“The next Hogsmeade visit is coming up,” Lily informed Mary at dinner time a few days later. “Are you going?”
Mary nodded. “Remus is going with me,” she replied.
“That’s — that’s good.”
“I can cancel with him if you want to come with me,” Mary offered. Lily smiled at her best friend, wondering what in the world she had done to deserve such a nice mate. Not many people would go so far as to refuse a date just to make sure Lily had someone to go to the village with.
“No, it’s fine, Mary,” Lily assured her. “I’ll be in the common room doing homework. I have a ton of it as it is, so I might as well make a start on it at some point. Have fun with Remus.”
Mary smiled. “Oh, we definitely will,” she said cheerfully. “And if you do change your mind and decide to come, you're welcome to join us at The Three Broomsticks.”
“And interrupt you guys? It’s OK, Mary. If, by some kind of miracle, I do decide to go, I’ll meet up with Alice or Davina or Michelle — provided they don't all have dates too. And if not, I’ll just have to go to the Shrieking Shack, won’t I?”
Mary shuddered. “No, whatever you do, love, don’t go there. It’s haunted!”
“Rumours,” Lily dismissed. “They're just rumours, nothing more. It’s not like there's really anyone in there.”
“Anyway,” Mary said, “who’s to say that you're not going to be asked to Hogsmeade?”
“Who would go out with me? ‘Poor, little me’?”
“Actually,” said a male voice from behind her, “I wouldn’t mind going out with you, Lily.” Lily whipped around, and Mary smirked as her best friend’s face went almost as red as her hair.
“So…what d’you say, Lily?” asked Scott Manslow when she didn't reply. “Will you come to Hogsmeade with me?”
“I — er — no, sorry, Scott,” Lily spluttered. “Sorry, it’s just that I'm busy on Saturday. I've got no time. But, er, thanks for asking.”
With that, Lily pushed away her plate and stood up slightly unsteadily. After a couple of wobbles, she managed to walk away from the table. Mary ran after her, also abandoning her food.
“See! What did I tell you?”
“One guy, Mary,” Lily said. “And he’ll be the only one, trust me.”
“And why did you say no? He’s quite good-looking, you know—”
“I thought you were already taken,” Lily countered as they reached the Entrance Hall. She upped her pace and Mary had to jog to keep up with her.
“I only said that he was good-looking,” Mary argued. “That doesn’t mean anything. I'm just…appreciating beauty.”
Lily laughed out loud. Some of the things Mary came out with…they really were laughable. “I'm not in the mood for boys right now, OK?”
“Is there some secret bloke that I don't know about yet?” asked Mary teasingly. “Maybe in the year below us?”
“There’s no one,” Lily told her friend truthfully. I wish there was, she thought wistfully. “Not that anyone would ever fall for me.”
Mary swatted her on the shoulder as she finally caught up with Lily. “Plenty of boys would fall for you — you know that, Lily. I shouldn’t have to tell you this. You watch, babe, and yes you're a babe, there’ll be guys queuing up to ask you to go to Hogsmeade with them. Wait and see. I'm always right. Well. I'm always right about this kind of thing, anyway,” Mary amended.
“Yeah, right,” Lily scoffed sarcastically.
However, despite Lily’s scathing words, over the next week she was indeed asked out by four other boys: Jacob Goldstein, Anthony Chung, Raymond Rickett and even a sixth-year, Kian Robinson. Lily refused all of them, noting bitterly that if William was alive, he definitely would’ve asked her too.
She tried, at least, to let down the sixth-year gently — she had gone out with him once before after all. “I'm sorry, Kian,” she apologised. “I just don't have the time…I'm busy with homework and stuff. If I come later on in the day, I'll try and find you,” Lily said, attempting to reassure him. Kian nodded sadly, accepting defeat.
“Kian’s quite dishy, you know,” Alice Wilkes said as they went into Transfiguration together. “If I wasn’t with someone already …”
“Oh, have you found someone?” Lily asked, surprised.
Alice grinned. “I have, I think — his name’s Frank and he’s meeting me tomorrow in Hogsmeade.”
“Good for you, Alice, good for you,” Lily intoned a tad monotonously. The amount of people in seventh year who were single was rapidly decreasing; even Sirius had managed to beat his own relationship record (of two months) going out with Michelle Clearwater. All around Lily were couples, couples and more couples.
She was also rather frustrated about the fact that James didn’t ask her; somehow, she knew in the back of her mind that she would like to go to Hogsmeade with him, even though her head was telling her what a disaster it would be. So she was extremely taken aback when, on Friday night, the day before the trip, James did just that.
Lily was helping him with his Charms homework, which was to practise a complicated warming charm. James was having a lot of trouble with it. With Lily’s assistance he had finally mastered the charm, but it had taken them so long that they were ten minutes late for their eleven o’clock patrol.
Quickly, James dashed back to his room to put away his Charms book. After this Lily and James began their hurried patrol, discussing random things and managing to finish by midnight. Clearly, the troublemakers at Hogwarts had decided to behave themselves that night.
When James and Lily reached Gryffindor Tower again, Lily saw someone lying on one of the sofas and decided to let him or her be just this once — she was too knackered to tell someone else off at the moment. They both went to their dormitory, yawning as they said the password for the Heads’ common room. Lily was just about to head for her bedroom when James stopped her.
“I heard you had quite a few requests for Hogsmeade lately,” James said, most of his sleepiness gone as he ran his hand through his hair.
“I did, yeah,” Lily replied, watching him suspiciously. Where was he going with this?
“Did you accept any of them?”
She shook her head.
“I…I don’t know. I didn’t feel like it, I suppose,” Lily said.
James took a deep breath before coming straight out with it.
“Lily, can you…can you come to Hogsmeade…with me?” he asked.
“With you? I—” Lily began, fully intending on giving him the excuse that she had given to Scott, Jacob, Anthony, Raymond and Kian about studying. However, the look on James’ face stopped her.
“It could well be the last time you ever go, Lily,” James told her. “You might not get a chance, later on—”
“I thought you’d stopped asking me out at every opportunity?” Lily said before she could stop herself. James’ face fell and she felt a crashing wave of guilt as she realised what she’d just said.
“I'm sorry, James,” Lily said sincerely. “Look — I'll go with you, OK?”
“Out of pity? Or maybe ‘cause you feel sorry for me? I'm OK, thanks, Lily,” James replied calmly, although she was sure she could see a hint of anger deep within his hazel eyes.
Lily had never wished that the floor would open and swallow her up as much as she did now.
He started to walk away from her. But before he could reach his bedroom, he felt a hand on his arm, and he turned around slowly. Lily took it as a good sign that he didn’t remove her hand from him.
“Can you come to Hogsmeade with me?” Lily asked softly. “As my friend, James?”
There was a long, pregnant pause.
“I didn't mean what I said,” Lily added hastily. “I know you don’t—”
“I — yeah,” James interrupted her suddenly. Lily looked at him strangely. “I — OK. I’ll go with you. I'll — I'll see you then, Lily.”
With that, James opened his door and disappeared behind it for a minute, waiting for her to leave. Upon hearing no sound of footsteps, he came out again to find Lily in the exact same place he left her in. She jumped when she felt his eyes on her.
Then she looked up.
“G’night, James,” Lily bade him softly.
“You didn't!” Sirius sang gaily to James as they sat down for breakfast in the Great Hall.
“He did!” Peter chanted back, playing along with Sirius — despite not knowing what on earth he was talking about — as he came back from the Hufflepuff table (where he was talking to Mafalda Hopkirk in a rather flirtatious fashion). “What are you talking about, by the way?”
“Lily,” Sirius whispered triumphantly, “Lily bloody Evans asked our Jimmy boy here to go to Hogsmeade with her!”
“Oh, yes, she certainly did,” Remus said mildly as he slid onto the bench next to Peter. “Mary was just telling me about it, actually. Where are they? I just saw her and Lily a second ago—”
James sat bolt upright; looking at the Great Hall’s entrance, he spotted Lily and Mary coming in, and, nervously, unconsciously, he ran his hand through his hair, trying his utmost not to catch Lily’s eye. “Do I look OK?”
“Oh, Jimmy boy—” Peter began.
“— You look spiffing, trust me,” Sirius finished, reassuring him with a cheeky grin.
This was it. This was bloody well it. Lily was going to do it at last. After several long years of constant asking, James Potter was getting what he had wanted since the middle of fourth year.
A date. A real, honest-to-God date to Hogsmeade which Lily knew James could look back on in the years to come, that he could share with his children as being his most embarrassing experience with a girl, one that, Lily was sure, he would discuss in detail with his friends just like she would with hers. So, OK, she said that they were going to go as friends, but she had the feeling that James meant it as something else. And for once, this did not seem to bother her.
Lily checked her reflection yet again on the back of her spoon — not that that did her any good. Her forehead looked wider and her nose looked far bigger than usual. She voiced her concerns to Mary, who laughed and snatched the spoon from her, staring at her own reflection.
“Duh,” said Mary, waving the spoon at her. “That’s what a spoon does, silly. It makes you look funny. Of course your nose is going to be bigger. It’s not really bigger.”
“So how do I look?” Lily asked for the tenth time that morning, forgetting about the nine other times she had posed the same question to her best friend.
“You look drop-dead gorgeous,” Mary told her sternly. “And don’t you dare say otherwise.”
“Yes, Mum,” Lily joked. She munched on her toast and drank her coffee, glancing up at the sky: it was completely white and there seemed to be snow falling already. By the time they arrived at Hogsmeade, Lily was sure that the snow would’ve settled pretty thickly, and she wondered if she should cancel on James and just stay at school.
She knew that in her heart, there was no way she was going to not go to Hogsmeade, not when she was with James, even if it was predicted to be disastrous.
Lily watched as Mary waved Alice Wilkes and Davina Raji over from the Hufflepuff table. They headed towards Mary and Lily.
“Hey, Alice, Davina, you'll never guess who Lily asked out yesterday!”
“Who?” asked Davina interestedly.
“Guess!” Mary sang back. Lily could tell that Mary was enjoying it far more than Lily was.
“Who?” Alice echoed Davina. “Was it Scott Manslow?”
“Nope,” said Mary, sniggering. “Although, now that you mention it, Scott did ask Lily the other day. She just said no.”
“But he’s the best-looking boy in the whole school!” Davina exclaimed disbelievingly. “How could you say no to him?”
“So who was it, Lily?” Alice persisted. “Snape?”
“Are you joking?” Mary said immediately before Lily could answer. “There's no way she’d ask him to—”
“It was James,” Lily interrupted her friend, before she went too far. “I asked James to Hogsmeade.”
And as Alice and Davina burst into giggles and started gossiping girlishly about how handsome James was, Lily tuned out, for, at that moment as she realised the daunting prospect of the next few hours. Her reckless actions had finally caught up with her; now she would be spending most of the day with James Potter, who she had previously complained constantly about, and was now going to have to be alone with him for all of that time.
The first- and second-years watched enviously as the students queued up to get their names ticked off the long list in order to enter Hogsmeade. The pupils then donned cloaks, hats, gloves, scarves and earmuffs before stepping out into the vicious cold of Hogsmeade village.
James missed Hogsmeade — in the past the Marauders had always visited it, since fourth year — but this year, none of the Marauders had the time or energy to be bothered to go during school time. He was sure that Madam Rosmerta must have been missing them, as they always popped in to see her when they could (and managed to get quite a few drinks from her too).
For the first time ever, three out of the four Marauders had dates. Sirius was with Michelle, Remus was with Mary and James with Lily. Even Peter’s prospects were looking brighter after his conversation with Mafalda Hopkirk, who had agreed to see him in Hogsmeade later on in the day.
James lingered nervously outside the Great Hall, his hands in his pockets, waiting for Lily to join him, which she did moments later. He immediately looked up when he saw her; his heart hiccupped at how pretty she looked, with a modest purple dress halfway to her knee over jeans. She was pulling on a cloak and gloves as she weaved through the milling crowds of students around them, looking for him. They both looked at each other for a moment before they joined the queue which was rapidly getting shorter.
Luckily it was too noisy for them to be able to say anything to each other and actually hear a word, so they stood, a few inches apart, waiting to reach the front of the line.
At last, the students in front of them — a particularly large group of giggling fifth-year girls — were cleared to go, and James and Lily stepped forwards together.
“Lily Evans and James Potter,” Lily said quickly to Mr Filch. The caretaker gave James a filthy look, eyeing Lily particularly weirdly, before waving his hand, indicating that they were free to go.
“Ugh, he’s such a creep,” Lily complained as they made their way past the gates.
“Who, Filch?” James asked.
Lily nodded. “I don’t know…the looks he gives me, I feel like asking him if he’s my brother-in-law’s twin or something.”
He laughed as she pulled a face. “Why, what does your brother-in-law look like?”
She grimaced as the corpulent, multiple-chinned face of Vernon Dursley swam into her mind’s eye. “Well…put it this way,” said Lily, half-laughing, “he kind of looks at everyone…hungrily, if you know what I mean. It’s like he's thinking that you're his next meal or something — it’s so gross especially how fat he is, whenever I see him I just want to cut off all the flab from him — and, yeah, he’s just really creepy, and the way he looks at me is just like Filch does.”
“Only, Filch isn’t as fat,” James reasoned. He was careful to keep the protectiveness and annoyance out of his voice and face — after all, Lily always did seem sick of it.
“I wonder why he became a caretaker. Couldn’t he think of anything better to do once he left Hogwarts?”
James grinned cheekily. “Well…put it this way, Lily,” he started, echoing her, “when was the last time you saw Argus Filch with a wand in his hand?”
Lily frowned for a moment before her expression cleared. “Ah.”
He nodded, biting back a snigger. “Yep…that’s what he is. So the only job available for a Squib in Hogwarts,” James pronounced delicately, “would be a caretaker. Or a cleaner, or gamekeeper, and Hagrid’s got that job already. Unless, of course, Filch wants to take over Peeves’ job.”
“Speaking of which, have you had your careers meeting yet?” Lily asked. She was surprised that they had almost reached the village — Lily could see snowy rooftops and the heads of the bustling shoppers — and she wondered how time had gone so fast. Lily marvelled at the easiness of their conversation; anyone who was watching them would’ve thought that they had been friends for years or something.
“Yeah, I have,” James replied. “McGonagall said that with my grades, I could be a Healer if I really want, or an Auror.”
“She said the same thing about me,” Lily said with a sigh. “It’s just…I don’t want to be a Healer.”
“It seems a bit pointless,” Lily admitted. “Sort of like…oh, I don't know, it’s going to sound silly.”
“It won’t,” James assured her. They had arrived at the village — a surprising number of students from Hogwarts had braved the snow and were shivering as they went about their Christmas shopping, some of the other pupils having enthusiastic snowball fights.
Lily changed the subject. “Where d’you want to go?” she asked breathlessly, hugging herself to keep warm. The bitter wind was like ice on her cheeks which were already tinged with pink from the cold, and both James and Lily pulled their scarves up slightly to cover the lower halves of their faces. “Scrivenshaft’s?”
“Yeah, I have to go there anyway — I need a new quill and my ink stock is almost finished. God, it’s annoying, having to write with these things. Sometimes, I really wish I was a Muggle so I could use a pen instead. Trouble is, I don't know where I can buy them from.”
She smiled. “I know. A pen is more comfortable to hold, too. Quills are pretty and all, but you can get nice pens too — I prefer them,” she said.
“How about we just go inside the shops ‘til The Three Broomsticks empties a bit,” James suggested, eyeing the packed pub a few metres away. “Then we can have a drink.”
James and Lily heaved a sigh of relief together as they were swathed in the warm, musty air of the shop. There were some witches there who were trying on gold necklaces, but Lily noticed that none of them were Hogwarts students.
Lily spied a pretty-looking silver bracelet encrusted with rubies and diamonds inside the glass cabinets. She also noted the two trolls who were standing guard next to the cabinet with gold and silver in it.
“Excuse me, how much is this?” she asked an assistant. Lily was already pulling off her gloves so that she could try it on — she deserved a treat for once.
“That red one there?” the man said, pointing. “That’s fifty Galleons, that is, love. But that’s a sale item — perhaps you'd rather look at our newer collection?”
“Erm …” Lily bit her lip, hoping that James hadn’t seen the funny look on her face when the assistant told her the price.
“Give us a second, please,” James requested to the assistant. He picked up the bracelet and fastened the clasp on Lily’s wrist. “That looks great on you, Lily.”
“Thanks,” she said, blushing. “But don’t worry about it, let’s go to Gladrags or something—”
“Don't you want it?” he asked.
The assistant was watching their exchange with a modicum of interest. Lily took James’ arm and led him into a corner, where she whispered to him furiously, “I don't have that kind of money, OK?”
“All right, all right,” James replied, looking suitably chastised. Satisfied, Lily went back to the main area of the shop with James.
“So, madam, would you like to buy the bracelet?” the assistant asked.
“No, she doesn’t,” James said shortly. “I’ll buy it, thanks.”
“James!” Lily said angrily, not even bothering to keep her voice down this time.
“What?” he retorted. “You want the bracelet. I’ll buy it for you. Consider it an early Christmas present, Lily.”
With that, he began counting Galleons out of his wallet and the assistant wrapped the bracelet before placing it in a gift box which, Lily saw, was also embellished in jewels.
She thought about stopping James, but realised that there wasn’t much point. She knew that James was too stubborn for that — or, perhaps he was too rich to say no to a poor girl like her.
Don’t be stupid, you're not poor, she told herself sternly.
At long last James was done, having paid for the bracelet and, donning their gloves while adjusting their scarves, James and Lily left the shop.
“You didn't have to buy me it,” Lily said for the tenth time to James in The Three Broomsticks three-quarters of an hour later. They had visited Gladrags, Scrivenshaft’s, and, at James’ insistence, they had gone into Zonko’s. To Lily’s (and James’) great surprise, they enjoyed themselves immensely the entire time, revelling in the freedom to wander around anywhere and try things out, when the worst thing to worry about was slipping in the snow, which Lily had done twice already.
The pub was slightly less full; many of the Hogwarts students had decided that enough was enough, and they had already left for the castle, unable to stand the weather. Despite this, however, James and Lily had just managed to bag the only free table: the one in the front of the pub, nearest to the door.
They had just said farewell to Sirius and Peter, who were both a tad tipsy after drinking too much Firewhiskey, and both were singing “Danny Boy” to James, replacing “Danny” with “Jimmy”. Sirius and Peter were attracting far too many stares, and Lily didn't blame Michelle for ditching Sirius for someone else if he was going to act like that.
“I don't mind,” James shrugged. “Seriously, Lily, I really don’t mind, so stop thanking me.”
“One day, when I have a proper job …”
“So why d’you not want to be a Healer?” James interrupted as the Butterbeer arrived, placed on the table by a fourth-year Ravenclaw student, Nick Clearwater, who clearly wanted to earn a bit of extra cash while he was in Hogsmeade. Lily waited until the waiter left before she answered reluctantly.
“I don’t know…I just feel that I would be able to do something better.”
“We’re in a war, James,” Lily said patiently, taking a sip of her Butterbeer. She was far more relaxed than she was at the beginning of their…outing. “There's got to be a better job out there than a Healer. And my intentions…they'd be — they'd be bad, somehow. Like I’d only want to be in it for the money or something. I want to have a good intention when I get a job.”
“What about an Auror?” James suggested. “Like Alice is saying she wants to be?”
She half-nodded. “Er…yeah, I suppose being an Auror is worthwhile. And I know Alice has good intentions, you know, helping people, finding Death Eaters and stuff, but it’s also because of her friend, Frank, who’s in his first year training at the moment.”
“Then why not?”
“Well — what’s the aim of a job?”
James frowned. “Er…to make a difference? To make something of yourself? Earn your keep?”
Lily nodded. “Yeah, but which one is the most important?”
“What d’you mean?”
“If you had to choose one, which would it be? Making something of yourself or making a difference?”
“Making a difference, I suppose,” James said after a moment’s thought.
“I'm in a dilemma here, you see. I don't want to be academic and be a Healer, but I don't want to go for the dangerous option either and be an Auror. I want to make a difference, but not to that extent. I just think I could be targeted by Voldemort if he knows I'm actively fighting him or something, and I don't want to take the risk.”
“Well, I think—”
But Lily didn't find out what James thought; the door opened suddenly and a tallish, good-looking boy with coffee-coloured skin and dark brown eyes entered, breathless from the cold.
“Hi, Lily,” Kian Robinson greeted her. “And …”
“James,” James supplied ever so frostily. Lily immediately sensed Kian’s surprise at James’ presence — although, she noticed, a moment later, the sign of acceptance in his eyes. She took this as a good sign.
“I'm going to use the Ladies, OK?” Lily told the two boys quickly, leaving them by themselves for a few minutes. By the time she got back, James was sitting alone, a strange expression on his face.
Lily was also feeling rather peculiar. All day, she was subconsciously waiting for the moment when James would hold her hand or put his arm around her or…something, anything, that would give some indication that he felt that way about her. But he hadn’t — he hadn’t so much as held her hand. That just showed that, clearly, they weren’t right for each other.
She looked up again just as she sat down opposite James. As several people walked past her, about to exit the pub, Lily turned around and immediately kicked herself because standing near her were three people who looked like they wanted to cause trouble.
Trying desperately not to catch the girl’s eye (who had noticed her nevertheless) Lily’s hand reached out to take her Butterbeer bottle at exactly the same time as James’, and as their fingers made contact, James was sure he felt a frisson of electricity between their hands. In unison, they jerked their hands back suddenly. Lily slowly put her hand out again to take her bottle and James snatched his, neither of them able to look at each other properly.
Unfortunately, the threesome at the door was watching their exchange interestedly.
“I told you she’d get you under her Mudblood spell, Potter!” Katie Montague jeered. She was with Malcolm Mulciber and Aiden Avery, who were both clutching her arms as if they were escorting her to a bloody ball or something, James thought, annoyed. “It’s what all dirty-blooded whores like her do!”
“Let’s go,” James muttered to Lily, who nodded at once in agreement, even though Katie, Mulciber and Avery had already left the pub. Katie’s pronouncement caused a stir in the pub as everyone looked up from their conversations at James and Lily, who were hurriedly putting their cloaks and gloves back on.
They left, the astringent wind attacking their cheeks as they stepped out of the warmness of the pub, James leading the way randomly, trying to make sure that they were out of earshot and eyesight of everyone.
“Don't you just hate it when people assume stuff like that?” James said softly as he turned left to an empty alleyway.
“Yeah, it’s horrible,” she agreed, wishing he would move closer to her instead of being at such a distance.
“Like, no one said that we were—”
But at that moment, Lily had finally had enough of James’ gentleman-ness; without thinking about what she was doing, the wind crashing into her ears and seemingly addling her brains, Lily leaned forwards and kissed him.
For a second, James was so surprised that he didn't even respond, but soon he was kissing her back, and she smiled against his lips — James Potter definitely knew how to snog.
She pulled back and moved further down the alleyway to make sure they weren’t seen; Lily immediately felt James’ lips on hers again when, suddenly, they pulled apart at the sound of muffled screams.
Their identical smiles vanished from their faces to be replaced with expressions of shock as they ran down the alley, looking for the source of the screams, until at last they found someone on the freezing ground, wheezing, his breathing laboured, as his chest shook. Lily’s green eyes widened as she recognised Kian.
“Quick!” Lily screamed over the now roaring wind, no longer caring about herself as she put her cloak around Kian, who was shaking uncontrollably as something frothy — blood? — spilled out of the corner of Kian’s mouth. “Get help!”
James was already halfway there; Lily didn't think she’d ever seen him run so fast in her life.
“You're going to be OK,” Lily said, tears dripping from her own cheeks as she watched Kian weaken, mouthing but unable to speak. “You're going to be — no! NO! Kian!”
She knelt in front of him as he keeled backwards, and Lily’s face hovered above his as she stared into his eyes. They were once richly brown and full of life. Now, Kian Robinson’s stare was glassy and empty, and Lily knew, without saying, that those eyes would see no more.
Chapter End Notes:
Dun dun DUN! Tell me what you thought by review, as usual! Did you think Lily would kiss James first or vice versa? Who did you think the killer was? Any guesses?
P.S. I am on virtual bended knee for reviews. This story is now eight chapters long and I only have four reviews. Please, even if it's a one-liner or one-word review, I would readily appreciate it, since this is the one site where my story hasn't got many reviews as of yet. Thank you very much.
Write a Review Checkmate: Hogsmeade Visits And Hiccupping Hearts