Chapter 2 : Violet
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Disclaimer: Any characters or locations you recognise belong to J.K. Rowling.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain
“Where, like a pillow on a bed, / A pregnant bank swelled up, to rest / The violet's reclining head, / Sat we two, one another's best.” John Donne
The second flower James Potter gave to Lily Evans was a violet. Just as his first gift to her, this one was also not premeditated but James knew that when an opportunity appeared on the horizon, you had to grab it by the collar and never let go.
It was a busy Monday morning in Hogwarts and most of the students were having breakfast in the Great Hall. On the Gryffindor table, Sirius Black was chatting with his friends Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. He was also wondering where their last partner in crime and unofficial leader James Potter was. It was not in James’ nature to skip breakfast (or any other meal for that matter). Sirius did not have to wonder much longer, though. Not a minute had passed when the doors of the Great Hall opened and James Potter himself entered. His hair was disheveled, his glasses were a bit crooked and in short he looked like a Hippogriff attack survivor. Nevertheless, he had a wide grin on his face.
“James, my dearest friend, who or what attacked you?” asked Sirius.
James looked at him disapprovingly. “No one attacked me. I went for a morning fly with my broom.”
“Riiight. And why did you feel the particular need to go flying at 7:30 in the winter?”
“Didn’t I tell you? Henry Dawson, one of the Gryffindor chasers, got a nasty case of pixie fever. The Quidditch team needs a back-up chaser. The tryouts are on Saturday and I need to be in my best shape.”
“Do you think they’ll take you, a second year?” inquired Remus.
“Ha! Of course, they’ll take me,” answered James with a determination that could probably crush mountains given the chance. ”Who would say no to the wonderful, amazing and brilliant James Potter? The only reason I’m not on the team yet is that they had all their chaser positions filled at the beginning of the year.”
“Have you ever thought that the reason that you are not on the team is because your broom cannot fly with you and your big ego on it?” the voice of one Lily Evans came from behind him.
James turned around and gave her one of his trademark smiles. “Good morning, lovely Evans. Why don’t you join our wonderful group of Gryffindor knights for breakfast?”
Lily snorted at him. “Ha, more like the Knights of the very poorly constructed Round Table, if you ask me. I am already finished, and for you information, I think you should take a shower before going to class. You smell like something fowl died on you.”
“Oh my, thank you! You smell lovely, too!”
Truth to be told, James really thought that she smelled lovely. It was some flowery scent that he just couldn’t put a name on at the moment. Pity that she didn’t want to have breakfast with him. She certainly didn’t need to be so bitter that yesterday he and Sirius turned Snape’s hair fluorescent pink. In a very weird way, it suited him perfectly.
“James. James.” Sirius nudged his friend. “Get up, we’ll be late for Minnie.”
The four boys arrived just in time so that James could take a seat behind Lily Evans.
“Now, children, today we will discuss and perform non-associative transfiguration. Non-associative transfiguration means that we are transfiguring objects that do not share the material, visual or any other properties with the subject of transfiguration. As some of you may remember,” Prof. McGonagall looked at Peter with an expression of unmistakable doubt. ”Up to this point, we transfigured objects that share some similarities – an example of that would be the transformation of the pincushion with needles into a hedgehog. But if the objects are inherently very different or do not subconsciously remind the wizard or witch of their transfiguration goal, it is a great deal harder.”
“I do not expect many of you to succeed on the first try but that does not mean that I will tolerate slacking. Now, come to my desk and take a button each. We’ll be transfiguring the buttons into flowers. While I do not require a particular flower, since it will be easier for you to conjure what is currently on your mind,” at this point of time she grimaced a little bit. ”I swear, if I see one more rose in this class, I am going to send you to weed Professor Sprout’s Snarling Rosebushes.”
Some people in the room eyed each other nervously. Indeed, they were thinking of roses, especially the boys who as a whole were not very familiar with the existing flora. James on the other hand had an expression of utmost determination. His friends did not know yet, but he had a plan... Earlier this year, he and Sirius (and subsequently Peter) had figured out that their friend Remus was a werewolf. While Remus himself was amazed and flattered beyond belief that he had found friends that would accept him for whom he was, James did not deem their mere acceptance enough. Despite his roughish prankster (sometimes even a little cruel) exterior, he was a boy of a genuinely good heart. That was why he came up with the idea that he, Sirius and Peter become Animagi and follow their friend on the nights of the full moon. There was a only a tiny little flaw to that plan – Animagus transformation was extremely advanced transfiguration magic. And that was the reason why he read a thousand transfiguration books. He tried harder than in any other subject. Unlike in other classes, he was always listening to McGonagall. And he was definitely going to transfigure that stupid button today.
Better said than done, though. No matter how much he was imagining the snapdragon in his mind (after all, he had experience with charming them, shouldn’t be too hard to transfigure one) the button continued to remain indignantly button-y. Next to him, Sirius had managed to grow thorns from his button, which garnered him a disapproving look from McGonagall.
James closed his eyes for a second and tried to remember her instructions. She said something about subconsciously having the object in mind. Easy then - aren’t we all masters of our inner repressed thoughts?
Minutes passed and passed, but no one had transfigured a flower yet (“And no Mister Black, the Button thorn is most certainly not a certified species of the plant kingdom.”). By this point, James was getting really exasperated. His mind started to wander toward the red-haired wonder sitting in front of him. Why was she friends with that git Snape anyway? He didn’t even wash his greasy hair for Merlin’s sake! Speaking of hair, it seemed that Lily’s nice smell came from her hair. Probably her shampoo. It was so intoxicating, but what was it? Something sweet, something that his mother used to give flavour to his favourite pie... But he was digressing, back to the flower. He swished his wand again, muttered the spell and to his great surprise, the button transformed into a pretty violet.
“My, Potter, I cannot believe you managed in the first lesson. Ten points to Gryffindor.” McGonagall sounded extremely surprised, too, though her expression was one of a proud mother hen. The class stared back suspiciously at James.
“Oh mate, a violet. I bet you were thinking of that old violet candy.” Sirius laughed at him.
When the class ended, James was the only one to have managed to transfigure his button. He now knew what Lily’s hair smelled of – violets. Maybe he should give her the flower as a thank you gift, but what was he going to say to her? I transformed the button into the smell of your shampoo, but no, I am not some kind of a stalker.
He nudged Sirius. “Hey mate, can you do me a favour? When you go out of the classroom, can you “accidentally” spill Evans’ ink bottle and maybe push her books to the ground?”
Sirius eyed him with a look that clearly said ‘You’ve finally lost your marbles.’, but on his way out did so anyway. As planned, Lily started screaming at him (“You big-headed chimpanzee!”) and had to stay behind to clean up and collect her stuff. While she was picking a book from the ground, James quickly left the violet on her desk and ran for the door.
All in all, James was pleased. He clearly was the best in Transfiguration for the moment and he did not doubt that some day in the future, they would be able to accompany Remus as Animagi in the nights of the full moon. But today, when he gave Lily the violet, another desire was born in him – to impress her. During the course of the years, James would pursue this goal with passion and zeal that few people this side of the universe possess. After all, he wanted her to see that he was better than anyone else. Thus, in a strange and unexpected way, Lily made him better.
When Lily collected her books from the floor, she was surprised to see James’ transfigured violet on her desk. She thought that he wanted to gloat over the fact that he could transfigure it while she couldn’t. What was even more surprising, though, was that violet was the smell of her shampoo. She wondered whether it was a pure coincidence... well, she was throwing away that shampoo anyways. It reminded her of the happy summers of her childhood when she and her sister played in their garden full of violets. Since Lily found out that she was a witch, Petunia was continuously growing colder and crueler towards her little sister, enough to make Lily often cry in her bed in the Gryffindor dormitory. Yes, she certainly did not need the smell of violets in her shampoo to remind her of the increasing rift between her and her sister. First thing after classes – get rid of the horrible thing.
In the years that followed, Lily’s roommate Alice was often puzzled why Lily would always charm her shampoo to smell like violets.
Author’s note: Sooo, you may have noticed the two quotes that I used this time in the beginning. That is due to the fact that I liked them both very much and while one illustrates Lily’s memory with Petunia, the other one connects her more to James. I hope you liked this chapter! Till next time and don’t feel shy – voice your opinion in the reviews ;))
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