Chapter 5 : Sunflower
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"Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower also. He attracts and follows." Jean Paul Richter
The fifth flower that James Potter gave to Lily Evans was a blooming sunflower. It was a joyous and thoughtful gift that later turned into a heartfelt apology.
James and Sirius were hurrying for Defense against the Dark Arts and managed to get there just in time. The only open seats were at the second row, just behind Lily Evans and Alice Prewett. That of course, was a lucky arrangement for James, though it rendered a few complaints from Sirius ("Aw, Prongs, seats at the front? Now I'm going to have to listen to you for a whole hour ramble on and on about Evans!").
The Defense teacher was an old and fragile-looking man and was almost always late for his own classes. That gave James the opportunity to listen to the ongoing conversation between Lily and her roommate Alice.
"Lily, that's really so great! I wish you'd take me some time to a Muggle gallery. That Van Gogh guy's paintings sound magnificent!" Alice exclaimed.
"They really are. He is probably my favourite artist. I am glad that mum and dad took me during the holidays to see the visiting exhibition of some of his greatest works. I am not sure if I'd be able to see them again in person." Lily said dreamily. Almost immediately afterwards, Prof. William Gaud entered the classroom, effectively putting an ending to all conversations.
Defense against the Dark Arts passed monotonously as usual and soon enough the time for lunch came. At the Gryffindor table, one excited boy was telling his new plans for acquiring his love interest to his mates, who have long ago resigned to their fate of having to listen to his ramblings.
"So, guess what I learned today in DADA about Evans." James said in a hushed voice.
"Her hexes are as painful as she is beautiful?" Remus guessed.
"Seriously, Moony, it was only for educational purposes. Lily-flower just wanted to show the professor how good she was." It was questionable whether James wanted to convince his mates or himself. He grabbed another pumpkin pie and stuffed it in his mouth.
"I am not so sure about that Prongsy." Sirius laughed. "If you ask me, she enjoyed that hex a bit too much."
"Guys, please, will you stop this. And no, that wasn't the important information I acquired today. What I learned was that Lily's favourite Muggle artist was someone called Vangoo."
It was at that exact moment that Remus spitted out the pumpkin juice he was drinking and laughter erupted at their part of the table.
"The Muggles have someone called Vangoo. Interesting choice of name." Sirius was now leaning at the table to support himself from falling off the bench.
Remus on the other hand tried to quickly compose himself and with a sly grin on his face said to James. "Are you sure she said Vangoo. Because, you know, I have heard of a Muggle artist called Van Gogh, but Vangoo doesn't ring a bell."
James almost jumped out of his seat, causing several people to look at him strangely (though few of them were surprised. He was famous for his loud outbursts and all around wacky behaviour).
"Yes, that's the one! What do you know about him?"
Remus weighed the pros and cons of telling James about Van Gogh. Well, James was going to found out in one way or another, plus he was sure that something amusing would come out of it.
"Van Gogh is one of the most famous Muggle painters. He is part of the post-impressionist movement and I am sure you can find out more about him in a book about Muggle artists in the library. You may even see some of his paintings in it."
"Moony, my friend, I knew I could always count on your infinite knowledge and wisdom. Unlike this imbecile here." James looked reproachfully at Sirius who was now trying to arrange the food in his plate as some kind of wacky painting. He even labelled it with mustard – Van Padfoot.
James took his school bag and got off his seat. "Gentlemen, I am going to the library to research Van Gogh. I just hope he's better than our friend Van Padfoot here."
When he got in the library, James dropped off his bag on a table and went to the Muggle book section nearby. He wondered whether he could get some useful information about a gift for Lily from the Van Gogh guy. A painting would be too much. Maybe he could order some kind of album with his works? Flourish and Blotts sometimes took orders for Muggle books. Oh my, it seems that few people frequented the Muggle section in the library. The books were covered with dust and he had to brush off some of it in order to see the titles of the books. He saw one labeled Art through the ages 1300-1900. Seemed good enough.
Carefully, James took the book off the shelf and carried it to his table. He opened it and started browsing through the pages. There was some seriously weird stuff there. And... a lot nudity, especially in the earlier pages. Just as every other male hormonal teenager, James chuckled at those paintings. Aha! Finally, he found the Van guy and started reading about him.
Hmm, Lily apparently had a weird taste. This Van Gogh sounded like an unusual man. But on the other hand, James was also unusual. Maybe if he cut off an ear, Lily would like it? Stupid idea, it would be too painful, plus he was rather attached to his ear. He has had it for his whole life after all and its absence would ruin the perfection that was James Potter.
On the next page, James found Muggle photos of some of the paintings. Actually, they were kind of good. They weren't... common. They weren't a perfect accurate representation of the real world but rather looked like another reality that the painter himself was seeing and reproducing. Such a beautiful night view... the village kind of reminded him of Hogsmeade. The next picture immediately made the wheels in James' mind start spinning. It was a beautiful painting of a vase of sunflowers. It was emanating such joy of life. Exactly what Lily made James feel – complete and total exuberant joy of life. Maybe he could continue his tradition of giving her flowers and present her with a sunflower. He would write her a card which said "A sunflower for my sunshine". Because... didn't Lily made his life brighter after all?
Unfortunately, later that day an event occurred that made James' wonderful plan fall into dust.
James and Sirius were enjoying one of their favourite activities – making fun of Severus Snape. Naturally, Lily had to see them and give James a piece of her mind. He had never seen her so angry before, but that didn't stop him from asking her out on a date. Needless to say, that made things worse and the cherry on top was Snape calling Lily a Mudblood. She had said that she didn't want to see any of them ever again.
Presently, James was sitting on his bed in the boys dormitory with his hands on his head.
"How could I do this? It was so stupid. Now Lily is going to hate me forever!" he cried to his concerned friends sitting around him. "But Snivellous is just so... argh! I hate him. He goes around with Evans for five years and he has the guts to call her... call her... that horrible word! And then she tells me that I am the horrible one! Can't she see that I was defending her?"
Remus felt the need to interject. "James, I agree that her reaction was a bit over the top, but admit it, you were way too cruel to Snape this time. You crossed the line."
"And who are you to say this, Moony?" Sirius almost barked. "It's not like you were stopping us, right? That awful git deserved what he got. Always sneaking around, following us, trying to get us expelled, trying to find out your secret! Don't make it sound like he is some innocent victim and we are the bad guys!"
James raised his head. "But in a way we are, aren't we. We are always responding to violence with violence. And he does it again. And then we do it again. The vicious circle never stops."
Sirius looked at him angrily. " James, I don't like what you're implying..."
"I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY, SIRIUS. It doesn't matter anymore – what Snape did, what we did... I lost Lily forever, she is never going to speak to me again." James got up and took the sunflower and the card from his nightstand. "And I put so much thought in this flower. I wanted to show Lily my softer side. But I apparently lack it, so it's pointless. All my efforts – gone to waste in a second."
He went to the desk in their room, scribbled something on the card and stormed out of the dormitory.
After slamming the door and nearly falling down the stairs, James reached Gryffindor's common room and looked around. Lily was nowhere to be seen but he noticed his friend Mal Perry doing homework in one of the corner. He approached her to ask her to call Lily so that he could apologize.
"Nooo way Jimmy," Mal laughed. "I had to go out of our room because Evans was really fuming. And crying. She's a mess, if I call her right now, she's going to Avada Kedavra you, I guarantee."
"Can she do it?" he asked cautiously. "Nevermind."
"But... just because you are a friend. I can give her your apology present later."
James was a bit surprised. "Why are you helping me? Doesn't it break some girl code and don't you want to know what I did to set her off?"
Mal gave him her best Cheshire cat grin. "Frankly, I don't give a damn about your argument and you know I am not good friends with Evans. I am actually hoping that your present can piss her off a bit more. I do this for my entertainment only."
A few days later, Lily Evans woke up in her bed in the girl's dormitory. She pushed the heavy blanket from herself and faced the nightstand. A single sunflower with a card was standing on it.
Lily took the card and opened it. There were only two lines written on it. The first one was "You are my sunshine" and it was crossed. The other was "I am so sorry" and it was signed by James Potter. Lily's frustration had subsided since the previous day happenings but his audacity to seek her forgiveness ignited the flames of her anger again. Did James Potter think that it was enough – one flower and that was it, he was forgiven for everything. For every stupid comment in class, for every joke towards her red hair, for every prank on her, for every insult to Severus... no, Severus was Snape now. All because of Potter.
In a fit of anger, Lily took the sunflower and ripped some of its petals. Ha! She couldn't do this to Potter, but at least his flower was now dead meat... metaphorically speaking.
Not a minute had passed though, when Lily - just like a kid who had broken her favourite toy, realised what she did. She had torn a perfectly beautiful sunflower, whose only wrongdoing was falling into the hands of James Potter. Oh no! Maybe she could somehow repair it with a charm! It was such a pretty flower, why did she have to tear it? Plus, Potter had been avoiding her these days. He and his merry men were surprisingly quiet and she hadn't seen him sneak even a glance on her. So she had no reason to be particularly angry with him anymore.
Lily looked again at the sunflower – could it be that she was angry with him for completely avoiding her and not apologising? But he did appologise after all, didn't he? Lily played with the sunflower in her hands for a while and suddenly a horrible thought passed through her mind. She was so used to James' attention by now that without him in her everyday life, she felt just like the sunflower after she tore its petals... Incomplete.
Author's note: Hello again! This one is a bit more dramatic. But I just had to tie it somehow with Snape's worst memory! I couldn't leave this big moment in Lily and James' relationship unanswered. Btw, if you are wondering, Mal gave the flower to Lily a few days later, because she was waiting for her to stop being angry with James. Even though she mocked James about it, she isn't so bad. xD
So... did you like this one? Thank you for all the wonderful reviews by the way! And happy queue opening!