Chapter 1 : One Shot.
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James' attention was otherwise engaged. He was staring with deep respect at the gleaming red train before him, smoke billowing from the pistons as the engines chug-chug-chugged, getting ready to transport all the students to Hogwarts.
James had always had a deep respect for steam engines, ever since he was a little boy. He loved the sounds as they clattered across the rails and the shrill whistle whenever the steam pressure became too great in the engine room and needed to be relieved. He found them very calming and relaxing and his favourite mode of transport, second only to the sensation of flying on his broomstick.
"James, is this right?" Peter asked, his voice slightly squeaky which resulted in Sirius to snicker. James raised an eyebrow slightly, looking from the corner of his eye to glance upon Peter holding his wand incorrectly, turned more upon himself than anything else, and trying to perform a complex wand motion that Sirius had taught him that was most definitely incorrect. He could see Sirius' shoulders shaking with mirth too, glee etched into every line of his features which he quickly and carefully schooled into one of encouragement and hopefulness as Peter turned his watery gaze upon him instead. James chose to ignore the two, as Remus had wisely done, and focus his attention back upon the wonderful train.
However, his beloved train now looked ugly, uninteresting and bland; his gaze had landed upon something else entirely, something unexpected, something far more pleasing on his eye.
A girl stood beside the Hogwarts Express, talking to two students younger than she. Their confused, baby faces made James believe they were first years, lost, confused and overwhelmed by everything around them. A quick glance away showed concerned, weepy mothers and brave faced fathers standing nearby, listening intently to the kind words spoken but lacking in courage to get too near.
James turned his attention back to what had caught his eye and tricked his mind into thinking the train was anything less than perfect, but there it was again. His train looked unimpressive and faded compared to what his hazel eyes now saw; he had an uncontrollable desire to wipe his glasses upon the bottom of his shirt, just to make sure the smoke from the train hadn't fogged his vision.
He was aware that Remus was asking him a question whilst Sirius and Peter practiced the incorrect Accio charm; James wasn't interested and quickly chose to clean his glasses instead. Blinded, he glanced back ahead of himself but everything was too blurry to make out, making him believe that it had all been a trick of the light but once he had replaced his glasses, there was no mistaking it. He drew in a deep, disbelieving breath of air.
"Fuck." Remus sighed besides James and muttered something about the use of bad language around young students, but James couldn't have cared. Standing before him, capturing his gaze so successfully and drowning everything else out around him was a vision that held him absolutely spellbound.
Looking as if she had just arrived from a family picnic on a pleasant summer's day stood a vision of beauty, going by the name of Lily Evans.
Bookworm, Lily Evans.
Control Freak, Lily Evans.
Teachers Pet, Lily Evans.
James thought he was going insane; in no situation would he have ever sanely thought fellow - now Fifth Year, Gryffindor - Lily Evans was... pretty.
But there was no mistaking it; she looked pretty, very pretty. Beautiful even, with her long thick hair doing its best to match the colour of the train but failed in the end, settling for a deeper auburn which James found much easier on the eye. Her skin was a shade or two darker, no doubt from having spent much of the holidays outside which made her skin look radiant, but dull in comparison to her happy, joyful smile that adorned her lightly freckled face.
He tilted his head to the side and lent heavily upon his right leg, just admiring her. She looked so happy and carefree as she assisted new students get settled and set parents minds at ease once and for all. She turned slightly and James felt a little colour rise upon his neck, noticing that it wasn't just the fact her hair and smile had altered to look prettier in the few months away from school. More things had changed during the holidays and James was both captivated by this mesmerizing discovery and embarrassed by it at the same time. He found himself liking her green cotton sundress she was currently wearing very much, for it not only aided him in the discovery, but for completing the picture in his mind that Lily Evans had blossomed into a very pretty girl in the few months since he had last seen her.
He stumbled backwards a little as a hand was waved directly in front of his glasses, breaking his eye contact currently admiring the neckline of Lily's dress as he staggered and regained his balance so he would not fall over. James glared at Sirius who had an impish grin upon his face as he moved to stand alongside James, his grey eyes alight with mischief.
"Remus told me I had to leave Peter alone before he erased his own memory by mistake, so here I am. We could always hex old Moony and obliterate Wormtail though; could make for an interesting start to the year," Sirius mused for the sake of musing, still grinning devilishly at James. "You know, Prongs, if you stare any harder, Evans might just hex you instead which would also make for an interesting start to the year."
James blanched, wanting to recover for having been sprung so easily. "What? No. NO! It's Evans! Can you imagine me with a teachers pet like her? I'd never be able to have any fun ever again, well, with clothes on at any rate."
Sirius laughed an odd, barking sound which caught the interest of a few people standing by who turned to look in their general direction to see what all the fuss was about; James wanted them all to butt out.
"Prongs, I didn't even suggest you two shacking up; I just said you were staring so hard I'm surprised she hasn't noticed yet. You're right though, she definitely got hotter over the holidays. Bet she's still a prude; sadly those things don't change easily... Nice looking tits though."
James rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to whack his best mate across the back of the head as an uncomfortable feeling settled into his stomach at the very idea of Sirius looking so carelessly upon Lily's chest, a place he himself felt so ashamed of having noticed in the first place. He chanced another glance back upon Lily and his eyes were drawn instantly to the subject being discussed and he swallowed hard before averting his eyes to his shoes. Sirius laughed again.
"Blimey Prongs, who would've thought? You've got the hots for Evans-"
"No I do not!" James said indignantly, raising his eyes to challenge Sirius, wanting the slanderous remark to be reversed as the uneasy feeling in his stomach began to play the bongos upon his kidneys. The twisted, unsure look upon his face must have been a good one to witness, for Sirius just erupted into further laughter.
"What's so funny?" James wanted to disappear as Remus and Peter, having overheard Sirius' amused antics, rejoined them, Peter's unproductive charms lesson quite forgotten. Before James had the chance to tell Sirius to shut up if he ever wanted to father children one day, or before he could reach for his wand to stun him, Sirius had opened his mouth and began to speak with sheer amusement dripping off his every word.
"Prongs has got the hots for Evans. You should've seen him; he was ogling her-"
"I was not! I was looking at the... train," James said lamely, colour tainting his cheeks as he now glared at Evans, the source of all his problems. If she had never stood before the steam engine in her pretty green sundress looking so at home alongside her long auburn hair, tanned skin and happy smile, he would never be in this situation.
"You were not James, unless you have a fetish for steam engines," Sirius mocked, eyes still glinting with good humour. As much as James was angered with Sirius, he knew he'd never do anything to cast him aside, especially when he was telling the truth regardless of whether James wanted to hear it or not. Still, he had no qualms in turning him into an immobile object resembling a target for a few hours whilst he taught Peter the subtle art of stinging hexes.
James dragged his hand from his forehead down to his chin and then across his face from his left cheek to his right in irritation, disturbing his aftershave and a distinctly musky smell of pine, nettles and sea salt reached his nostrils. He squirmed slightly as the scent drifted and assaulted his senses and quickly stopped, feeling irritated as his friends continued to talk about James' obvious interest in Lily as if he wasn't even there. Yes, there might have been some truth to their words. He might have been staring at her with far more interest than he ought to be, and admiring the way she looked so happy and carefree as she helped others. He even might have been admiring how proud she looked as older students walking by congratulated her for her newly acquired prefect position which caused her smile to shine nearly as brightly as the silver badge pinned to the front of her dress. He might have been admiring many things about her, but that didn't mean that James Potter liked Lily Evans.
"Stop kidding yourself, Prongs," Sirius said as the whistle began to blow, informing everyone the train was getting ready to depart and they should all start finding compartments for the journey that lay ahead. "You know as well as me that she's more than just a know it all, prudish bookworm."
Sirius clapped him on the back before following Remus and Peter onto the train, leaving James standing quite still and surprised upon the platform as people continued to walk briskly by him and parents said teary-eyed goodbyes to their children with promises to write every week. James glanced back to where Lily was standing and noticed she wasn't there any longer, rather lost to him amongst the throng of students boarding the magnificent steam engine that gleamed brightly and billowed smoke from its pristine silver pistons as it chug-chug-chugged, getting ready to go. The uneasy feeling in his stomach only grew upon realising she had disappeared from his view, a sensation he already didn't like.
James shook his head as the vivid red of the Hogwarts Express once more assaulted his mind and served to calm his thoughts a great deal, returning some of his previously lost composure to him. He gathered his few belongings not already safely on the train, breathed in deeply and sighed.
He was sure, without a shred of doubt, that Lily would hex him before the school year was out.
And he didn't mind at all.
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