him one for beating the tar out of Vernon—the fat beast! And a man is always more agreeable if you do what he likes first. I wonder how late these games run? Maybe we can go out for dinner and a movie also?
She picked up the morning paper and scanned the entertainment section to see what was playing. It’s A Wonderful Life was still out and she decided that would be a good movie for James to see with her, it was a classic, and though she had seen it before, she always loved it. It was playing at 7PM, leaving them plenty of time to eat at the diner and then go to the cinema, it was a short walk down the street.
She picked up a notepad and a pen and wrote a quick reply, not wanting to keep poor Orpheus waiting too long.
Dear Sir James,
I would be delighted to see the Quidditch match with you. If it doesn’t take the whole day, perhaps we might go and eat at a local diner here in town and go to see a movie? It’s A Wonderful Life is playing and I think you would really enjoy it.
You can tell me what you think when you come to get me.
Your fair lady,
She carefully rolled up the note, put it inside the cylinder and reattached it to Orpheus’s leg holder.
“Please take this to James, if you wouldn’t mind?”
Orpheus trilled and then he took off out the window.
Petunia began to hum happily as she made tea, and soon she was joined by the rest of her family.
“Well? Did Orpheus arrive?” asked Lily, her green eyes twinkling with curiosity.
“Orpheus? Who is that?” asked Mr. Evans.
“James Potter’s owl, Dad,” answered Petunia. “Yes, he came and James has invited me to go and see a Quiddirk match with him.”
“You mean a Quidditch match,” Lily corrected with a giggle. “That’s great! And did you say yes?”
Petunia nodded. “I do hope it’s not brutal like rugby.”
“Oh, it’s nothing like rugby. It’s played on brooms, up in the air,” Lily told her. “It’s sort of like football and basketball. What time is the game?”
Petunia told her and Lily said, “Better eat quick, Tuney, so we have time to fix your hair and do your make-up.”
Petunia hurriedly ate some toast, bacon, and a bit of eggs. Lily had almost finished with her breakfast by then and afterwards the two girls rushed upstairs to do Tuney’s make-up.
“What time will you be coming home, Tuney?” called Henry from below.
“Uh, I’m not sure yet, Dad, because we might be going to a movie after. So maybe around ten.”
“All right then, make sure you have your key just in case your mum and I turn in early.”
Petunia said she would though she was aware that neither parent would do so, they would want to be awake when she came home to ask how her first date went with her new wizard boyfriend. Petunia prayed all would go well.
“Lily, how should I wear my hair—up or down?”
“I think mostly up with a few tendrils hanging down,” Lily said, then started to help arrange her sister’s hair.
* * * * * *
James was anxiously awaiting Orpheus’s return, pacing about the back terrace impatiently, and running his hand through his hair in agitation. Then he would halt and remove a comb from his pocket and re-brush his hair so it would lie flat, because for the first time in a long time, he didn’t want to look all windblown and messy like he’d just hopped off his broom. For once he wanted to look like the gentleman his father had always insisted he behave like.
He was dressed in a black and white Montrose jersey and a pair of trousers similar to Muggle denim jeans, but more comfortable. It wasn’t cold enough for a cloak or a robe and so James opted for neither and wore a scarf instead. It was a lovely day, crisp but without being freezing, the perfect weather for a Quidditch match. He just hoped Petunia would take him up on his offer.
And who knows, she just might like it. I wish for once I could find a girl who loves Quidditch, and doesn’t just come to the games to see me play or because I want to see a match. Then he snorted at his own foolishness. If regular pureblood witches couldn’t enjoy Quidditch for its own sake, how could he expect a Muggle girl to? It would be enough if Petunia agreed to come and see a game.
He shielded a hand and peered up towards the sky.
Orpheus, where are you? How long can it take for you to deliver a letter?
Then he saw the owl winging its way towards him and he grinned.
He held out his arm and Orpheus landed lightly on it and James quickly opened Petunia’s message.
“Yes! Merlin’s starry robe! She said yes. And I’ll go and see whatever she wants, only I’ll have to take a quick trip to Gringotts to get some Muggle money in exchange.” He looked at his watch. Almost nine.Plenty of time to get there and hopefully there’s not a line. I’ll eat on the way.
He dashed back inside to where his parents were eating breakfast and said, “Mum, Dad, I’ll see you later. I’m taking Petunia Evans to a Quidditch game and I need to pick up some money from the vault, so I’m getting a head start.”
“That’s fine, son, but when are we going to meet this mystery lady?” asked Charles, he was tall and distinguished looking with dark hair and a thin mustache and bright hazel eyes.
“Yes, didn’t you tell me that she’s the sister of one of your classmates? You ought to invite her for the weekend, James. Or at least to supper.” Liana said softly. She was slightly younger than her husband, with softly curling light brown hair and merry brown eyes. They were both in their fifties, James had been a surprise pregnancy when Liana was forty, after she had all but given up hope that she would ever be able to carry a child to term. As wizards go, that was not so very old, but it was older than Liana would have liked and sometimes she felt bad that she was not as young as she used to be, and couldn’t keep up with her rambunctious son the way a younger woman would have. James had been a handful as a toddler and in some ways he still was.
“I’ll ask her later, Mum.” James waved at them before grabbing a handful of Floo powder and tossing it into the fireplace. Thus far he had avoided telling his parents that he was dating a Muggle, not that they had anything against Muggles, but no one in the family had ever gone out with a Muggle before, and it would take getting used to.
“Just remember, dear, if you do want to invite her up for next weekend, your Aunt Muriel is coming.” Liana called just as James stepped into the green flames.
As a result, he missed the last half of her sentence, and he hoped that Petunia would agree to a second date as a guest at Potter Manor. She wouldn’t have to stay over, of course, but he could come and bring her there each day and home again each night. It wasn’t proper to have an unmarried girl staying over his house when he’d just met her and James knew better than to even consider it.
But he would worry about that bridge when he came to it. Today he just wanted to have a good time on his first date with Petunia. He stepped out of the Floo and into the Three Broomsticks, waved hi to Tom the barman and then headed out the door to Gringotts.
* * * * * *
James’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he caught sight of Petunia waiting on the porch for him. She looked like a dream in the flattering apple green sundress with the little ruffles on the hem and it hugged her slender frame to perfection. It was set off by a beautiful antique Irish lace wrap that added an element of elegance to the dress. And the simple upswept style of her hair accentuated her long neck and narrow face, reminding James of a swan.
Wow! She looks smashing! Like a real lady in a tale, all noble and elegant and proud. Wish I had a camera. Wait . . .I do have one, in the pocket of my jersey. I forgot. He fished it out and said, “Hey beautiful, smile!” then he snapped her picture.
Petunia smiled happily. James thought she was beautiful, something she had never expected when compared to her sister. It was generally accepted that Lily was the pretty sister while Tuney was the practical one. But not, apparently, in Potter’s opinion. “Hello, James. Is that the colors of your favorite team?”
“Yes, the Montrose Magpies.” James said, giving her an old fashioned courtly bow and thanking Merlin he didn’t look totally stupid thanks to his father’s coaching. Some of the old pureblood families still greeted each other that way and so Charles had tutored James in the old custom. “Team colors are black and white with a magpie.” He indicated the large magpie on the back of the shirt. “Petunia, you look absolutely brilliant! That dress . . .”
“Is it too much? Should I go change? I wasn’t sure what to wear.” Petunia said nervously, wringing her hands.
“Not at all. I’ll be the envy of every man there.” James grinned.
Petunia blushed. “You’re just saying that.”
“No, I’m serious. Wait and see. Are you all ready to go?”
“Yes. But you’re a bit early. It’s only 10:15,” she said, checking her watch.
“Don’t worry. Early is better than late. Do you have Floo powder in your home?” he asked, only then realizing that he had never made sure if the Evanses had a working Floo Network in their house. He had simply assumed that since Lily was a witch, they would have one.
“Floo powder?” Petunia repeated. “Is that something magical?”
“It’s how we wizards can travel from place to place through a fireplace,” James explained. “You mean Lily never told you about it? Or don’t you have a fireplace?”
“No, we have one, but it’s only used for making fires not . . .going anywhere. We use a car for that.”
“Ah . . .this could be a problem,” James said, looking concerned. “I was planning on using the Floo Network to get us to the game. It’s in London and too long a distance to fly by broom.” He glanced about. “Are there any other wizards in this neighborhood?”
“Well, Severus and his mum Eileen are wizards,” Petunia said. “They might have one of those Foo things.”
“Snape? Oh that’s right, he’s your neighbor.” James sighed. He didn’t fancy asking Snape for anything, but without Floo powder they could go nowhere. “Do you think they’d mind if I used their Floo?”
Petunia shrugged. “I couldn’t say. Why don’t we go over and ask them?”
She led the way down the walk to the Snape house, which was four feet from her own, and went and rang the bell of the small house next door.
It was several long moments before the door opened, Petunia almost thought that no one was home, but then the door opened and Eileen stood on the threshold. “Good morning, Petunia! You look lovely! Going out on a date, dear.”
“Uh, yes I am, Eileen. With this gentleman here,” Petunia indicated James.
“How do you do, Mr.— ”
“Potter. James Potter.”
Eileen stiffened at that name, for she had overheard Sev and Lily talking once about a Potter and what they had said hadn’t been very complimentary. She shot a look at Petunia. “Tuney, do your parents know that you’re dating a wizard?”
“Yes. They met James when he saved me from Vernon,” Petunia explained.
Eileen’s eyebrows rose. “Saved you from—oh heavens do come in instead of standing out on the porch like refugees.” She stepped back and the two came inside. “Just please be quiet. Severus is sick, he caught that sore throat distemper from me, and he’s sleeping upstairs. He had a rather bad night and he needs to rest.”
“I hope he feels better soon,” Petunia said earnestly. “You know, Lily wasn’t feeling too well either after breakfast. Said her throat felt . . .scratchy.”
“Oh no. Not her too! Gracious, I’ll have to go over and give her some potions.”
“Mum has some medicine she can take, Eileen, you don’t have to bother making up any,” Petunia began.
“Nonsense, Tuney. This is a wizard disease and won’t respond to Muggle medicines, trust me. She’ll need potions, same as Sev.” Eileen said briskly. “I’ll bring them over in a few minutes. Was there something you needed?” She was wearing a pair of black slacks and a flowing purple shirt and an opal pendant in the shape of a crescent moon. She had wound her hair about her head, as she used to do when she was a girl, and looked very imposing.
“Mrs. Snape, we were wondering if we might use your Floo, since Petunia here doesn’t have one,” James began. “I’m taking her to see a Quidditch match, the Magpies vs. the Wasps, you know.”
Eileen sniffed. “I don’t follow Quidditch, I’m far too busy brewing these days.” Her eyes narrowed. “Tell me something. Are you the same James Potter that I overheard Lily and Sev discussing? They referred to you as the biggest idiot in the known world and said all you cared about was flying and pranking people.”
James blushed. Never had he thought his reputation as a Marauder would come back to haunt him. “Err . . .yes, ma’am. I’m afraid so. But I was very immature back then. I’ve changed.”
“Humph!” Eileen eyed him sternly. “I very much hope so, young man! What did you mean, Tuney, he saved you from Vernon? The great pudding that you used to date? The one with the fancy ruby Corvette?”
Petunia nodded. She told Eileen of how Vernon had attempted to force her to kiss him and James had come to her rescue and thrashed the bully within an inch of his sorry life.
“Good. One less piece of trash in the world. Be glad you were rid of him, Tuney. So you don’t make the same mistakes I did.” She gave James another one of those long slow appraisals. “I would hope, young man, that you would know how to treat a lady of quality like Petunia. You’re a pureblood and I know it’s the fashion now for young men like yourself to have . . .flings with Muggle girls. Love ‘em and leave ‘em, I think you call it?”
“Uh . . .yes, ma’am, that’s true for some of us,” James admitted, knowing all too well what Sirius’ reaction would be when he told him he was dating Lily’s sister. “But I’m not like that. My father taught me to treat a lady with respect.”
“As well he should have. See that you remember that, Mr. Potter. Petunia here is like my daughter and if you play about with her heart and break it, you’ll answer to me.” Here Eileen drew herself up to her full height, she was quite tall, about 5’8, and her eyes flashed and power seemed to surround her like a cloak.
It made James shiver, for he could feel her power radiating off of her, and it was strong and she was glaring at him as if she were about to hex him, though her wand wasn’t in her hand. He knew then that she was not one to cross and he made haste to reassure her that he would treat Petunia like a queen. “Yes, ma’am. I understand.”
“Good.” Eileen gave him a nod of approval, then lost her intimidating air and smiled gently. “Of course you may use my Floo. Come this way.” She led them into the den and indicated the fireplace. “There you go.” A slightly half full container of Floo powder rested upon the mantle in a blue jar. “Watch James, Tuney, before you try it. It’s not as hard as it looks. Matter of fact, maybe you both ought to go through together, since Tuney might not be able to activate the Floo by herself.”
“Right. I keep forgetting she has no magic.” James muttered, wondering what it was about Snape’s mother that made him feel all thumbs? He should have thought of that before. “Don’t worry, Tuney. It’s perfectly safe,” he said, and he lit the fire with a quick “Incendio!” and then tossed in the Floo powder and called “Quidditch stadium, London!”
The fire flared green and James took Petunia’s hand. “All right, now on three we’re going to step into the fireplace.”
“But won’t we get burned?”
“No. It’s magical fire, won’t hurt a bit. Do you trust me?”
“Yes, but . . .”
“It’s all right, Tuney. Flooing is easy once you get the hang of it,” Eileen encouraged. “Just remember to brush off the soot and don’t breathe in the ashes. Have you got a Floo-Clearing draft just in case?”
“Uh, no.” James admitted.
“Here.” Eileen plucked a small glass bottle off of the mantle. “Use that if you need it.” She gave the bottle to James. Then she patted Petunia on the shoulder. “Don’t be afraid, just close your eyes and take a step. You’ll be there before you know it.”
Petunia looked dubious, but then she took a deep breath and shut her eyes, because she didn’t know if she could bear the idea of walking into fire, magical or not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. “Okay. I’m ready.”
They stepped into the green flames together and were whirled away to the London Quidditch stadium.
Petunia felt as if she were being blown through the air and she clutched James’s hand tightly. But it soon stopped and then James said, “Take a step and open your eyes, Petunia. We’re here.”
Petunia opened her eyes and saw a great many witches and wizards wearing all kinds of clothing milling about in front of three large ticket counters. She coughed a bit and looked down at herself. To her dismay, she was covered in soot, just as Eileen had said. “Oh no! My dress!”
“Easy. It’ll come right off.” James said and showed her with a few quick brushes of his hand how the soot floated off and did not mar the fabric. “See? Good as new. Are you feeling okay? Do you need some of this potion?”
Petunia coughed. Her eyes were stinging a bit.
“Here, take a little, it’ll clear up any soot that you happened to swallow by mistake.” He handed her the draft and she swallowed twice.
The potion tasted refreshing, like cool water and Petunia immediately felt better. “Thanks. That feels good.”
James tucked the vial away in a pocket and said, “Well, that wasn’t so bad, right? You weren’t scared, were you?”
“No. Just a bit nervous. It didn’t hurt at all.”
“Told you it wouldn’t.” James grinned. “Come along, we’ll get some snacks and then I’ll show you the model so you can understand what’s going on. Merlin, but Snape’s mother is one scary witch! Thought for a minute she was going to hex me inside out!”
Petunia giggled. “Only if you get on her bad side. She’s actually very nice. She used to watch Lily and I when our parents went out when we were little. Of course, that was before Tobias lost his job at the mill and turned to the bottle. After that, she worked long hours at night and we hardly saw her and when we did see her she was worn down and tired. But since Tobias was locked up, she’s changed and become more like her old self.”
“Reminds me of an overprotective mother dragon,” James said, concealing a shiver. He prayed that Eileen Snape never found out what he had done to her son at school. He had a feeling she would be furious and not above casting some painfully humiliating hexes on him. Slytherin justice. It was scary.
He led Petunia carefully through the throngs of people and to a stand where they were selling ice cream, chips, sandwiches, soup, and fried chicken wings. There was also butterbeer and pumpkin juice.
James ordered a basket of chicken wings, Petunia had a roast beef and melted Swiss sandwich and they both shared an order of chips. “Try the pumpkin juice, you’ll like it,” James suggested when Petunia hesitated over the drinks. “Most everyone does.” He ordered one as well and then he managed to find a small table where they could eat and watch everything.
While they ate, James attempted to explain some of the positions in the game and the balls to Petunia. “Just remember, the most important thing is for Mark Terra, the Seeker for the Magpies, to catch the Snitch. That’s 150 points and it wins the game.”
“Isn’t that sort of . . .unfair? To the other players, I mean?”
“Well, no. Since the Snitch is hard to catch and sometimes it can take a Seeker a whole game to find it, much less catch it. And it can mean a victory, especially if your team’s Chasers aren’t scoring well. But everyone on a team is necessary. And the other thing is, Quidditch is played in a series of matches, with the team who scores the most points overall winning the top spots. So it’s not how many matches you win, but how many points per game you accumulate that matters.”
“Who keeps track of the points?”
“International Quidditch Association, with the help of a magical scoreboard.” James replied promptly.
“Oh. Why is it called such a funny name?”
James thought for a moment, then said, “Comes from where the game originated back a thousand years ago. The place was named Queerditch March. Guess over the years it became easier to say Quidditch.”
“That makes sense, I suppose.” She sipped her pumpkin juice. “This is very good. Sweet, but not overly so.”
“Figured you’d like it. We can try butterbeer next.”
“Butterbeer? I don’t like beer.”
“No, no. It’s not like alcoholic beer. More like . . .root beer.”
“Oh. I like that.”
“Butterbeer is good served hot or cold. I like mine hot. Keeps me warm while I sitting up there in the box, waving my pennant.”
“It sounds almost as good as hot cocoa.”
James laughed. “Nothing is as good as hot cocoa, but butterbeer’s my second favorite.”
“Do you like your cocoa with or without marshmallows?”
“With lots of them. Let me guess. You hate marshmallows.”
“You’re wrong. I love marshmallows.”
“You do? I never would have figured you for a marshmallow kind of girl.”
“Well, just goes to show you,” Petunia smirked. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. I might not be a sweet fanatic like my sister and Severus, but I do love marshmallows and chocolate. It’s the perfect combination.”
“A girl after my own heart,” James grinned. Then he recalled what else she had said. “Snape—Severus—he likes sweets? I never would have guessed that either.”
“He likes chocolate. He never really has money to indulge himself though, so he tends not to buy it, but my mum always gets him a large box of it for Christmas and his birthday. And she bakes him a chocolate layer cake too.”
“You . . .seem really close to him,” James said uneasily.
“We grew up together. He’s like my pesky younger brother. I used to tease him something awful when I was younger though, because I thought he was no good street trash, but when he got older, I started to realize I was mistaken and when he came to work for my dad at the pharmacy, I learned he was a hard worker and polite and not at all like his drunken bum of a father.”
“Who’s now in prison.”
“Yes, and likely to stay there for a good long time. And good riddance! His kind give us all a bad name.” Petunia sniffed. “I’m sorry now for how I treated Sev back then, he had enough to deal with his dad, he didn’t need me adding to it.”
James found that he also felt ashamed at how he had behaved towards the Slytherin. “I wasn’t too nice to him either.”
“I know. Lily told me. You were cruel.”
James winced, finding that Petunia’s words stung, even though they were nothing less than the truth. “Yes. I was. Definitely not one of my better moments. But maybe now . . .I can try and see him as more than just a Slytherin.” If only I didn’t suspect him of having ties to You-Know-Who. “But we’re not here to discuss our past mistakes with Snape, now are we? Let’s go up to the top box and you can see the pitch and the rings where the Quaffle is thrown through.”
They had finished eating by then and Petunia looked for somewhere to throw their empty paper plates and cups, but James told her to leave them, the house elves would see to it. He quickly explained what house elves were and then he led her up the long winding staircase to the Potters’ special box.
“How did you rate a box like this, Potter?” she asked as they entered the gold velvet curtained box, which had the crest of a leaping stag upon it and plush-covered benches.
“Dad made a ton of Galleons working for Gringotts as a bank teller, and the Potters are an old pureblood family with a sizeable inheritance besides.”
“In short, you were born with a silver spoon,” Petunia surmised.
“Pretty much. It has its advantages.” James said, sitting down on the bench. “And its obligations too.”
“Uh, well I’m supposed to behave with decorum befitting a pureblood and I’m supposed to marry well and produce at least one heir to continue the Potter bloodline.”
“Marry well?” Petunia raised an eyebrow. “Just what is that supposed to mean?”
Not wishing to discuss the subject of pureblood marriages at that time, James was grateful for the distraction that occurred in the form of the Magpies flying over the pitch. “Look, here they come!” He lifted his Magpie pennant in the air and whistled, waving it and cheering, “Lets go Magpies! Pound the Wasps into the dirt!”
Petunia was watching as the players, all of them wearing a black and white uniform similar to James’s jersey, flew a few laps about the field. She managed to pick out the Beaters, they were holding bats similar to cricket ones, and the Seeker, he was the smallest and had a small S emblazoned upon his shirt, and then she assumed the others were the Chasers. The Keeper was also easy to spot, he was the only one wearing an odd-shaped helmet and padding.
Then the opposing team, the Wimbourne Wasps, came out, and there was cheering from the opposite end of the stands and booing and hissing from the side Petunia was on. She tugged on James’s sleeve. “Is there a referee in this game? What happens if a player gets knocked off his broom?”
“Yes, there is one, but the players don’t really like him,” James answered. “He’s the one in the orange and black jacket with the whistle.” He pointed to a thin man flying in the center of the pitch. “And any player who falls off his broom usually ends up on the ground with a levitating charm on him.”
“It sounds dangerous. What if the person can’t cast a charm?”
“That’s what the officials are there for. They can stop a player from hitting the ground if they need to. Hardly anyone dies anymore in Quidditch.”
“Oh, that’s good to hear,” Petunia said with a sarcastic note in her voice.
“You can get injured playing any kind of sport,” James defended. “The element of danger is what makes it so unpredictable. Watch and you’ll see.”
The whistle was blown and the teams faced off as the Quaffle was thrown into the air. Sanderson, the Chaser for the Wasps, caught it first, but then Bailey, the Magpies Chaser gave him an elbow in the ribs and snatched the ball away.
Petunia was riveted upon the Chaser, who was flying brilliantly towards the goal posts, dodging other players and Bludgers like some kind of twisty flying snake.
James was yelling, “Bring it home, Bailey!”
Petunia gasped when Bailey suddenly executed a tight aerial spin and sent the ball flying towards the third ring. Almost, it missed, but at the last second it teetered on the edge and went in.
“Magpies, 10, Wasps, 0.”
James clapped and cheered loudly. “What a smart move!”
“A very clever one,” Petunia acknowledged. She was starting to get a feel for the game now and found that Lily had been right, it was fun to watch.
It was not about brute strength, but strategy and quickness and daring upon a broom. Several times during the first half of the match, Petunia felt her heart pound and her hands clenched into white knuckled fists, as the players performed daring aerial maneuvers fifty feet above the earth.
James cast glances at his girl from time to time, wondering when she was going to ask him if it was over yet, or where the bathroom was, or what was going on when the Beaters hit a Bludger over to the opposite team. But instead he saw Petunia literally riveted upon the action going on some twenty feet in front of her.
“Tuney, are you having fun?”
She barely seemed to hear him she was so focused upon what was happening. He shook her shoulder, wondering if she were cold. “Tuney, would you like a butterbeer?”
She turned to him and snapped, “Hush, James! I’m trying to find where the Snitch went. I think I saw it over by the goal post.”
“Huh? You’re tracking the Snitch?”
“I’m trying to, until you interrupted—oh, just give me your binoculars,” she snatched what looked like a pair of binoculars from his pocket.
“Omnoculars,” he corrected, and showed her how to use them, hiding a grin.
She plastered them to her eyes and continued searching and when she had spotted the Snitch, started bellowing for the Seeker to go get it. “Over there! There, what are you. blind as a bat? Open your eyes, for pity’s sake!”
James had to laugh. She sounded very much like Sirius did or even himself.
The Wasps scored and then the Magpies scored twice, bringing the total to Magpies 30, Wasps 10.
After an hour and a half, a recess was called for thirty minutes, allowing people to use the restrooms and get some drinks and the players to rest before returning to play.
“So, are you having fun?” he asked again.
This time she lowered the omnoculars and smiled. “I . . .really am! It’s so interesting and intense and I . . .think I like this sport, James. Which is so odd because I’ve never liked sports before.”
“Well, it’s like I always say. There’s no sport like Quidditch. Want a butterbeer?”
He summoned a house elf to fetch them one each, and they sipped them slowly while they waited for the second half to begin.
The second half was much tenser than the first half, with each team trying to score and the Seekers searching desperately for the Snitch. Petunia was practically jumping off the bench every time the Magpies scored. She snatched the pennant from James and waved it about like a madwoman.
James had to duck to keep from being poked in the eye.
But he was enjoying himself and enjoying watching Petunia, whose enthusiasm was infectious.
When the Magpies scored another goal and their Seeker caught the Snitch, the roar from the crowd was defeaning. Petunia was yelling, “We won! We won!” and then she turned and threw her arms about James and kissed him.
He was startled at first, but then he kissed her back, and she melted into his embrace. She was sweetness and light and he kissed her with a fierce tenderness that made his head spin.
Petunia was surprised that she enjoyed James kissing her. It was not at all what she had come to expect of a man kissing her. Vernon had been rough and sloppy, biting her sometimes, but James seduced and coaxed, and his kiss made her heart race and her blood sizzle. Dear Lord, is this what it means to be in love? Is this what Lily feels when Sev kisses her? Because if it is, I can understand why she wants to hold him forever and never let him go.
Amid the hoards of celebrating Quidditch fans, Petunia cuddled into her wizard’s strong arms, looked up into his eyes, and found that the world had slowed to a crawl and all that mattered right then was the way he looked at her, with his sweet boyish grin and desire shining in his hazel eyes. And it was then that Petunia Evans knew that her heart was no longer her own.
* * * * * *
James managed to get Petunia a signed photograph of the Magpie Seeker, Mark Terra, it moved and showed him catching the Snitch and then smiling and waving. “A little something to remember our first date,” he said and handed her the photo, which was signed, To Petunia, my newest and most beautiful Quidditch fan! Mark Terra, Seeker.
“Oh, James! You shouldn’t have!” she cried and hugged the photo and then hugged him again.
“It’s just a trifle,” he shrugged, though he was happy she liked it. “So how did you like your first Quidditch match?”
“I loved it! When can we see another?”
He burst out laughing. “Looks like I’ve created another Quidditch fanatic.”
“What? What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, sweetheart. Nothing at all.” James said. Looks like I finally got my wish. “There’s another game scheduled for next weekend. Would you like to go?”
“Yes. I can’t wait!”
“Good. Now, why don’t we Floo back to Snape’s house and go to that diner you mentioned. What is a diner anyhow?”
Now it was Petunia’s turn to explain about Muggle culture and James listened all the way to the fireplace and after they had Flooed back to Spinner’s End, thanked Eileen for allowing them the use of her Floo once more, inquired about Severus (he was still sick), they went downtown to the diner.
They ate some excellent fish and chips and shepherds pie, followed by root beer floats and a slice of apple pie that melted on their tongues. James said it was as good as anything his house elves had ever made.
“Save some room for popcorn and soda,” Petunia told him. “That’s what you eat when you watch a movie.”
“Is that like . . .Coke?”
“Yes, Coke is a kind of soda,” Petunia told him.
She signaled for the check, but when she would have paid for the dinner, James told her to put her purse away. “James, you don’t have money like ours,” she whispered.
“Oh, yes, I do. I changed some today at Gringotts,” he said triumphantly. “Now put yours away. A gentleman always pays for a lady.”
“No, Petunia. I insist.” He said firmly, and when the waitress returned, handed her a ten pound note without batting an eye.
“You are impossible, James Potter.”
“Good thing too, because otherwise I’d never get anywhere,” he smirked.
“Fine, but I’m buying our tickets and popcorn,” Petunia said. “Fair’s fair.”
“That’s not how it works,” he argued.
“It is with me,” Petunia said stubbornly. She didn’t want James to get into the habit of paying for her all the time, because Vernon had always insisted on that too, and then had said she owed him and could pay him back by showing him a good time. Petunia had been horrified and had smacked him across the mouth and called a cab to take her home. “I’m a big girl, James, I can afford a few tickets and some popcorn, okay?”
Sensing he wasn’t going to win this one, and not wanting to ruin a perfectly good evening with a silly quarrel, James gave in. “All right. Have it your way, Tuney.”
“Thank you. I appreciate your offer though, sir.”
“Anytime, my lady,” he said, then kissed her lightly on the palm.
His kiss electrified her and she nearly moaned with pleasure.
“Come on, James. Let’s get over to the cinema before you make me do something indecent,” she whispered, flushing.
“Like what?” he inquired naughtily.
“Never you mind, Mr. Potter,” she giggled, then she stood up and walked towards the door.
James leaned on the table and admired the view as his long-legged girlfriend walked up the row of booths. Petunia Evans, you are really something.
* * * * * *
James found the movie fascinating, especially because there was no magic used to make it. Petunia explained about actors and filming and scripts while they waited for the movie to start, and she fed James popcorn and they shared a huge soda, giggling when they bumped noses trying to drink from opposite ends.
James soon discovered that not only did he enjoy the movie, he also enjoyed the feel of Petunia’s hand on his arm and when the lights dimmed, he playful lifted her onto his lap, where she remained until the closing credits.
“So, how did you like your first movie?” Petunia asked as they left the theater.
“It was great. But the best thing was you sitting with me,” James whispered naughtily.
Petunia shook her finger at him playfully. “You’re a naughty thing, James.”
“I know,” he admitted, unrepentant. “But I think you like me that way.”
“Whatever gave you that idea, Mr. Potter?” she said, tossing her head, acting as if she were insulted.
“If you didn’t, you would have never sat through an entire movie in my lap.”
“Guilty, I’m afraid,” she laughed, then she kissed him again. “You’re nothing like Vernon.”
“Thank Merlin!” he exclaimed. “Tuney, I’m going to make you forget all about that oaf,” he said tenderly.
“I . . .don’t know if that’s possible.”
“Yes, it is. Trust me. I’m a wizard and impossible’s not in my vocabulary.” He whispered in her ear.
They walked home slowly and for the first time in a very long time, Petunia felt cherished and appreciated by a man, and her heart soared and her feet skipped in time to a rhythm that matched the beating of the heart of the wizard beside her.
Okay, how did you like the date? I hope it wasn't too sappy. And how did you like Eileen giving James a warning too?
Next: Christmas with the Evanses and Snapes.
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