Chapter 1 : Plans Into Action
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I'm actually quite excited about this story. It is written for Shay_Gryff's We Fell In Love challenge on the forums, and (as I'm sure you've worked out) the pairing is Lily/James. I've tried to do something kind of different, straying away from the usual way they fell in love :)
This chapter has been beta'd by the amazing Rose Wilts!
- Lemony Snicket
A loud crash echoed through the Great Hall, following it, the splash of liquid all over the tiled floor. Most people in the vicinity winced but I just sighed and leaned my head on Sirius Black's shoulder. I suppose I was used to it now- the fighting, the yelling, the tension. But just because I was used to it didn't mean I liked it.
"I wish they'd cut it out," Sirius muttered, staring at the tabletop. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew nodded in agreement. I just grunted like the appealing female I am. This time I heard the distinct sound of porcelain shattering and glanced up to see what they'd done now. My best friend, Lily Evans, had just thrown a plate at James Potter's head. Luckily he had ducked out of the way in time, as it smashed into tiny pieces on the wall behind him .
With one glance at Sirius, the both of us stood up. It was time for some damage control. They must have been fighting pretty seriously for Lily to risk getting detention.
"Red alert, red alert!" I hissed at Sirius, smacking his arm and pointing to Professor McGonagall who was heading towards us, her eyes fixed on James and Lily. Sirius pivoted and walked towards her instead, stopping her in her tracks.
"Enough!" I snapped, grabbing hold of my best friend's arm before she could reach for her wand.
"Let go of me," Lily hissed, trying to shake me off. Her cheeks were red, her nostrils were flared and her eyes were blazing. That is most definitely not a good sign.
"Come on, Evans!" James said with a smirk. I don't know how he could remain so calm and collected while Lily screamed bloody murder in his face. "One date won't kill you. In fact, afterwards you'll probably be begging for more."
And that, my friends, is why this fight began.
"More is definitely not what I'll be begging for," Lily snapped, lunging at him again. James didn't flinch.
"It's way too early for this," I muttered to myself before stepping between them, creating a physical barrier. "Stop it! The both of you! Don't you realize you're in the Great Hall, for Merlin's sake? Act your age!"
They both took that as an opportunity to blame the other for starting it. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that Sirius had sent McGonagall back on her way to the staff table, a displeased frown on her face.
"We're leaving," I announced, grabbing Lily by the wrist and attempting to lead her out of the Great Hall.
Once we were out of the dull hum of background noise filling the Great Hall, I leaned against the stone wall and took a deep breath. The air was much cooler and less stuffy out here, making it easier to breathe. The tension levels in the air were also a lot lower, even though Lily was still glaring at me.
"What?" I asked irritably, raking my hand through my hair. "Did you actually want to stay around him?"
Her glare intensified. "No. And don't do that," she tacked on as an afterthought.
"The hand-in-the-hair thing. Potter does that and it's annoying."
I rolled my eyes and decided to ignore her, leading the way to Gryffindor Tower. The whole way there Lily went on and on about Potter's immaturity, Potter's stupidity, Potter's this, Potter's that.
"You know," I snapped, cutting her off mid-sentence and turning to stare at her suspiciously, "I'd almost think you didn't hate him as much as you'd like everyone to think you do. You can't seem to stop talking about him."
"Shut up," she muttered, shoving past me and heading towards the portrait of the Fat Lady, guarding Gryffindor Tower. "You know that's not true."
"Password?" the Fat Lady asked, examining a freshly polished silver spoon inside her frame.
"Flammel," Lily answered politely.
I didn’t understand her; she was polite to a painting, but rude to her own best friend.
"That's lovely, dear," the Fat Lady said, distracted, as the portrait swung open to reveal the common room.
Once Lily had disappeared upstairs, I leaned on the back of an armchair to catch my breath and mentally prepare myself for what was waiting for me upstairs. Lily would undoubtedly be seething, counting down the seconds it took me to get upstairs, just so she could vent again about “how horrible James is” and how much she “hates him” and how wished he’d “leave her alone”.
I closed my eyes and begged Merlin to watch over me before I began climbing the stairs. I knocked tentatively on my dorm door before pushing it open slowly. "Lily?" I asked quietly. I looked around the dorm before I saw her lying flat on her bed, face down in her pillow. I rolled my eyes at her dramatics and shut the door, locking it behind me.
"He's a cockroach," she stated, her voice muffled by her pillow.
I raised my eyebrows. "That's a new one."
She sat up to face me, her hair sticking up a bit at the front. I reached out to fix it but she slapped my hand away.
Well then. That was the last time I tried to help her.
"I'm being serious, Jess! I can't stand him! I don't want to look at him, let alone talk to him, but he doesn't seem to understand that!"
"Maybe you should just give him a chance!" I cried, lying back on her bed. "I'm sick of you two arguing like children every time you're within three meters off each other."
At least she had the tact to look apologetic.
"I can't help it. There's just something about him that drives me crazy. I can't stand it."
I raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps if you give him the chance he might drive you crazy in a good way. You never know what you could be missing out on, Lily."
I’m not sure why I bothered. I’m really not. I’d tried to give her this speech so many times. I’d tried to tell that if she gave him a chance so might see the James that the rest of us – his friends – saw, but she never believed me.
"You're just suggesting this because he's your boyfriend's best mate. Sirius put you up to this, didn't he?"
I sighed. "No, actually. He didn't."
She shrugged and grunted at me in response. Her femininity is astounding.
"Why don't you like him?" I asked. I decided that this time I would get a proper reason for her constantly turning him down. I mean, she was my best friend and I would always side with her, but James was my friend too and I didn't like seeing him hurt, even if he barely showed it. I was sick to death of the two of them constantly being at each others throats, so I took it upon myself to put a stop to it, even of it meant making my best friend give James Potter a chance.
"Because!" she exclaimed as though that was enough reason to hate a person. After noticing my unamused glare she scowled and rolled her eyes. "Fine. He's a bully. Don't you see the way treats some people. He's bigoted. He's also incredibly conceited and Quidditch-obsessed-"
"I'm Quidditch-obsessed and you still love me," I interrupted. Lily shot me a dirty look but continued to list her reasons as though she hadn't heard me.
"- He seems to be deluded into thinking that asking me to Hogsmeade every other morning is the way to 'win my heart' as he likes to puts it. He's bossy and rude and downright annoying!"
I let out a low whistle and raised my eyebrows at my friend's grumpy expression. "That's some list," I told her, impressed.
I sighed. I'd never properly understood the relationship Lily and James had. It'd always been beyond me how someone could go through years, pining after the person who seemed to detest them most. If I were in Lily's position, I must admit that I probably would have caved by now and just agreed to go out with him and the never do it again. Her stubbornness was kind of impressive, actually.
"I don't know why everyone thinks that I'll just miraculously fall in love with him if I go on just one date" Lily said quietly. I could tell by the tone of voice she used that this actually bothered her. "I mean, just because it would officially be called a date doesn't mean it would be any different. We would still clash and argue. Potter would still be Potter and I'd still be me."
"Perhaps that's it, though," I told her, braiding a tiny section of my hair. "Perhaps you're looking at him in the wrong light. You see him as annoying Potter who always asks you out on dates and harasses the other students. Why don't you just try seeing him as James?"
Lily sighed. "You don't understand. Even if I see him as 'James', I still won't fall in love with him, simply because he is him!"
The thing was, I’d spent a little while thinking about this. Lily had given me the exact excuse before and it sparked some ideas in my head that I just hadn't been able to shake. I knew I couldn't bring them up at random without starting another fight, but now I had the perfect opportunity.
"I have a theory about that," I told her smugly, propping myself up on my elbows.
I didn't have to be looking at her to know she rolled her eyes. "This should be good," she muttered but I ignored her.
"I honestly think that you could fall in love with anyone if you got to see the parts of them no-one else got to see. Like if you followed them around invisibly for a day and saw them laughing with their friends or crying in their bed at night or humming quietly to themselves as they read a book. After seeing them at their best, their worst, their most vulnerable, you wouldn't be able to help falling in love with them."
Lily stared at me for a moment and the dorm was silent, before her voice cut through the quiet again. "I think you're crazy."
I frowned and sat up, grabbing her arms and shaking them around annoyingly. "Come on Lily! I bet you would fall in love with James after a month of seeing him like that!"
She raised her eyebrows at me. "Oh yeah? How much do you want to bet?"
"Are you saying you'll do it?"
"No, I'm saying make me an offer."
I clapped my hands and bounced on the mattress excitedly. "Okay, if you do fall in love with him, you have to agree to go out with him and I get to torture you with "I told you so!" to my heart's content."
She snickered but actually seemed to be considering this. Slowly, Lily nodded, her eyes slightly glazed over before she refocused and turned to smirk at me. "And what do I win when I don't fall in love with him? Because I won't," she added.
"You get the peace of mind of knowing you were right the whole time." Lily just stared at me. I rolled my eyes and tried to think of an acceptable offer that would make her agree to this. "And I will clean your side of the dorm for two weeks!"
"Make it a month."
She and I stared at each other, almost as though we were waiting to see who would break first. Naturally, it was me.
"Fine! A month. Deal?" I asked, holding out my right hand and feeling quite professional.
"Deal," she nodded, shaking mine firmly.
Now how in the name of Merlin's striped pajamas was I supposed to find a way for Lily to see James Potter like no-one else?
After I filled him in about my discussion with Lily, Sirius and I spent days in the library researching a way to put this plan into action. It had been a week since Lily and I agreed to this bet however we still hadn't found a way to carry it out. Sirius read through piles of dusty charm dictionaries and encyclopedias while I checked the potion books. We even got a little sidetracked by the collection of old yearbooks on the shelf closest to the big window. Once we were back on task, it was quite disappointing to find that these books hadn’t helped us at all.
It turned out, however, that all we had ever needed to so was ask Remus for help.
"Usually I wouldn't help you two with something like this, but I'm sick of the fighting," Remus said quietly, leaning against a shelf full of thick, leather-bound books.
"Mate, we all are. That's why this has to work. And we can't tell James about the plan or else he'll try too hard to act perfect in case Lily's watching and it's all going to fall to shit," Sirius told him.
Remus nodded understandingly before holding out what looked like a battered, old, worn out journal. It was bound in brown leather and had a buckle attached from the front cover to the back. "This is charm protected. All you have to do is touch your wand to the buckle and say the charm and it will open."
"Sounds easy enough," I shrugged. "But are you supposed to get James to write down all his feelings and stuff in this? Because I cannot see that happening."
"Well, this is the cool part," Remus said, a small, excited smile on his face. "Once you've unlocked the journal, you literally step into it. It will take you to wherever James is at the time and you will be able to see what he's doing. Nobody will be able to see, hear or feel you; it will be like you're ghosts."
I raised my eyebrows and Sirius grinned. "You're literally a genius" I commented, genuinely impressed.
"He is," Sirius confirmed, while Remus shook his head. "But I have to ask- how did you even know how to do this?"
"We're in a library, you know. I did my research," Remus told him.
This clearly annoyed Sirius. "But we checked every book in here and found nothing!"
"You must have been looking for the wrong thing then," Remus answered, shrugging. Then he turned to me again. "I've tested it and everything, so I know it definitely works. Just make sure Lily doesn't go in alone, and that you're always with her."
"Because the journal has to be locked to one person, so I locked it to you and your wand. It's an old charm to stop other people from reading your journal, however I couldn't really modify it, so it will only open to your wand. And if she does manage to steal your wand and get in alone, only you can let her out. If anyone else tries to get in, they'll get soaked in Bubotuber pus."
"Oh, lovely," I muttered, wrinkling my nose.
Remus shrugged. "Security is important."
I smiled at him. "Thank you so much, Remus! We couldn't have done this without you."
"Literally," Sirius muttered, snaking his arm around my waist.
Remus grinned. "It's no problem. Anything to make the fighting stop. It's been getting a bit unbearable lately now that James has started fighting back."
I nodded and slipped the journal inside my robes before heading towards the table where Peter and James were seated in the middle of the library. "I know. At least he sticks up for himself and doesn't just let her insult him."
"I guess so," Remus agreed before dropping the conversation as we joined James and Peter.
Apparently, Sirius had already filled Peter in about the bet. It seemed that everyone knew about it except James himself. It was actually Peter's idea to ask Remus for help when we found nothing in the books we'd checked. Peter wasn't as clueless as everyone seemed to think. A lot of the Hogwarts students (and some of the teachers) were under the impression that Peter just lurked in the shadows of the other Marauders, however I happened to know for a fact that he was not merely a shadow. Whenever Remus refused to help out with a prank because he thought it too dangerous too dangerous or downright stupid, Peter would take charge of the small, more complicated details. James and Sirius would plan the wider range of the prank and would also supply the necessary things to out it together. Remus would eventually join in and add his safety precautions or warnings. They had quite a good system going, actually.
"What are you doing?" I asked curiously as I sat down next to James.
He shielded his parchment with both of his arms, refusing to let me see it. "Secret Marauder business. For us to know, and for you to witness in a couple of days time."
"Well, I'll leave you to it," I said, standing up again. I could see I was no longer needed here, so I ruffled James's already messy hair, gave Sirius a short, completely innocent kiss (which caused Madam Pince to frown at me like a vulture until I left the library) and clapped Remus and Peter on the back on the way past.
I returned to the dorm after making a short detour to the kitchens to pick up a block of the house elves' home-made chocolate. I found Lily lying on her bed, reading a book. I tossed the journal on top of the boom she was reading, causing her to jump when it landed with a thud on the pages.
She stared at me. "What is this?"
"This is your key to falling in love with James Potter," I announced, a grin on my face.
Lily rolled her eyes but smiled slightly at my enthusiasm. She turned the thing over in her hands before looking at me with raised eyebrows. "You stole his diary?" Then her eyebrows furrowed and she looked more confused than amused. "Potter keeps a diary?"
I laughed at the thought of James sitting in bed and scribbling all his thoughts and emotions into a diary. It would probably be half-Lily, half-Quidditch.
"No!" I told her, crossing my legs on my bed. "This crafty little invention of Remus's will let you see James without him seeing you." Lily still looked confused, so I explained to her how it works.
"I'd hate for this to fall into the wrong hands… but then again…"
"No," I snapped. "No giving the diary to the Slytherins."
She pouted. "Fine. How does it open?" she asked, trying to pull the buckle open.
"You touch it with your wand and say patefacio, but you don't wan-"
Before I could get another word out, Lily was covered in a thick, slimy, pungent substance. She was shocked frozen, staring at the journal with wide eyes as Bubotuber pus dripped from her hair. She let out a shaky breath and shuddered before blinking a couple of times.
"Jessica Jones, what is on me?" she asked in a quiet voice as though speaking any louder would aggravate the goo.
"Bubotuber pus," I told her happily.
"Get it off me. Get it off now!"
I bit my lip to hold in a laugh as I vanished the goo from her completely. Unfortunately, the smell seemed to linger. "This is your fault," she told me.
"I tried to warn you!"
"Take your diary," she told me, getting up and shoving it into my arms. "I'm taking a shower."
I laughed at her and as much as she tried to fight her smile, she laughed too. It’d probably be best to hide this journal some place where it wouldn’t be found easily. I didn’t want any of the other girls in the dorm finding it. I decided to keep in on my bedside table, underneath my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Nobody would ever take something after they’d been snooping if it was hidden in plain sight – and I most definitely could not afford to lose this journal. The sooner Lily lost this bet, the better.