Chapter 2 : Revelations and Arrangements
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‘I can’t believe you’ve done this to me, Luce,’ Lily complained as they headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast the following morning.
Lily had pretended to be fast asleep when the others had returned to the dormitory the previous evening. She hadn’t been very convincing though and Lucinda had been more than aware that Lily was actually wide awake, and most likely fuming. So Lucinda had waited until this morning to inform her friend that James Potter had been more than happy to help Lily with her Transfiguration revision. As Lucinda had expected, Lily was not overly impressed with her.
‘What? Trying to help you to improve in Transfiguration? You’re right, I am a total monster and I should be ashamed of myself,’ Lucinda giggled, linking her arm through Lily’s.
‘You know as well as I do, Lucinda, that this is not an effort entirely based on helping me with my school work!’ Lily chided.
‘I really have no idea what you mean, Miss Evans,’ Lucinda replied with a smirk.
Lily raised her eyebrows sceptically at her friend. Ever since third year when James had first started showing an interest in Lily, Lucinda had done her best to convince Lily to date him. She had always stated that it was because they would make such a lovely couple, that they belonged together, but Lily suspected that it had more to do with the fact that it would assist Lucinda in her plight to get Sirius’s attention. Of course, Lucinda would deny this till the Hippogriffs came home, and would probably be offended that Lily could think such a thing of her. Lily knew she was being very cynical about Lucinda’s intentions regarding James Potter but, as she really could not see what would make her and Potter a ‘lovely couple’, it was either that or her friend was completely deluded or Confunded. Maybe she should have her checked out by Madam Pomfrey?
They continued their walk to breakfast in companionable silence, Lily not wanting to discuss (or think about) the tutoring any further and Lucinda not wanting to push her luck with an already stressed Lily. Once in the Great Hall they joined Alison and Clara at the Gryffindor table.
‘You’re still alive then, Lucinda?’ Alison asked looking Lucinda up and down for signs of damage. ‘You don’t appear to be maimed or injured either. Did you actually tell her?’
‘Of course I did! I told you she wouldn’t be that angry... because deep down she knows it is a good idea.’ Lucinda smiled to herself as she sat down and poured herself a large bowl of bran flakes.
‘Don’t push it, Luce, I’ve not totally ruled out hexing you! And besides, just because Potter has agreed to tutor me doesn’t mean I’ve agreed to let him.’ Lily gave Lucinda a pointed look before tucking into her breakfast.
‘James really is a great teacher, you know. I think you’d be mad to turn the offer down,’ Clara stated earnestly.
All three girls paused in what they were doing to look at Clara, each of them with a look of total surprise on their faces.
‘How do you know he’s a good teacher?’ Alison asked rather sharply.
‘He helped me with Transfiguration a few times last year. It really helped with my O.W.L.’
‘But you got an O on your Transfiguration O.W.L!’
‘Exactly!’ Clara grinned meaningfully at Lily.
‘How did we not know about this before?’ Lucinda asked, still flabbergasted, staring at Clara with an open mouth.
‘Well, Lily was at the peak of her Potter hatred, she was even more averse to him then than she is now. I just thought it better to keep it to myself.’ Clara shrugged then turned to Lily, ‘You really should take him up on the offer, Lils.’
Shocked, Lily said, ‘I’ll think about it.’
And she did think about it, all through breakfast, while Lucinda interrogated Clara about her revelation and Alison sat silently with a look on her face that looked like she’d been sucking on a particularly sour lemon. Lily had wondered how Clara had managed to improve so much in Transfiguration, and now she was left wondering whether it had in fact been down to the help of James Potter or whether that was just coincidence. Clara seemed quite sure that it wasn’t coincidence. Could she really pass up an opportunity to improve in Transfiguration? Would it really be so bad to spend more time with Potter if it meant she would get better grades? While Transfiguration wasn’t an explicit requirement to get onto the Healer course she wanted to attend after graduation, it would certainly help her application.
Lily was still deep in thought when the other girls got up to make their way to their first class of the day. She leant down to retrieve her bag from under the table, but it wasn’t by her feet where she had put it. Fumbling around under the table trying to locate it she called to the girls to wait for her. Finally she located her bag – somehow it had wound up under the bench half way down the other side of the table. Tutting and mumbling, brushing the dust off her bag, Lily poked her head back up from under the table expecting to see her friends.
But her friends were nowhere to be seen, and where they had been only moments before stood James Potter.
‘You ok, Lily, you look a bit flustered,’ James asked kindly, grinning as Lily readjusted her robes and flattened her hair.
‘I’m fine thank you,’ Lily replied tersely, ‘just wondering where my friends have run off to.’
‘Well,’ James started, ignoring Lily’s less than friendly manner, ‘Lucinda went off to double Herbology with Peter. The others are heading down to Potions. I said I’d wait for you, I thought we could discuss our tutoring sessions as I walked you to class.’
Lily stared at James for a moment, unsure how to respond. Part of her wanted to tell James where to stuff his tutoring sessions, that she didn’t need them, that she was coping perfectly fine with Transfiguration. She didn’t want people knowing that she was struggling, especially the likes of Potter. But, she also knew that without some help she was going to fail her end-of-year exams, and it wasn’t in her nature to fail! Weighing it up in her mind, she realised that accepting the help of Potter was probably the lesser of the two evils here. Lily swallowed her pride and made her decision. She just hoped he was as good as Clara made him out to be.
‘That’s very kind of you, Potter,’ Lily said finding the words almost sticking in her throat as she said them, trying to sound sincere rather than sarcastic; the words seemed foreign to her considering who she was saying them to. She couldn’t decide whether James was actually being kind or whether there was an ulterior motive for this offer. Lily guessed she had to give him the benefit of the doubt - for now, anyway.
‘You’re welcome, Lily, anything to help a friend,’ James replied in the same formal manner in which Lily was talking. James found it rather odd to speaking so formally, it felt unnatural, and he could see that Lily felt the same way. But this was the first civil conversation he and Lily had ever had and James was not going to blow it, this was his chance to show Lily how great he was. James led the way out of the almost empty Great Hall with Lily following just behind. ‘So, what will work best for you, Lily? I am pretty much free whenever now that Quidditch has finished, but I know you probably have a revision time table set up and prefect duties to fulfil, so I can fit sessions in around you.’
Lily was taken aback by James’s supportive attitude and his use of the word friend; they weren’t friends and never had been. Maybe James had been Confuded too, she thought. ‘What about your revision?’ Lily asked, even though she already knew the answer – she had never known James to take exams seriously and had never seen him revising. It really did make her mad that someone could be so good without putting in an ounce of effort. Maybe that was just jealousy though.
‘Don’t you worry about that, I’ll have plenty of spare time to prepare for my exams. Helping you with Transfiguration will be helping me too.’ James stated earnestly as he led the way down the stairs to the dungeons. ‘So, are you free this evening after dinner? I could ask McGonagall if we can use an empty classroom, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.’
‘What’s wrong with using the common room?’ Lily questioned brusquely, feeling irrationally panicky at the thought of being alone with James in an empty classroom at night.
‘Do you really think the noise and atmosphere in the common room is conducive to a productive revision session?’ James raised one eyebrow at Lily and, having a good idea of why Lily might be opposed to his idea, he resisted the urge to smirk. ‘I assure you my intentions are honourable.’
‘I never said they weren’t,’ Lily snapped feeling her checks flush slightly.
‘No, but you were thinking it, Lily,’ James replied, the smirk he had been trying to withhold creeping onto his face at the sight of Lily blushing. Luckily they had reached the Potions classroom and James was able to hide his expression from Lily as he turned away from her and pushed the door open. He was quite sure Lily would not appreciate his amusement at the situation and he could not risk making her mad. ‘Meet me in the common room at six thirty, okay.’
James held the door open for Lily to enter the classroom but still didn’t look at her. Letting go of the door he made his way to Sirius and Remus at the back of the classroom with a grin plastered on his face. Flustered, Lily settled into her seat next to Clara at the front of the classroom, still blushing.
The day passed by far too quickly for Lily, and before she knew it dinner was over and she was back in her dormitory gathering her books for her tutoring session. She had not seen James since their chat before Potions and she was becoming a bit nervous about their meeting this evening, although she wasn’t sure why.
‘Why don’t you come with me, Luce? You can give me some moral support!’ Lily asked as she hunted for her wand, which she was sure she had put down on the bed just moments before.
‘Sorry, no can do, Lily,’ Lucinda answered. ‘I can’t stand Transfiguration. Now, if it was Sirius who was teaching you... that would be different.’
‘Can you not think of anything else?’ Lily picked up a pillow to throw at Lucinda but abandoned that idea as she spied the tip of her wand sticking out from under the second pillow. Dropping the pillow onto the bed, Lily grabbed the wand and stashed it into the waistband of her skirt.
‘Of course I can! I was just saying that Sirius could make Transfiguration a lot more interesting,’ Lucinda replied, a suggestive look on her face, ‘especially if he had his shirt off! Or even better, if he was nak...’
‘Oh yes, that’s really just proved that your mind isn’t stuck on Sirius... or in the gutter,’ Lily interrupted with a laugh. ‘You really have got it bad.’
‘I have indeed,’ Lucinda replied with a sigh. ‘Now, stop judging me and go. James will be waiting for you; it’d be rude to keep him waiting.'
‘Okay, okay, I’m going.’ Lily pulled her hair back into a rough ponytail before picking up the books from her bed. ‘Are you sure you won’t come with me?’
‘Nope, I have plans myself this evening.’
‘You do?’ Lily asked, intrigued, pausing in the dormitory doorway. ‘Ooh, is it a pre-date date with Sirius? Is that why you have that dreamy, love-struck expression on your face?’
‘I do not have a ‘dreamy expression’ on my face. And no it is not a pre-date date with Sirius. I have a study session with Peter, if you must know.’
‘Cheating on Sirius before you’ve even had your date?’ Lily mocked with a fake gasp, ‘and with one of his friends as well.’
‘I am not cheating on Sirius. It’s just a revision session, the same as yours with James. I don’t know what you plan to do in a revision session that would constitute ‘cheating’ but I will purely be revising.’ Lucinda said sticking out her tongue, enjoying winding Lily up. ‘If you must know, Peter said it was Sirius’s idea. Apparently Peter was worrying about how far behind he was with his Herbology revision last night so Sirius told him he should stop moaning and ask someone to help him. Since I’m the only other Gryffindor taking Herbology, and we’ve been sitting next to each other all year, Peter thought he would ask me. I’m actually looking forward to it, Peter’s quite funny, you know.’
‘Is he? I’ve never really spoken to him,’ Lily replied truthfully. Peter was the quietest member of the Marauders and Lily had never had reason to speak to him in the six years they had been at Hogwarts. ‘You looking forward to it has nothing to do with the fact that he is Sirius’s best friend and you can grill him for information, then get him to go back to Sirius and tell him how wonderful you are?’
‘Well, there is that bonus to it,’ Lucinda grinned. ‘But Sirius obviously already knows how wonderful I am! Now stop procrastinating and go and meet James, you’re late now!’
‘Alright! I’m going,’ Lily stated with a loud sigh. Her nervousness about tonight revision had dissipated while she had been teasing Lucinda, but now it was back worse than before and she still couldn’t understand why. ‘Wish me luck!’
‘Good luck,’ Lucinda called cheerfully as Lily left the dormitory.