It was the final Quidditch match of the year: Gryffindor vs. Slytherin. Gryffindor was currently leading, but everything came down to the final game. As long as Gryffindor caught the Snitch before Slytherin got a lead of thirty points, which James had no intention of letting happen, the Cup was theirs.
Not only was it the final match of the year, but it was the final time James would play for Gryffindor. This, however, just made him all the more determined to win.
'Right team, this is it,' he began his team talk. 'This is the last time we play together as a team. We're in the best possible position we can be. We have the best bloody team in the school. Hannah.' He looked towards his Seeker, a fourth-year and a new talent he had found. She was shy and had an annoying habit of blushing and stammering around him, but when she got on a broom she was unstoppable. She'd not failed to get the Snitch once this year, but then, neither had the Slytherin Seeker. 'Hannah, you have to get the Snitch, and quickly. The quicker we get that Snitch, the better. Just remember; only catch it if Slytherin isn’t leading by thirty points!'
'I know, James,' she muttered, looking down at her feet.
James now turned to his Keeper. While James knew he was a great Keeper, he tended to let small mistakes get to him, letting them build into much bigger ones.
'Sam, just keep focused. I know you can do this, you've made some spectacular saves this year.'
Sam smiled back. 'Thanks, James.'
'Alex, Rory, you’re to focus on Hannah. The Slytherins will be targeting her for sure, and we can't risk her. Do not let her get injured!'
'Yes, boss,' Alex replied, while Rory saluted. James knew they wouldn't let him down.
'Girls,' James said, finally turning to his last two teammates and fellow chasers, Mary McDonald and Susan Carter. 'Just do what you do best,' he smiled at them, and they grinned back. He had joined the team with Mary, and Sue had joined the year after. Having worked together so long, they knew how each other played well.
'Let’s do this,' Mary replied.
They walked out onto the pitch to tumultuous applause. As James stepped out into the fresh air a lump started to form in his throat as the realisation that he would never do this again hit him. He focused hard on every sensation: the sound of the crowd, the smell of the grass and the feel of the smooth handle of the broomstick in his hand. If this was the last time he would do this, he wanted to commit it to memory. It was after all the kind of story he couldn't wait to tell his children one day, how daddy lead Gryffindor to victory once again.
James scanned the crowd and saw his three best friends with a brilliant red banner with blazing gold letters, which said, 'LIONS FOR THE CUP!’ He felt his chest heave with pride. His eyes continued looking, and he didn't realise what, or who, he was looking for until he spotted her.
She was looking as lovely as ever, with her auburn hair blowing around her face. He swore he could even see her green eyes blazing back at him from this distance.
He reluctantly turned away and focused on the game at hand. He shook hands with the Slytherin captain, mounted his broom, and pushed off.
'And they're off!' came the voice of the commentator, Seth Bellamy. 'Slytherin must win by 180 points, or the cup is Gryffindor’s!' The crowd cheered loudly.
'It's Parkinson with the Quaffle for Slytherin, and she passes to Bowers – ouch, nasty hit there from the Bludger. Nice aim from one of the Gryffindor Beaters. McDonald catches the Quaffle, passes to Potter – nice pass to Carter... YES! Gryffindor scores!'
The Slytherin Chaser took his anger out on Sue by throwing one of the Beater’s bats at her head, knocking her off her broom. Before James could stop him, Rory had dived for the Chaser in question, and they fell together, still fighting all the way down. James yelled to Alex to stay with Hannah; she was going to be a prime target now.
Both the Gryffindor and Slytherin teams were awarded penalties for the fouls. James easily scored his past the Slytherin Keeper, but felt his heart sink as Dye, a Slytherin Chaser, did too, bringing the score to 20-10 in Gryffindor’s favour. James looked toward Mary.
'Just score as much as you can!' he told her desperately.
'This is turning into an exciting final, folks! Potter, with the Quaffle, passes to McDonald – nice intercept from Bowers – straight back to McDonald... That girl does not like to be messed with! Back to Potter... Wait – is that the Snitch?'
The crowd gasped as both Seekers went streaking after the Snitch. James, however, noticed the Slytherin Beater, left unmarked by Alex as he fought the other Beater. He watched, as if in slow motion, as he went to hit the Bludger straight towards Hannah.
Without thinking, James quickly tossed the Quaffle to Mary and streaked across the pitch. He urged his broom as fast as it would go, leaning as flat as he could. He pulled his broom to a halt with a spectacular 180 degree finish; straight into the path of the oncoming Bludger. He turned to look at it and had only a second to think, Oh, crap, before the impact.
James clung onto his broom, but as the Bludger smashed into his ribs, he knew his attempts were useless. Completely winded, he was thrown sideways, only to see the second Bludger he had failed to noticed in his desparate attempt to get across the pitch heading his way. The second Bludger which was clearly meant to stop him doing exactly what he had just done. Only this time, it was on course for his head.
James heard the crowd erupt around him just as Seth screamed Hannah had caught the Snitch – then everything went black.
'... I mean, that was such a stupid thing to do! I can't believe you just chucked yourself in front of it like that! Sure, it's probably done wonders to encourage your little fan club, but...'
James awoke, surprised to hear the voice of a girl who he would have been the last on the list to be at his bedside. His ribs ached a bit, and his head throbbed, but overall, he felt fine. He could have easily opened his eyes and sat up, but he knew if he did that, it would stop her, and he didn't want to risk it. He could have laid there listening to her all day.
From what he could gather, he was in the hospital wing. The lack of noise and her presence meant that the other Marauders weren't around, and if they weren't around, they had more than likely had been kicked out for too much noise. Either that or it was dinner time. He wondered how long he'd been out of it for.
'... I mean, sure, it was kind of brave of you. I can't believe you just stopped in front of it like that...'
Bloody hell – Lily Evans, calling him brave? Now that was something new. He decided now was as good a time as ever.
Scrunching his eyes, he moved his head to one side, pretending to come around. He let a soft moan escape his lips, and Lily stopped talking abruptly. He opened his eyes.
A blurred outline of a girl with beautiful auburn hair stood at the foot his bed. He reached over for his glasses and winced; damn, the Bludgers were keen. She came into focus, and James couldn't help but stare at her as she looked down on him, biting her lip.
'Evans. What a nice surprise,' he said cheerfully.
'Sorry, I was just... er... Just...' She tucked her hair behind her ears nervously. 'Sirius said there was a party tonight! And he's left you that package! I, er, thought I'd let you know,' she said wildly as she pointed to his bedside table.
James couldn't help but smile at her; he didn't need telling that there would be a party in Gryffindor Tower tonight; having won the Cup after all, a celebration was inevitable. He looked to the side to be polite and smiled at the squashy parcel that had been wrapped hurriedly. Without opening it he knew they'd left him the Marauder’s Map and his Invisibility Cloak – everything he'd need to sneak to the party later.
‘Er thanks,' James said uncertainly. 'Is that all you were hanging on for?' he asked, hoping with all his heart it wasn't. 'I was surprised to see you in here in the first place, to be honest.'
'Oh, Mary was in here earlier. She got into a fight with that horrible girl on the Slytherin team. I think she's the Keeper,' Lily explained.
'Is she all right?' James asked quickly, concerned for his best Chaser. Mildred Humphries was a fifth-year, and was enormous. As tough as Mary might be, he couldn't help but feel she had no chance against the likes of someone like Mildred.
'Yeah, she's fine. Madam Pomfrey sorted her out in a few seconds. I didn't realise you'd be so concerned, Potter,' Lily remarked, raising her eyebrows at him.
'Oh, come off it, Lily,' James moaned, clearly annoyed. 'You know I care about my team. I wouldn't want to see Mary hurt any more than you would.'
Lily blushed. 'Sorry,' she muttered. 'I didn't mean to offend you.' She glanced at the chair next to his bed, but stayed standing up, looking awkward.
'You can sit down, Lily,' James sighed, unable to stay annoyed at her. She did slowly, peeking up at him from under her long lashes, and James felt his heart melt. He pushed himself up on the bed to a sitting position, wincing once more.
'I thought Madam Pomfrey mended all your bones,' Lily said, cocking her head to one side and taking him by surprise. Seeing the blank look on his face, she added, 'You're still wincing.'
'Oh, well – yeah, she did, but that doesn't stop it being sore,' he answered with a shrug.
'I didn't realise you were such a masochist, Potter'
Was she serious? James actually couldn't believe what he was hearing. He'd pretty much set himself up to be crushed on a near-daily basis by her for six years, and she didn’t think he liked to suffer? He'd only stopped this year after Moony had finally persuaded him his tactics were never going to work. This girl was clearly out of her mind.
'Yeah, well. What's life without a bit of danger?' he muttered, not knowing what else to say. 'We couldn't lose the Cup.'
'Boys and Quidditch,' she sighed. 'I'll never understand it!' James just chuckled.
'I think Hannah's a bit taken with you. Especially now you've practically saved her life.' Lily rolled her eyes. 'Mary pretty much had to drag her out of here.'
'Well, someone will have to tell Hannah that my heart belongs to somebody else. It has done for a long time now.' James looked at Lily meaningfully.
Lily blushed furiously, her cheeks now matching her hair.
'I... James, I don't...'
'It's okay, Lily. I'm not expecting anything. But just know I'll always be waiting for you ¬– you know, if you ever did change your mind.'
Lily gaped at him, clearly shocked. James couldn't really blame her, after all – this was a huge change of direction from his usual routine. She closed her mouth and started to bite her lip again as she considered her answer.
'Ahh, Mr Potter. You're awake, I see. I'm sorry, Miss Evans, but I need to ask you to leave now.' Madam Pomfrey came bustling over and started to shoo out a protesting Lily.
'I'll see you at the thing tonight,' James said quickly. 'You can tell me then?' he asked with a small smile.
'Okay,' Lily replied uncertainly, while Madam Pomfrey said, 'You most certainly will not be going to any thing tonight, Mr Potter!'
While Madam Pomfrey wasn't looking, James gave Lily a quick wink. She looked confused, but smiled at him, then turned and left the hospital wing.
James settled back into the pillow and let Madam Pomfrey fuss while he thought about the night that lay ahead. While he tried not to get his hopes up, he couldn't help but get excited: He had not only made Lily Evans smile, but he had got through a whole conversation with her without making her curse at him. However the night played out from here, it would be an improvement. He didn't expect her to fall at his feet anymore, but maybe – just maybe – they could be friends? He could only wait and see.
AN - Hi guys, hope you enjoyed that! If you get the chance it would mean the world to me if you could review and let me know what you think!
I would like to say a massive thank you to my Beta-reader TenthWeasleyWriter who not only helped me give this story an ending but also helped me improve it! So thank you!!
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