Chapter 8 : James Potter and the Sugar Lilies
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Things have been really hectic recently, so sorry for the delay between updates! This one is really long, though :)
"And Potter has the Quaffle!” Roger Kent shouted excitedly amidst the buzz of the crowd. I held onto that Quaffle for dear life as I raced down field towards the Slytherin goals, and my team-mate. “He dodges a Bludger from Vaisey- er, Niamh that is- and! He shoots! But, oh, it misses by a long shot.”
“I didn’t miss, you prat! It’s a manoeuvre!” I hissed through my teeth, well aware that nobody could hear me. It helped to vent.
“Filly won’t be happy about that,” the announcer-prat continued. “It’s her sixth year and her second league as capt- oh, Jones has caught it!” Of course Jones has caught it, I bitterly thought, it’s a bloody manoeuvre. “She passes to Puppswift, -why is she passing it to the seeker?” He whispered to his girlfriend, who shrugged briskly. “-who passes back to Potter, and- yes, it’s a goal for Gryffindor! That’s 50-30 to Gryffindor, leaving Slytherin lacking slightly behind.” And that, you Lions and Snakes,is how you perform a Zyland-Psyche. I felt bloody brilliant scoring, although I would have preferred to do it honestly rather than through one of Filemina’s frankly mental tactics. But the game wasn’t won yet, and the ball was in the Slytherin’s court.
Sweat ran down my face as I began to trail Fraser Vaisey, the Slytherin golden-boy and team Captain, waiting for a chance to intercept the Quaffle from him. Alice circled above us, eagerly searching for the Snitch. Since discovering her Patronus, Seeking had become even easier for her: the versatile Golden Snitch was almost identical to her Snidget. I began to wonder whether all of our patronuses would match our animagus forms when Kent’s bloody voice broke my train of thought.
“Oh and a stunning shot there as Cresswell deflects a Bludger from Potter.” My head snapped around to see a spiteful, smirking Blake Scott aiming another Bludger after Niamh’s second failed attempt. I made to quickly dodge, but Sirius got there first with a Bludger of his own, which hit Blake hard enough to partially dismount him.
“Prick.” Muttered Sirius. I grinned thankfully at him, before Filemina threw the skilfully intercepted Quaffle to me and signalled for an altitude drop. I looked at her like she’d just told me to snog Voldemort. We were only winning by twenty points and the Snitch was probably hiding in the stands, reducing altitude would be damn risky (or quixotic as the lovely Lily would say).
Sirius caught my eye and shrugged, joining Filemina ten feet below our usual playing field. I dodged a Bludger from Scott, and dove down simultaneously with Cresswell, Quaffle still in my grasp. I quickly passed it to Filemina, who had noticed that I thought she was being a sod. She mouthed at me to “buck up”, or something very similar. I chucked the Quaffle at her with a bit more force than I needed to really, but she caught it anyway and sped towards the Slytherin goal.
In the end, her tactics had paid off. The Slytherin team got curious and dove downwards too, joining us nearer the ground. The Seeker, a young Slytherin, had been so disorientated that he hadn’t realised Alice was diving for the Snitch. The game had been over before he even noticed.
Filemina congratulated us for a grand total of thirty seconds before she began rambling through an ever-growing list of our ever-growing faults as a team, as players, and as pathetic excuses for human beings.
She reminded me of Lily.
You know how they say that food’s the best way to a man’s heart? Well, at this point I’m desperate enough to try anything. Nutella toast, with a daub of peanut butter in the middle, cranberry and lemon juice (mixed in a 2:3 ratio) and a fresh green apple (she was convinced that the red were poisoned according to Kim): Lily’s perfect breakfast. If this didn’t work then nothing ever would.
Finding out her favourite breakfast had been easy enough (Kim, always ask Kim) but convincing the house-elves to make it especially for her every morning before she woke up had been the harder part. I almost considered asking Mum to send a couple from home, before realising that I had a magical alcove full of any food in my sodding dorm room. So, every morning- without fail- I put her bizarre breakfast outside of her door on a golden platter that Mum had lent me with a diabetes-inducing Sugar Lily in the beaker of juice. Seriously, I deserve a gold medal in perseverance, creativity, hell- the whole “good-wooing” decathlon.
She was warming up to me, I knew it. From the hugs she’d started to accept (I felt less like a sex pest now) to the conversations that we shared (about small children and pumpkin juice): it was clear that we were getting closer. It felt good to see that she was finally acting like any other teenage girl would in her situation; I mean hey, I was a catch and I was a charmer! I’m not the Gryffie golden-boy out of chance, I’ll have you know. But Lily? Lily was playing it so aloof that I was beginning to wonder if she was one of those bibliophiles (girls who were more into books than dating).
I was determined to successfully woo Lily before holidays started and she went back off to the Cambridgeshire countryside and I went back to Tinworth. We’d end up back in London in September for training, but the thought of her finding a Muggle boy back home (or worse: forgiving and then dating Snape) was grinding away at me. I needed a plan, and the only one that I could think of was as cliché as dating got: snogging her at Hogsmeade.
After a gruelling day of N.E.W.T’s prep, I was looking forward to relaxing in my common room, but it’d been brutally invaded by the other seventh-years. Kim and Remus were sharing one of the armchairs, which had somehow expanded to let them both sit comfortably. Kim was staring at Isa, who was sharing the other armchair with Peter, whilst Remus was immersed in a Muggle-comic book called “Wolf-man”. Some days, I could swear that boy wanted to be found out. Alice sat next to me, throwing a charmed rubber ball randomly in the air and catching it with closed eyes.
Sirius, who was lying on the lion rug, silently gestured to Lily, who was sitting beside Alice and me on the loveseat. She curled her upper lip at him as she realised what he was aiming to do.
“Watch this.” He mouthed silently. Pulling out his wand, he cast a silent spell at Alice’s toy. She threw the ball into the air where it proceeded to transfigure into a large, colourful beach ball. We all burst into laughter as it hit her in the face.
“That hurt!” She bellowed at Sirius, throwing the ball at him. It bounced off and I caught it, grinning.
“Stop being such a baby!” He laughed, rubbing his head.
“Hmm, maybe I should tell Frank exactly who let the centaur in through the secret tunnel last year...” Alice mused aloud. Sirius’s grin faltered as he realised that she was serious.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry Alice. Don’t tell Frank.” He pleaded.
I shook my head, amused, and turned to grin suggestively at my future-wife-to-be-even-if-it-killed me, who was eyeing me warily. Operation Hogsmeade stage one: go.
“What?” She furrowed her eyebrows in confusion.
“Hogsmeade: you, me, the kids.” I smiled serenely. From the look she was giving me, I was coming across more like “crazy-stalker” than “serene sexbomb”.
“The kids?” She asked sceptically.
“Third-years upwards.” I explained. For a really smart girl, Lily Evans was pretty damn oblivious.
“We’ve already had a trip this year...” She thought aloud.
“It’s been a difficult year!” I reasoned. I knew that I sounded pretty desperate, but it was true. People were being murdered left, right and centre, Muggleborn students were being persecuted, their friends were being labelled “traitors” and all the students were stressed as hell. What combats war? Sugar and butterbeer.
“I meant what I said before James, it still holds a lot of bad memories.” Her smile waivered momentarily as the other conversations died down.
“Lily, you’ve got to get over it some time.” I reasoned. She grimaced at my poor choice of phrasing. Smooth James, really smooth. “What I mean is, it’s best to face it now rather than later. You’ve been on patrols anyway, so a trip wouldn’t be that much different really!” I reasoned with her. She gave me a meaningful look as I realised that I’d mentioned patrols in front of Isa and Kim, but neither of them seemed to notice.
“Oh give it up James!” Isa snapped. I turned to her aghast.
“Give what up?” I asked, bewildered.
“Hitting on Lily!” She cried.
“How is organising a Hogsmeade trip hitting on Lily? We’re Head Boy and Girl, it’s our bloody job!” I argued. Sure, she was right, but I could still argue.
“Oh, so you’re not just using the trip as an excuse to get her alone at Puddifoot’s?” She smirked. I paused, narrowing my eyes considerably at her as I considered my two options: being totally truthful or telling a teeny, tiny white lie and avoiding the combined wrath of Isadora Reyes (Harpy), Kimberley Scott (Troll in a tall, Nigerian package), Alice Puppswift (Dragon but faster) and Lily Evans (Siren, but the mental sort). I was a Gryffindor, but hell, I wasn’t that brave.
“Isa-“ I stopped myself before the “Dora” slipped out. “Reyes, I can’t believe that you’d insinuate such a heinous thing!” I sounded hurt, whoa, I actually sounded hurt! Circe, I deserved an Oliver or whatever those gold Muggle awards were called! “To think, to actually think, that I’d ever consider using Lily like that.”
Isa looked cowed, and a little voice inside my head told me that it was time to stop. I tended to ignore that voice of sensibility, which always reminded me uncannily of Remus, in favour of the other, more vocal voice that encourages mayhem, debauchery and a hunt for fame. A dead ringer for Sirius.
“And to think,” I continued, ignoring Peter, who was cautiously shaking his head, “to even think, that I could abuse my position of power, that was placed so trustingly in my hands, to secure a date! A date, that-“
“Oh shut up James.” Kim interrupted me.
“Too far mate should have stopped at the “using Lily” bit.” Sirius agreed.
“Look, James is right... sort of...” Alice grimaced. “We could all use another trip.”
“I agree.” Remus shrugged.
“Fine.” Isa snapped.
“Fine.” Lily agreed. And it was so.
"That was surprisingly easy.” Alice frowned as the last pattering of small feet (I say small, the footsteps belonged to a gangly sixth-year) died down, and the six of us -Isa and Peter had gone shopping for some relative’s birthday present- were left standing at the first buildings of Hogsmeade, which mostly consisted of houses and shops that were essential for day-to-day living, but not worth visiting if you only had a few hours.
As Seventh-Year Prefects, Remus, Evauna (Patterson: a Slytherin that I didn’t want to hex), Frank (Hocking: a Slytherin I did want to hex), Gemma Johnson (Ravenclaw), Indite Greengrass (ditto), Anna and Alex Dilley (Hufflepuff twins) had stayed behind with me and Lily to make sure that the students got into Hogsmeade safely and securely. Alice, Kim and Sirius had stayed to let Isa and Peter bond some more- us boys secretly hoped he’d take a leaf out of my book and pester her relentlessly until she finally gave in to his er- boyish good looks. Lily Evans: you can’t resist me.
The other Prefects left, and we slowly ambled behind them to the village. Hogsmeade was covered in a fresh blanket of snow in the chill mid-Winter North, although our path had been reduced to a grey slush after 150-odd students had trampled through the sleepy village. Alice and Sirius were arguing again (does it matter how you spell didgeridoo?), whilst Kim and Remus were holding an awkward conversation, leaving Lily and merelatively alone. She looked somehow older today, and I didn’t really like it. She was wearing a heavy felt coat in a colour that reminded me of the coffee that Dad used to make: rich and creamy, although I doubted her coat tasted as good.
“You look nice.” I complimented her.
“Thanks.” She replied simply.
“Is that a new coat?” I tried again, desperate to hold a conversation.
“Erm, yes, it was a birthday present.” She told me. I blanched. I was ninety percent sure that her birthday was in the New Year, not December. As if reading my mind, she continued.
“An early birthday present, my last coat was covered in blood.” I glanced at the recently rebuilt Dogweed and Deathcap, and wondered if the residents of Hogsmeade had been as slow to forget the incident as she’d been.
"I wonder which Order members are here.” I asked in an attempt to change the conversation.
“The Prewetts and McGonagall.” Alice replied. I turned sharply to look at her.
“How long have you been listening in?” I demanded. She smiled innocently.
“Long enough to hear your pathetic attempt at flirting.” Alice laughed. And to aide my utter humiliation, Sirius and Remus were in earshot, too.
“James can’t flirt; he just stares at girls and hopes they don’t see me first.” Sirius grinned.
“Shut up, you haven’t had a date since July!” I reminded him.
“Mate, neither have you. And at least I’m not pining after a ginger!” He retaliated. Kim and Lily burst into laughter. Prat.
“Oi! At least-” He began.
“Oh shut up.” Alice cut us off abruptly.“Why is Peter carrying Isa?” Remus frowned, gesturing to the front entrance to the ‘Sticks, where the tiny half-Spaniard was indeed screaming in laughter from Peter’s stocky arms.
“Maybe he proposed.” Sirius remarked dryly. Kim punched him hard on the arm. “What was that for?!” He asked, offended.
“Don’t insult Isa.” Kim reprimanded him before promptly walking off to join her closest friend, who had since wriggled out of Peter’s arms to stand with them wrapped around her instead.
Sirius looked at me, exasperated, but I just shrugged in return. When it came to girls, we really didn’t know anything.
Lily turned to walk off with Sirius and Kim, but I gently grabbed her arm. She pulled it away, but smiled instead of hexing me (that, my friends, is called progress).
“Can we talk for a while?” I asked, shooting Alice and Remus a “get-lost-or-get-jinxed” look. She glanced at the retreating pair before shrugging.
“Sure.” She followed me over towards Honeydukes all too happily. I’d love to think it was my natural charm that made her so eager, but knew it was more likely to be the promise of enough sugar and endorphins to knock out a small Garden Gnome.
Emerging half an hour later with our robes (and Lily’s coat and bag) stuffed with chocolates and sweets that I’d convinced her to let me pay for, we found an empty table at the ‘Sticks and I brought us a couple of butterbeers. She wrinkled her nose at the chipped mug, but thanked me all the same. The pub was almost empty save for a huge group of Slytherin’s and a few other students dotted around. I’d say that Madam Rosmerta was one of four or five adults in there. I caught Lily cautiously eyeing the Slytherins and felt a buzz of anticipation- and not the good kind- in the pit of my stomach. Lily and the Slytherins never ended well.
“So, what did you really want to talk about?” She asked, popping a Mini Chocolate Frog into her mouth with her finger.
“What do you mean?” I asked naively, sipping my butterbeer. We’d been chatting about Head Girl/Boy duties, Quidditch and the prospect of living in London (she was excited, I was apprehensive) but now it came to the crux.
“You’re not just trying to hit on me, and something’s clearly got you thinking if you can manage to be quiet and not interrupt me for five minutes.” She smirked. I held up my hands in defeat.
“Honestly?” I asked.
“Honestly.” She nodded.
“I was just wondering how you were doing.” I admitted. She frowned.
“I’m alright, I mean things are a bit hectic with the N.E.W.T’s preparation, being Head Girl, and Order patrols, but I suppose it’s just the same for you.” She shrugged. It was my turn to frown.
“You know that’s not what I meant Lily.” She avoided my eyesight but chewed another sweet, this time a Sugar Lily that she’d become hooked on since I’d begun to give her one every morning.
“It’s hard, you know?” She mumbled quietly so that I could barely hear her over the hubbub of the busy pub. “I know people hate me.” I tried to protest, but she cut me off.
“No, James, they do. I mean, take Jenna Iles, for example. She didn’t even know who I was until fifth year, when that list of Muggle-born students went around Hogwarts. Face it James, nobody knew who I was until then. Overnight, people started hating me.” She was chewing the Lily more vigorously now and I sipped my drink again, allowing her to finish.
“I’ve heard what they say. ‘People are being killed because of people like you’, ‘My family is being killed because of people like you,’ ‘Harry Singh was killed because of people like you,’” Her voice began to rise so that people around us began to stare. “But it’s not because of people like me, is it?” Her swamp eyes latched onto mine. “It’s because of people like them.” She swept her hand towards the sub-group of Slytherin girls. I eyed them cautiously, but most of them were slack jawed. Jenna and Su looked livid, whilst Niamh and Coral looked bemused and Evauna even looked a little hurt.
“Some of us hate all this as much as you do.” She icily reminded her from across the room.
“But do they?” Lily asked in a tone just as cold, flicking her hand towards the rest of the Death Eater clique. “I’m pretty sure they love it.” Evauna fell silent as Fraser and Frank noticeably stepped towards her and their partners and away from Blake, Raleigh, Snivellus and Rabastan.“Oh no, is the chubby little Mudblood offended?” Jenna whined mockingly. “Is the filthy little Muggle sad?” Lily flushed red, and I couldn’t be sure what insult was making her so livid. Rosmerta clanked a glass down on the bar and pointed a finger at Jenna.
“I won’t have that sort of talk in my pub!” She warned the girl, who shot her a defying smirk.
“Maybe she’s having a moment of realisation.” Raleigh sneered. “Realising that she doesn’t belong in such esteemed company.” A few laughs, but mostly the group looked awkward.
“Shut up Wilkes, you’re picking on a girl.” I growled. Lily scoffed at my ridiculous retaliation, but Jenna took it as scoffing at her.
“I know someone that would just love to meet you again, you dirt-ridden thief.” Jenna hissed venomously. It wasn’t a secret that her father was a Death Eater, or that she supported him wholeheartedly. “No self-respecting Wizard would look twice at you.” Have I ever mentioned that Jenna Iles is Morgana reincarnated?
Lily shot to her feet and I followed quickly. I put a hand on her shoulder and tried to calm her down, but the Slytherin’s began to jeer. I ignored them and looked into Lily’s eyes.
“Ignore them,” I muttered. “Just- just ignore them Lily. They don’t know what they’re on about. They’re- they’re venomous, remember?” I reminded her of her very words but she continued to shake uncontrollably, so much so that I began to think she was going to release a burst of magic soon by accident.
“Oh, is Potter your new keeper now?” Rabastan cried to Lily, who was beginning to shake. “Does the dirty little animal need a master?” I pulled out my wand and spun around to face him. He swiftly pulled out his as well, and aimed it square at my chest. Snape placed a hand on his shoulder and muttered to his friend before turning to walk out of the back door.
“Oi, you keep out of it you greasy git!” I snarled at his retreating form.
“Who are you Potter?!” Shrieked Su. “You’re not our boss!”
“Well, he sort of is, isn’t he?” Robert Sled chirped from his table where he sat with a sixth-year Ravenclaw girl that I didn’t know. He was ignored, but I was grateful for his interjection.
“Look, we’re leaving, alright?” I groaned. “So just leave it.” I tugged gently on Lily’s arm, but she stood fast.
“I’m not leaving- I haven’t done anything wrong!” She cried. I swelled with admiration for her bravery, but sometimes bravery could borderline on stupid and this was one of those times.
"Leave, or I’ll make you leave.” Jenna smiled maliciously.
“Jenna, I swear to Merlin, shut up or I’ll have you kicked out of Hogwarts.” I threatened in all sobrieties. “You’re lucky I haven’t already.”
"You’re lucky I’ve not had you killed.” Jenna hissed, pointing a finger at Lily. A gasp echoed from behind us.
“Miss Iles, you are lucky that I haven’t had you expelled from Hogwarts!” Professor McGonagall, flanked by the Prewett’s and the five junior Order members, gasped in horror. I expected Lily to run over to Alice, but she held her ground. “All of you, yes- all of you- will report to my office immediately after the trip.” McGonagall finished, gesturing to the group of Slytherins and us.
Evauna, Lily and I began to protest, but McGonagall cut us off with a flick of her wand.
“You too, Mr Sled.” Robert span around with an indignant look on his face.
“What did I do?!” He cried, but she ignored him.
“And I want all of you out of here now- four of you are Prefects for goodness sake!” She brusquely told us, before leaving a furious Sirius, Peter and Remus at the door. Alice was swanning over a shaking Lily, whilst Hestia Jones was sadly eyeing a newly single Robert “Bob” Sled.
The Prewett brothers stood either side of the door, watching the pub full of students.
“I know your dad.” The taller, younger one told Jenna Iles.
“Charming man.” The shorter, older one scoffed. Jenna couldn’t keep herself from blushing indignantly.
“I know your mum too, actually.” The taller one grinned.
“Oh but Fabien,” I always get those two mixed up, “Everybody knows Courtney Iles.” Gideon loudly informed the room in a sing-song voice, laced with innuendo, raising his eyebrows suggestively. I noticed a few of the Slytherins stifling laughter at the slight, but most of them were stone-faced.
“Out.” Fabien gestured to the door. Nobody moved.
“OUT!” Gideon bellowed.
Rabastan stormed out, shoving his shoulder into Sirius as he did, closely followed by Raleigh and Blake. Jenna and Su hotly followed them, whilst the others meekly trailed out behind. Slowly, every student in the pub trickled out, leaving only the Order members and a few drunken adults. I noticed a sleeping Professor Chickety in the corner, and had to wonder if the ancient Divination professor had finally died.
“Are you alright, love?” Gideon asked Lily, his powerful facade let down. Fabien placed a concerned hand on her shoulder as she began to groan.
“Ignore them.” He smiled softly. Alice resumed rubbing Lily’s shoulders.
“How did you know something was going on?” I asked the brothers.
“Patronus.” One replied.
“Thought it was Lily’s, actually.” The other sounded slightly confused. She shook her head, to which the brothers shrugged.
“Definitely a doe though.” One pointed out before they both left. “She reminds me so much of Mols.” I heard him mutter as a parting.
“Are you alright Lily?” Remus asked in concern. She nodded meekly.
“Just in shock.” Alice smiled reservedly. Lily wasn’t the only one in shock: I was still staring out of the door after the brothers. A doe? Lily’s patronus is a doe? And mine’s a stag. Lily Evans’s patronus is a doe, and my patronus is a stag. We had matching patronuses.
“I’m going to take her home.” Alice informed us, breaking my bubble of confusion. How long had she known?
“I’m coming too.” I told her, walking towards Lily. She shook her head fiercely.
“Stop- stop- acting like you’re my boyfriend!” She cried. “You are not my boyfriend, you’re barely my friend!” She told me bitterly.
“Lily, come on, just-” I began, but Alice shook her head. “I want to come with her, to make sure she’s okay.” I pleaded. I felt heavy under the weight of embarrassment and despair; Lily rejecting me was nothing new, but all I wanted to do was comfort her. Especially after finding out that her patronus is a bloody doe.
“You’re Head Boy, one of you needs to be here.” Alice pointed out. I nodded lamely as Alice and Lily left the pub.
Operation Hogsmeade had failed, but at that moment I just didn’t care. I didn’t care that I hadn’t kissed Lily and I didn’t care that I hadn’t got her to agree to another date; all I cared about was the girl I’d just seen destroyed in front of me. Whose patronus is a doe!
Thanks to my lovely beta lemonpeeps! Apart from a few things that got lost in translation, she's been brilliant! :D
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