Chapter 2 : Part One
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There were many ways in which Lily had heard James Potter described.
'Dreamy,' she had heard the more pathetic groups of girls swoon. 'Handsome. Charming. Hilarious.' Now, handsome she could grant them, as painful as it was for her to admit, but charming? Hilarious? She didn't think she had heard Potter be remotely funny in his life, and if making constant fart jokes with Sirius Black and throwing pastries at first years was charming, then all the romance novels she had read (purely for research's sake, of course) had completely misinformed her.
No, James Potter was neither dreamy, nor charming, nor funny, nor any other adjective of the complimentary sort. Rather, he was an arse, and that was all there was to be said about that.
And perhaps the thing that made Lily despise him most of all was the fact that he had the potential to be something so much more than he was. There were moments, flashes when she would see it - it was no small wonder he was named her co-head, because even though he wasn't as studious as Remus, who had seemed the obvious choice, he had an effortless brilliance to him that was the marking of a proper wizard. His marks were above all others, save for her, and he was constantly being praised by professors as "a man who would do wondrous things with his life".
Moments later he would be spotted booby-trapping a corridor or destroying a piece of Hogwarts property, and that sentence would soon be completed with, "If he could only pull his head out of his arse."
Sure, since become Head Boy his behavior had improved - a requirement which she was certain Headmaster Dippet had but in place as one of the conditions for his position - but that didn't mean he was a different person. No, it only meant that he was playing his little tricks in secret, always so irrational, and it had always caused her great disappointment to know that he would certainly never live up to his potential. The smartest boy in the school, the boy who could do anything he wanted and more, hindered by the fact that he couldn't care less. Perhaps if he did things would be different, but the fact of the matter was that trying to tell James Potter to mature was like trying to tell Sirius Black to cut his hair; it simply wouldn't be.
Although, Lily allowed herself to ponder for a moment, he can be sort of sweet, if he tries. Remember that time he got you the box of chocolate frogs and charmed them all to jump and spell out your name with a heart?
Of course, when she had gone to sincerely thank him for the gesture he was hanging Severus from a tree, and that had ruined that moment.
And now she was on her way over to him, not to yell at him or scold him or roll her eyes at his foolish antics, but rather to ask him on a date. A ruddy date with James Potter, and not just one date in the hopes that he would leave her alone, but a date-date, and if she abided by Alice and Amy's rules, it would be the first of many to come.
They had been exceptionally specific in their rule-making for the bet, having cornered her in their dormatory after Lily had had no success locating the Marauder -- something about quidditch practice, Remus had muttered before running off towards the forest, although she was certain he lying -- although that didn't surprise Lily in the slightest. Amy had taken the lead, and Lily swore the brunette liked to see her suffer.
"No sabotaging this relationship on purpose. It's gotta happen like you want it to happen, and you gotta act like yourself. Otherwise, you're tampering with our results, and that's not very science-y at all." Amy's dark eyes bore into hers with ferocity, and were it anyone else Lily would be shocked at their passion. But after it had been decided that if Lily was wrong she would have to buy whatever her two friends wanted from Honeydukes without complaint, the over-competitive witch had sprung into action and was no writing down a list of rules the length of the table they were seated at.
"Also, you can't say a word to him about the bet." It was Alice's turn to pipe up, less intense than Amy but equally as excited. "Not a single word, because that's not very science-y either."
"This is absurd," Lily muttered under her breath, trying her hardest not to just call the entire thing off. Was dating Potter really worth proving the greatest work of her life so far right? For some reason, she was beginning to think it wasn't. "I mean, he's going to know something's wrong. I hate him, and everyone knows that! How in Merlin's name am I supposed to convince him otherwise?"
The two shared a secret smile, one that made the red-head's stomach drop, and she knew that whatever the two of them had in store for her, it wasn't going to be fun in the least.
But she couldn't concede. Not now, not when she had so much to lose.
Which is why she took the parchment they offered her without a word of complaint, not even flinching as she read it over once, twice, again, not even as the bile rose in her throat and she began to feel a touch...well, a lot faint.
"You two don't stand a chance."
However, as she stalked towards the form of the laughing boy sitting under the tree, the words on the parchment memorized perfectly, Lily was feeling as if she should eat her words. How could she do this? She wasn't an actress, and she certainly wasn't a romantic. How on earth was she to convice a boy that she loved him, or even slightly enjoyed his presence, when she couldn't even convince herself?
But the time to fret was over, because now she was standing directly in front of him, and he was staring at her, and Sirius and Remus had stopped whatever bizarre game of tag they were playing to watch, and she was feeling a little bit like running away was the best possible option.
Before he could say a single stupid thing to her, however, she was already blurting out the words that she could never imagine herself saying, not in a million years, and especially not to James bloody Potter. "I've been having a long think about things, and I figured it was about proper time I told you the truth about me." Stopping herself at the look of sheer confusion in his eyes, Lily allowed herself a moment of hope before adding. "That is, if you want to hear it."
Please say no please send me away please say you've got a girlfriend and her hair is redder than mine and she's got greener eyes please. Say. No.
And so, as was suited to her luck, he responded with, "I'd happily listen to any word that comes from that delicious mouth of yours, Evans."
Fighting desperately against the urge to smack him across his infuriatingly gorgeous face, Lily took a deep breath to calm her shot nerves. She could do this, no, she had to do this. It was the only way she could confirm to the rest of the world what she already knew -- not only that she was a genius, but that love was predictable, and she knew just how to predict it. It was the only way, and it was the only choice she had left.
And so she repeated those words in her mind as she continued on, feeling slightly more confident as she saw her goal coming ever-so-slightly closer to her reach. Fake it 'till you make it, Lils. Isn't that what they say? Fake it 'till you make it. "We'll, I thought you should know that...that I've been madly in love with you since the first time I saw you, and all these years I've just been too scared to say anything. Because," Oh Merlin, this was literally causing her physical pain to say, but she pushed on, faking the pause for nerves as she gave a wide-eyed James a shaky smile. "You're just so handsome and I never thought I stood a chance but now...now I was hoping we could maybe, you know, give it a go? Something like that?"
There. She had said the gist of what Amy and Alice had written for her, and that would have to be good enough. Except...except James wasn't saying a thing, just staring at her, and Remus and Sirius were dead silent -- probably for the first time ever, in Sirius' case, and her face was starting to heat up and her palms were getting clammy and why wasn't he saying anything?
And then he standing up, and then he was kissing her, really kissing her, and Lily thought that that must have been an answer.
She knew she had to play along, had to respond, but her hands seemed frozen at her sides, her eyes stuck wide open in pure and simple shock. This...she hadn't been expecting this. Maybe a little peck, a hug, preferably a friendly handshake, or even an outright rejection, now that would be lovely, but this? This was a kiss filled with the need that a man lost in the desert had for water, or that a giant squid had for a black lake.
This actually isn't half bad.
Before she knew it, before her rational mind could make her see sense, Lily realized that she was kissing him back, not with the same passion or force, but simply because it felt nice, and although logic usually took up the forefront of her mind, Lily Evans was not in the business of denying herself nice things -- even if that nice thing was locking lips with the person she hated more than peanut brittle.
Dimly she realized that there was hooting and cat-calls in the background, and it took Lily a moment to realize that those weren't just coming from James and Sirius. No, those were coming from a crowd, and as she pulled back from Potter with a gasp she felt her cheeks flushing redder than her hair. What on earth had come over her? Perhaps it was just the fact that she hadn't been kissed many times in her life before -- hardly ever, actually -- and she was sure Potter had kissed so many people that he was basically a certified professional by now.
So clearly that explained all of it; one of her first kisses had been a bloody good one, and she had gotten carried away. Carried away and nothing more, and she knew that for a fact because as soon as she looked upon Potter's widely smirking face as he let out a cheer, what she was feeling certainly wasn't love, not even attraction.
Not even close.
As the crowd finally faded along with her flush, Lily turned to the boy with an innocent smile that she had practised in the mirror many times earlier that day -- one of the 'flirty' facial expressions that Amy and Alice had trained her in. "So..." and she tried to think of something clever or cute to say before coming up completely and entirely blank. Because what was one meant to say to someone after she had professed her love to him and then had the living daylights snogged out of her? 'Hey, thanks for the snog, see you around?' For some reason she didn't think that was the best choice.
"So," he replied, and although his traditional cheeky grin was clear on his face she could tell that he was a little lost for words too -- likely for different reasons that her, of course, but it was always nice to know that she wasn't alone in her discomfort. But then his cheeky grin grew and his cocky composure was back, and Lily cursed herself for hoping that maybe, for a moment, Potter could actually be normal. "You're madly in love with me? Shame you didn't tell me sooner -- we've got years of snogging to make up for."
He had better be joking.
Although, for some reason, she didn't think he was at all.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the castle, two brunettes sat huddled in the Gryffindor girl's dorm room, wide eyes desperately scanning a sheet of parchment filled with numbers for any, any possible mistakes.
"But it can't be!"
"Are you sure you added everything right? You're not very good with numbers and..."
"Yes I'm sure! Honestly, Alice, I'm not an invalid -- I do know how to do some maths, even if it's just addition."
"But...but..." Alice stared at the paper some more, trying to tune out the mutterings of the girl next to her as she focused on the numbers. Even though she was a pureblood she had a good enough understanding of maths to use a formula -- granted, Lily's so-called 'love equation' wasn't the simplest of things, but she figured she could work it out it well enough, once the graphs were all plotted and the numbers all sorted.
And she had a good enough understanding of Lily to know that the results on the sheet of parchment made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
"There's something wrong." Alice finally stated matter-of-factly. "Lily was wrong with the formula, we've won, proven her wrong already! We can just show this to her and she'll call the whole thing off and we'll have won, simple as that! She was wrong, and this is our proof."
Amy mulled it over for a moment, considering the possibility before the crueller side of her brain won out, shaking her head quickly. Years of Lily flaunting her intelligence in their faces had lead up to this moment, and even though she loved her best friend, the raven-haired witch loved revenge even more.
"No. We're going to win anyways, right? It's funnier to watch her suffer in the meantime." With a wicked grin spreading over her face, Amy snatched the parchment out of her friend's hands and shoved it in the trunk beside her bed. "But we have to keep this hidden. Lily can't know, do you understand? We'll let the whole thing run it's course, make her squirm, and then we'll win. Not now."
But even as they tucked the parchment away, neither of the two girls could forget what they had seen. It was wrong, right? It had to be wrong. There was no other option.
Because when they tried to calculate how long the relationship would last, the number went on...forever.
And if there was one thing they knew, it was that when it came to Lily Evans and James Potter, forever wasn't even close to an option.
A/N: Thank you for the lovely reviews! I'm thrilled you all liked it, and I hope to see some more kind things said about this chapter as well! Fingers crossed you enjoy it xx
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