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James's Sketchbook by Houlestar
Chapter 3 : Chapter Two - Something to Remember
 
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Chapter image by the wicked Little Plebe. Thank you!

Chapter 2 – Something to Remember



Dawn had barely broken when James walked out onto the grounds, broomstick in hand. The chill of coming fall was barely perceptible in this September morning. A light mist came off the lake and clung onto the grass.

“A perfect morning to fly,” James murmured as he mounted his broom. Only the silence of the morning answered his whisper.

James kicked off the ground and let his broom rocket up. He was now level with the highest point of Hogwarts. Gently, he tilted his grip, and the broom dove down. He couldn’t stop himself from letting out a loud whoop that reverberated off of the castle walls.

He glided over the smooth surface of the dawn-pink lake, so close he looked almost in danger of touching the water.

He loved how the broom responded to his slightest touch. His broomstick always seemed to know James’s intentions, even before he realized them fully himself. He only had to lightly adjust his grip, or turn his head slightly, and the broom was already obeying his command.

This was his element. To fly was to be free. Free from worries, from school. Completely content and at peace with the world.

Taking off once again, James found himself hovering above the forest near Hagrid’s hut, watching the smoke billow out of the chimney.

Someday, James thought, admiring the way the smoke curled against the sky contrasting with the rosy clouds, I’m going to have to bring up my sketchbook and some colored-pencils. This is far too glorious not to be drawn.

He could feel that this was going to be a good day.


***



It had taken a few hours, but Lily had finally gotten the hang of Moto Perpetuo. Though she knew there was still a long way to go.

She couldn’t quite go at full speed yet. She missed notes, and she had a tendency hold a note too long adding a beat that the composer hadn’t included. At least now it sounded vaguely like Moto Perpetuo. But, considering how hard the piece was, she was content that she was able to play the melody decently.

If she practiced the piece long enough, with enough dedication, Lily knew that eventually she would get it. Practice makes perfect. Hard work pays off. That had been her violin teacher’s mantra.

These past few weeks’ hard work had paid off. When her father had given her the sheet music as a back-to-school present, Lily had been stunned by all the black notes on the page. She couldn’t imagine that she could ever get her fingers to move that fast, let alone play all those notes. Nevertheless, she thanked her dad for the music and promised him she would learn it.

Until recently, Lily had been frustrated by how little progress she had made. In order to get every single note in, she had to play the piece slowly, making it hardly recognizable. Last night she had went to bed determined that tomorrow – today – would be the day that she would finally make some head way.

All last night, the piece had run through her dreams. She was playing perfectly, her fingers dancing on the strings, her bow flying fast. Waking up from the dream, she was determined to practice. So what if it wasn’t even light out. Lily Evans was going to tackle the music.

Sneaking out of the Gryffindor dorm unnoticed was rather easy, because today was Saturday after the first full week of classes. Even the Fat Lady was snoring loudly as Lily crept stealthily to her classroom.

Practicing the piece was hard at first. Slowly, she progressed, like before, sometimes going measure by measure. But something was different today. Maybe it was her intense determination to get the piece right, or that she had only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before.

Something clicked.

Finally, Lily was no longer playing notes on the page, instead Moto Perpetuo was taking shape. Someday, soon Lily hoped, it would sound just as it had been written. For now, Lily was happy that she had achieved so much, and she hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet.

Fingers aching in the sweetly painful way that only hours of violin playing could achieve, Lily brought her violin to her case and put it away. With a loud snap, she re-clasped the case.

Sighing, she gazed out of the window. It really was a beautiful day. The way the bright early morning light shone, just touching the tops of the tallest trees in the Forbidden Forest and the hills, made Lily wish that she got up early every morning just to see this. It would have been perfect except for –

That stupid broom, thought Lily. Potter’s out there flying.

Now she couldn’t focus on the incredible morning, but instead, she had to watch as James zoomed over the grounds. He was too distracting. Then again, when wasn’t he? He always tried to be the center of attention. Lily never had any doubt that that was a direct result of his – how had Sev put it? – abnormally large ego.

For example, when he had gotten that stupid broom for his sixteenth birthday, he had made such a scene in the Great Hall. He had made everyone at the Gryffindor table crowd around him as he opened the present.

Even though the present was obviously broomstick shaped, James had made a big show of trying to guess what it was, and acted surprised that it was one. Excitedly, when he “realized” that it was a Nimbus 1001, he boasted that he now had the best broom at Hogwarts. Though he was “already the best Quidditch player at Hogwarts” this would make him even better.

Lily remembered rolling her eyes at the whole scene. She stayed behind in the Great Hall as nearly everyone at the Gryffindor table left to watch James take his first flight on the Nimbus.

Now, two years later, Lily watched James fly over Hagrid’s hut, “But then again… “ she thought “maybe he had just been excited about getting a professional broomstick. And it had been his birthday after all…” Lily shook her head.

What was she doing? Defending James Potter?

She sighed loudly.

In light of recent events, she was beginning to think that maybe she didn’t understand James Potter at all. He was different, some how.

By this time last year, James had tried to ask her out a dozen times at least. He had given her a pair of earrings as a “welcome back to Hogwarts” gift that whispered his name in her ear. She had thrown them away as soon as she realized it. Then he had confronted her in the Great Hall. And he had followed her everywhere on the second day of classes, swearing he wouldn’t stop until she agreed to go out with him. The only way she could get him to stop was by going into Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom.

She remembered sitting there on the floor wondering if James would have been acting like this if Severus were still her best friend. He wouldn’t have dared stalk her like this if he knew that at any moment she’d meet up with Severus.

And that was only the tip of the iceberg. Lily could fill a book with all the ways James tried to get her to go out with him sixth year alone.

But this year: nothing.

James hadn’t asked Lily out once. He hadn’t even dropped any “subtle” hints. He hadn’t approached her at all about going out or “spending time together”. Absolutely nothing.

She had no idea what to make of it. Maybe he had finally gotten over himself. Maybe he had finally moved on.

Why, she wondered, did that thought suddenly make her feel uneasy? She should have been thrilled, but she wasn’t in the least.

Having no clue what to make of any of this, Lily forced herself to turn away from the window and put James out of her thoughts.



***




James would have gone on flying if it hadn’t been for the empty, gnawing feeling in his stomach. It had been a dull ache for some time now, but once it became un-ignorable James decided to head to the castle with his broom, the rushing of wind still echoing in his ears.

As soon as he entered the Great Hall, he breathed in deeply the delicious scents that wafted from the four tables. Eagerly, he hurried to the Gryffindor table.

He hadn’t been expecting many students to be in the Hall this early on a weekend, and indeed he was not surprised to see that there were only one or two people at each of the house tables. First years mostly, James noted.

What surprised him was the sight of familiar dark red hair pulled back into a ponytail. Lily sat at the Gryffindor table completely alone tucking into her breakfast.

He slowed, uncertain if he should sit near her or far away. There was no one else at the table. No one was going to sit with him, and none of Lily’s friends were any where in sight, even those not in Gryffindor. It was just the two of them.

He couldn’t ignore her. It would be rude, James reasoned, to not ask if he could sit with her at the very least. She can always say no. James added as an after thought, Though she’d be bonkers not to.

Convinced that he was doing the civil thing, James took the last few strides so he was standing right beside Lily.

“Good morning, Lily. Fancy seeing you up so early. Do you mind…” He gestured to the space on the bench beside her.

Looking up from her porridge, Lily was silent for a moment, then nodded half-heartedly.

Excitedly, James sat next to Lily.

“Since there’s no one else to eat breakfast with,” murmured Lily.

All the joy that her consent had given him rushed out as quickly as it had come. Deflated, James set his broomstick down on the table. Refusing to let Lily see that he was disappointed, James forced a laugh, “And here I was thinking it was because of my charming personality.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “That’d be the day,” she muttered.

“Come on, Lily,” said James helping himself to some kippers, “you have to admit that you know that there are some nice qualities about me. Everyone else thinks so.”

So here he is, thought Lily, bitterly, the James Potter we all know and love. The old arrogant toe-rag. The new James had been nice while he lasted.

Meeting James’s eyes, she held his gaze steady. “I wouldn’t know. I’ve only been treated to your bad ones.”

Those eyes, normally the source of James’s joy and inspiration, now glared at him accusingly. James couldn’t keep her gaze for longer than a moment. Instead he stared at his plate. He found he wasn’t hungry anymore.

Instead, it felt as though he had swallowed lead. He felt hot, uncomfortable, under scrutiny he had never felt before.

Trying to find words, something, anything to change the subject, to lighten the mood, to stop her from scowling, James thought hard. Normally, he would have easily fixed this situation, but he knew none of his tactics would work. Nothing seemed right.

He had no joke that could remedy this tension. She had hated all of his jokes, anyways, said they were stupid, offensive. He couldn’t think of a compliment that could distract her that she hadn’t already taken offense at. There was nothing he could think of that would make everything all right.

Defeated, James looked up at Lily, pleading, willing, and wishing that she would tell him what to say.

“Oy, Prongs!”

At Sirius’s voice, James tore his attention away from Lily, who was still glaring at him, to the three approaching Marauders.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lily stand up quickly. James wanted to tell her to stay, to tell her something, but she stole away before he could find the words. Helplessly, he watched her leave the Great Hall, only vaguely aware of his friends settling in around him.

There was something he knew he should have said.


***




It had been a long time since Severus had enjoyed his weekend. Between pointless assignments for classes he didn’t care about and his pathetic Housemates – who always seemed to find him regardless of where he hid – Severus found weekends a distasteful experience.

It hadn’t always been this way. For many years, weekends had meant Lily. Hours spent together, without worries or cares, without Potter and his minions, without the girls who Lily claimed were friends, without Severus’s Housemates who repulsed Lily so much.

But that felt like such a long time ago. So much had changed since then. That had been another lifetime, another happier lifetime. Now, weekends were something to be survived, not enjoyed, something that was tolerated at best.

This weekend had been no different. After having completed his assignments for the next week, Severus had been forced to “help” Mulciber with his potions assignment. The only interesting thing about this weekend had been the letter Rosier had received from Lucius Malfoy, which alluded to a something that would happen soon. Something big. Something that would be of great interest to everyone. But that shouldn’t be expected until sometime in the future.

By the time the dawn lit up the enchanted windows of his dungeon dorm room on Monday morning, Severus was already up, already dressed, already ready to get past whatever this day brought. Severus surveyed his sleeping Housemates. Avery and Mulciber were still fast asleep, while Rosier shifted, as if coming out of a deep sleep. Scowling, Severus left the dorm room and made his way to breakfast.

For sometime, Severus was alone in the Great Hall, enjoying his solitude, but eventually a steady trickle of students began to come into the Hall, getting a breakfast before their first class. The House tables began to fill up, the noise rising as people began to talk over toast and breakfast tea. Not keen on company, Severus stood up, and began to make his way to the exit, against the flow of students, lost in thought.

After leaving the Great Hall, Severus barely noticed the passing of time. In Lily’s room time seemed to stand still. The room was suspended moment, a possibility that was timeless. The room looked the same as it had when he and Lily had spent hours – wholes days almost – in this room, their room. Every inch of the room had a memory… every inch of the room was Lily. They had gone here to practice spells, brew potions, to just talk for hours about whatever came up. But Lily had been the one who had given the room its magic.

The sweet song of Lily’s violin seemed to still be echoing in the chamber. And if he just closed his eyes, it was as if Lily was standing there before him, playing her violin, as if nothing had ever changed.

Severus knew, however, that he would never again see Lily play her violin, never watch her move and bend, swaying to the music. He wouldn’t see her daring grin as she played quickly, her fingers moving up and down the violin, bow gliding back and forth, back and forth, as she held his gaze with her emerald eyes, never once glancing down at the sheet music. He wouldn’t see her struggle to put a piece of music together, never see her brows knit in determination, never see that glorious moment when she finally got the most difficult phrase after spending hours trying to play it right.

All he had now was memories. Now, even the memory of the sweetest song became bittersweet, because he knew that he would never hear it played by Lily again, never feel his breath get drawn away, never feel the tender pull at his heart or be uplifted by a poignant leap in the music, or ever again feel his whole body pause in suspense at a well-placed rest in the melody.

Amidst the cacophony of memories, a bell tolled, faint and distant at first, but as the pull of reality crept more and more into memories, the bell became louder, stronger, until Severus found himself once again in the present, alone in an empty room, where no more music was played for him.

Severus hadn’t quite yet shaken the lingering effects of memories, before he realized with a sinking sensation that he was late for his class. I can’t believe it. Just like Potter and his friends, thought Severus as he began to hurry out of the room and down the corridor. Nearly stumbling down the stairs, Severus began to start swearing, much to the dismay of two passing Ravenclaw girls, who he left behind tittering. Let them talk. Severus had been talked about before, and he could hardly care about what two underclass-women said about him. It didn’t concern him at all.

Finally, out of breath, he arrived at the door of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Even though he could hear Professor Bone talking to the class, Severus stood outside the door until he caught his breath. Calmly, Severus opened the door.

Professor Bone stopped talking when the door opened. Severus stood still and stared at the professor.

“I had wondered whether you would be joining us today, Mr. Snape, please,” said Professor Bone, “come in.”

Scowling, Severus looked over at the classroom, quickly locating Lily in the first row, quill in hand, looking down at her notebook, surrounded by her usual group of friends. Everyone else in the class seemed to be staring at him, but she was the only one not, looking pointedly away. Quickly, Severus took a seat in the second row of seats, where he would be able to see Lily.

“Continuing,” began Professor Bone, “where we left off, dueling is likely to be prominently featured on the N.E.W.T. exam that you will be sitting this June, and given recent circumstances, I believe that our next lesson will be perhaps the most important one of the year.”

Grimacing, Severus pulled out his notebook, thinking, ’Recent’ circumstances, as if this war hasn’t been going on since before we started at Hogwarts… Professor Bone wasn’t even that much older than his students, only out of Hogwarts for less than a decade.

“For the N.E.W.T.s you’ll be expected to know the history of the Wizard Duel, so we’ll begin our study of dueling, with the history of the Duel.”

Over his years at Hogwarts, he had had seven professors of Defense Against the Dark Arts, and he had disapproved of all of them. There had been Professor Alistair, a former auror who had never taught before and hadn’t taught since. Professor Spurling had been so old and senile that no one had been surprised when he died in May. Severus had hated Professor Craigmore, who had taught strictly by the book, which had been published before his mother had been born. Professor Bullock had simply been so incompetent that every lesson had been agony. Severus had thought that things couldn’t get worse, but then there had been Professor Snelling, who in addition to general inadequacy had had no ability to control Potter and his friends. Professor Griffin had been a slight improvement, but he seemed to think that N.E.W.T. level students ought to be taught like third-years. It had only taken one class for Severus to decide that Professor Bone was no better than the other six.

Given the patheticness of our professors, thought Severus as he continued taking notes Professor Bone lectured, it’s no wonder that we haven’t been introduced to dueling before now. We should have been taught that in third year at least, if not sooner… He had started dueling when he was a first-year. If I were a professor… Severus smirked, I’d teach the students something.

Severus glanced over to Lily, sitting on the opposite side of the classroom, diligently writing down what Professor Bone said. Not that you need to take notes. You already know it... As the memory came back to him, he smiled. She’d been the one who had insisted that they learn, not that Severus hadn’t been thinking the exact same thing himself.

The more the class dragged on, the less Severus felt compelled to take notes. He already knew what Professor Bone was saying – more in fact. Severus had annotated the lecture’s notes with his own comments, filling in blanks that Professor Bone left. At least Professor Bone didn’t leave anything out of his discussion on the process and etiquette of a Wizards’ Duel.

A shiver ran down his spine, and slowly, Severus began to be aware that he was being watched. Trying to be as subtle as possible, Severus looked around, trying to see who was making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

Quickly looking away, Why am I not surprised? Severus hated the feeling of having James Potter’s eyes focused so intently on him. He wished that the could hex James to force him to look away, or better yet, make it so that he couldn’t look at all. Suddenly, He’s probably planning his next attack… a school sanctioned attack, Severus realized. But I’m a better dueler than he could ever hope to be. There’s no way you’ll ever win, Potter.

Lily brushed her hair back, out of her eyes, all the while looking intently at Professor Bone as he lectured on, and Severus forgot all about James.


***


It wasn’t that James wasn’t excited to begin dueling, and he meant no disrespect to Professor Bone, who so far had proved to be a decent professor and generally a nice man, but James just had no interest in listening to the history of Dueling.

Flanked by Remus and Sirius, Peter sitting next to Remus, James muttered, “I don’t care if it’s on the exam, I don’t think Voldemort’s going to ask us about the Dueling Council of 1475 before he tries to kill us.”

Sirius grinned, while Peter nodded fervently in agreement. Remus only gave James a brief look before returning to note taking.

Glancing around the classroom, James was struck by a flood of inspiration. That expression… he thought as he flipped through his sketchbook to a blank page, Hold that expression, Snivellus.

As soon as James began drawing, everything else seemed to vanish. He was no longer sitting with his three best friends. There was no teacher, no class, nothing, except for him and Severus… and that smile. James had never seen that expression before on Severus’s face. It seemed so strange, so foreign. James had to capture it forever, or else he’d never believe that he had seen it on Severus’s face.

Just as James was adding the finishing touches to his sketch, emphasizing the expression on Severus’s face with only a vague suggestion of the man behind the smile, Remus said softly, “You’re missing half the picture.”

Sitting up and looking at his drawing, James said, “Actually, I like it how it is.”

Smiling weakly, Remus looked sadly at his friend, thinking that it might be for the best that James didn’t see the object of Severus’ gaze.





Author's Note: I don't own Harry Potter.
Sorry for the long break between updates. I'll try to get the next chapter out a lot sooner. Thank you for your patience.
This chapter is dedicated to my friends who supported me and encouraged/nagged me to finally write this chapter. So, thank you, Brynna, John and Caitlin, you guys are great! And a big thank you to Noam, who beta read this for me.
Thank you for the read. Let me know what you think by leaving me a review! I appreciate any form of feed back.
-Houlstar


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