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Chapter 28 : Valentine's Day
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James could not repress the sigh that escaped his lips. He had known that there would be hell to pay for this decision, but even he had under estimated the force of Daphne’s wrath.
“What do you mean you’re not going to Hogsmede with me?!?! It’s Valentine’s Day!! What exactly do you propose I do? Go mope around the Three Broomsticks, or mull about Honeyduke’s with all the other pitiful girls without dates?! One of the benefits of having a boyfriend is having someone to spend today with and now your ditching me to do what exactly sit here in the Common Room!”
“I’m not just going to sit here in the Common Room twiddling my thumbs,” James said exasperatedly. He had already explained this, but he had a feeling he would be going through this argument multiple times throughout the course of the next hour. “I missed a whole week of classes at the end of January because of my dad, and with Quidditch practice, and everything else going on I haven’t gotten completely caught up…”
“You DON’T get to use Quidditch Practice as an excuse when you’re the bloody Captain and you’re in charge of scheduling the practices!”
“Well the match against Ravenclaw is coming up and we have to win by at least 200 points to clinch the Cup, otherwise we have to win, and we need Slytherin to lose. I can’t risk the success of the team, which YOU’RE on by the way, just on account of me.”
“We’re going to win the Cup, all you little boys have to do is score fifty points, and I will take care of the rest. Chang is crap do you really think HE will beat me to the Snitch?” James noted that Quidditch was always capable of distracting Daphne, if even for a moment, but today she was like a niffler hunting gold. “And DON’T try and change the bloody subject! This is NOT a conversation between a seeker and her captain; this is Daphne talking to her boyfriend James!”
“I know that, I was just merely pointing out…” the look on her face was enough to tell him to shut up; this line of attack was clearly not going to succeed. He knew he needed to change his approach, offer her something, anything to make her stop yelling. “Daphne, I know you’re pissed at me,” she rolled her eyes as if to emphasize the point, “but I promise you I will make it up to you.”
“When, the next Hogsmede trip? It won’t be fucking Valentine’s Day then!” James felt his mind scrambling, he was going to have to come up with something concrete, she could see through the empty words. “Tonight, I mean obviously I’m not going to let our very first Valentine’s Day as a couple go by without doing something,” he said, managing to sound sincere despite himself, now if only he could come up with what that something would be.
“You mean you’ve had something planned this whole time?” Daphne said, her tone softened only slightly.
“Of course, I mean I’d be a pretty rotten boyfriend if I didn’t!” James said with a smile.
“Why didn’t you stop me from yelling at you? I feel awful saying all those things,” Daphne said as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I…uh…I felt guilty about not going today so I guess I felt like I deserved it.” He said uncertainly.
“You are soooo sweet. I’m going to have to get you something extra to go with your present today!” Shit, James thought to himself, now he had to get her present to? Having a steady girlfriend on Valentine’s Day was demanding.
“Oh, you really don’t have to do that,” James said.
“Don’t be silly! What time should I be back for your surprise?”
“Oh, um, don’t hurry back it will take some time for me to set it up,” it would take a miracle for him to be able to get caught up on any of his homework today, “just this evening, when you’re ready to come back. Have a nice relaxing day of shopping,” James said with a smile.
James slammed the door to the dormitory having just managed to escape from Daphne as she left for Hogsmede. Thankfully the marauders were still in the room, discussing their various plans for their dates today. Peter had to the mystification of the other marauders managed to score a date with an intelligent Ravenclaw seventh year named Amelia Bones. She was not particularly pretty, but was popular among the other Ravenclaws and had always been nice to Peter. Katie Finch, who was to be honest tired of waiting for her best friend Donald Fletchley to notice her, would be Remus’ date. They were both prefects and got on well, and Katie knew that while she would be unlikely to get a long term relationship from Remus, because no one ever had, he would at least show her a good time and take her mind off of Donald. Sirius would be enjoying the company of seventh year, Meghan McCormack, the keeper for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team and daughter of the famous league player Catriona.
“I need your help,” James said as he sat down on his four-poster bed.
“I told you she wouldn’t kill him, pay up!” Peter demanded of Sirius.
“Damn, Daphne must be going soft in her old age,” Sirius exclaimed sarcastically as he handed Peter the galleon.
“What do you need, Prongs?” Remus asked.
“I forgot to get Daphne a present.” Peter sighed and handed the galleon back to Sirius, clearly James was not safe yet.
“Never fear Prongs I have a supply of gifts for the ladies in my chest,” Sirius said with a wink. Would you like lingerie, perfume, more lingerie?”
“Why do you have lingerie in your chest?” Peter exclaimed.
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand Wormy,” Sirius said with a roll of his eyes.
“Would you expect the rest of us to understand?” Remus asked as James nodded in agreement. “Because we don’t.”
“Sometimes things can get torn when things get a little steamy; I find it helps to have extras.”
“And girls don’t find it offensive that you have a bunch of panties in your chest?” James asked, completely mystified by his best friend.
“They’re all new, it’s not like I recycle them!” Sirius said indignantly.
“Still!” Remus said, “I find it hard to believe any girl would not be offended if you pulled out a pair of knickers and said ‘here honey wear these instead’”
“It’s a convenient way to make sure they don’t stay around after,” Sirius said with a wink. “Prongs do you want some or not?”
“I’ll stick with the perfume,” James said. “Moony do you think you could pick her up some chocolate from Honeyduke’s?”
“Sure, mate. Are you sure you don’t want a nice thong to go with that?”
“Yeah, I think I’ll pass.”
“Thanks, now I just have to convince the house elves to give me food, and then transfigure something into a table for two, and I’m all set.”
“Such a romantic,” Sirius said sarcastically.
“Really, underwear man, really? I don’t think you get to judge James right now.” Peter said with a laugh.
Lily Evans sat at a table by a window in the Common Room. She could see the last stragglers heading out of Hogwarts down the road to Hogsmede Village. She sighed heavily as she pulled out her Potions book; she had a lot of work to do. Alice had brought her assignments to the hospital wing every day, but Madame Pomphrey irritatingly would not allow her to work on the assignments, citing her need for rest after being poisoned.
“Yet, she’s condemned me to sleepless nights for all eternity,” Lily muttered under her breath as she stared out the pile of books in front of her, each one with a different essay demanding to be written.
“You too, huh?” Lily could not help the slightly exasperated sigh that escaped her lips as she heard the voice of James Potter. She had tried to avoid him since her conversation with Daphne in early January, yet she seemed unable to escape him. As much effort as she put into avoiding him, he seemed to put just as much effort into finding her.
“What?” Lily had been so lost in her own thoughts she really had no idea what he was attempting to commiserate with her about.
“Geez Evans, you look dazed.” James said with a laugh. “I said,” he began again, speaking slowly as if to a very dense person, “You have a lot of makeup work too, huh?”
“Oh, yeah, I guess you do too?” Lily asked, trying to keep her tone friendly but at the same time reproachful enough that he would not think he could continue to play her for a fool.
“Mind if I sit,” he asked though Lily noted he had already pulled the chair out and had not waited for an answer.
“Sure, make yourself comfortable,” Lily said, with more than a little hint of sarcasm.
“I will, thanks,” James said with a wink. Lily rolled her eyes and attempted to get back to work on her potions essay. She felt his eyes on her, but she resolutely stared at her paper until at last he seemed to give up and began to work on his own homework. Lily was surprised by how easy it was to work with him at her side, an easy, companionable silence between them. She even managed to successfully complete her potions essay. She stared again at the seemingly endless pile of books, wondering what assignment she should tackle next.
“Shouldn’t you be getting ready?” James asked. “I mean it’s almost 4:30.” Lily, never one to immediately give in to Potter’s games puzzled over what he could possibly be talking about. She stalled by grabbing her charms text and heading her roll of parchment to begin that assignment. She could come up with no answer to his madness, and her patience was waning.
“Do I have plans I’m not aware of, Potter?” Lily asked as she continued writing her introductory paragraph.
“Don’t you and the rest of Slug’s favorites have a Valentine’s party tonight?” James asked, attempting to sound innocently interested. In truth he was desperate to know who she would be spending the evening with, who she would dance with, who she would kiss at night’s end. And even more desperate to know that it could not and would not be him.
“The party doesn’t start until 8.” Lily said matter-of-factly. Then, never one to pass up an opportunity to make Potter squirm, she laid down her quill and fixed him with an imperious gaze, “Just how long do you think it takes me to get ready, Potter. Are you implying there’s something wrong with the way I look now?” She knew that last bit was unfair. Obviously she would not be going to the Valentine’s party in her old pair of sweatpants and the tank top she was currently wearing.
“No!” James said, clearly alarmed that she could have taken offense from his question. “I…I like you in anything you wear. I mean I…” shit how was he supposed to tell her that she was killing him in those big sweat pants and the little tiny tank top, that no matter what she wore he pictured her naked, beneath him, panting his name. That she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen whether she was decked out in diamonds or covered in stink sap from head to toe. That he was madly and irrevocably in love with her and had been from the moment he first laid eyes on her that day five years ago on the Hogwarts’ Express. He had a girlfriend. A girlfriend that LILY had insisted he stay with, even after their sky high make out session over break, and now SHE was taunting him, trapping him. He had no way out he could either say nothing and risk actually offending her if she could even possibly entertain the ridiculous notion that he could find her unattractive; or he could tell exactly how beautiful he thought she was and get told off being a faithless git whose girlfriend was expecting a nice romantic dinner from him tonight on VALENTINE’S DAY. Listening to his own thoughts he couldn’t help but think she wouldn’t be completely off-base to accuse him of being a faithless git, in fact he concluded it appeared he was turning into a completely faithless git. He was broken from his reverie by his favorite sound in the world: Lily Evan’s laughter.
She tried valiantly to hold in her giggles, her eyes watering with the effort, but it was no use they burst forth from her as she could contain them no more.
“You’re evil, Evans” James swore as he breathed a sigh of relief and could not help but join in her laughter.
“I’m sorry,” she said whipping the tears from her eyes. “It was too easy! You absolutely walked right into it. I couldn’t resist! And your facial expression as you were trying to figure out how to weasel your way out of it, I could just see the wheels turning behind those eyes.” They each smiled at each other for a moment. It was the first completely unguarded moment they had had with one another since that night on Christmas Break. And for a moment both of them knew that they were each recalling those sweet, brief, stolen moments up in the sky. “So um speaking of the Slug Club,” Lily said desperate to change the subject to anything else as she tore her eyes away from James’. Had she looked into his gorgeous hazel eyes a moment longer she might not have been able to stop herself from making a complete fool of herself, more so than he already had, and kissing him right there in front of numerous first and second years mulling around the Common Room, “How come you marauders never joined? I know Slughorn tried to collect you as well our first year?”
James hesitated for only a moment before falling back on the humor he always used to deflect such questions.
“Hanging out with a bunch of teacher’s pets isn’t exactly our cup of tea, Evans,” James said with a wink. A remark like that would have once insulted Lily Evans, it would have riled her up, in fact it was what James was hoping for, but he would not get it. Lily Evans knew James Potter a lot better than she once had. She could tell the difference between his real criticisms of her, the ones that tore at her heart, and his bluster, meant specifically to bait her. She rolled her eyes at his idiocy and smiled a placating smile as she responded.
“Potter, I highly doubt that you and the Marauders have ever given up a chance to be praised and glorified even if it is by a teacher. I mean you’re hardly modest.” He searched for another explanation but could not find it.
“What can I say? When you’re right, you’re right, Evans.” James said with a sheepish grin, hoping beyond hope that the conversation was over. But of course he knew it wasn’t. One of the things he loved about Lily was her determination, she had sensed his reluctance of the subjected, sensed that he was hiding something, and she would uncover what it was.
“Yes, well since I’m right, why don’t you tell me the real reason you and Black rejected Slughorn. You know I do believe you two are the only ones who’ve ever done it.” James hesitated. He could not tell her the truth, he had to lie, and he would have to make it a mean lie, a hurtful lie if it was going to force her to give up. He hated lying to her, and he hated hurting even more. But he could not tell Lily that he and Sirius had been willing to join the Slug Club until they discovered that their equally smart best friend Remus was being excluded because he was a werewolf. Slughorn only chose students who he thought would help improve his own power, whose likely advancement in the Wizarding World he could claim credit for. A werewolf was not, in Slughorn’s eyes, a worthy candidate for his praise. He would never be able to bask in glory, glory Slughorn could share in. And so infuriated by the blatant prejudices of the old man and their deep sense of loyalty to their best friend, both boys had steadfastly refused the courting of the Potions Master. But that secret was not his to tell, not even to Lily. And so he had to hurt her, even if it nearly killed him. He rolled his eyes at her and looked into her big beautiful green eyes. He tried to force enough venom into his voice that it would be believable, but he was never sure how well it actually worked.
“We don’t like to associate ourselves with that lot, there’s an awful lot of Death Eaters in that club.” She did flinch, but only just. She opened her mouth and he was sure she was getting ready to fire back with some witty retort, but he never heard what it was because at that moment a frightened First Year rushed through the Portrait Hole.
“He’s been sighted!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You-Know-Who! He’s been seen in Dove Town!!!!” Several of the other First and Second years in the Common Room screamed, many looked toward James and Lily for guidance, after all they were older and each held positions of authority. Lily was a Prefect, and James was the Quidditch Captain.
“Bring that paper here,” James asked the frightened boy. His first instinct when the First Year had first shouted the news had been to grab Lily’s hand, he was relieved that she had thus far not decided it was unnecessary and was continuing to allow the small contact. The First Year retreated back among the other students, none of them wanted to get too close to the intimidating pair of Sixth Years who were legendary not only for their fighting prowess against each other, but for their individual skills. James spread the article in front of him and Lily and they each began to read.
“Dove Town isn’t far from here, is it?” Lily asked. She had a vague idea of where the town was located but having not grown up in the Wizarding World, she was not as familiar as she knew James was with its geography. James nodded his head in agreement.
“It’s just on the other side of those mountains, no more than 100 km from Hogsmede.” He replied. Each was talking in hushed tones, very aware of their audience.
“Hogsmede,” Lily yelped. “Everyone is in Hogsmede today!” She whispered frantically to James, tears coming to her eyes as she thought of her best friend, suddenly seemingly in harm’s way.
“Shh! Lily, it’s okay,” James attempted to comfort her. “Lily, listen to me. Everyone is going to be fine. It’s not like Voldemort is likely to be hiking the mountain pass. He’d apparate, which means he’s never more than a second away from us. He’s no more likely to pop into Hogsmede now than he is any other day.”
“You’re right,” Lily conceded. “I was being silly. I guess I can’t help but still think the muggle way about some things.”
“You’re not silly. And you’re right the closer he is to Hogwarts is worrisome. For one thing it makes me wonder if he’s really as afraid of Dumbledore as everyone says.”
“Surely, he would never come to Hogwarts?” Lily stated incredulously.
“I don’t know. I’m beginning to think there’s not a lot he wouldn’t do.”
“James,” Lily said squeezing his hand tightly and turning to look him directly in the eye. “Please, promise me you’ll be careful. I’m not an idiot, I know better than anyone that you and the other boys have ways of getting out and around this castle undetected. And I know that you won’t stop, so I won’t ask you to because I don’t want you to lie to me, but please, please be careful! There’s more at stake than just some stupid detention, it could be life or death!”
“Gee, Evans, I didn’t know you cared,” James said, determined to lighten the mood.
“I don’t,” Lily said rolling her eyes and turning away from him once more and returning to her school work, taking her hand with her. “I care about your mother and I’d really rather not have to explain to her how you and Sirius managed to get yourself blown to bits just because you idiots were worried about your rum running business.”
“Touché, Evans, Touché.”
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