Chapter 3 : Heirloom.
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She always loved the moonlight, he remembered as his eyes hungrily traced the outline of her features. Her brilliant green eyes were covered by delicate eyelids, her dark auburn eyelashes fanning across her pale cheeks. The red hair he’d come to associate with butterflies and adrenaline was stained dark grey by the night, the only remnant of red a light shine as the moonlight reflected off of the curls.
No, James Potter did not often come to watch his girlfriend while she slept. He may be smitten, but he was certainly not (too much of a) creepy stalker, and watching someone sleep definitely fell under the “creepy stalker” category.
James had been staring at The Marauder’s Map as insomnia hummed around him, hoping that his eyes would catch on something interesting – there were rumors about a raunchy affair between Filch and Pince…though, honestly, he wouldn’t want to witness that; brain trauma overrode amusement after all – when they caught on a name nestled into a little nook in the library.
His heart had leapt in his chest at seeing that name – tell that to Sirius and he will hex you – and he stepped out of bed and swung his cloak around his shoulders and over his head without a single other thought as he made his way to the library.
Lily had that effect on him. She made him want to forget the world and lose himself in every inch of her brilliance. He was a bit addicted to her, always had been – she just had something about her, a shine, a glow, an iridescence that was irresistible to stay away from, impossible to forget.
And here she was, at two-thirty in the morning, fast asleep in the Library Niche (a window seat hidden from view and lined with books) with a potions textbook as some sort of makeshift pillow. If it wasn’t so completely, adorably Lily, James would have been exasperated at his girlfriend’s antics. She’d probably dropped off from exhaustion hours ago and slept through the library lockdown.
“Lily,” James whispered, kneeling down next to her and brushing his fingers against her milky cheek. “Love, wake up.”
Lily frowned and grumbled something unintelligible, feebly slapping his hand away.
“Lily,” he coaxed, a bit louder. “Wakey-wakey.”
More grumbling and something that sounded vaguely like “bugger off”.
James grinned. He’d had an influence on her after all.
“Lily,” James breathed in her ear. “It’s James Potter, the prat you hate. I’ve come to steal your knickers. You should probably wake up and hex me.”
Lily merely grinned sleepily and cupped his cheek with her hand. “I’ll seduce you to give them back,” she murmured. She opened her brilliantly green eyes and a large, goofy smile spread across his face.
“I’d love to see that, Miss Evans,” he said huskily.
She laughed, the sound still rough from sleep, and his stomach lurched pleasantly. “I know you would. What time is it?”
“Around three,” James said. Lily blinked. “In the morning.”
“Bloody hell,” she groaned, sitting up and grabbing her head at the resulting rush of dizziness. “What are you still doing awake?”
He mussed up his hair and smiled sheepishly. “Sirius was singing in his sleep. Woke me up, the stupid bugger. And then I couldn’t fall back asleep.”
Lily chuckled. “I forgot he does that.”
“You were there two nights ago…”
She smacked him, her face burning. “I thought you weren’t going to gloat about that.”
He grinned wickedly. “Can’t help it. You do know what this means, right?”
Lily sighed wearily. “No James, what does it mean?”
He leaned forward and trapped her against the potion textbook again.
“It means,” he whispered roughly in her ear, “that since you stole my youthful innocence, you’ll have to marry me.” This already dizzying statement he ended with a trail of openmouthed kisses down her neck.
Lily’s stomach erupted in butterflies as she gripped his hair, her head tilted back. “You stole mine, too, Potter,” she rasped out.
He chuckled darkly. “Then I guess I’ll have to marry you, too.”
Then he kissed her and her mind shorted out.
It felt like ages when they finally came up for air. Lily leaned forward, fully intending to kiss him again and maybe even stumble all the way up to his dormitory – there was no way she’d be able to fall asleep after a kiss like that – but James pulled away gently so that he was leaning with his back against a tower of books and Lily was nestled into his arms.
“I meant that, you know,” James said quietly, watching as Lily traced a heart on his chest with her finger.
“Meant what?” Lily asked, looking up at him. He was staring down at her with those hazy eyes and her heart kicked up a notch in her chest. Vaguely, she wondered when she’d finally stop getting butterflies every time her boyfriend looked at her.
She hoped it was never.
“I’ve known since I was eleven that I’m going to marry you,” he told her seriously, “and I fully intend to see that through.”
Lily didn’t quite know what to say. The butterflies in her stomach spread all the way down to her toes.
“I’m never letting you go, Evans,” he continued. “You’re stuck with me, whether you like it or not.” This he finished with his trademark, lopsided, heart-wrenching smile and Lily’s pulse kicked up a notch.
“Do I get a ring?” she asked teasingly, the breathless edge in her voice ruining the lighthearted effect a bit.
James blinked. Again.
“Did you just say yes to marry me?” he finally asked.
“Well, only if you’re asking…”
He kissed her hard. “I’m asking,” he said in a voice brimming with awe and joy, “Merlin, yes, I’m asking.”
“Then I suppose I don’t have much of an option,” she sighed, “seeing as I’m stuck with you and all.”
“Come on,” he said suddenly, grabbing her around the waist and lifting her clean out of the Niche.
“We have classes tomorrow, James,” Lily whispered as they hurried along the corridors of Hogwarts. “I am not staying over tonight.”
“That’s not what I was thinking of,” he responded, chuckling, “get your mind out of the gutter, Evans.”
“Can’t help it, I’m dating a Marauder after all,” she said dryly, not missing a beat as he pulled her through a tapestry pretending to be a door that actually hid the entrance to a secret passageway.
“Hell yeah, you are,” he said proudly.
She grinned as they stopped in front of the Fat Lady. It had taken them a grand total of two minutes to get back to the Gryffindor Tower from the library, a feat that usually took her a good ten minutes to accomplish if she speed-walked. Oh, the benefits of dating a bloke who knew more secret passageways than the caretaker of Hogwarts…
“James, I said I can’t sleep over today,” Lily said in a hushed voice as he led her up the boys’ staircase.
“I just need to give you something,” he responded vaguely, pushing the door open to his room. They were greeted by a loud snort from Peter and the next stanza of Sirius’ favorite nighttime tune.
Was it normal that James’ best friend sang in his sleep? No, not really. Did Lily particularly care? Well, frankly, she was a bit worried. But did that stop her from loving Sirius Black like the annoying brat of a brother she never had but always wanted? Absolutely not.
She smiled lightly at his sprawled form as they passed his bed, slipping through slivers of moonlight. James knelt carefully in front of his trunk, letting Lily’s hand go for the first time since they’d left the library.
“James, what are you –”
He shushed her without turning around, seemingly intent on rooting through his messy trunk. She rolled her eyes good-naturedly. James Potter with something stuck in his head was a force to be reckoned with. She should know; she’d been a direct example of his stubbornness for an entire seven years of her life.
He finally let out a small noise of triumph, getting up with a loud crack of his knees. She squinted at the shapeless bundle in his arms, but didn’t bother asking as he crept towards the bathroom, motioning her with his head to follow. She didn’t question him; she’d long stopped doing that.
James Potter always had a method to his madness.
“Sorry,” he whispered, shutting the bathroom door behind them. She blinked to adjust to the sudden light. “I didn’t want to wake any of them.”
Lily smiled. “It’s okay. What is that?”
He held up the lump, a proud grin on his face. “What I was looking for.”
She quirked an eyebrow, but he merely pulled off the first layer –
“An ugly sweater? Seriously, James?”
“Oi, my grandmum made that for me,” James warned. Upon closer inspection, however, he realized that the thing was rather ugly, which was probably why he’d used it for this very task. Shrugging carelessly, he tossed it over his shoulder and set the box on the bathroom counter.
“I thought your grandmum made that for you,” Lily said, amused.
“That’s not important right now,” he murmured, shifting through the box. “Bloody hell,” he breathed, almost to himself, “I really was a creepy stalker.”
Lily frowned. She was getting rather sleepy at this point. “James, what –”
He tossed something at her, and she caught it against her chest, her eyes narrowing as she brought it closer to her face.
“Is this my locket?” she asked incredulously.
James nodded, still digging through the box. “You chucked it at my head after you figured out I gave it to you. So I kept it.”
The nonchalant way he’d said it – almost as though it was perfectly normal for her to do it – sent a pang of regret through her heart.
“It really is beautiful,” Lily murmured, folding it into her hand, “I’m sorry.”
He looked up briefly to give her a lecherous grin. “No worries, love. You already made it up to me.” This was accompanied with a wink, and Lily blushed bright red.
“Are you going to make fun of me like this every time we have sex?” she finally muttered.
“Only if you react like that every time I make fun of you for it.”
“Real charming boyfriend you are.”
He didn’t say anything, but held a photograph in her direction. She grinned upon closer inspection; it was a picture of James trying in vain to clamp her to his side as she continuously struggled away from his grip. He was grinning brightly at the camera. She was wearing an expression meant to terrify, or murder through the eyes only.
“It was third year,” James said. “First Hogsmeade visit.”
“I remember.” A slight pause. “James, is that box filled with stuff about me?”
He laughed lightly. “Not just you, love. It’s things that I never want to lose.”
Thank Merlin for that, too.
“What are you looking for, exactly?” For a wild moment, she was seized with the fear that he’d make her stay there the entire night as they looked over his mementos. She loved him dearly, but sleep was important every now and then.
“Aha!” He cried, his fist clamped around something she couldn’t quite identify. “Found it.”
She breathed a silent sigh of relief, which then caught in her throat sharply as he opened his hand to show was looked terrifyingly like one of those boxes that engagement rings came in.
“Are…are you proposing to me?” She croaked.
The smile on his face faltered. “I thought I already did that.”
Her eyes latched on to his. “I thought you were talking about one day in the future. Not today. Not now.”
He blinked. “There’s no time like the present,” he said weakly, looking down at the box as he fiddled with it between his fingers.
Lily bit her lip, her eyes flicking towards the box. That thing had memories from when they were thirteen, and James had been digging through it for ages looking for that ring…
“When did you get it for me?” she asked in a voice hollow with surprise.
James shrugged. “I nicked it when I was twelve.”
Twelve. Merlin. Twelve. Her head spun slightly.
“You knew what potential ring size I’d be at the age of twelve?”
“Well, I –”
“Hold on, you nicked it? James!” She admonished.
“It’s family heirloom,” he explained quickly, before she went off on a speech about thievery. “I nicked it from my mum, Lily. She let me have it.”
Family heirloom. He was giving her a ring that had been in his pureblood family for generations, a ring that was meant to one day be given to a pureblood but was being given to her.
“Lily,” James said quietly, as though he could already tell the way her thoughts were going. “I love you. This ring belongs to you. Not some nameless pureblood girl out there.”
“I can’t take that,” she said wildly.
“You haven’t even looked at it, Lily –”
“James, you can’t give me family heirloom, that kind of stuff isn’t meant for me –”
“Marry me.” He cut across.
Her mouth dropped open rather stupidly at this sudden demand.
“Marry me, Lily.” He stepped closer. “Marry me as soon as we get out of school. This summer. Move in with me. Have a kid with me. Or three. Or four. I don’t care how this life pans out, Lily, as long as it’s with you. So yeah, when I said that tonight, I didn’t mean one day in the future. I mean now. I’m asking you to marry me now, today, tonight, in the seventh year boy’s dormitory bathroom.”
And as simple as that, everything just melted away.
Marry me. Of course. Of course she would. She couldn't imagine not marrying him.
“Give me that obscenely old ring,” Lily sighed, sticking her hand out.
The grin on James’ face was threatening to overtake his entire face as he reached towards her and grasped her left wrist in his hand, pulling it towards him. With the other hand, he popped open the box and plucked the ring out, letting the case fall to the floor. Lily was struck dumb by its simple, elegant beauty.
And when he slipped it onto her finger and it magically altered to her size, she wondered why it took her so long to say yes, why it hadn’t been there all along.
The next morning, Lily woke up feeling unsurprisingly tired. Though judging by the amount of sleep she got last night – bloody Potter and his stupid bloody bathroom – that really was to be expected.
She showered and dressed with an air of drowsy indifference, waving her wand at her face to apply the usual light coat of mascara and eyeliner before using a quick spell to fix her bedhead to the usual lightly tumbling curls.
This was all done in the span of thirty extremely sleepy minutes; the morning lull of her roommates, all equally tired and uncaring of the world around them, seemed to create a little cocoon around her. Nothing could get in or out.
She managed to float in this little bubble down to breakfast without realizing the stares, whispers, giggles, or wistful sighs that followed her across the Great Hall. In fact, she was in the middle of a great big yawn as she grazed her fingers lightly through her boyfriend’s hair and sat down next to him, taking a huge gulp of his morning coffee before she crammed his muffin in her mouth and rested her head against his arm.
“You need to stop keeping me up at night,” she whined, and James chuckled, sounding alarmingly alert for someone who’d only had about three hours of sleep last night.
She scowled. “Why are you so chipper, Potter?”
“Why are you so grumpy, Lily?” He shot back jovially.
“I barely got to sleep, thanks to you.”
“Well I didn’t sleep at all, thanks to you,” He uttered cheerily.
She lifted her head to look at him questioningly. “What do you mean?”
He didn’t say anything, but his eyes glittered as he lifted her left hand to his lips and he left a kiss on the ring finger –
“Oh!” she gasped, her eyes snapping onto the diamond.
“Oh,” he murmured. “I can’t believe you forgot, Lily.”
She stuck her tongue out, now grinning as she tilted her hand to all sides, admiring the way it sparkled. “I value sleep more than I value you.”
“That’s such a hurtful thing to say to your fiancé, Lily.”
Lily’s smile imitated James’ last night, except hers seemed to stretch across the entire room.
“Fiancé,” she whispered, testing the word in her mouth. It sounded even better than boyfriend, almost as good as husband.
Her almost-husband, James Potter.
Yes, she could definitely get used to this.
“Mrs. Potter,” he replied, the grin on his face turning slightly mischievous as he glanced over her head at her friend. She couldn’t help the leap in her heart at that title.
“Lily Potter,” Alice said, sliding next to her on the bench. Lily grinned, shocked that her sleepy friend had managed to catch the ring so quickly.
“Almost,” she quipped, wiggling her finger at Alice. Alice’s mouth dropped open and she seized Lily’s hand, her eyes the size of saucers.
“What? When?” she got out.
“Last night,” Lily sang.
Alice let out a shriek of joy that resonated around the entire Great Hall.
“Good job,” Lily laughed as Alice attacked her, “now everyone’s staring at us.”
“Oh love, I’m pretty sure they were already doing that,” Alice said, her eyes sparking with the same mischievous glint as she looked over Lily’s head at James.
It wasn’t until Lily went to the loo after her final class of the day did she realize how her entire school had got to know about her recent engagement to James so quickly. She chuckled as she stared at the handiwork of her fiancé (fiancé!).
The prat had magicked the words without her realizing it; they glittered and floated over her head like a proud label.
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