“Lily, you look wonderful,” James grinned, greeting her at the front entrance before heading to Hogsmeade.
Lily grinned wryly in reply. “Thank you. Please try not to make this harder than absolutely necessary? My patience can only be stretched so far.”
James’ smile refused to falter. “As you wish. Shall we?” He gestured towards the open front door, following Lily down the path towards Hogsmeade. He spoke animatedly the entire walk, jumping from talk about Head’s duties to what he had done on his Christmas break to NEWT preparations to his friends and then to his excitement about the upcoming quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.
“All we need if a forty-point lead to bump them out of the running—and that’s hardly anything!” He lowered his hands and dropped his voice likewise when he saw that Lily was looking wistfully at a group of girls laughing a carrying on a few feet in front of them. “I’m boring you.”
Lily had the courtesy to look slightly embarrassed at being caught. A git James may be, but it simply wasn’t in Lily’s nature to be unnecessarily rude. She chuckled apologetically. “Sorry, I’ve got a lot on my mind right now. What were you saying?”
James quirked a crooked grin, shrugging it off. “Nothing important. You should pick a topic.”
Letting out a sigh and awkward roll of her eyes, Lily looked over at him. “Erm… what sort of topic?”
“Anything,” James replied casually. “How about your family?”
“Hmm,” Lily pondered, taking to look at the scenery once again. “There’s not much interesting to tell, I’m afraid. Muggles, you know… nothing much exciting to a wizard.”
“Don’t be so sure. I’ve never met Muggles; I’m sure most anything about them would seem interesting to me, just because it’s so strange and different.”
Lily’s eyebrows creased. “They’re still people, you know.”
James held up his hands in surrender. “Sorry! I didn’t mean—it’s just, well, jobs, for instance. What’s that one that’s like a healer, but with no magic?”
Catching on to his ignorance, she smiled indulgently at him. “A doctor?”
“Yeah, that’s the ticket! Can your parents do that?”
Lily snorted. “Can you?”
James shrugged and put his hands in his pockets. He looked away for a moment, for once unsure of what to say to change the situation.
Seeing how hard James was trying to keep his act together for her benefit, Lily suddenly felt ashamed for her tone. Biting her lip, she sighed. “No, they can’t. My Mom is a receptionist for an eye doctor and a part-time piano teacher in the evenings, and my Dad drives the subway trains.”
James grinned over at her. “Subway trains… I would be terrified to take responsibility of that many people without the use of magic. Anything could go wrong! Even magicless cars seem risky.. do you know how to drive?”
Lily laughed. “Of course! I go for my permanent license this summer.”
“Really? Is there anything you can’t do? Lily Evans: Master of Muggle-dom and Witchcraft-ery.”
She burst out laughing. “James Potter: terrible at proper use of the English language.”
James grinned, proud of his efforts at making Lily laugh (even if she was laughing at him). Wanting to push his luck, he continued on. “What about the rest of your family? Any brothers or sisters?”
The smile faded off of Lily’s face. “Yes, I’ve got an older sister. Nothing much to tell there though. She hates me,” Lily sighed.
James’ brow furrowed. “What would make you say that? I’m sure she doesn’t hate you.”
With a wry grin at her shoes, Lily replied, “I know she does, because she tells me all the time. She doesn’t like magic, or at least that I can do it but she can’t.”
“What a cow,” James scoffed, before he could stop himself.
Instead of scolding him, like he immediately expected- and possibly deserved- Lily laughed once again. At James questioning look, she confided, “Interesting choice of words; I once charmed her dinner chair to ‘moo’ every time she sat down in it.”
James let out a disbelieving chuckle. “I’m sure she deserved it.”
“Mum was furious though. We had a ‘guest’,” Lily responded with a wrinkle of her nose. “Vernon Dursley, my sister’s walrus of a boyfriend—sorry, fiancé.”
“Nice fellow, then?” James chided.
“Terrible. Even worse than my sister, actually. They make such a charming couple.”
James looked around and realized that they had had their first real conversation, and had chatted themselves down the main street of Hogsmeade. Wanting to keep the conversation flowing, he gestured towards the pub. What do you reckon? The Three Broomsticks?” He asked politely. “Hog’s Head?” He offered with a smirk.
“Madame Puddifoot’s?” She suggested seriously.
James’ smile faltered at the thought of the heavily perfumed tea shop he had visited in his fourth year; he and Sirius had been doing some educational and necessary research. He hadn’t taken Lily for the sort of girl who would fancy a place like that.
“I’m taking the mickey,” she giggled, delighted by the somewhat pained expression on his face. “Three Broomsticks, yeah?”
The pair found a table, and James made his way through the crowded room to the bar to place their order.
Lily was unbuttoning her cloak when a shadow fell across the table.
“Lily,” Severus breathed. “I was hoping you would be here. I wanted to apologize. I’m—”
“I’m on a date,” Lily interrupted evenly, looking him in the eye. “You’ve said what you needed to say, and so have I. You made your decision; I’m through.”
A confused look crossed Severus’ features. With an incredulous look, he breathed, “a date? With… you can’t be serious?”
James took that moment to set two drinks down on the table. “Lost, are you?”
Snape’s head turned from Lily to James and back again.
Lily stared blankly back at Snape, before turning to James with a falsely sweet smile on her face. “Thank you, James.” She then placed her hand on top of his on the table.
James’ eyebrows rose at the small gestured, but returned to normal when Snape let out a gasp.
His whole demeanor deflating, Snape muttered, “right, then… it’s done…” before turning and leaving the pub.
James made sure he had left before taking his seat across from Lily. “You alright?”
Lily nodded, her eyes on the table. “I’ll pay you back,” she motioned, both hands wrapped around the mug of Butterbeer.
He quirked a smile. “Don’t worry about it.”
“No, I will, I was just using the gesture for effect.”
James sighed at her with a small smile, and leaned in towards her and spoke in a hushed whisper. “Oh, I know that, but you will really wound my fragile male ego if you don’t let me spot the bill.”
His words had the desired effect: Lily grinned and took a sip from her mug.
They sat in silence for a moment, Lily contemplating, James trying to phrase his next though carefully.
“Why—I mean, I never understood that friendship,” he started, keeping his tone even. “You’re just so different. I think that’s what always bothered me the most, you know? Like it was only in place strictly to annoy me.”
Lily looked up with a sad smile. "You flatter yourself too much, has anyone ever told you that?”
James took on a humbler smile. “Maybe once or twice.”
“It was just… he was there for me. Before Hogwarts, I mean… he told me about it, about what I was. He was my friend.” She looked up at him earnestly.
“What a prat,” James sniffed.
Lily’s brow knit together in disapproval. “Do we really need to do this?”
“Sorry—I just meant that I can’t imagine someone you consider a friend treating you so poorly. I’d never believe one of my mates could betray me like that.”
Lily’s expression smoothed itself once again, and she looked sadly down at her cooling mug of Butterbeer. “I guess you’ve just got better friends that I have,”
“You shouldn’t be going making generalizations like that now, Lily, not over one person. What about that one girl in our house, real small and quiet—Alice? You two seem to spend a lot of time together.”
Lily’s face brightened considerably. “Yes, Alice is wonderful; she’s certainly helped me deal with a lot of… things, over the years.” She grinned meaningfully over at him.
“Ah,” James sighed, leaning across the table conspiratorially, “does she have any good advice?”
Lily leaned in likewise. “Depends on your definition of good.”
James leaned back in his chair and stroked his chin in mock thought. “I wonder if that means I should like her or not…”
“You should be the first to line up at the altar of Alice,” Lily rolled her eyes. “Though I guess she was right about one thing.”
“Really?” James beamed. “And what would that be?
Lily grinned coyly up through her lashes. “Cold Butterbeer is terrible.”
James’ eyebrows drew together in confusion. “Is that a metaphor?”
Laughter burst from Lily’s lips as she stood to throw her travelling cloak over her shoulders. “It’s a simple fact. What do you say we get out of here? I need to slip into the supply store for some more quills, and I want to up Honeydukes before it’s too late.”
James finished his Butterbeer in one gulp before grabbing his cloak and following Lily out the door.
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