Chapter 14 : Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours
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“Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.” – Stevie Wonder, 1970
James Potter nervously picked at his nails and then subsequently forced them into his mouth. His teeth chattered as he began to chew on his cuticles.
Where the hell was Lily?
The rest of the Prefects in the room impatiently bided their time as they waited for the Head Girl to show her face; a couple of Slytherins guffawed as Rabastan Lestrange told an extremely racy joke about Russian Muggles and a light bulb and in response, Thomas Weir scoffed loudly. His Sixth Year Ravenclaw counterpart, Hildie Waltz, rolled her eyes. Rabastan slyly pulled out his wand to retaliate when he caught Marianne’s wandering, dazed gaze. He grinned at her and quickly put his wand into his pocket. She closed her tired eyes and rubbed her temples, not acknowledging his presence any further.
Suddenly, the door flew open and Lily burst into the room, looking like an absolute mess. James’ anxiety immediately disappeared and he took a deep breath.
However, he noted that the Head Girl’s school uniform was wrinkled and askew. Her thick wool socks didn’t match and she had thrown all of her tangled red hair under a large black knitted cap. Lily’s hand flew to her chest; she pounded it noisily and a hacking cough rattled her petite frame. She took a second to catch her breath and then sniffled loudly. Spontaneous discussions erupted amongst the other students as she shuffled towards the front of the room to take her seat.
“Alright, alright,” James exclaimed after thumping the table to get everyone’s attention. “Time to settle down and get this meeting started. We don’t want to be here all night.”
The boisterous side conversations slowly calmed down to quiet murmurs and the students in the room directed their eyes towards the Head Boy and Girl. James cleared his throat and apprehensively shuffled a couple of papers back and forth across his desk. He snuck a glance at Lily as she sneezed loudly into the crook of her arm, paused before pulling out a tissue, and groaned miserably.
His heart immediately swelled with concern. James knew something was wrong the moment she failed to show up half an hour early, but he never would have guessed that she was late due to an illness. Since he had basically stalked her for the past 7 years, he knew that Lily never got sick. Ever. She vigilantly tried to avoid the Hospital Wing at all costs and her stubbornness resulted in an extremely healthy lifestyle … but now, she was in no condition to be out of bed, let alone running a Prefects’ meeting. She looked extremely flustered as she pulled her school bag onto the table and sighed.
“Let’s review the calendar,” the lioness finally croaked. She wrapped her Gryffindor scarf tighter around her neck and then sniffled.
James finally locked eyes with her and caught her fleeting, painful expression. She looked absolutely abysmal. Slowly, the boy felt the familiar magnetic pull he always encountered when he was around his first and only crush. Even though she currently resembled a lowly mountain troll, James still found Lily to be the most gorgeous female in the world. However, her demeanor quickly changed and she threw him look that said “If you don’t start this meeting, I will keel over and die and then likely figure out a way to kill you from the afterlife”.
James had to stop himself from laughing. Now there was the Lily he knew and loved.
“Are you really fit to be here, Evans?” Zidane Zito, the Sixth Year Gryffindor Prefect, asked. “You look rather terrible.” The rest of the room tittered in response; clearly the other students shared Zito’s sentiment.
“I’m fine,” Lily answered after wiping her nose with another tissue. “Really.”
The Prefects sniggered once again and James bit his lip as Lily attempted to control them with her hoarse voice. He finally put two and two together and realized that she was falling into a downward spiral; her illness only confirmed his suspicions that she was in the middle of an emotional crisis. She'd been acting weird for weeks now. He didn’t know what was triggering her erratic behavior, but he longed to wrap his arms around her and tell her that everything was going to be all right - that she had someone to lean on to help shoulder whatever burden she was carrying.
He gulped, remembering his promise to her at the beginning of the term. So far, he’d kept his word and left her alone, even though he had desperately wanted to punch Walter Davies several times in the face for taking her to Hogsmeade. But as she sniffled again, James decided that enough was enough. He was tired of watching from the sidelines. Besides, it was absurd for her to be out in the cold December air when she was already coming down with the flu.
“Let me take over so you can go back to your bed,” he murmured softly as the rest of the Prefects continued their own personal conversations.
“No!” she hissed sharply. “I’m not going anywhere. I am Head Girl and I should be here!”
“Merlin,” James muttered to himself. He was trying to offer her an olive branch and she was refusing to budge. She was not making this easy for him, was she? “Fine. You can stay here but please let me do all the talking. You’re starting to sound like a frog.”
Lily’s face froze in shock. She took his joke to be an insult and in a panic, James started to backpedal clumsily.
“Well not one of those gross frogs you find by the Black Lake. You’re … a very beautiful frog! With a sexy, raspy voice …”
Her jaw dropped sharply and James couldn’t believe he’d just blurted out his inner, erotic train of thought. His eyes widened significantly and in an attempt to divert the conversation away from his large moment of weakness, he thumped his fist against the table to silence the room.
“Ok, settle down now,” he began as he tried not to look at Lily’s stunned expression. “The next big event is the Hufflepuff Slytherin Quidditch match on Thursday afternoon. It starts at 4 pm, but I’d like all the Seventh Years to be there an hour beforehand to inspect the pitch. Your teachers will excuse you from your classes.”
Although James hated the new regulations, he had to order a full inspection of the school Quidditch stadium before each match to look for any signs of cheating, because after Gryffindor trounced Ravenclaw two weeks ago, Walter had raised enough support to demand a full examination prior to each match. He was convinced that the Gryffindor captain was still somehow cheating, because it was the only explanation for his team’s massive success. James had nothing to hide and therefore granted his wish. He hated the bloke, but did not want to seem guilty.
“Ahem,” Donna Jordan, a Sixth Year Hufflepuff, interrupted as she held up a bright yellow button in the air. “I’d like the bring up the issue of these pins? Someone is making these to bully one of our players.”
She quickly threw it towards the front of the room and James caught it with ease. He took a few seconds to examine the small plastic button, which had a nasty pun using the words “Puff” and “Poof” written on the front. Meanwhile, Lily covered her mouth and burst into a fit of coughs as the rest of the room fell silent and listened to her exercise her lungs.
“You can’t prove that they were made by us,” Reginald Parkinson, a Sixth Year Slytherin, finally retorted when all eyes landed on his housemates.
“I’ll alert the Headmaster, Donna,” James cut in before the spat could continue. “We’re going to take these pins very seriously, but we can’t do anything until we launch a formal investigation to figure out who the culprit is. But I promise you it will be taken care of. Now, the next event after that is our second Hogsmeade weekend of the term. It’s supposed to snow pretty heavily tomorrow night so the Sixth Years need to help clear the paths to the village.”
The students groaned and Lily sneezed just as noisily.
“Awww, come on!”
“Do we have to?”
“It will take you two seconds to do,” James countered. “One swish and flick.”
“It takes you two seconds,” Reginald moaned. “We haven’t learned enough advanced magic to move entire snow drifts.”
“Speak for yourself,” Thomas sneered and before the two could start tearing each other apart, James thumped his fist against the table once more.
“Ok, settle down you two, let’s get back on track here. Only a couple more things to talk about before we can all leave. Once the Sixth Years clear the way, the rest of us will head to Hogsmeade with Professors Artro and Stotch the day before to inspect for anything suspicious. There has been a sharp rise in Muggle attacks and I would hate for that to spread to our students. So we have to remain vigilant and prepare for the unexpected. All hands on deck.”
“What could possibly go wrong?” asked one of the male students. “Everyone knows that the second Hogsmeade weekend is a chance for the girls to purchase their Winter Ball gowns and the blokes to stock up on sweets and Zonkos products.”
“It is not!” Hildie exclaimed. “We single girls always order our dresses afterwards! The school has never announced the Winter Ball date before the second Hogsmeade weekend so we never know whom we have to match with ... only girls with boyfriends can buy dresses at Hogsmeade because they already know whom they are going with. It’s bloody unfair, if you ask me! We never get to try our outfits on, we just have to hope they fit!”
“Tell ‘em Hildie!”
“I have no idea what you just said,” Zidane whispered incredulously.
“That’s because you don’t speak teenage girl,” Rabastan mocked from the other side of the room.
“Well, why don’t we just announce the Ball next Monday?” James responded, clearly confused why the problem hadn’t been solved before. “That way there will be enough time for people to ask each other so that all the girls can shop for their dresses at Hogsmeade. Does that make everyone happy?”
“No!” Thomas spouted before glaring at James. “If you announce the Ball before the second Hogsmeade weekend, you will be breaking with tradition.”
“And that’s a problem?” James questioned as he raised one of his brows. The students immediately broke out into side conversations; the girls praised James for his liberal interpretation of the scheduling rituals and the boys grumbled about having to finds dates earlier than they expected. Next to him, Lily sniffled loudly and wiped her nose on the back of her sleeve.
“I think we should put it to a vote,” Thomas growled.
“You’re not going to win,” Hildie spat.
James immediately quieted everyone down and called for a vote. Each of the students tucked their head between their arms on the tops of their desks and raised their hand when James called “Yes” and “No”; all of the girls voted for the schedule change and a handful of males – himself included - joined their cause, which left Thomas, some younger students, and the Slytherins in the minority.
“The motion passes,” James exclaimed. “We will announce the Winter Ball details next Monday!”
“Yes!” Hildie whooped and then high fived her best friend, Lavinia Cartwright. The other girls in the room rejoiced similarly and Thomas huffed and rolled his eyes. James knew the boy hated to be told what to do and he couldn’t help but be a little joyous that the Ravenclaw wasn’t getting his wish. His pretentious nature was starting to rub James the wrong way.
“Well, you’ve certainly set a precedent for yourself, haven’t you Potter?” Rabastan drawled from the back of the classroom. “Your whole reign as Head Boy has been one change after another. Tell me, what do you have planned for the Winter Ball? I’ve never actually been to one your Marauder parties before but I hear you always have a surprise planned.”
“What are you going to do James?”
“Are you going to enchant the portraits to serenade us, like that one time last year?”
“Is Professor Slughorn going to do his drunken jig in front of everyone again?”
The rest of the Prefects buzzed with excitement as they recounted the Marauders’ past party tricks, even though they had never witnessed them personally. Soon, all of their eyes landed on him and James tried to think on his feet to brilliantly answer Rabastan’s taunt.
The statues could ask any unaccompanied student to dance. No, he thought, that wasn’t risky enough. He had to do something that required meticulous planning and demanded respect. He had to do something like smuggling in booze from Hogsmeade in order to spike the punch – a feat the Marauders had pulled off during their Fourth Year.
Suddenly, James realized what Rabastan was trying to do. All of his past surprises had managed to break the rules; the Slytherin’s challenge forced him to go out of his way to make the Ball a great success in order to keep his Marauder reputation but laid down extreme parameters. The Head Boy could not be seen breaking the rules, but he still had to dazzle the rest of the Castle with his brilliant idea.
“Ahem,” Lily finally piped up as she cleared her throat. She sniffled loudly and then continued. “James and I have already discussed this. We’re going to have a live performance.”
James’ eyes popped out of his sockets in shock. They had barely spoken to each other since their spat at the beginning of the term after she caught him throwing an illegal party … so why was Lily trying to help him by claiming they had already solved Rabastan’s issue?
“Well that’s not very original,” Rabastan scoffed and the other Slytherins around him laughed quietly. “The Hogwarts Orchestra always plays each Winter Ball. I expected something more thrilling than that.”
The Head Boy tugged on his collar nervously. He didn’t understand Lily’s attempt to save him, but her lie seemed to have some traction with their audience. Yet, he suddenly wished she hadn’t said anything at all. Her suggestion was rather tame and he could hear some of the students muttering that he had gone soft. He internally groaned as his hard earned reputation began to wither away.
“No,” Lily began but then fell into a string of deep, hacking coughs. When she finally stopped, she took a deep breath and then finished her sentence. “We’re going to have a rock concert. Here in the Great Hall. On December 19th.”
The room burst into a frenzy; even Rabastan’s eyebrows popped up in surprise. It was true that Professor Flitwick and his extra curricular Orchestra Club played every year, but they always put the students to sleep with their monotone musical selections. The prospect of a modern rock band thrilled the other Prefects beyond belief. It was the perfect solution to Rabastan’s challenge; it broke with tradition, but still adhered to the school’s ironclad rules. James felt so elated that he had to physically stop himself from kissing Lily fully on the mouth.
“Who’s going to play?” Zidane asked.
“Tarantellegra. They are a group of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. They’ve played around the Castle before, if I’m not mistaken.”
She expertly avoided James’ shocked reaction next to her by strategically blowing her nose to the side. He couldn’t believe his ears. Lily was suggesting that a student rock band should play at the traditional Winter Ball and moreover, she was giving him all the credit for the idea. In truth, he knew she was drawing on his antics from the first party of the year when she mentioned Tarantellegra by name, but he never expected her to actually suggest that they headline the Ball. He remained silent, still stunned at her tenacity.
It seemed that she had finally removed the stick from her arse and loosened up.
“I would die if I could be in the front row, just below Giovanni Costa and his tight pants,” Donna pleaded, her eyes turning misty with desire.
“Well I’m calling for another vote,” Thomas declared. “This is just too much change.”
“Double or nothing,” Hildie challenged again. “James Potter has great ideas and we support him.”
The students bowed their heads and twitched eagerly as they waited for James to call out “Yes” and “No” again, but the Head Boy couldn’t keep his eyes off of the sick girl next to him. She tilted her head to the side in order to blow her nose again and froze when she caught his smoldering gaze. He tried his hardest to silently display his unending gratitude and Lily inhaled sharply a few seconds later. Her scrunched brow softened and her lips spread into a warm smile moments before she ungracefully sneezed into her hand.
“It looks like we’re going to rock the Castle this year,” James grinned seconds later after counting up all the votes. “Tarantellegra will officially be performing live at the Great Hall on December 19th.”
Several students whooped with joy and Hildie stretched out to high five Donna triumphantly; the losers grumbled and muttered insults under their breaths, but James chose to block them out. He bobbed excitedly in his chair and longed to tell his friends about the good news.
Suddenly, Lily fell into another coughing fit and he remembered that his companion was still suffering next to him. It was time to cut this meeting short so that he could force her to go to the Hospital Wing. It was the least he could do after she secretly saved his arse.
“Well, I don’t think there’s anything else that we need to go over right now,” he proclaimed as he shuffled the papers in front of him. “I think we can all head back to our common rooms. Good night everyone! Oh … actually Evans, could you stay back for a moment? I need to talk to you. About official Heads business.”
The rest of the students slowly trickled out of the classroom and Lily leaned back in her chair, finally relaxing for the first time that night. Several of her bright red hairs escaped from beneath her black cap as she tilted her head backwards and closed her eyes. When the last student finally left the room, she moaned appreciatively.
“Silence,” she muttered as she opened her arms wide. “Beautiful silence.”
“We have to get you to the Hospital Wing,” James said in a concerned tone. “You’re acting really weird. First you’re late, then you save my skin in front of everybody, and now you’re acting like a loony old nutter. You haven’t been yourself lately. You have to get some help.”
“How would you know that I haven’t been myself lately?”
“Because I’m around you quite a bit, Lily,” James answered with a shrug of his shoulders, choosing to be honest rather than cocky, “and I can pick up on things. I know we aren’t supposed to talk to each other - or even be friends - but I know something is wrong with you and I can’t stand here anymore and pretend that I don’t see it. I won’t bother you but I still care about you, Lily. I always will.”
He gave her a soft smile and then placed a hand on her shoulder to show that he wasn’t lying to her. Their tender moment lasted for only a couple seconds and he slowly let his hand fall back to his side. He immediately grinned, letting his humorous side take over.
“Although I suppose I shouldn’t be saying anything. You may be acting crazy – I mean, did you really just take a page out of the Marauder book and suggest that a rock band should play the Winter Ball? - but you’re uncharacteristically helping me out and making me look better. And I can’t say no to that.”
Suddenly, Lily launched herself at him and forcefully pressed her lips against his. He faltered backwards in extreme surprise, but once he regained his balance, he reached out and tightly wrapped his arms around her shoulders. She continued to kiss him as if her life depended on it and snaked her arms around his torso and James shuttered with delight as her fingers roamed through his messy hair.
They continued to kiss for several minutes. James eventually pushed off her black cap and let his fingers tenderly run over her tresses down towards her shoulder blades. She softly and lovingly caressed the sides of his face and the Marauder started to see stars on the back of his closed eyelids.
He couldn’t believe that he was finally kissing the Lily Evans. The girl he had been chasing for 7 years. The girl who insulted him at every turn and rejected all of his advances ... but now she was kissing him with great heat and James concluded that she tasted like absolute heaven.
Lily finally pulled away and rested her forehead against his as she breathed deeply. James locked eyes with her and couldn’t help but have a goofy grin plastered across his face; this was hands down the happiest moment of his life. Lily laughed softly and then suddenly scrunched up her face. She immediately turned her head to her side and sneeze into her elbow.
“I am totally going to get you sick!” she gasped after she regained her composure.
“I don’t care,” James replied dreamily. “I’d fight the Giant Squid if it meant I could kiss you again.”
“God, you’re such a horrible romantic sometimes,” she chuckled, rolling her eyes with amusement. “I can’t believe you called me a frog! Although, to your credit, it worked.”
“Yes. It was the worst pick up line you’ve ever used on me, but I could tell for the first time that you actually meant it. You really think my raspy sick voice is sexy, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, everything about you is sexy! I’ve been telling you that for years!”
“But you always used recycled lines and horrible pranks to get my attention. It was forced and cocky. You sounded like an absolute douche every time you talked to me,” Lily responded before sniffling deeply.
She wiped under her eyes as they began to turn slightly red.
“But the moment you called me a beautiful frog with a sexy voice, I knew you’d really changed. You left me alone for months, did everything I asked you to do, and when you finally cracked, you voiced your real thoughts and not some cheap imitation.”
She reached out and placed a hand on his chest.
“I thought you were an overgrown child for the longest time but you’ve finally proved me wrong. You’re a good man, James Potter, and I want to be your partner, not your enemy. I’m going absolutely crazy without you in my life. I need you.”
James immediately captured her lips once more kissed her with as much passion as he could muster. She responded just as eagerly and they continued to snog for several more minutes in the middle of the empty classroom; thankfully no one walked in on them because they both wanted to avoid a public explanation for their sudden union.
“So, Lily,” James finally asked as he pulled away for air, “what color will your Winter Ball gown be?”
“Oh do shut up,” Lily growled as she pushed herself against him once more and playfully smacked him in the chest. “The last thing I want to do is talk about dress colors. Now kiss me, you toerag, or I will hex you into next Tuesday!”
She didn't have to ask twice.
Author’s Note: I’M BAAAAAAACK!
Omg, omg, omg. LILY AND JAMES ARE TOGETHERRRRRR :D Weeee, this chapter was so fun to write. I made it a bit longer because I haven’t updated in a while, so I hope you like it.
I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to update when I finally get a job, but in the meantime, I should be back to my normal schedule.
The next chapter will be in Remus’ POV. And then everyone will be together for the ball!
:D :D :D
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