Chapter 1 : This must be a very bad joke.
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“Oh look at these. Do you remember this day?” Lily was sitting on the couch, a photo album perched on her pregnant belly. She was holding up two old, yellowing train tickets. The writing on the old paper had faded, and only the numbers 4 ⅔, written in faint red ink, could still be made out.
“Yeah, I remember that. That was our first date, right?”James replied with a smile, looking up from his very important job; clipping his broom twigs. “I was a wreck that day. I would have felt better if I’d fallen off my broom and been trampled by a horde of hippogriffs.”
“Really? I wouldn’t have been able to tell.” Lily smirked at him. He’d literally been skipping when she showed up. Lily placed the album aside and got up from the couch. She walked around the room aimlessly for a bit and stopped at the window. Outside the world was dark and grey. The sun had found hiding behind the horizon and the world lay cold in her absence.
Not that the sun could make much of a difference these days, if she managed to peek through the thick clouds her light landed on a dark world. Or at least it was a dark world for those who were aware of what was going on around them. The wizarding world was at war. He Who Must Not Be Named had risen to terrible powers and controlling almost everybody. Those who resisted him had to fight for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. That was the world Lily was living in now. The world she would soon deliver her child into.
Lily wrapped her arms around her round belly protectively and turned away form the window. These days were always shadowed, never carefree like they used to be. She sat down on the couch again, put her swollen feet up in the coffee table and looked at the two train tickets. Maybe a trip down memory lane wouldn’t be too bad. It would be nice to forget her worries, just go with the train and enjoy her very first date with the boy she’d claimed to hate.
Lily did not know what she was doing. She did not want to spend her day with James-Big-Head-Potter. There were so many things she could be doing right now, way more important things than dating Potter. She didn’t know why she’d even agreed to go out with him. It had all been a very stupid mistake, a momentary failure of judgement. For a tiny little second her brain had thought that maybe James was really a nice guy, that he was not all that arrogant anymore. That she could go out with him for once. He had not really asked her anyway.
It had all started with a little note, with the small scribble on the edge of Remus’ timetable saying not to let her come to the green houses, which had of course made her want to go there even more. Then when she got to the green houses he was just standing there, not asking or saying anything. He held out a train ticket to her. Without really knowing what she was doing she had taken it. The result was that she found herself in Kings Cross, looking for James Potter. To go on a freaking date with him.
-This won’t be too bad. Just go with it, lighten up- one part of her brain said.
-Don’t be stupid of course it will be a miserable day!- another part commented. –It’s James Freaking Potter, what can be worse?-
With a deep sigh she looked around. Her confusing thoughts were making her nervous. And where was she supposed to go? She suspected that platform 4 ⅔ must be somewhere between platform 4 and 5. Did she have to walk through the barrier, like when you enter platform 9 ¾ ? How was she to know, maybe she had to tap something with her wand or... Before she could think of any more ways to solve the mystery she saw something that caught her attention. A boy of barely seventeen years old, with a lot of black hair sticking out in the most uncombed way imaginable. It was almost obvious that he messed it up on purpose. When he caught her eye James smiled and waved. Lily did not smile or wave back, she did not want to go on this stupid date anyway.
“Please tell me you won’t be in a bad mood all day.” James greeted her, his smile had fallen when he saw the look on her face. His hand flew up to his hair giving it a nervous ruffle. Lily merely scowled at him.
“I can’t help it.” she replied harshly. It was a lie, she could restrain herself from being awful. Everybody can if they so choose. But she did not want to, being nice to James would hurt her pride even more than it already was. She was already going on a freaking date with him. The fact that she had mixed feeling about it did not make it any better.
“Look Evans if you didn’t want to come why did you agree? I just want to spend a nice time together with you. That’s all.” That sounded reasonable. He had gone out and planned the whole thing. The least she could do was try and be nice. Lily sighed deeply.
“Okay, I’ll try and be nice, if you will stop looking so smug.” She told him. He really was looking like Santa Clause had just told him he was his favourite kid, after all. James agreed with a small smile but the smug look never left his face. His eyes were glittering with joy as he beckoned her to follow him.
“You look... nice.” James commented, when he led her towards small purple engine that stood quietly next to the platform, puffing small clouds of smoke. Lily smiled, a little flattered that he’d noticed the effort she had put into her outfit. The forest-green dress she was wearing had been a present from her mother last year and she had grown into it nicely.
“Thanks.” Lily murmured, as they were about to climb aboard the train. “Where are we going, anyway?”
James smirked but did not answer immediately.
“You’ll see.” he said after a bit. “But hurry now or we’ll miss the train.” He had not yet finished his sentence before a sharp whistle sounded around the platform. They scrambled aboard and looked for a place to sit. All the way down the train the compartments were full. In the very last compartment, at the far end of the train, was room for only one passenger. The tiny room was already overfull with three very wide wizards, who were yelling at each other with loud, obnoxious voices.
“You seen that hag with the crazy eyes?” one of the men thundered. The others laughed loudly.
“She’s nothing! You should see his wife!” another yelled and pointed at the third. The man he was pointing at went red in the face and punched the pointer in the stomach.
“Oi!” The other man yelled at him.
Lily shuffled away form the door and looked up at James “I’d rather sit in the corridor, if you don’t mind.” she whispered. James just shrugged and opened the compartment door again.
“Come on, I’ll protect you.” he said and shoved her inside.
“But, there’s only room for one of us.” Lily protested, looking around the crowded space with worry.
“You can sit on me, if you want.” one of the man brawled, “I don’t mind.”
Lily turned around to look anxiously at James. He had plopped down in the empty seat and patted his knees. With a defeated sigh Lily sat down, careful not to touch any more of him than only his knees. A wicked smiled formed on James’ lips and stayed there for the rest of the journey, even when, after ten minutes of sitting on his knobbly knees, Lily got up and found a place on the floor, her back against the compartments door.
“Sweetie, you don’t want to sit on the cold floor.” One of the men called out to her.”Here, sit on my cloak.” He folded up his cloak and handed it to her. Lily took it reluctantly and sat down on it. The sight from down there was rather intimidating, three grown men and a seventeen year old guy towering above her. Lily thought it better to strike up a conversation with James, rather than feeling small on the floor.
“You still haven’t told me where we’re going, Potter.” she told him, nudging his leg with her elbow. James leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees. He looked around the compartment the three men in there watched them curiously.
“I’m not going to tell you. It’s a surprise.” he said with a smirk. Lily huffed loudly and crossed her arms over her chest. She disliked surprises, especially when James was involved. They almost always turned out to be a disaster.
The train wound its way through green hills and forest sides. Past small villages and through busy cities. It stopped once or twice to let even more people enter the already packed train, and then continued its way through the British landscape. About two hours, and a lot of talk about wild hags and alluring barmaids form their company, later the train slowed down and the announcer told them they had reached their destination.
Lily picked herself up from the ground, ignoring James’ offer to help her up. She quickly thrust the cloak back at its owner and hurried from the compartment. James followed her in a flash and grabbed her arm so he would not to lose her in the crowd. Lily turned to him glaring and he quickly let go.
“Evans slow down or I’ll lose you.” James sighed following her swiftly. Lily was hurrying away from the train with such a speed he had to jog to keep up with her. Fortunately Lily stopped at that moment, she’d gotten the first glimpse of their destination and it looked unmistakably like...
“A Quidditch match, James? Really? Of all things, you take me to a Quidditch match?” Lily all but yelled at him. James’ smug smile faltered for a second. “Why would you think I wanted to go see some idiots on broom race around a field? If I want to see that I can go watch the games at school.”
“But this is professional Quidditch. It’s way better than anything you see at school.” James told her. He grabbed her hand and dragged her to the entrance of the stadium.
“Who takes their date to a Quidditch match? It doesn’t seem like the place to go on a first date.” Lily was still a bit disgruntled. What was wrong with her? She enjoyed watching Quidditch or at least she did not hate it. Why was she being so difficult about it?
–You expected something else,- her annoying voice of reason whispered. – You were secretly hoping for something romantic.-
Lily let out a deep sigh and crossed her arms over her chest. That thought did not put her in a better mood. James looked at her amusedly.
“Who said it was a date?” He asked her playfully.
“You did!” Lily shot back.
“I never said anything about a date. I just invited you to come with me today.” James told her. His eyes were gleaming mischievously. “And I think you’ll like professional Quidditch, it’s really something to see.”
“What?” Lily shot him a murderous look. They had just entered the stadium, making their way to their places high above the huge Quidditch field. “You mean to say this isn’t a date?”
“Sure it is, now.” James answered. He did not see the danger he was putting himself in as he sat down on the plastic chair next to her. Lily glared at him, looking as though she was about to hit him. James merely smiled and watched the ground of the pitch. The commentator announced the start of the game in about five minutes.
“Stop your stupid game and be straight with me, please,” Lily shouted over the ruckus in the stadium. “Is this a date or not?”
“It’s whatever you think it is.” James answered.
“You’re impossible.” Lily moped, slumping back in her plastic chair, her arms crossed over her chest once more. An awkward silence followed, in which Lily wondered if James had maybe not asked her on a date. She started to think she was making more out of this than he’d meant. Well he had always made it obvious he wanted to go out with her. Why would it be different now that she said yes? She felt a little hurt at the thought that he might not have meant it, all those times he had asked her out. It was annoying, yes, but it was also flattering, and felt great.
James was about to say something to her when the players entered the pitch. The commentator called out their names and the teams the played for. The teams, one in pale blue the other in forest green, flew around the pitch for a bit before meeting each other in mid air. The team captains shook hands and the Quaffle was released together with the Bludgers and the small golden Snitch.
“The Appleby Arrows are playing the Holyhead Harpies. The Harpies have an all women team. They are a favourite for the nationals.” James pointed out to Lily, who merely nodded, following the teams with her eyes. She had to admit that professional Quidditch was indeed rather spectacular. The speed of the players was incredible. When she pointed this out to James he started laughing.
“This is nothing. You should see the World Cup, all you can see is coloured stripes shooting around.” James told her with a cheeky grin. “Did you know the Arrows became European champions in 1932? They played a match for 16 days. It rained the entire time. I’ve heard.”
“Let’s hope this match won’t last that long.” Lily said. “It wouldn’t be much fun to sit in a stadium for 16 days in the rain.”
“Well, yeah- let’s hope not...” James answered, a little disheartened. “The Harpies are the only team that all women and they play amazingly. I’m a Puddlemere fan but the Harpies are definitely a great second. Did you know that Puddlemere United is one of the oldest teams known in Great Britain?”
“James are you going to quote Quidditch Through the Ages the entire time? I’m trying to watch a game.” Lily said with mock irritation. James went slightly red in the face and concentrated on the match. Not long after he was completely lost in the game. The Harpies scored three times in the first ten minutes of the game, but the Arrows made a nice recovery. After an hour the score was 160 for the Harpies and 180 for the Arrows. James was so engrossed in the game he forgot Lily completely.
“What do they do if they end on a tie?” she asked James, carefully prodding him in the shoulder to get his attention.
“What?” James asked, looking up.
“What if one team is 150 point ahead and the other team catches the Snitch? What do the do?” Lily asked.
“Well I guess it’ll be an even game and none gets the winning points.” James answered. “Do you even know how they count the matches?” he then asked her. Lily shook her head.
“I know how they count at school, is it similar to that?” she said.
“Sort of.” James said, focusing on the game again.
“Oh, okay.” Lily replied. She tried to follow the match too, but found that the question of the scoring in Quidditch still bugged her. She’d ask him after the game.
The Harpies Chaser did some real great move in mid air, making the supporters whoop with enthusiasm. James jumped up form his chair to shout with the other supporters when the throw hit home, scoring the 21st goal for the Harpies. They were pulling ahead again. The Arrows changed strategy, playing a lot more aggressively against them now. The Arrows Chasers had the Quaffle and flew towards the Harpies goalposts. Not far from the goalposts two of them shot at the Keeper almost knocking her of her broom so the third had a free shot.
James, still standing, raised his fist at the Chasers of the Arrows yelling: “Foul, that’s not allowed you idiots!”
The referee seemed to agree with the Harpies supporters and the goal wasn’t counted. The Harpies got a penalty shot and the game resumed.
Though Lily had found it amusing to watch the first half hour or so, she now started to get bored. The players were shooting around the pitch scoring from time to time and making more and more fouls against each other, fouls she had never seen or heard of before. Another hour later she’d seen it all and was ready for something new. Two hours into the match the score was 350-230 for the Harpies, Lily put her feet up on her chair. James was still cheering like it was the most exciting game in the history of Quidditch. He seemed to have forgotten her completely again.
The third hour went by and still no Snitch, which meant the game went on. When, half an hour later, Lily saw the golden gleam of the ball that would end this game she jumped up, together with the other supporters to scream at the top of her voice. The Seekers shot after it with the speed of light but they were not fast enough. The Snitch had gone and the game went on.
It was another 45 minutes later before the Snitch was finally caught by the Harpies Seeker, making them the victors of the game. The tumult in the stadium was overwhelming. A canon could have been shot and nobody there would have heard it. James was cheering as loudly as the rest. Lily had left her seat when the Snitch had been seen for the second time and was now standing next to James rather awkwardly. She had cheered for a bit, but after 5 minutes she had grown tired of it.
“JAMES!” Lily yelled over the clapping and whooping crowd. “JAMES CAN YOU HEAR ME?” she all but screamed in his ear. James looked up startled, as though he had forgotten she was there.
“WHAT?” he shouted back.
“I want to go, let’s leave.” Lily answered loudly. James did not hear her, he shrugged and looked at her questioningly.
“I WANT TO LEAVE!” Lily yelled again. James shook his head, still looking questioning he pointed at his ears.
“I’M DONE, LET’S GO!” Lily bellowed at the same moment that a hush fell over the stadium. Her voice echoed around the field. Lily was sure all of the supporters had heard her. She looked around, and all heads around them were turned in her direction. A blush coloured her face bright red.
“Yes let’s!” James yelled back at her before breaking into a thunderous laugh. The people on the rows around them started to laugh as they made their way out of there. Lily, still red in the face, followed James out.
“Did you see that Woollongong Shimmy the Harpies did at the end? Amazing. I would love a word with their captain. Maybe I’ll owl her. She could give me some tips for the team. Or we could try to see if we can get to their dressing room. She could give me tips here.” James rattled as they left the stands. Lily narrowed her eyes at his back.
“I’m not going to... Hey where’s my bag?” Lily said noticing she was missing something. She thought she’d taken her bag when she left the chair. “James, I think I forgot my bag. I have to go back to find it.”
She turned before James replied and climbed back up to their seats. She looked under the chair, behind it, behind and under the chairs around it and even under the chairs in the row below. But her bag was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile the other people in the stadium were making their way out of the stands.
“James is there a lost and...” Lily looked around, noticing for the first time that James was not there. A little startled she looked around. Where had he gone? Lily looked around again starting to panic a bit. She did not have her wand,since it was in her bag and now she did not have James either. Defeated she made her way to the exit, in hope she would find James there or at least find someone who knew where to look for him.
As soon as Lily made it to through the entrance she saw James, who was arguing wildly with one of the security guards. Lily approached them swiftly and halted behind James.
“... don’t understand. I really have to go back in.” James said, throwing his hands up in despair. Lily tapped him softly on the shoulder. James did not react to her touch right away. Her shrugged off the hand and continued, “There’s a girl in there, I took her here and now I lost her.”
“There’s an entire Quidditch team of girls in there and I’m not letting you back in.” The guard said. “By the way, there’s a girl behind you too.”
Only now did James reacted to the tapping on his shoulder and turned around. Lily looked at him with an amused look on her face, and then turned to the guard.
“Thanks for keeping him here, I might have lost him again.”she smiled at the guard. “You know how it is, once they learn how to walk you can’t keep a close enough eye on them.”
The guard started laughing and clapped James on the shoulder.
“Seem like you found her, now can I go on with my work?” James nodded but Lily shook her head.
“You wouldn’t know if there’s a lost and found around here, would you?” She asked the guard. He started laughing again.
“Another boy you lost?” he chuckled, as he pointed out the lost and found stand for her. Lily hurried over and sure enough the bag was sitting there, mildly crumbed but fully intact and still containing her belongings.
“That’s a relief. No let’s go, shall we?” Lily said to James once they had walked the little way to the station again.
“Actually, I want to take you for a drink. There’s a little cafe not far from here.” James took her arm and pulled Lily away from the station. “The train does not leave till 4. Come on.” And before Lily could say or do anything James had led her away from the more on which the stadium was build.
“James, you do realise it’s half past three, right?” Lily asked him timidly. James nodded, pulling her along still. Lily wrest her arm free from his grip. She was starting to question his sanity, he was acting weird even for James.
James seized her hand once more, “It’s more like a little inn than a cafe but I bet you’ll like it.” he said with a smile. They walked along a winding road that led towards a small forest ahead. The forest got closer and closer. When they stepped into the shadow of the long trees Lily inhaled deeply. The odour of pine prickled her nose.
“Are you sure it’s this way?” Lily asked.
“Yes absolutely, I’ve been here before.” James answered. They came to a crossing of paths and James pulled her to the left. They went deeper and deeper into the forest.
“I can’t wait for you to see this inn. I’ve been there with my grandpa when I was little. It’s amazing. It has this huge tank with seahorses and water demons.” James paused for a bit to look around, they stood on another intersection. “This way!”
Lily followed him through the forest, over small rocky paths and broad ways covered in leaves. She felt like they had been walking for hours when she halted. She had to rest. She might have had something to drink at the match but that was a while ago and it was a warm day.
“James I’m thirsty, are we there yet?” Lily questioned, bending down to readjust her shoe.
“Almost!” James said excitedly. He was already a few paces ahead of her. “Come on Lily!”
“Are you sure, because I’ve got the feeling we’re going in circles. I could swear I saw these trees before.” Lily motioned to the trees around them. All the trees looked the same so it wasn’t a very valid argument.
James smiled and walked back to her: “Yeah yeah, it’s really only a few minutes away.” He put his hand on Lily’s shoulders and started to push her forward. Lily shrugged her shoulders but didn’t say anything about it. She folded her arms over het chest and walked.
It wasn’t all that long before they got to an other intersection. James looked left, then right and then at Lily. He scratched his ear and cast his look down.
“Okay, we’re lost.” he admitted.
“O God!” Lily cast her eyes to heaven and sighed deeply. “Please say you’re joking.”
James shook his head embarrassed. His hand flew up to his hair, “I wish I was, but I’m not. You say you thought we were going in circles... I thought so too. I’ve seen this stone twice now.”
“Well that’s just great.” Lily looked at her watch. “We’re lost and we missed our train back to London.”
James looked up at her from under his eyelashes. He had his head down and murmured “Sorry Lily!”
“Yeah, that won’t get us anywhere.” Lily told him. “I suppose you don’t have an apparition license...”
“Oh we don’t need that, but when lost you can always follow your footsteps back.” James took out his wand and twirled it around. In the forest floor the footprints they had left walk lit up.
Lily looked at it slightly awed. Magic still amazed her from time to time. “But where will that get us James, if the train has left without us?”
James nodded and the footsteps disappeared. He simply put out his hand to her. A little hesitatingly Lily took his arm. James turned and the suffocating felling of apparition engulfed them. When Lily opened her eye again she found herself in front of a grubby looking inn.
“I’m tired, Potter, and I would like to go home.” Lily complained, after today’s events the last thing she wanted to do was go for a drink with James Potter.
“Aw, come on! One cup of tea and then I’ll take you home, promise!” James pleaded. Lily was too tired and thirsty to resist and followed James inside. The inn was nothing special, there was no tank with sea horses, something James took very personally. He actually interrogated a very scared looking waiter about it until Lily kicked him in the shins under the table.
“We’ll have tea, please.” Lily told the waiter and he hurried away from them quickly.
“Who says I wanted tea?” James said with a mocking frown.
Lily shot him a nasty look before she replied: “You were to busy bullying the waiter to place your order. So now you’ll have tea.”
“Fair enough.” James replied. Their tea arrived and a heavy silence hung between them.
“So...” Lily said after a few minutes. “Now what?”
James looked up and a grin formed on his lips: “I know a joke! I learn in from Remus. Want to hear it?”
“Let’s- hear it.” Lily answered, a little reserved.
“Okay. What do you call a wizard from outer space?” James asked with a huge smirk on his face.
“What?” Lily asked, she had no idea.
James shook his head at her: “You have to guess Lily, that’s how jokes work.”
“Alright, a – wait a wizard from outer space was it? A- an astro-magician?” Lily asked slowly.
“No, it’s a flying sorcerer.” James answered with a proud smile. Lily snorted a little, which was probably more then he’d expected. “Remus told me Muggles believe in aliens flying in saucers. I didn’t get the joke at first. Did you get it?”
Lily was smiling at him a little “Yes I got it, it was funny.” she told him.
“Great, I’ve got another one!” James rubbed his hands together, his eyes were gleaming: “Why did the witch get wet when she held a toadstool over her head in the rain?”
“Beats me.” Lily answered, sipping her tea.
“ ’Cause there’s not mushroom under it.” James smiled. Lily giggled a little in her tea.
“You have to try this tea, James it’s delicious.” Lily said. She took a biscuit and dipped it in het cup. “Take a biscuit too, they are great.” Lily pushed the dish towards James.
“Thanks. Okay, I’ve got one other for you, I got this one from Sirius.” James said, encouraged by her laughs. “Why does a banshee have no a glass of water on her nightstand?”
Lily frowned and shrugged: “Do I want to know this, coming from Sirius and all? Well, I don’t know James, why?”
“Because it shatters when she screams.” James said.
“Oh God, James I did not have to know that!” Lily grunted in a huff. She put down her cup of tea and shook her head. James was looking worriedly at her.
“Sorry, it was Sirius’ joke, I did not come up with it, honest!” James tried desperately. Lily secretly enjoyed his discomfort. He looked cute when he pleaded with her.
“Yeah yeah, it’s okay. Don’t tell any more jokes you learned from Sirius, or you’ll scare me off.” She told him after a bit, when she thought he had suffered enough. The relieved look on his face was even more adorable.
-O, did I just think of James as adorable? What’s wrong with me?- Lily thought to herself. She looked at James again. His was sipping his tea, a half eaten biscuit in his hand. She leant forward on her elbows. James set down his tea and leant back, looking at her questioningly.
“What?” He asked. “Something wrong?”
“No.” Lily replied. She sat back as well picking at the tablecloth. Her eyes were still on James’ face. He brought his thumb up to his mouth and started chewing on his nail.
“Stop that, please.” Lily said softly.
“What?” James said again. A heavy silence followed in which James continued to bite his nails. Lily leaned forward again and yanked his hand away.
“Don’t bite your nails James, it’s really unhealthy and it gives you ugly nails.” she scolded.
“Let’s take you home, it’s already quite late.”James said, looking at his watch.
Lily smiled at him, it was 5 in the afternoon, but she wouldn’t mind going home now.
“That’s your best idea so far.” she told him. Her teasing smile was lost on James and he frowned. “I’m just kidding, come on.” She took out her wallet to pay for their tea.
“No no, you can’t pay, I took you out so I pay for the tea.” James told her, taking out his own wallet.
“But I drank most of the tea.” Lily protested.
“Yeah and I ate most of the cookies. Now drop it, I’m paying.” James replied and he put some coins on the table. “I could Floo you home, they have a fireplace here.”
“That was the worst first date in the history, wasn’t it?” Lily asked her husband with a wicket smile.
“I thought it was great.” James, who was now polishing his broom handle, answered. “The Harpies won the match, we had a nice walk in the forest, drank some great tea. I prefer cinnamon biscuits above all others ever since that day.”
“You’re a very optimistic person James.” Lily smiled, shaking her head. “Foolishly optimistic.”
“Oi!” James replied in mock annoyance. “Hey Lils, what did the ghoul ask the single wizard?”
“What did the ghoul ask James?” Lily sighed.
“Can I be your ghoul-friend?” James snorted. Lily shook her head and smiled.
“Your jokes haven’t matured very much, have they?” she asked him. James simply shrugged and concentrated on his polishing job again.
Lily got up from the couch and pecked James on the cheek. “I love you dear. You want some tea?”
“With a biscuit, please.”
A/N: I wrote this story for soapman333’s Horrible first date challenge.
I do not own this lovely couple or their great world. Nor do I own the jokes, whom I found flying around on the internet.