- "Lily, dear, just stay a few more minutes. It's not like he's expecting you."
- "James, I'd like for this to be a surprise, for him to figure out for himself who gave it. And that won't happen if I don't go now."
His arms tightened around her waist, making her hip press even closer against his stomach. They had just spent their first night together, and Sirius and the rest of the marauders had been nice enough to leave the dormitory early, leaving the madly in love couple behind.
- "And it's not like I'm going to be away forever, it's just an hour we're talking about."
- "Come on Lils', don't go now. I promise you that he won't get upset just because you decided to give him his Christmas present one day later then you planned. I mean, he doesn't even know you're coming."
- "It's not that I want to give it to him today, I have to. Otherwise it's all a waste."
They were still sitting on the bed, with her in his lap. James had tried to stop her from taking up her clothes from the floor, by wrapping his arms around her and forcing her to sit down.
- "But I'll miss you..."
She kissed him, and then laughed.
- "Don't be a baby, I'll be right back."
Lily knew that James hated to be called 'a baby', so she wasn't surprised when he released her.
- "I don't get why you want to give him a present. He's not a good teacher, and everything evolves around his stupid club..."
- "Is someone mad about not being a part of his club?"
- "No, all I'm saying Lils' is that I don't get why you've gone trough with all this trouble for his gift. He's not worth it!"
- "I know most people find him annoying, stuck-up and thinks it's irritating that he favors some students. And yes, I know I'm one of them. But because of that I've gotten to know him better than you guys, and deep down there's this sweet person that I like. So I think he deserves a Christmas present."
James raised one of his eyebrows, and gave away a sigh.
- "Whatever you say, love."
Lily kept silent while picking up her clothes, and she tried to not remember how they got there in the first place. Because if she did there was a small chance that she'd ever leave the dormitory, and she knew that the best was not to tell James – because he would make sure that she never left.
She gave James a kiss goodbye before she ran down the stair towards the Gryffindor common room. Just as she reached the bottom she paused, trying to get as little attention as possible from the other students in the room. But the few yards that separated the boys entry and the girls was apparently enough for everyone in the room to notice her, and she turned red. It was obvious – at lest for the older students – where and how she had spent her night. Without looking anyone in the eye she ran up to her dormitory and carefully grabbed the bowl she'd left on her nightstand.
Slughorn was indeed a very unique man, and she knew that James wasn't totally unfair by questioning her gift. He did favor students, and his world was narrowed down to his own little bubble. She could see that man, the man that James and almost every other student saw. But she could, indifferent from the rest of the school, look past that and see the nice, kind man underneath.
Her very first lecture had been Potion making. She had been nervous and terrified, and scared that this was going to be the end, that they would realize that they made a terrible mistake and send her back home. With tears in her eyes she sat the entire lesson not hearing one word that came out of Slughorns mouth. Snape, who sat beside her, didn't make any effort to comfort her.
Now, years later, she could see signs already then. Whenever his classmates was around, she didn't exist. It didn't grow during the years as she had thought, it had been there all along. From the moment the sorting hat screamed “Gryffindor!”, their fates shattered apart. It just took her five years to realize.
Lily shook her head, trying to make the depressing thoughts disappear. She hadn't talked to Snape in two years and now, when she dated James, the small chance she ever had at repairing their friendship was gone.
Cautiously she walked down the stair, back to the Gryffindor common room. A group of sixth year students started whispering the moment they laid their eyes on her. She recognized all of them, but one in particular. Sarah Farraw, James ex girlfriend. Sarah, whom she never said a word to, was very open about her feeling towards her. Somehow she though Lily was playing this game, making James believe that she liked him. Her evidence was the huge fight Lily and James had in the end of their fifth year. Lily knew she said some terrible things, and she regretted some of them. But not all, because James had been a different person back then. During the last year he had matured and didn't – at least not in her presence – prank people as much.
Whilst walking towards Slughorns office, she lingered back the memory of her first lesson at Hogwarts. She hadn't realized that the bell had rung before Slughorn laid a hand upon her shoulder, which had made her twitch. And the contact with another human being made the tears roll down her cheeks. Slughorn faced turned terrified at first, but after taking a deep breath he actually comforted her.
Since that day she had been thankful. When she had blurted out that it was impossible that she belonged there, that they must have made a mistake, he calmed her down and told her that every muggleborn felt that way. And that thought had comforted her more than anyone could have imagined. Of course the others felt the same way. Unlike the students that was born into this world, raised with the knowledge that they would leave their families and homes by age eleven, she and the other muggleborns had just had a few months to reconcile with, not just Hogwarts, but the entire wizard world.
She looked down at her wrist to make sure that she still had time, and the clock showed her ten to nine. That meant the she had ten minutes before Slughorn would return from his daily walk. The corridor outside his office was empty, so she felt no need the sneak and just opened the door. As quickly as she dared, she hurried through the room and put the bowl down on his desk. Making sure that the flower petal still floated on the surface, she mumbled a few spells before she hurried back out.
On her way towards the Great hall, where she was supposed to meet James for breakfast, she almost ran into Slughorn. He gave her a little nod, which she responded to. She was thankful for the lack of conversation – which, on the other hand, was quite normal during the mornings, Slughorn wasn't the type that rose with the sun.
- "So, how did it go?"
James sprung up beside her, and gave her a kiss.
- "Oh, very well."
- "How long will the fish live?"
- "As long as I do."
James smiled, and replied before he kissed her again: