Chapter 1 : Fifth Year: 1976
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absolutely gorgeous image by Clara Oswald @ tda!
“… You make me SICK.” She turned on her heel and hurried away.
“Evans!” James shouted after her. “Her, EVANS!”
But she didn’t look back.*
“Evans,” a deep voice said.
Lily focused on her work. She didn’t want to talk to him.
“Evans, I’m sorry,” James said, sliding in the seat next to her. She closed her eyes and counted to ten silently. Then she opened them again and started to write the rest of her notes. “Evans?”
She snapped her head up. “What?!” The librarian glared at her but she didn’t pay any attention. She was too focused on glaring at James.
He raised his hands in an act of innocence. “I just wanted to apologise.”
“Fine. Apology accepted, leave me alone,” she snapped, returning to her work. Her neck felt abnormally warm as James started to get up to leave. “Wait…” she sighed.
“Yeah?” he asked, half-raised from his seat.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you and calling you those horrible things,” she said quietly. “It was really uncalled for.”
He tried not to smile. “S’alright, Evans. I suppose I was a bit of a toe-rag, back there.”
She looked down and laughed slightly. “Yeah, you were. But I still shouldn’t have said it. How’s your cheek?”
He shrugged, his hand touching his cheek gently. “It’s fine. Remus mended it in about a second. Anyway, I’ll leave you to it then. See you around.” He stood up and started walking as Lily squeezed her eyes shut. She didn’t want to ask him, but she really did need his help.
“Wait,” she said again, louder this time. He turned around, looking extremely confused. “Can you help me for a sec?” She fiddled with her quill waiting for his response.
He grinned and walked back towards her. “What does the famous Lily Evans need my help for?”
She put her head into her hands, absolutely mortified. He wouldn’t stop gloating after she said this. “I need your help with Transfiguration.”
That wiped his smile off. “Really?” he asked incredulously. She nodded and he rubbed the back of his neck. “I thought you were going ask me to prank someone. I didn’t know you were struggling with Transfiguration.” She grimaced and noticing her look, James nodded. “But yeah, I’ll help you.” He scratched at his neck uncomfortably.
“Thank you,” she said gratefully. “I’m not taking up any of your study time, am I?” She looked quite worried at the thought.
James started laughing until he realised she was serious. “I don’t study,” he said, as if it were an obvious fact.
Lily blew out a breath, her hair flying away from her. “‘Course you don’t,” she muttered.
“What was that?” he asked, leaning forward.
She shook her head quickly. “Nothing, um so can we…?”
“Oh right, I’m meant to be helping you.” He sat down next to her again. “Um, what do you need help with?” he asked, leaning into her to look at her notes.
“Animagi,” she said, “I just don’t understand it at all.” She scratched the spine of the book, avoiding his curious eyes.
James beamed so widely, Lily was worried that his mouth would drop off. “That’s the topic I know the best,” he explained, his eyes twinkling.
Lily breathed a sigh of relief and ran a hand through her hair. “That’s good then, so do you mind…?”
“‘Course not. Okay, should we start from the beginning?” Lily shrugged and slowly James re-taught her about Animagi. She listened attentively and took notes, unsurprisingly, as the rest of the library kept shooting them furtive glances.
She started answering some past questions and he watched her answer them, giving her hints. She then handed him the parchment and biting on his lower lip, he went through them, writing little notes in the margins.
“Lily,” a soft voice said. Lily looked around and saw Severus standing at the end of the table. She cast a look at James, but he was too engrossed in Lily’s answers to notice anything else.
She crossed her legs and folded her arms, glaring up at him. “Yes?” she replied coldly. He flinched at her tone but she didn’t stop glaring at him.
“Can I talk to you?” he asked, his hands shaking slightly. She set her chin. “Alone?”
She leant back, ready to snap at him but then James started saying, “Lily, you’re getting the basics, just not the extent—oh.” He looked up at the dark shape in front of him and scowled. “Snape.” His voice had turned deeper.
“Potter,” he replied shortly, teeth clenched. “Lily, can we talk?” His hands fisted by his sides.
Before Lily could answer, James swung back on his chair and drawled, “See, Snape, I’m in the middle of tutoring her. So if you could just leave, that’d be swell.” He put his hands behind his head and lifted his chin up, waiting for him to retaliate.
Lily felt a flash of annoyance towards James but pushed it down. She really did need to get back to learning about Animagi. “Snape, I’ll talk to you later. I need to study for tomorrow.”
James’ chair fell back on all four legs. His arms dropped from his head. “Transfiguration’s tomorrow?!”
Lily rolled her eyes but laughed anyway. “Yeah.” She looked back up at Snape and said, “I’ll see you later, Snape.” He winced at the use of his last name but slunk away.
She turned back to James, who was mumbling to himself. “What’s wrong?” she asked concernedly, touching his arm softly.
His eyes met with hers. “I thought Transfiguration was the day after tomorrow. It just made my plans go out of whack.” He rubbed his cheek, deep in thought.
“If you want you can go do whatever you want…” she said unsurely but he shook his head, lifting his hand to ruffle his hair up.
“Nah, it isn’t important. Now, where was I?” He scanned her parchment and nodded to himself. “Right, so…” He started to teach her more about Animagi again and she listened intently, asking questions every so often.
After he finished teaching her, Lily grinned at him. “Thanks, James.”
“No worries,” he said easily. “I actually like Transfiguration. Ollivander said my wand was made for it, so that might have something to do with it.”
Lily nodded and carefully placed her belongings back into her schoolbag. “What do you want to do after you leave Hogwarts?” she asked curiously.
He shrugged. “Dunno really. I mean, I have enough money that I wouldn’t even need to work, so I’m not too fussed about it.” He quickly checked the time on his watch before asking, “You?”
“Being an Auror would be pretty cool,” she confessed. “But it would be so much work, and so dangerous.”
James nodded. “Yeah, my dad was an Auror. He was hardly ever at home, but he loved doing it.” He absentmindedly rubbed his neck.
“Oh did he retire?” Lily asked, zipping her bag closed.
James shook his head and looked down at his arms in his lap. “Nah, he died on a raid two years ago.”
Lily’s expression instantly turned remorseful. “Oh, I’m so sorry, James.” He shrugged, looking embarrassed. She gave him a consoling pat on the arm. “If you ever want to talk, you can ask me,” she offered. “I’m sure Sirius wouldn’t be the best at talking about emotions and feelings,” she joked, trying to make him smile.
It worked. He smiled slightly. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “Although, his favourite animal is a unicorn.” His eyes glinted mischievously.
“Really?” Lily asked, her eyebrows rising up in shock.
James snorted. “No.” Lily blushed and pushed him slightly. He laughed and she joined in with him. “Hippogriffs,” he said eventually.
“Hippogriffs, what?” Lily asked, cocking her head to the side.
“They’re his favourite animal; hippogriffs.” James shrugged. “In case you were wondering.” The librarian came close to them and started to dust bookshelves.
Lily lowered her voice, noting the old woman’s stare. “Should we head back to the common room? It’s nearly curfew.” James nodded and together, they started to trek up all the stairs towards the Gryffindor common room.
“So what’s yours?” Lily asked curiously, slightly panting from all the stairs—she wasn’t a person who exercised regularly.
“What’s my what?” James asked, jumping over the trick stair.
Lily took a breath. “Favourite animal?”
He shrugged. “Dunno. Probably a stag. Are you okay?”
Lily had gone very red. “Yeah, just unfit. Why a stag?” A portrait they walked past laughed at her. She sent the portrait a scowl and turned back to James, who was trying not to laugh either.
“Here let me carry that for you,” James offered, taking her bag. He swore as soon as he took the strap off her shoulder. “Blimey, Evans. What the hell do you have in here? Rocks?”
She laughed lightly, her face still pink. “I have a lot of textbooks. I didn’t want to go back and forth.” She tied her hair back, fanning herself.
James laughed. “Lily, you were in the library. I know I don’t go in there that often, but I’m ninety per cent sure that it would have had the books you needed.”
Lily pouted. “Yes, but I like mine more. I don’t like borrowing books, it makes me feel weird.” James rolled his eyes and Lily asked, “So, why a stag?”
He looked down at the ground. “I dunno…” Lily looked at him intently and he sighed, “It’s kind of a personal reason actually,” he said unsurely. He scratched his nose.
Lily blushed. “Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pried then.” He waved it off as she continued, “If it makes you feel better, I like cats?”
James laughed loudly, relieved at the change of topic. “Of course you do. Why though?”
She grinned at him. “They’re just so fluffy and cute! And you hardly have to look after them; they do everything on their own. My cat learnt to use the litter-box by himself! And since they sleep majority of the time, you don’t need to worry about them running amuck.” They finally reached the Gryffindor common room and Lily let out a loud breath. “I really need to start exercising,” she said to herself.
“Nah, you aren’t that unfit,” James said to her. She smiled and looked down, her cheeks going red again. She tucked a piece of red hair behind her ear, embarrassed. “Hornbeam,” he said to the Fat Lady, who was looking at the pair with a small smile.
She swung open for them saying, “You’re awfully close to curfew, dears. Next time you should be a bit earlier!”
“Yeah, yeah,” James said, rolling his eyes. She scoffed but before she could reply he shut the frame closed. They heard an indignant shout. “She’s always going off at me for being late,” he explained in response to Lily’s confused look.
“Ah, okay then. Well, I better put my stuff back.” She made a motion to her bag and James handed it back to her. She grabbed it and hauled it up on her shoulder. “Thanks for carrying it.”
“No problem.” He cleared his throat. “Night then, Evans.” He ran a hand through his hair, making it stick up more than it already was. Lily resisted the urge to flatten it down.
“Goodnight, James,” she replied before walking back up to the girls dorm. She could feel him staring at her but she resisted turning around to see him. She dumped her bag on the bed and decided to have a very cold shower. She’d been blushing an awful lot that evening.
After she’d gotten into her pyjamas, she sat on her bed and started to read through the Transfiguration notes. She gave Dorcas and Marlene—who were quizzing each other—a quick smile before closing her curtains, hoping they wouldn’t be offended. She picked up her notes again and shut everything out and focused solely on how an Animagus transforms. She was nearly finished before Mary ripped her curtains open, looking extremely dishevelled. Lily jumped violently before realising it was only her friend.
“Where have you been, Mary?” Lily asked, once she’d recovered. She smirked as Mary went red.
“I’ll tell you later. Snape’s standing out the front of the common room asking for you. He threatened to sleep there if you wouldn’t come out.” Lily groaned. “If you want I can hex him for you?” she offered, looking entirely too hopeful. Lily noticed that her friend had her skirt on backwards but she decided not to say anything about it.
Lily placed the notes on her bedside table and got up off her bed. “Nah, I’ll go talk to him. I did promise to talk to him later. I just forgot.”
Mary nodded and gave her a hug. Lily wrinkled her nose. “Mary, you smell way too strongly of men’s cologne.”
She let go immediately. “Sorry… Make sure to be quick, I need to tell you about this guy! You’ll be so shocked to hear who it was!”
Lily nodded and wrapped a dressing gown around her body, tying the knot around her middle. “I won’t be long, see you soon.” Mary nodded and waved to her as she walked down the stairs.
No one was in the common room so she could leave without anyone asking any questions. She opened the door and saw Severus sitting by the wall, looking incredibly remorseful. She nearly forgave him for a second but the moment was chased away when she heard the word ‘Mudblood’ ring in her ears.
“Snape,” she said shortly. He scrambled up and immediately started to apologise. She answered him curtly, snapping at him. She felt no pity anymore; he was someone who she shouldn’t waste time with anyway. He started to say that he didn’t mean it but she’d had enough. She shook her head at him and with one last glare; she climbed back through the portrait hole.
She went to storm back up the stairs but she heard a surprised, “Evans?”
She jumped and shrieked slightly. She looked around and saw James on the last step in just pyjama bottoms. “Oh, James. It’s only you. What are you doing?” she asked once her heart rate had slowed back down.
He ignored her question and asked his own, “Are you okay?”
She smiled at him. “Yeah, I’m good. Thanks.” He smiled at her and padded down the stairs. “What are you doing down here?” she repeated.
He shrugged. “Can’t sleep.” Lily was torn between going up the stairs to talk to Mary or to stay down here and talk to James. She took a long look at James, the way his pants hung low on his narrow hips, showing his thin torso. He also had a few odd-looking scars.
She decided to stay with him instead, but thought she’d better explain to Mary where she’d gone. “Hold on, I’ll be right back. I just need to do something real quick.” She dashed up the stairs, ignoring his protests that she should stay up there. She went to Mary’s bed and pushed her curtains back to tell her she’d be gone for a few minutes more. However, she found a sprawled Mary who was snoring loudly with her mouth wide open. Lily stifled a giggle and said goodnight to Dorcas and Marlene, who were both hopping into bed.
“Where are you going?” Marlene asked her curiously, raising her eyebrows suggestively.
Lily laughed, fiddling with her left earring. “Just going to talk to someone. Nothing like that. Night.”
“Night, Lily,” she replied, starting to close her eyes.
Dorcas muttered, “Use protection.” Lily blushed and Marlene hopped out her bed to high-five her best friend. She rolled her eyes at the two of them and walked back down the stairs.
“You don’t have to stay here, I was just going to go over my notes,” he said, lifting up a roll of parchment.
Lily sat down next to him. “I thought you didn’t study?” she teased.
He looked around him in mock suspicion. “Don’t tell anyone this, but I always study the night before. It seems to pay off.” She giggled and he grinned, pleased to have made her laugh.
“Here, I’ll quiz you,” Lily offered, holding her hand out for the parchment. He reluctantly handed it to her and she squinted, looking at his writing. “I can’t read this at all.” He laughed loudly and she shot him an embarrassed smile. “Sorry.” She returned the parchment.
He waved it off. “No, it’s fine. A lot of professors keep telling me to write neater as well.”
Smiling, Lily said, “I’ve got neat writing, I could always help you with that. As a kind of payment for helping me with Transfiguration.”
Without thinking, James blurted, “There are other ways to pay me back.” Immediately Lily scowled and made to get up. “No, wait. That was stupid, Lily. I’m so sorry. It’s late and –”
“Save it, Potter,” she snapped.
He grabbed her arm. “No, come on sit down. I promise I won’t say anything else stupid. I’m really sorry,” he said earnestly. Lily hesitated. She felt like she was going to catch on fire from the intensity of his gaze. He let her arm go and looked down. “It’s alright, you can go to bed. Sorry again. G’night, Lily.”
She surprised him by sitting down again. “Nah, it’s okay. That was basically asking for it.” His mouth twitched and she shoved him slightly. “Stop taking everything I say in a dirty way, gosh.”
He laughed again and Lily joined in. “Lily, it’s past midnight and my brain has gone hazy. I think I could turn anything into a dirty joke right now.”
“Oh really?” she challenged, crossing her legs underneath her. He gave her a look that clearly said, ‘Try me’. She smirked and searched for the least sexual word in the English dictionary. “Curdle.”
James gave her a look. “That doesn’t work. Curdle is a gross word.”
Lily laughed again. “Yeah, it is. But you can’t turn it into a dirty joke, can you?”
James scoffed, “Curdle. There. That’s the joke.” He pushed his glasses back up to his nose and waited for her response with half a grin.
Lily stared at him, scratching her nose. “That isn’t dirty though!”
He stretched his legs out in front of him with a satisfied smile. “Yeah it is. I didn’t specify what dirty it had to be. You just assumed it’d be sexual. Horny are we, Evans?”
She blushed and covered her face with a strange noise that sounded like, “Garfunkle”. She peeked at him through her fingertips and accused, “You implied it though!”
“Did I though?” he said, waggling his eyebrows. Lily poked his arm and he laughed. The two then talked for a very long time before Lily started to yawn. “Maybe we better go to bed?” James asked. Lily sent him a smirk and he laughed. “Now who’s being the dirty one?”
“I never said anything. Horny are we, Potter?” she echoed him from the beginning of the conversation. He rolled his eyes good-naturedly and got up off the couch, holding out his hand for her to take it.
“Come on, Evans. We have our Transfiguration O.W.L tomorrow; I think we’ll need at least some sleep.” She took his hand reluctantly, letting him haul her up.
“I suppose we should. Anyway, goodnight. This was fun. We should do it again some time.” She smiled at him.
He winked. “We should.” She laughed, shook her head and walked back to the dorm with a big grin on her face. “Night, Evans,” he shouted. She lifted her hand up as a goodnight wave, pushing herself up the stairs to her bed. He was still smiling when she turned back around.
It was two in the morning; she had two O.W.L’s today, she had an extremely important exam tomorrow, she’d lost one of her best friends by being called a Mudblood and spent the night with James Potter of all people.
But all in all, she’d had a pretty good night.
* Excerpt taken from Order of the Phoenix, page 571 of Snape’s Worst Memory [Australian/English version] by our lovely J. K. Rowling.
Hi everyone! This is going to be a short story collection. There'll be a few other one-shots about Lily and James, but it won't be a major focus. It's just really going to be a side project. :)
Anyway, thanks for reading and please review on your thoughts! :)