Five Times James Got Lily a Birthday Present
Third year, A Mother’s Advice
“Careful,” Lily murmured, eyes determinedly resting somewhere just over his shoulder as she grasped his hand and pulled it back from the cauldron, “You’ll explode the cauldron if you add the Earthwood Roots before the Diced Scorpion Tails.”
“Nice to see you care about my safety Evans” he smirked, attempting to position himself so that he was in her line of vision, revelling in the feeling of her hand on his. She merely turned away, ignoring his jibe and continuing to cut up some ingredient that he couldn’t really care less about.
She was precise in her movements, her dark red hair falling like a curtain between them as she bent over her work, concentration etched on every line of her face. He enjoyed watching her work, so concentrated and determined, her movements so precise, so rehearsed. It was the only time he really could watch her without her noticing.
He chucked another handful of ingredients in the cauldron negligently and returned his attention to the girl beside him, wondering how he would feel about her if he had never been chosen as her potions partner. Would he have even cared what she thought of him? He couldn’t be sure. Up until that year, Lily Evans had been almost a perfect stranger to him. A quiet, hardworking muggle born girl, who he communicated with only rarely and occasionally smiled at in the hallway. The most interesting thing he had known about her at that stage was that she was friends with some imbecile Slytherin, this information did not heighten his regard for her in the slightest, nor did his antics endear him to her. Their relationship was non-existent at best. That had all changed the day Slughorn had pulled both his and her name out of a hat, and he had slumped down next to her lethargically, determined to be as unhelpful as humanly possible.
Time had passed that year, as it usually did for a boy of thirteen, quickly and energetically. He slept through classes, pranked highly deserving Slytherin victims and became a downright nuisance to the staff of Hogwarts. However, it did not escape his notice that Potions, of all things, was starting to become his favourite subject. His favourite time of day really. He anticipated it as he would an important Quidditch match. With unwavering excitement, only matched by fear. And Lily Evans was to blame.
Lily Evans, who chewed on her lip when she concentrated, and looked right through him as if he was an unimportant speck on the wall. Lily Evans, whose green eyes brightened when she received well-deserved praise for her hard-work. Lily Evans, who made his heart beat faster, and his stomach feel like it was being attacked by horrible, fluttery creatures of some sort. It was horrible and wonderful all at once and he didn’t know what to do. It was not like he hadn’t had crushes before, but none as serious as this and none on a girl who seemed to be revolted by the mere presence of him.
He would try and make conversation with her, to which she replied with monosyllabic answers, or icy cold contempt. He had even tried helping her with their school work, which granted he should have probably been doing in the first place. It was all to no avail. She was still just as disinterested in him as he had been in her a few months prior. It was killing him but James Potter did not give up as easily as all that. He was determined to at least to be friends with this girl and his opportunity had risen sooner than he expected. A couple of weeks back he had overheard her two best friends, Layla and Kathy discussing her birthday present. Inspiration had struck. He would get Lily Evans the perfect birthday present and then she would have to like him. He had walked into the classroom with a sense of trepidation, distracted all lesson, fidgeting with anxious anticipation because today was the day. Lily’s birthday. He scraped the contents of Lily’s chopping board into his palm and moved to tip it into the cauldron. Lily slapped his hand away, irritation seeping through every pore in her body as she rolled her eyes and stirred the potion counter-clockwise five times. She nodded for him to proceed and he up-ended the ingredients into the cauldron.
Thanks to Lily’s potions prowess by the end of the lesson their potion had been named both, “Remarkable!” and “Splendid!” by good ol’ Sluggy and the class had been free to pack up and go without further homework. Lily was the last to leave as always, she cleaned and packed her equipment up meticulously. He had chosen this time to give his present to her, knowing that she would most likely be left alone by her friends who were impatient for lunch by this stage. Under the pretence of also packing up his belongings James soon found himself alone with Lily in their classroom. He almost forgot how to breathe.
She turned to him, a confused crease forming between her eyebrows and he thought it might have been one of the first times she had looked at him properly. He swallowed nervously and suddenly felt like a right, proper idiot. His palms were sweating, his hands shaking nervously and his throat was so dry he was afraid for a moment that he wouldn’t be able to talk to her. He stood for a moment, awkward silence pervading the air around them before flinging out his hand in her general direction, eyes downcast. A delicate chain hung from his tightly clenched fist, the emerald pendent swinging like a pendulum.
“Happy birthday.” He finally managed to choke out.
It was a few moments later, when she still hadn’t taken the necklace from his outstretched hand that he gathered the courage to look at her. She was gaping a little, it was kind of cute, eyes glued to the emerald in front of her. He had gotten her jewellery because his mother said girls liked jewellery and he trusted his mother’s judgement more than anything else in the world. He hoped she had not been wrong.
“Don’t you like it?” he asked a few moments later, when she still hadn’t said anything.
“What? No! I mean, yes, I do. Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting anything.”
She took the chain from his hands and studied it for a moment, “Thank you, James. This is very sweet.”
To his utmost shock and pleasure she leaned forward and wrapped her arms delicately around his waist in a barely there, too-quick hug. With a brief, heart-breaking smile she let go of him and left the room. Leaving him feeling all kinds of trembly, funny sorts of things. Those fluttery creatures were back in his stomach, piercing him with renewed vigour.
Fourth Year, The Potions Whiz
James had never seen so much pink in his life. It was, to put it frankly, disgusting. He had, had an inkling of the horrors that awaited him within Madame Puddifoot’s when he had glanced in the window before entering. But he had proceeded with little caution, as he did with everything in life. The second warning had come from the trill of the bell as he pushed open the door. The quiet, elegant tinkling of those bells had sounded to him like an alarm, yelling at him to get the hell out. He had ignored it, as he did with most things and now he sat, in a ‘romantic’ corner booth, wishing to God that he could go back in time and tell himself to run a mile. His partner in this expedition was of no help either.
Marisa Tenfold was an insipid, uncharismatic bimbo. It was strange, he didn’t remember her giggling this much the last time they had spoken. In fact, she had seemed rather intelligent. She had said something sparklingly witty and he had been drawn to her intense enthusiasm about the subject of Transfiguration, of all things. However, something had changed from then to now and suddenly she was laughing at everything he said. He was an arrogant tosser most of the time, and even he knew he wasn’t that funny.
“Are you alright?” Marisa asked, after a few moments of blessed silence.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He muttered, unable to bring himself to continue the torturous conversation. He settled on taking in his grotesque surroundings while they waited for their order of tea and scones.
He had settled on gazing out the window. Transfixed by the snow, melting on its panes. James smothered his scones with jam and cream and took a hesitant sip of his pink tea when their order finally arrived and Marisa began to chat amiably away. Something about a friend’s birthday. At her words his left thigh seemed to begin to burn and throb. He slid his hand down to rest on the pocket of his jeans. The source of this sensation, the sudden remembrance of what day it was. It was Lily’s birthday. Over his fourth year at Hogwarts Lily’s cool indifference towards him had changed, for the worse and poor, unfortunate soul that he was, Lily’s intense hatred of him did nothing to quash his feelings for her. He had worked up the courage to ask her out a total of five times that year, and each time his hopes were crushed. He couldn’t blame her for it really; he had never tried hard enough to act the mature, responsible adult he knew she preferred. This did not stop him from buying her a present.
He had reserved an entire Hogsmeade trip just to go out searching for the perfect one. Since he had splurged half of his allowance on the gift he had carried it with him always, unsure of what to do with it. He didn’t think she would appreciate a gift from him. He had woken up that morning, pushing thoughts of Lily Evans and her present to the back of his mind, made himself pretend that he had forgotten. He could not help slipping the gift in his pocket as he stepped out to pick up his date though and now she had unintentionally brought it, once more, to the forefront of his mind. To give or not to give, that was the question.
He was on a date, a date with a girl he knew was a lot smarter and more genuine then she was pretending to be. He wanted to try, no; he wanted to want to try to get to know her. To enjoy the date but all he could think about was Lily Evans. As if called by his mere thoughts he noticed her traipsing past the window. He fly-away red hair framing her pretty face but there was something in her gait that was not normal, something fragile and delicate. Her shoulders had caved in, as if protecting herself and there was a dejected look to her face that he could not stand to see there. He stood, as she escaped his eye line and made his excuses to the poor girl sitting across from him. He would explain himself properly later, but now all that mattered was finding out what was wrong with Lily.
He was long-limbed and fast so he caught up with her easily. She had turned a corner in an alleyway and was leaning against the wall, her head in her hands, soft red hair falling into her face. The world around them was swollen with silence and he stopped himself from talking for a moment. Too intent on gazing at her as a delicate snowflake fell into her bright hair and melted as if touched by flame. She looked like some sort of winter goddess, at least to him she did and he didn’t want to ruin the moment with his presence. He was determined to know what was wrong, even if it broke his heart every time she looked at him with burning anger in her eyes, he wanted to make sure she was alright. It was all that mattered to him. Slowly, cautiously he stepped closer to her and cleared his throat quietly. She started, tear-filled eyes widening as she realized who it was.
“Potter!” she spat caustically, her hands hovering in mid-air as if she was unsure what to do with them.
Silence enveloped them once more and she shifted awkwardly, her eyes swivelling in every direction but his. She was looking for an escape route, he realised suddenly, but it wasn’t because of him specifically which he was thankful for. She was uncomfortable, she didn’t like appearing vulnerable. She didn’t want to seem weak in front of him. He knew her quirks and her personality traits too well to be mistaken.
“I’m sorry. I was just checking to see if you were alright.”
She threaded her fingers through her hair and he momentarily dwelt on what it would be like to have been Lily Evans’ fingers at that moment. He shook those thoughts away; there were more important matters at hand.
“Well, I said I was fine. You can go now.”
“You’re clearly not fine Evans. It’s alright to be upset you know. I’m here if you need.”
He shrugged, ruffling his hair nervously. She narrowed her eyes.
“You’ll just laugh at me.” She finally managed.
“Maybe,” he replied. James was many things, arrogant, mischievous, and immature but he was also honest. He tried so hard to be a good person, he really did.
A shadow of a smile played at the corner of Lily’s mouth but quickly disappeared as she glanced back down at her boot-clad feet. She was kicking up tufts of snow feebly, avoiding his gaze as best as she could.
“It’s stupid really,” she finally stated, “It’s just, well, it’s my birthday and everyone’s forgotten.”
He couldn’t help himself. He laughed. She glared at him, a flash of anger briefly exploding in her almond eyes and he was effectively silenced.
“I’m sorry; it’s just, I’m sure they haven’t. I know your friends Lily, they love you. They would never forget your birthday.”
“They’ve all got stupid dates, with their stupid new boyfriends and they just left me alone on my birthday.” She grumbled, kicking up more snow in a fit of anger.
“Well even if they did, I didn’t.”
He couldn’t believe he said it. He had decided against giving her the present but seeing her so upset had changed his mind without him even knowing it.
“I wasn’t going to give it to you. I didn’t think you’d really appreciate a present from me but…here.”
In a gesture surprisingly similar to the potions episode he flung his hand out in her general direction. The necklace replaced with a diamond encrusted potion vial. When she didn’t speak he continued, “I know it isn’t much, but I know you’ve been running out of potions vials recently and this one automatically multiplies once it’s been filled. The shopkeeper said that the diamonds help concentrate the power of the potion. I don’t know, I just thought you might like it.”
He rubbed awkwardly at the back of his neck, his face heating up as he took in her shell-shocked expression.
There was nothing delicate about the hug she rewarded him with. She flung her arms around his neck, an excited squeal escaping her lips and took the vial from his fingers.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re wonderful!”
He did not get the chance to reply, she was far too excited so he revelled a little in her pleasure and let her run away.
The giant cake she received the next morning at breakfast from Layla and Kathy, was received, he couldn’t help but notice, with a little less excitement then his own present had elicited.
Fifth Year, The Last Minute Present
“How about lingerie?” Sirius suggested, voice lowering to a suggestive rasp that would have sent his fangirls into a faint. He picked up a barely-there garment from the rack and placed it over his own body, swivelling his hips obscenely. James didn’t even have to pretend to gag.
“Aww… come on Jamesie Poo. There’s nothing like lingerie to tell a girl what you really think of her.”
Sirius’ face settled into a scowl as he flung the garment across the room and slouched back into a chair. “I don’t understand why you want to get her something anyway.”
“Just because, Padfoot. Now would you shut up?”
James rolled his eyes and turned to survey his surroundings. The shop was a small vintage boutique, nearer the outskirts of Hogsmeade, that in normal circumstances James wouldn’t be caught dead in, nor would Sirius for that matter. However, James had decided that desperate circumstances called for desperate measures and his circumstances were truly desperate. He hadn’t gotten Lily a birthday present yet, and her birthday was that day. He had convinced Sirius to sneak down to Hogsmeade with him early that morning in order to find the perfect gift. This was proving to be a more difficult task than expected and Sirius was no help at all.
“Can’t you just be serious for one second,” he held up a hand to prevent the ensuing pun Sirius intended to make, “This is important.”
“If it was so important why didn’t you do it earlier?”
James sighed. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint why, he knew he hadn’t forgotten. He remembered everything he knew about Lily and her looming birthday often popped into his mind. However, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to put himself through the pain. At the start of the year he hadn’t wanted to admit it but it had become gradually more impossible to deny. He was in love with her. And she still hated him. He had foregone the present shopping because her rejection was becoming too much for him. He couldn’t withstand it and though his heartfelt gifts had seemed to mean something to her the past few years he wasn’t sure another one would be received with the same amount of pleasure. James did not fancy ruining those good memories with a few new bad ones. However, he had woken up that day with a horrible sick sort of feeling in his stomach and he knew, he just knew, he had to get her something. Even if she threw it back in his face, it was important to him.
So he had dragged a very unenthused, unimpressed Sirius out of bed at about 4 in the morning and took him to Hogsmeade. For moral support and manly advice. He had clearly overestimated his friend.
“Come on Sirius, help me!” James exclaimed, gesticulating wildly in intense exasperation. Sirius threw his head back in exhaustion.
“I don’t know, why don’t you just get her another one of those stupid potion vial thingies.”
“You can’t be serious!- Don’t.” he raised a finger to delay the pun, “The whole point of those ‘potion vial thingies’ was that they multiply automatically, she’ll never need any again.”
“Well why’d you get her one that multiplies, you’ve just made things difficult for yourself. Just get her some jewellery and be done with it.”
“No. I need something good. Something unique. Something special.”
“You’re an imbecile. You know that right?”
“Seriously?- No!” he raised a condescending eyebrow in order to prevent the ready pun. Sirius rolled his eyes.
“If you didn’t hand me the opportunity to be punny every ten seconds then maybe our conversations would proceed a lot more smoothly.”
“Just shut up. I don’t know why I bothered bringing you along. You’re so unhelpful.”
“Well if you want my most Sirius advice,” James rolled his eyes, “I hardly think you’re going to find anything for your ‘ickle Lily flower’ in some girly, vintage boutique. Just go to a book store or something.”
James considered his friend’s words for a moment, “She does like books…” he muttered more to himself then his companion. Without further ado, he grabbed his coat from the hook by the door and left his best friend to mull things over sleepily in his newfound, blessed silence.
He found her in the evening, just as the dusk was beginning to fade and give way to a cloudless, inky sky. She was on top of the astronomy tower beginning to set up her equipment with the same methodical, quiet he had long known her for. He watched as she sucked thoughtfully on the feather of her quill adjusting her telescope and making some markings on her star chart.
A swollen silence pervaded the air around them that he felt uneasy about breaking and suddenly he wasn’t so sure anymore. Suddenly he didn’t know whether he should sneak quietly away and pretend he had forgotten her or whether to speak. He tried to still the tremor in his hand as he turned soundlessly to walk away.
He was almost to the steps when, “Potter? What are you doing here?”
Her voice oozed suspicion and her pretty features were marred by a hate-filled scowl.
“Oh you know,” he invented wildly, “Just chillin’. Up here for a breath of fresh air and that.”
She raised a condescending eyebrow, “Well go find somewhere else to ‘just chill’.”
“I think, just for that I will grace you with my company.”
“I’m honoured.” She spat sarcastically.
James couldn’t decide whether to grin or grimace. He decided his signature smirk would do perfectly fine while he was still indecisive.
She turned back to her homework and they sat for long moments in a leisurely silence. Lily was not the type of person to anger for no reason and as long as he felt safe in the knowledge that as long as he did not disrupt her peace he would be able to sit with her for as long as he wished. She would probably forget he was there she was so engrossed in her work. However, he couldn’t allow that today, how was he supposed to give her, her present without speaking.
So tentatively he cleared his throat. She continued adjusting one of the nobs on her telescope, blowing a strand of hair from her face and then marking yet more indiscernible balls of light on her chart. He knew she had heard but she was not easily interrupted and she would continue with her work until she saw fit to turn towards him. She was the type of girl, who when focused on a specific train of thought, did not have much time for anything else. But finally, after a few more moments of silence she raised her curious emerald eyes to meet his.
“Sorry. I just wanted to finish, you know? Otherwise I might forget. What is it?”
“Well…um.” He cleared his throat again, “Well, just… uh, never mind it isn’t important.”
He shook his head slightly, raising himself from the beam he had been leaning against and, movements stiff and awkward, walking away.
“No, wait!” She shifted awkwardly as he turned once more to face her, “If this is because of before… Listen, I know I was being rude and all but I actually… erm… well I don’t mind you being here. You’re pretty quiet and patient and I know I spend most of my time angry with you but I didn’t mean to offend and…”
The rambling trailed once more into awkward silence and she fidgeted with a chain around her neck, glancing around the space that surrounded them.
“Please don’t be angry with me.”
He grinned at the mumbled plea and she scowled back, turning once more to her work.
“Happy birthday.” He finally muttered to her turned back and she paused in adjusting the angle of her telescope. Nimble fingers stilled and silence reverberated off the walls around them.
“Oh, I thought you’d forgotten.”
She was turning to him again, fingers unconsciously returning to the chain around her neck, it seemed like some sort of nervous gesture he hadn’t noticed before. He did not maintain eye contact for long; however, as he was too busy scrabbling to find his purchase in his book bag.
“I-I-I got you something,” he stuttered like an imbecile as he searched, “It’s nothing really, I don’t even know if you’ll like it.”
Finally he found it, swiping his bag over his shoulder so it fell behind his back, he pressed it into her hands gently when he realised she had come to stand in front of him. Examining it curiously she turned it around in her hand, flipping it over so she could peer just as determinedly at the back. It was all to no avail, she could not see anything but a blank piece of parchment.
“Sorry, it’s stupid; it’s just, um… I charmed it. Well, you see, my mum she has all these, like, encouragement books. You know those ones, you flick through them and they’ve got all these quotes that are meant to help you through life or something. I thought you might like one of those, but they’re mainly muggle, so I couldn’t find any in the bookshop, so I charmed a piece of parchment to do the same thing. Basically if you’re feeling like crap, or something, you just light it using the lumos charm, ‘cause it’s meant to be, like, a symbol, the light that guides your way… or whatever.”
He paused and took an intake of breath before continuing on his slowly deteriorating ramble.
“Anyway, you just shine the light on it and it reads your emotions and a quote appears that it thinks will be best for the situation you’re in. I got a frame for it as well, if you want.” He shrugged.
Gobsmacked and speechless Lily stood before him, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. Finally, soundlessly, not knowing what else to do, she fished her wand from her pocket and raised a light to the parchment. He didn’t get to see the quote, only her reaction to it. Only the eternally confusing, sudden flush that spread along her cheeks.
“It’s incredible.” She finally managed, “I can’t believe… um. Thank you.”
She rewarded him with a sudden, soft smile, grasping his shoulder and rising up on her tiptoes to kiss him gently on the cheek.
He thought he was going to die.
Long moments of awkward silence later she was once more attending to her work and he leaned against the protective beams beside her, silent and stoic. He noticed she often paused in her study of the sky to place her hand on the pendant around her neck and smile softly.
He noticed that the pendant was a simple, silver circle, with an emerald gem inlaid. One that a very nervous thirteen year old boy had gifted her, once upon a time.
Sixth Year, Unintentional Innuendo
Remus’ shoulders were shuddering with suppressed laughter and James rolled his eyes the shadow of a smile twitching at the corner of his mouth. He had just finished regaling the Marauders ‘voice of reason’ with the traumatising tale of his experiences a few nights prior. The night of Lily’s birthday to be exact. Although James had been utterly mortified at the time he was an optimistic sort of person, who always seemed to bounce back from these things and walk away with swagger. He prided himself on his positive, carefree attitude although Lily occasionally described it as unwavering stupidity. She was more of a realist.
Anyway, it was his nature to take things in his stride and so he could not begrudge Remus his laughter. He could barely suppress his own. It was, however, lucky that the cause of Remus’ laughter and James’ distress was not present in the room. James was in no mood to receive Sirius with the same whole-hearted forgiveness, even if he did find his ridiculous antics decidedly amusing. It was different when they were at his expense.
His search for Lily’s perfect present had begun pretty much as soon as she had received her last. So inspired by the reception of his last-minute, charmed parchment he had proceeded with newfound determination into this occasionally stressful and extremely terrifying field. He had spent many months planning and searching and if he was honest, irritating his best friend on an extreme level. It wasn’t his fault though, all he needed was some advice and Sirius was an unwilling counterpart on his missions to find Lily’s present. At worst he said nothing, at best he insisted on lingerie.
James had come to a fantastic, and yet somehow terrifying, realization on that night atop the astronomy tower. Lily Evans didn’t hate him. He irritated her to no end, and sometimes, maybe he ignited a passion close to hate in her but she didn’t hate him. Sometimes-the thought made him blush like a girl-she might even like him. They treated each other no differently from the norm after that night but he had taken more notice. He had realised that there was so much more to their relationship, so much more to her in general. Sometimes they even had casual, calm conversations.
Over the summer he had fantasised about Lily’s reception to his gift. These all seemed to end with a well-deserved (he thought) snog. He was a hormonal, sixteen year old, it was to be expected. However, Sirius after becoming gradually more irritated by his best friend’s behaviour had decided that this would not be the case at all and set in motion a devious plan. James had met Lily once more atop the astronomy tower, carefully hand-wrapped gift gripped in his trembling hand.
They hadn’t even needed the customary awkward conversation. She had merely taken the gift from his hands, a small grateful smile on her face and her cheeks flushed a pretty shade of pink that did all kinds of funny things to his brain. And then slowly, torturously slowly, (apparently Lily was one of those people who refused to rip wrapping paper for some unfathomable reason), she opened his present. And gasped in horror, shock and then anger flooding her features as she took a disgusted step back, the lingerie slipping from her fingers. James by that stage had turned a horrific shade of purple and stared, just as gobsmacked as the recipient, at the present strewn on the floor.
“Um…” his voice sounded mangled as it rasped from his constricted throat.
Raking a hand through his hair he surveyed his surroundings in search of an excuse, or better yet an escape route.
“Um… that, that… it, uh. Oh, God! Um… it just, just…erm…”
He pointed at the offending object, voice more of a humiliating squeak then a mangled rasp now. His eyes, he was sure, were bulging unattractively out of his head. He couldn’t remember another time in his life when he had looked so unattractive. She, in all of her confusion and disgust still somehow managed to look far too pretty.
“What the hell, Potter? How could you, why would you? That’s just insulting and wrong and… now you’ve ruined everything! You… you stupid, insufferable prat! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!”
“Ungh…no Lily, you don’t understand.”
“Oh, I understand perfectly well Potter, thank you very much. So, this,” she picked up the satiny garment from the floor, trailing her delicate fingers against the material, “is what you think of me. I won’t be treated like I’m just some girl who is important only for one thing. I won’t be some play thing to you!”
She threw the garment at him but her voice when she spoke the next words contrasted with the ferocity of her actions in its quiet, defeated tone.
“You ruined everything.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to. Lily, please…”
“Stop calling me that. Stupid prat.”
She glared murderously and walked sullenly away.
So poor, unfortunate James had gifted the girl of his dreams an unintentional innuendo and said girl was not talking to him.
He had ruined everything, apparently, even though he wasn’t really sure what she was talking about. She had sounded so incredibly melancholy when she had said it and he could not stand to believe he had been the one to place that tone in her voice. Well, Sirius really, but she didn’t know that. The most irritating thing about the whole experience had been the message it sent to Lily about how he felt about her. He had been trying desperately for years to make her understand that she wasn’t just a good snog to him; she was a beautiful, multi-faceted creature who made him feel blessed just for the pleasure of her mere presence in the same room as him. And now, more likely than not, she really, truly hated him.
“You can stop laughing now Remus. It isn’t that funny.”
It took a few moments more for Remus to regain control of his usual composure but with its eventual return came the sage advice that James so desperately needed at a time like this.
“Listen,” he said, voice still a tad weak from his previous laughter, “I’m sure you can fix this up. I mean, your James Potter, you’re good at bouncing back from these sorts of situations. Just turn the charm on or something.”
“She’s Lily Evans, Remus, she hates the charm.”
“She doesn’t hate it, she just sees through it.”
“Remus, that doesn’t make me feel any better. She hates me and if she can see through all of ‘the charm’ bollocks, then that means she hates me. For true.”
Remus chewed on his lip in thought for a moment and patted James’ shoulder comfortingly.
“Listen James. I’m probably not the best person to go to for advice about women, but I think you should do whatever your gut tells you to. You can’t be running to other people to give you advice about this stuff because whether a person loves you or not comes down to your own actions, not someone else’s. So, what do you reckon you should do?”
“I don’t know, explain, tell the truth I suppose.”
“Well I have heard honesty is one of your finest assets.”
“But Remus…” his voice was verging dangerously close to whiny, “It’s not as simple as that, she won’t ever believe me!”
“You have to at least try. Bring the real present with you while you’re at it.”
James drew a shaky breath. He had been staring at the back of her head for the past half-hour, examining the way the weak sunlight spilling in from the windows created dancing shadows amongst the vibrant strands. It was far more interesting then History of Magic was ever going to be. Most of his classmates were similarly staring, not at Lily, but out of the window, or at the wall in front of them. Heads lolling, eyes indifferently glazed over. James sighed again, this time settling his gaze on the fine, pale hand of his dream girl as it sped across her parchment. Her hand, he noticed, raced with an alacrity that no dull lecture about some stupid Goblin Rebellion should ever be able to warrant. As she turned briefly towards him, violently throwing said piece of parchment in his general direction he realised why.
“Oh,’ he breathed as the balled up parchment landed neatly on his desk.
He unfolded it hastily, cutting one of his fingers in the process. Sucking the blood from the pad of his fingertip he glanced over the words sprinkled on the thick yellow parchment.
Sod off and stop staring. Twat.
He gaped at it for a moment. Like a gaping goon. Then he hurriedly retrieved his own quill and ink from the bottom of the chasm he called his bag. He marvelled at how prettily she wrote and felt his own messy scrawl; set firmly underneath hers, was far less superior.
He didn’t mean to be sarcastic, he really didn’t but the opportunity was just so ripe. Besides, he knew if he riled her up she wouldn’t be able to contain herself. She’d have to continue talking to him.
Leave me alone.
I’m sorry but you were the one who initiated this conversation Lily.
It’s Evans to you, prat. Now go away.
I’ll go away if you stop sending my notes back.
I guess that means I’m not going away then.
Because you didn’t stop sending my notes back.
Yes I did.
No you didn’t. Do you remember, a few moments back, when you scrawled down the word, “Fine,” on a piece of parchment (in incredibly elegant script might I add) yeah? That is called sending a note back.
Whatever, prat. When I wrote fine, I meant fine as in I’ll stop sending notes back.
Why are you still sending them back then?
Still sending them back.
I am honestly going to murder you.
Ooooh, violent. But you’re still sending them back.
Lily, I’m not going away. You clearly don’t want me to and I don’t want to either. I want to explain. Please just let me.
No, you’re a prat.
And you’re still sending notes back. Please, Lily.
I won’t believe whatever you say, so you shouldn’t even bother.
Well, I’m going to try anyway, because you’re not just some girl to me Lily. You’re so much more than that and you don’t deserve to ever believe anyone could think of you as any less than what you are. You’re intelligent, beautiful, hardworking, stubborn, loyal. Lily I could go on all day about how you’re honestly the kindest person I know. Please?
James waited for the remainder of that class with bated breath. But his note was not returned.
A few weeks passed in which James was in constant torment. Lily refused to even look at him, let alone speak to him. Sirius had apologised profusely, recognising the gravity of his friend’s distress and James was glad that he could so easily forgive. He didn’t think he’d have the ability to cope without his brother. It was nearing dusk on a Friday evening when she finally spoke to him again.
He was on the astronomy tower again. Leaning languidly against and iron bar, staring at nothing much really and thinking about nothing much really. A cool breeze tugged at his dark hair and made his eyes water.
He jolted out of his reverie, her sharp voice shattering the quiet air.
“Lily.” He replied. Nodding slightly, unsure of what else to do.
“You’re funny,” she finally said after what seemed like an eternity where they languished in a cavernous silence.
“Huh?” was the most intelligible reply he could manage.
“You’re funny,” she repeated, “And clever, loyal, friendly. I think, maybe, you should have the right to explain.”
He gaped at her. Like a gaping goon. He noticed then that there was a piece of parchment clutched firmly in her hand.
“Oh…um, well.” He stuttered over his words, unable to formulate an adequate reply.
“Did you actually mean it?” she saved him from further ridiculousness.
He regarded he, one eyebrow raised, a question in his gaze.
“I mean, did you mean the stuff you wrote on the note? About me being loyal and intelligent and beautiful. How I’m the kindest person you know.’
The blush that exploded across her porcelain cheeks set his heart to racing.
“Of course. Did you mean it?”
“Yeah. I think, maybe that’s why I was so upset. Because, well-this is so stupid-when you give me those presents, they’re so thoughtful and lovely and you never forget. You never forget me. I’m nothing but horrid to you and you never forget me. In those moments I think you’re, honestly, the kindest person I know. I was upset because I thought you ruined it.”
James sneakily pinched his arm, just to make sure.
He didn’t wake up.
“It was Sirius.” He finally managed.
To his surprise as smirk lilted at the corner of her mouth, “Of course.”
He laughed, “I got you a-“
“No,” she held her hand out to stop him, “Don’t tell. I rather like the present I got anyway.”
The smirk grew as she took in the tomato red quality of his skin and she winked saucily at him as she walked away.
James pinched himself again.
He didn’t wake up.
Seventh Year, The First Kiss
A howling wind beat down upon the flanks of Hogwarts Castle. The twisted trees at its outskirts were dancing erratically, bowing and cresting in the misty moonlight. He watched the strange ceremonial movements from the safety of Gryffindor tower, a quill clasped loosely in one hand, parchment and ink discarded negligently by his side. His forehead was pressed tiredly against the panes of the window and he could feel the vibration of it as the storm unmercifully scaled the castle walls. Rain, no matter how violently brought about, always seemed to encase him in a soporific trance. His potions essay would have to wait until the morning.
As the midnight hour drew closer to dawning James managed to train his gaze away from the feathery darkness of the Forbidden Forest and gaze around his surrounding areas. Silence pervaded the room, the colours mirroring the warmth that seeped into his body. Vibrant reds and golds were lit only by the few candles that remained still lit and the fire that was eternally crackling away in its hearth. Creeping shadows curled themselves into corners and made the room seem smaller, cosier. He drew his worn hoodie closer to his body in an effort to capture the feeling of the room in his own clothes.
His eyes, though they strayed, for a few moments along the various objects littering the untidy common room, were drawn to the centre of the room. To the only remaining person. She sat, curled into a too-big sweater, her knees drawn up so she could rest her chin on it and her arms wrapped around her body. Her red hair sat in disarray, a wild, fiery halo atop her head and her green eyes peered resolutely into the fire. She too had been in the midst of a highly important essay but as the early hours slipped past her in all too quick succession she had found herself feeling less obliged to continue working. Instead she languished in the late night hours and the ensuing silence that followed surely with them.
He wasn’t entirely sure if she was aware of his presence.
They had become so comfortable with each other of late that they could often sit in complete silence. It was comforting but upsetting at the time knowing he had been thoroughly friend-zoned. Of course he had never even anticipated a friendship with Lily Evans let alone anything else. Just knowing that he could make her laugh or smile the way she did was enough for him. There had been signs all through the previous year of their love-hate relationship blossoming into a friendship but their being made Head Boy and Girl had somewhat forced them into working out their differences. They were a fantastic team and although Lily sometimes had to do this thing where she’d close her eyes and count backwards from ten whenever he did something particularly stupid they had definitely become a lot closer.
The whole school, appearing to have no lives of their own, had noticed too. For months it was the juiciest gossip and he couldn’t walk past a group of girls without an eruption of tittering and giggles greeting him. Lily mentioned that she was receiving much the same treatment but it soon died down.
James shifted in his seat, beginning to feel the aches and pains that were wont to occur when one has been seated in the same position for far too long. He glanced towards the staircase and further into the darkness that followed, wondering if he could make his way up to his dorm without disturbing her peace. However, it was all in vain, his mere movement called her attention to him.
“Are you ok?” she asked, her clear voice ringing around the cavernous silence of the common room.
She cringed at the sound in the quiet and sunk further into her jumper as if the action would make her words softer. He smiled lightly.
“Yeah, was just about to head up. You should probably think about getting some rest soon too.”
She nodded in silent agreement before turning back to the fire and gazing once more into its depths. It did not appear she would be leaving that location for quite some time yet. He decided, he too, could remain, just a bit longer. He sidled up to her and plonked himself down on the ground, jean-clad legs splayed out in front of him. She glanced over at him through her lashes, subconsciously leaning into his side for warmth. He didn’t mention it. The fire soon had his gaze transfixed as well and they sat for long moments in silence.
Sparks of vibrant orange and red danced in the hearth, burning lower as the nights wore on. He had never understood what made the flames so mesmerising but maybe that was part of the reason. Lily unintentionally hummed in contentment and he could not help the grin that slid upon his face.
“This is nice.” She finally said voice thick with fatigue.
“Yeah,” he agreed, “Yeah, it is.”
Her head was resting on his shoulder now and he could see her eyes beginning to flutter closed. He nudged her knee with his own and she opened her eyes once more, staring at her leg for a while. When she turned to look at him once more he wasn’t sure if it was a trick of the light that made her cheeks look so flushed. She smiled softly up at him, melting his heart just a tad.
Rubbing her eyes, she began to speak again, her voice an almost inaudible mumble, “It’s my birthday tomorrow.”
“I know.” He smiled.
The blush, for it was now unmistakably a blush grew darker, “Did you get me something? James, I told you not to go to all that trouble this year.”
“Yeah, I know but I wanted to. You’re not angry are you?”
“Yes, very,” a petulant scowl settled on her face as she hit him playfully, “Of course not. Thank you.”
She wrapped her arms around him and leaned her head back against his shoulder.
It took a few hours for him to realise she had fallen asleep.
He spent most of the next day in the library, an unusual occurrence for him on a Saturday morning but he had some prefect timetabling to finish. It had been Lily’s delegated duty that week but he had stolen it from her so she didn’t have to do anything on her birthday. The task was proving more difficult than he had initially thought and he was struggling with two recently estranged couples on an empty stomach when Lily ran in. Her hair was frizzing at the ends and her bag was thrown over her shoulder, left open carelessly. She left a trail of parchment and various other implements behind her. He laughed at her disgruntled expression but it soon trailed to a sickening halt as he noticed the terrifying glare that she was sending his way.
“James, where did you put the prefect time tables?”
“Um…” he glanced down at the ink splotched parchment in his hands, wondering whether to hide it in his bag and play dumb or come clean.
She had noticed him looking though and upon seeing her beloved timetables her face went an unhealthy shade of red. He thought she might be about to explode.
“What the hell are you doing with them? I’ve been looking for them everywhere! Everywhere! Everywhere! Why would you do that? You complete imbecilic prat.”
“Lily, just calm down-“he made some placating gestures.
“Calm down. Calm down!” she screeched, hands curled into tight fists at her sides, “Arrgh… just, you insufferable, arrogant… just gah! No I will not calm down! I have been wondering around like a mad woman all day searching for these bloody things and you had them all along. Why?!”
“I stole them because I thought you shouldn’t have to do any work on your bloody birthday. Sorry, I was just trying to be nice.”
She paused halfway through what was sure to be another unintelligible, long-winded rant, mouth comically agape.
It was her turn to swallow because he was angry. He was really angry.
“I’m sick of you always just assuming the worst of me. You can finish the timetables yourself.”
He kept his tone low and monotonous, rising stiffly from his seat and handing her the parchment he had worked so hard to finish and walked determinedly away from her.
“James,” her voice, an appalled shriek rang, in his ears, “James, wait!”
He could hear her scurrying after him, groaning and mumbling as she retrieved her lost possessions along the way.
“James. Stop being a prat and just wait up!”
He continued walking, gaze resolutely fixed ahead.
He turned a sharp corner attempting to lose her.
“Lily,” he turned to face her and she stumbled back, startled, “I will talk to you when I want to, I just can’t deal with you right now ok?”
She nodded dumbly, eyes wide and he continued walking.
It was very late at night when his usually easy-going temper had settled and he felt he could see her again. She was in the head’s office, studying a piece of parchment with intense focus.
He cleared his throat as he walked in, closing the door shut lightly. One glance in his direction and her emerald eyes were brimming with tears that she quickly tried to hide by glancing back down at her parchment.
“Did you get those timetables done?” he finally managed.
She shook her head still not daring to look up at him.
He chewed on his bottom lip, “Andrews and Walker giving you trouble?”
This elicited a weak giggle from his companion.
“Yeah. Stupid fifth years and their ridiculous romances.”
He sat down quietly beside her, placing, as he did so, a small square box on the desk in front of her. He in turn picked up the parchment and studied it in a vain attempt to solve the timetabling issues. She hesitantly picked it up and he studied her reactions as from the corner of his eye. He noted, somewhat painfully, that she had to wipe tears from her cheeks before she could examine the present properly.
She chuckled wetly.
“How’d you know I lost the other one?”
He shrugged, “You stopped wearing it.”
She fingered the emerald pendant and delicate silver chain.
“it’s a little bit different from last time. Just the back, if you want to change it I don’t mind.”
She swiftly glanced at him before turning the pendant over. He could feel his face heating up as she read the engraving.
“It was just meant to be like, love from James, but it was too long and I couldn’t fit it in. I can take it back get a refund if you want.”
She smiled at him, “No, it’s perfect.”
All of the tension left his shoulders with one giant exhale of breath and he leant back into the chair, not taking his eyes off her, or more importantly the pretty little smile that was forming on her petal lips.
He watched his name on her lips.
“Do you hate me?”
His eyes shot back to her own.
“No. I was just angry today, that’s all.”
“Good. Because I think I love you.”
All the breath left his body as he descended into an unattractive coughing fit.
His voice squeaked. Squeaked.
She shifted uncomfortably. “Erm.. I love you.”
She tucked a stray piece of her behind her ear, averting her gaze.
“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said anything. I um, well just forget about it-“
She was beginning to ramble but he didn’t notice. He wasn’t listening. She was chewing on her lip and all he could think about was how much he wanted to chew on her lip. He leaned forward and silenced her lips with his own.
She sighed into his mouth and he pulled her closer, hands pressing insistently at her waist. She tasted so good, she felt so right. The world around him had gone fuzzy and all around him was just Lily. Lily, Lily, Lily. When they parted he did not let go of her waist and she settled comfortably into his side, wrapping her arms around his middle and pressing a chaste kiss to the corner of his lips.
“I love you too.”
There was very little chance of those fluttery creatures ever leaving his stomach now but he couldn’t seem to bring himself to care.
The green light filled the cramped hallway, it lit the pram pushed against the wall, it made the bannisters glare like lightning rods, and James Potter fell like a marionette whose strings were cut...
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Seventeen, page two hundred and eighty-one
A/N: Hey. So Wow! That was a super long chapter. It was originally going to be a stand alone one shot but I thought it fit in nicelt with R.I.P and I didn't want you guys to have to wait any longer for an update. Speaking of, I am so eternally sorry for the lengthy wait for an update. There is no excuse for it so feel free to hate on me all you want! I deserve it, however I hope the chapter makes up for it and I hope you like it! And for anyone who is actually still reading this story I LOVE YOU.
Thanks so much. Feel free to drop in a review if that little white box down there takes your fancy :P
Also, nothing you recognise belongs to me.