Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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So this is an idea i've had rattling around in my head for years and finally was able to write it out in a way that makes sense (hopefully?). So I hope you like it and I'm a bit nervous about it so feedback would be amazing! Enjoy!
“Lily, you’re staring at James again,” Mary MacDonald giggles, elbowing me lightly in the side. I straighten up abruptly, tearing my eyes away from the dark-haired boy sitting across the room.
“No, I wasn’t,” I mutter, quickly copying down whatever Slughorn has just written on the board.
Mary laughs quietly, propping her elbow up on the desk and resting her chin in it. She sends me a sly smile, her piercing blue eyes flash with intuition.
“It’s ok, you know,” she says quietly, as I continue to try and figure out what the hell Slughorn has been saying for the entire lesson.
“What’s ok?” I ask absently, hurriedly copying a list of ingredients from the board.
“To stare at James… he’s quite fit,” Mary smiles, and I scoff.
“I wasn’t staring at James Potter,” I repeat, trying very hard not to let the color rise in my cheeks.
“I’m just saying it would be ok, you know, if you were,” Mary says, tucking a lock of her golden blond hair behind her ear.
“Mary, for the last time, I wasn’t staring,” I grumble irritably, but Mary’s smile only widens before she turns her attention back to Slughorn.
When I am sure that Mary is busy copying down notes, I lift my eyes slightly, resuming my study of James Potter.
He is a couple tables away bent over his notes, concentrating very hard on whatever he is writing. His glasses occasionally slide down his straight nose before he pushes them back up and scratches his chin with his quill. He reaches a hand up and runs it through his dark hair leaving it looking even messier than before.
That simple action used to make me cringe, make my insides constrict in dislike, make my temper flare. But lately… well, lately I hadn’t found it quite so infuriating.
To tell you the truth, I’ve actually grown quite fond of James in the past year. Fond in terms of friends. Just friends…Don’t get the wrong idea. But since he’s stopped hexing people for fun and started using his brains in classes instead of for pranks, he’s managed to impress me quite a bit. And, you know, being Head Boy had to count for something.
Of course, he still asks me out every chance he gets, but I no longer find this behavior particularly annoying either. At the beginning of sixth year, he began channeling his prankster tendencies into finding new and creative ways to win my affections. And I have to admit, after a year of flowers, singing pixies, and my name spelled out in the enchanted stars of the Great Hall, it’s getting a bit hard to resist him.
But I just can’t get that nagging voice out of my head that tells me he still isn’t ready for any of it. He is only seventeen after all… and so am I for that matter. Seventeen, and not quite ready to have my heart broken by him yet. Because James Potter is definitely the kind of guy who can break a girl’s heart.
I tear my eyes away from James and try to concentrate back on my notes and I barely finish one sentence when a crumpled piece of paper hits me square in the face.
I look up preparing to death-glare whoever just threw it at me, but my scowl fades immediately when I see James smiling crookedly at me from across the room.
I roll my eyes at him, fighting the smile tugs at my mouth and ignoring the fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach, and turn my attention back to Slughorn.
It isn’t long before another piece of paper lodges itself in my hair and I shoot an annoyed look at the dark-haired boy smiling at me from the other side of the classroom.
Before I can turn away this time, James gestures towards the first piece of paper. His lopsided smile grows wider as I sigh and unfold the parchment.
I look down and choke back a laugh at the illustration James has drawn on the parchment. So that’s what he’s been concentrating so hard on. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
A rather large walrus sits perched on a rock, sporting a waistcoat identical to the one Slughorn is wearing today. The walrus’s mouth is turned up in a goofy grin, its enormous moustache drooping to the ground and an up-turned cauldron resting on it’s head, serving as a hat.
I lift my eyes from the parchment to glance up at James. A satisfied smile is plastered on his face at my reaction to his picture and I roll my eyes at him again, this time not able to hold back the smile.
I re-fold the parchment quickly and slip it in my bag, turning my attention back to the non-walrus version of Slughorn.
“Not staring at him, eh?” Mary says quietly, her eyes trained on the front of the room, but her mouth turns up in a smile at the corners.
“Oh, shut it,” I laugh softly and Mary giggles.
“Now, I know that all of you have brewed the Draught of Living Death before,” Slughorn is saying, his straw-colored moustache quivering as he speaks. “This year will begin along the same lines, although there will be a bit of a twist.”
Slughorn flicks his wand towards the store cupboards where our ingredients are kept and the doors swing open, revealing dusty, empty shelves.
“Er… Professor?” A Ravenclaw girl raises her hand, staring incredulously at the barren shelves. “Why are the store cupboards empty?”
“Ah, but that’s the twist,” Slughorn’s beady eyes twinkle excitedly. “For your first assignment you’ll all need to gather the ingredients yourselves.”
A collective groan sounds from the students, but Slughorn remains unphased. He waves his wand at the chalkboard and detailed descriptions of each ingredient appear.
“Now, you’ll be able to find all of these within the Hogwarts grounds,” Slughorn booms on happily. “You’ll need them by next class, so don’t wait too long to get started.”
Slughorn starts going through each of the ingredients, explaining the slight differences in each and I abruptly tune out; I’ve already read the section of the Draught of Living Death and am familiar with the ingredients.
Instead my eyes wander back across the room towards James, who glances up at me and smiles that breath-taking smile of his.
Needless to say, Mary is absolutely beside herself when she looks over and notices the deep crimson blush that has settled itself in my cheeks as I determinately copy down the ingredients.
* * * *
The sun is still visible over the mountains as I make my way down to the lake’s edge where I’ll start my search for our Potions ingredients.
Mary, unfortunately, is unable to join me. She’s gone and gotten herself caught snogging Silas Alcott in an empty classroom and is currently serving detention with McGonagall. Sigh.
“Oy! Evans!” Someone calls behind me and I turn to see James traipsing across the grounds towards me, the other Marauders following closely behind.
I wait for them to catch up to me and try very hard to ignore the butterflies that erupt in my stomach when James flashes his characteristic lopsided smile at me.
“You lot doing the potions assignment?” I ask them as they stop in front of me.
“Yeah,” Sirius Black answers, pushing his mane of dark hair away from his face. “We were going to start with valerian roots. I saw some down by the boathouse about a week ago. Want to come with?”
“Yeah, alright,” I say, pleased that I’ll have some company after all. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to find some asphodel around that area too.”
We follow the worn dirt path down to the boathouse by the lake and quickly begin the hunt for our ingredients.
I wander towards the edge of the forbidden forest, aware that asphodel is usually found in shaded areas, while Sirius, Remus, and Peter scour the water’s edge for valerian.
“So you liked my drawing?” I hear James say from behind me and I turn around to see him leaning against a large tree staring at me.
“I think… I think it’s inappropriate to make fun of a professor,” I scold him playfully, a smile fighting against my lips.
“You liked it though, didn’t you?” James asks me, raising one sly eyebrow.
“Whether I liked it or not is irrelevant,” I roll my eyes at him, but he just chuckles lightly. “Because if Slughorn had found that lovely drawing of him, you’d be in detention right now. In my opinion, a silly drawing of a walrus wouldn’t be worth it.”
“That’s not true,” James insists, shoving himself away from the tree. “Because if it made you smile, then it definitely would be worth it.”
I pause, glancing up at him. He responds with a cheeky grin and I swear my heart skips a beat. Damn hormones.
“You would risk detention just to see me smile?” I ask, raising a skeptical eyebrow at him and try to ignore the butterflies erupting in my stomach.
“I’d do anything to see you smile,” James shrugs it off casually as if that isn’t the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. “But you already knew that.”
Merlin, that boy really does like me…
“Potter, are you just going to stand there, spouting nonsense, or are you going to help me find some asphodel?” I stutter, turning away so he doesn’t see the furious blush spreading through my cheeks.
“Come on, Lily,” James drawls, crouching down next to me as I scour the ground for asphodel. “How many times have I asked you to call me James?”
I sigh and straighten up; he follows suit keeping his eyes trained on me.
“A lot,” I shrug, looking up at him. “But old habits die hard.”
“But you don’t hate me anymore, do you?” James narrows his hazel eyes at me as we walk further into the forest in search of the elusive asphodel.
“No, I don’t” I assure him and I see a small smile creep onto his face at that.
“Well, then I give up,” James sighs dramatically, leaning against another tree.
“What on earth do you mean?” I laugh, looking back at him.
“Well, there’s only so many times I can convince the house elves to make all your favorite foods for dinner or fill your bedroom with white lilies,” James glares playfully at me. “I’m running out of ideas. And if after all that I still can’t even get you to call me by my first name then maybe I should just throw in the towel.”
“James,” I sigh and he looks up at me expectantly, a hint of a smile playing at his lips as I say his name. “I don’t want you to give up… “
“You… don’t?” James repeats, surprised. “Then why haven’t you said yes?”
I groan and wrinkle my nose, not at all feeling like explaining my admittedly flawed reasoning to him.
“Because despite what everyone thinks, lilies aren’t my favorite flower,” I say lightly instead, trying to ease some of the tension. “Get it right next time and maybe I’ll consider saying yes.”
I know I am being selfish, stringing him along like this. But it isn’t like I’m never going to say yes… I just… I need more time.
“Well, then what flowers should I use next time?” James chuckles, following me quickly.
I don’t answer right away, glancing around me at the wildlife sprouting in the dim sunlight. Spotting what I am looking for, I bend down and pluck the tiny blue flower, holding it out to James.
“Forget-me-nots,” I say, dropping the small blue flower in his hand.
James stares at the plant resting in his palm for a moment before lifting his eyes to look at me.
“Alright,” he nods, closing his fingers over the flower and slipping it into the pocket of his robes. “I’ll forget-them-not next time I fill your room.”
“And here’s the asphodel,” I say quietly, looking next to the spot where I’d picked the Forget-Me-Nots. The tall yellow-flowered plant glows slightly in the dim forest light. “I suppose we should get some for the others?”
James agrees and bends down to help me gather as many of the flowers as we need. As my fingers close around one of the stems, something prickly brushes against the back of my hand, startling me. I jerk my hand back quickly.
“Something wrong?” James asks, noticing my startled expression.
“Nothing, I just thought I felt something…” I mutter, reaching my hand out again. The same prickling scrapes against my hand but I ignore it and pluck the flower.
“Oh!” I draw in a startled breath as I pick the plant and see what is hiding behind it.
“What’s wrong?” James hurries to my side, gazing down at the spot where I’ve picked the plant.
“Look,” I point towards the spot where a dark shape huddles under the cover of dark green leaves. I light my wand, illuminating the dark shape and James and I both move back instinctively when we realize what it is.
Five…six…seven… eight. Eight legs. Oh my god, it has eight legs. And all of them are curled in towards is massive, hairy body. It’s about the size of a large cat, it’s many eyes closed and unseeing.
“Oh sweet Merlin, it’s an acromantula,” I breathe, moving closer. The large spider shows all the signs of the magical beast: the long poisonous fangs, the five eyes, the fact that it is ridiculously large for a spider…
“Lily, don’t touch it,” James grabs my arm, pulling me back.
“I think it’s dead, James,” I shake his hand of me and move closer still, inspecting the poor beast.
“Lily, don’t…” James starts from behind me but I wave him off impatiently.
“Professor Slughorn told me that acromantula venom is really valuable and hard to come across. He said you can only get it right after one’s died,” I tell him and I hear James sigh exasperatedly behind me.
“So we’ll tell him when we get back to the castle,” James says, tugging on my arm. “Can we go now? There might be more live ones around here….”
“Are you scared?” I laugh, turning towards him and he rolls his eyes.
“No,” He says flatly, still pulling me away from the spider. “I just don’t want to get eaten by a herd of great, hairy spiders today, that’s all.”
“Here, hold these,” I thrust the asphodels I’d picked into James’s hand and bend down, gently lifting the spider into my arms.
“Lily, stop joking around,” James says, real panic edging its way into his voice. “Put the giant spider down… Merlin, I never thought I’d have to say that to you.”
“James, it’s alright. It’s dead, it can’t hurt me,” I giggle, cradling the dead beast in my arms. James cringes at the sight.
“Just keep your hands away from the fangs. That venom’s deadly, you know,” James mutters, eying the spider warily as we head back towards the boathouse.
“It’s only deadly if it bites me,” I roll my eyes at him, but he scowls in response.
“Ugh, fine if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll levitate it back to the castle,” I sigh, setting the spider on the ground while I retrieve my wand from my pocket.
The spider floats idly in the air behind us as we meet up with Sirius, Remus, and Peter at the boathouse. Thankfully, they have managed to find enough valerian roots for all of us.
“Er, Lily…” Sirius narrows his eyes at the giant spider floating behind James and I. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but…er… there’s a giant dead spider floating behind you.”
“I know that,” I chuckle at their incredulous expressions. “We found it in the forest. I’m going to take it to Professor Slughorn. The venom’s supposed to be really hard to come by.”
“It is dead, right?” Peter asks, peering out from behind Remus.
“Of course it’s dead,” I shrug. “Why else would it be all curled up like that and not moving?”
“Er… because it was only sleeping?” Remus says, pointing behind me at the spider. I whirl around in time to see all five of its eyes opening slowly, its many legs stretching and curling.
“Oh, shit!” Sirius yelps, as he, Remus, and Peter scramble backwards away from it.
I let out a surprised shriek at the sight and my wand slips from my fingers, the levitation charm abruptly cuts off. The spider, no longer rendered immobile by my spell, crashes to the ground, its hairy legs scrambling to right itself. Its mad red eyes wheel towards me as it crouches low to the ground in a defensive stance.
I see the spider lunge towards me, poisonous fangs bared, but before it collides with me, something moves swiftly in front of me. James crashes into me, throwing his arms out protectively in front of me. The spider collides with him instead, sinking its fangs in deep and sending us both sprawling backwards. Something sharp pinches at my right shoulder, sending a stinging jolt through me.
James and I hit the ground hard and I see Remus and Sirius firing spells at the acromantula, blasting it off of us. The spider tumbles down the hill slightly before coming to a stop, it’s legs curled once more over itself. It is dead.
I pull myself out from under James, gently touching the spot where the spider’s fang had torn my robes. A small cut is visible on my skin, but the stinging is gone. In fact, I can’t feel the cut on my shoulder at all. How strange…
“Well, so much for acromantula venom being fatally poisonous,” I scoff, brushing myself off as I get to my feet. “See, James? You were worried about nothing. It probably wasn’t even a acromantula…just a spider that got in a fight with an engorging charm. ”
I look down to where James is still lying on the ground and freeze when I see him. One long, bone white fang is imbedded in James’s shoulder in exactly the same place where it scratched me.
I can see the jagged point of the fang peeking out the other side of him and suddenly everything stands still. I hear the blood pounding in my ears, my heart feels like it is about to beat right out of my chest.
“James?” I ask, panic lacing my voice, causing it to break as I drop to the ground next to him.
He doesn’t respond and I hurriedly roll him over towards me. Tears burn behind my eyes as I take in the sight of him. His eyes are closed, his face relaxed. He could be sleeping… only he isn’t breathing.
“James,” I say more urgently, shaking him slightly as if perhaps he’s only pretending. I’m not even aware that Sirius, Remus, and Peter have crowded around us, trying to figure out what is wrong…
All I hear is my heart beating furiously in my chest as James continues not to wake up.
“James, please,” I cry, tears spilling over my cheeks as my hands flutter over his face, his neck, his chest, that fang. Oh god, that fang… “Please, James… you have to wake up.”
“Lily,” I hear a distant voice say. Is that Remus? Everything seems to be going dark… What’s wrong with my eyes? His voice echoes around in my head as I lose my vision completely, blood pounding in my ears.
"I don’t think he’s sleeping…”
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