Lily Evans was baffled. Back in September, if someone had told her that her seventh year at Hogwarts would turn out this way, she would’ve thought they were utterly mental. Yet here she was, sitting in the Gryffindor common room with James Potter. And they weren’t even arguing. Now that was really unexpected.
It was easy to understand the dread that had filled Lily when she discovered that James would be the Head Boy to her Head Girl. They had a bit of a history, and it wasn’t exactly a good one. But James had matured. And now… well, she found she actually liked being in his company. Perhaps she liked it too much. It was more than a little disconcerting.
“Do you know the answer to number four?” James asked, pulling Lily away from her thoughts. They’d been working on a list of review questions for Transfiguration together.
“What was that?” Lily was still slightly unfocused. As of late, being around James muddled her mind. She would always invariably start to overthink things, wondering how she and James had gotten to this point and speculating on how their relationship might be different if she’d given him a chance to be friends sooner. But that’s not what he’d wanted before. And she wasn’t sure that’s what she wanted now.
“Are you okay, Lily?” James said in amusement, though there was slight concern shining in his eyes.
She stared at him for a moment, still feeling troubled. He’d stopped asking her out this year, befriending her instead. Why had he done that? “What changed your mind?” she blurted out.
James furrowed his dark eyebrows. “Er… what?”
“Oh, I, um, never mind,” Lily responded, feeling flustered. Why had she asked him that?
“Lily.” James placed his hand on her own, looking her in the eyes. She felt herself begin to flush and dropped her gaze down to her lap. “What are you talking about Lily?”
Lily bit her lip slightly. Where was the harm in talking about it? It was only going to bother her, continue to fester in the back of her mind until she slowly went insane. She might as well confront the issue. “What made you change your mind about me?”
James still looked perplexed. “I’m not following.”
“You spent the last few years doing nothing but irritate me or ask me out. But you don’t anymore. We’re friends. What prompted the change?”
Now it was James’s turn to blush. “That’s an, uh, odd topic to bring up.” He blinked twice and scratched his head awkwardly. He was so different than the smooth, charming boy that she used to detest. “Why do you want to know?”
“I’m not sure,” Lily responded honestly. “It’s just something that’s been unsettling me lately. It’s a bit strange, don’t you think? You and I being friends? It’s certainly not something I ever saw coming. So why did you try so hard to make it happen?”
James was silent for a moment. “You always fascinated me, you know that? Ever since we met on the train, there was always something about you that held my interest. At first I thought it was just your hair.”
Lily glanced down as the fiery locks that rested on her shoulders. James absentmindedly reached over and lifted a strand, letting it slip through his fingers. “You were the first redhead I’d ever met. I remember watching you as we all waited to be sorted, utterly transfixed by the way the light bounced off your hair. I thought the only reason I was paying an inordinate amount of attention to you was because of your hair. But then I began to notice other things.”
“Like what?” Lily asked softly. Part of her wasn’t sure she wanted to hear this, but another part wanted nothing more than for James to continue.
“Well, your freckles,” he said impishly, making Lily laugh. “I kind of always wanted to count them all. And then who couldn’t notice those eyes of yours? But it was more than just that. I noticed how you’d always give the professors your undivided attention in class, even if you already knew what they teaching.”
“I was a bit of a know-it-all,” Lily admitted, smiling.
“But in all the best ways,” James told her. “I spent a lot of time watching you. It was kind of creepy, I know, but I was always drawn to you. I saw how kind you were, how determined, and vivacious. You really were like a flame sometimes. You’ve always just been so full of life and so bright. And I was like a moth, always trying to get closer to you.”
“I didn’t really go about it very well,” James admitted and Lily laughed again. “But I was kind of stupid. I built you up into this sort of perfect being in my head. You became… larger than life. To me, you could do no wrong.”
Lily shifted in her seat, feeling uneasy. While she’s not averse to compliments – she’s a girl and a human, why wouldn’t she like to be complimented? – the way James was talking about her made her almost uncomfortable. The image of her he’d painted with his words was certainly beautiful, but it wasn’t right.
“But you know,” James continued, once again disturbing Lily’s thoughts, “I think that was what my real mistake was. I put you on a pedestal and turned you into someone utterly untouchable. And that’s not you.”
He looked her deeply in the eyes. “What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person. Because, forgive me, you’re not perfect, Lily. I think you know that. But it wasn’t something I really realized until this summer.”
“And so, to finally answer your question,” James grinned, “I wanted to become friends with you because I wanted to actually get to know you. I wanted to find your imperfections and create a new image of you in my head. But this time, I wanted it to be the actual one.”
Lily nodded slowly, unsure. “And… what did you find?”
“You’re stubborn,” James said promptly, a tender smile on his face. “You’re a total perfectionist and you have a tendency to lose your temper over inconsequential things. Your eyebrows are slightly lopsided and you stick your tongue out when you concentrate.”
“That must be unsightly,” Lily muttered self-consciously.
“But endearing,” he replied gently. “I had thought that by getting to know you and finding your flaws, I wouldn’t be so entranced by you all the time. So can you imagine my surprise when I found that your faults made you even more intriguing?”
Lily felt a warm glow that had nothing to do with the roaring fire she was seated next to. She wasn’t sure why, but hearing that from James made her feel… happy. “Is that so?”
He nodded. “Yeah. The thing I realized is that the person I had made you out to be for so long was great and all, but she was boring. Perfection is overrated and actually kind of uninteresting. Reality, though, now that’s fascinating. It’s beautiful. You’re human and you’re imperfect, but that just makes you real. And I’d take that over the false you I’d created any day.”
James’s hand carefully took hold of Lily’s, sending an unexpected surge of heat up her arm. Somehow during the conversation, they’d drifted closer together, their knees brushing against each other’s and their torsos leaning in. They were silent, eyes drifting over the other’s face.
After a few minutes, James whispered, “Twenty-three.”
“You have twenty-three freckles on your face. I counted them,” he breathed. Lily’s heart gave a flutter and she shifted even closer to James. She could feel his warmth radiating from his body, heating hers as well. Everything was so warm, so comfortable.
And that’s why she tilted her head up and pressed her lips against his. Because James set her entire being ablaze, but it felt so natural for it to be so. She felt his hand, the one that wasn’t holding her own, drift to the back of her neck, holding her face more securely against his own as their mouths molded together.
They kissed gently for a moment before they both drew back slowly, staring at one another. Then James’s face broke out into a wide grin. “I’ve imagined that happening for a very long time.”
“Did it live up to your expectations?” Lily asked shyly.
“Nah,” he replied off-handedly. When he saw her face fall slightly, he lifted her chin so that he could stare into her vibrant green eyes. “It exceeded them. Didn’t you listen to anything I just told you? Nothing is better than reality.”
The line “What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person” is from the book Paper Towns by John Green. He’s an incredibly talented author and I would highly recommend his novels. Thanks for reading and please review!
Also, if I owned Harry Potter, I wouldn’t be writing fanfiction about it, now would I?